- Reporters Desk
By Lyn Jensen, Carson Reporter
Following what Carson City Clerk Jim Dear’s lawyer, Bradley Hertz, called a “kangaroo court,” the Carson City Council censured the controversial former mayor at its Oct. 20 meeting by a unanimous vote.
At the same meeting, Raul Murga, the president of a group of Dear’s supporters, notified Mayor Albert Robles that proceedings to recall him had officially begun.
Dear did not attend the council meeting where he was censured. He also refused to be interviewed by the private law firm that the city retained to investigate city employee complaints against Dear.
Hertz pointed out that the investigation authorized by the council did not derive from any criminal or civil proceeding. He alleged that most of the case against Dear was hearsay from witnesses who did not testify under oath.
City Manager Ken Farfsing insisted the city council was obliged to take “reasonable” measures “to protect city employees” from Dear after several of them accused him of “harassment’ and “racial animus.”
Hertz dismissed the complaints as “grudges.”
The case against Dear was laid out during a regular meeting of the Carson City Council by Maria Aarvig, a private lawyer hired by the city—authorized by the council—to conduct the investigation and present its findings.
Aarvig quoted 16 accusations from her interviews with city employees. Those statements convinced Aarvig that Dear had violated the city code of ethics through his “attitude of racial disparagement” and “undeserved criticism of black employees.” Aarvig determined that Dear had allegedly further violated city procedures because he contacted staff members personally rather than through department heads and because he “engaged in personal attacks…on a personal level.”
Six witnesses, some who are current city employees and others who are former employees, testified against Dear at the council meeting, including former Treasurer Karen Avilla, Sheri Repp-Loadsman, Debbie Green, Regina Ramirez, Yolanda Chavez, Sylvia Rubio and Assistant City Manager Cecil Rhambo. As the specifics of their complaints were explored, the ambiance inside council chambers got emotional.
“I found his demands unethical and illegal,” said Rhambo, who recounted several incidents he said he had witnessed—among them Dear’s requests that staff’s confidential medical records be sent to him, that he wanted to sit on the city council dais even after being elected city clerk and that a patio be added to the clerk’s office.
Rhambo, who is African-American, also accused Dear of addressing him as “young man” or “young boy” during an argument at City Hall.
Rhambo said that on one occasion Dear refused to travel to Orange County for a meeting about plans for a stadium unless he was driven by Monette Gavino, a city employee at the time. Rhambo alleged that Dear’s behavior created “danger of sabotaging” the city’s plan for an NFL stadium.
Avilla said Dear yelled at her while she served as city treasurer, then “retaliated” against her by cutting her department budget and attempting to reduce her position to part-time. She further claimed Dear “allowed the city treasury to be used by his friends.”
Repp-Loadsman said many people had been fired when Sam Ghaly was briefly the city manager during Dear’s tenure as mayor. She fretted about what would happen to some people’s jobs if Dear became mayor again.
Green accused Dear of “bullying” Lisa Berglund in a dispute over a council agenda item on April 15, when tensions were high in City Hall after a close election. She said that after Dear “threatened” to call the Daily Breeze about Berglund’s conduct, Green—not Berglund—vomited.
Ramirez, the supervisor of the Carson Community Center, wept as she said she “felt intimidated” and “I attribute this climate to Mr. Dear.”
When Chavez was interviewed she told Aarvig that she is Hispanic—and that she was offended because Dear once called her a bean-counter. During her testimony at the council meeting Chavez wept as she recalled the time Dear asked her if the office of the former City Clerk Donesia Gause, had been fumigated. Gause is African-American. Chavez added that she lives in fear of harassment or intimidation from Dear.
Rubio, also weeping, said she feared Dear would run for mayor again. She complained that Dear was “constantly bad-mouthing” Robles. “I don’t know why Dear singled me out to yell at me about Robles’ incompetence,” she sobbed.
Chavez was still crying as she insisted that she never told Robles what Dear had said about him—that she had shared it only with colleagues —but that Dear “forced” her into his office “and he yelled at me.” Additionally, Chavez charged that Dear “made” city staffer Joy Simarago cry and “forced” her to leave a council meeting.
Chavez also rather bizarrely alleged that Dear somehow “threatened” the local sheriff’s captain, Chris Marks. Then Chavez went on to accuse Dear of having “different personalities” because sometimes he was angry and sometimes he smiled.
Hertz said Dear “categorically denies all charges,” expressing doubt about the dependability of the testimony gathered by Aarvig and the value of her presentation at the council .
“He (Dear) cannot control another person’s interpretation,” Hertz said. “He cannot control other people misinterpreting things that were not his intent.”
Hertz charged the outcome of the hearing was pre-determined,º a “kangaroo court.”
The meeting also featured a lengthy debate among Hertz, Soltani and council members about whether or not Dear’s constitutional rights were being violated.
Eventually, after voting unanimously to censure Dear, the council made five recommendations to staff. Those recommendations will be considered at another council meeting.