Calexico calls press conference in midst of turmoil

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calexico press conferenceCALEXICO – Mayor Joong S. Kim held a press conference at the Fernando “Nene” Torres Council Chambers, Monday afternoon, reassuring Calexico’s citizens concerning recent issues before the city and  reassuring everyone the city is moving forward in full transparency.

The conference addressed five issues and resolutions currently in place.

Former City Manager: On September 15, during a “special council meeting” the Calexico City Council voted 3-2 to place City Manager Richard Warne on a 30-day administrative leave with no reasons given, effective immediately, during closed session at a special meeting Tuesday evening.

Voting in favor of his termination were Council Members Armando Real, Luis J. Castro and Mayor Joong Kim, with Council Members Maritza Hurtado and John Moreno voting against the move.

During the 30-day period, Warne has the right to appeal the decision. In the event Warne is fired after his 30-day administration leave, Warne is entitled to eight months of severance pay as stipulated in his contract totaling $132,666.

Acting City Manager; On September 16, a second “special council meeting” took place where board members voted unanimously, 4-0, to appoint city Public Works manager Nick Fenley as acting city manager subsequent to placing city manager Richard Warne on administrative leave the night before.

Fenley has served the city for over 36 years in different positions. Fenley began at the waste water treatment plant as an operator in training and since then has worn many hats within the city including acting city manager in the past.

With the full support from the mayor and the majority of the council, Fenley will continue working on stabilizing the city, satisfying the JPIA on city insurance issues, hiring of a permanent finance director, completion of the audited financials, conducting an audit of the Calexico Finance Department, including water billing, the completion of the 2015-2016 FY budget, and reorganization of the city departments and staff on an as needed basis.

Fenley will continue to oversee the Public Works department in addition to acting city manager until a permanent city manager is appointed.

Financial Status of the City Budget: City administration will review and obtain clarification on current financial stability of the city including the completion of the audited financials and the finished single audit to obtain a grant.

The city will conduct an audit of the Finance Department including water billing after receiving numerous resident complaints from possible over-billing, in addition to reviewing and updating the current Department Accounting Manual.

According to Fenley, the budget recently prepared by Warne will be reviewed, making any necessary corrections and or adjustments to have an accurate budget to present to council and determine where the city stands financially.

Garment Industry Project: Mayor Kim and city staff, are currently working on a proposal for a group of investors, in the garment industry, who have shown interest in possibly relocating to the city of Calexico.

The group currently operates in Los Angeles. The investors are scheduled to visit Calexico in the next 30 days to discuss possible locations and the options proposed.

This project would bring thousands of jobs for local residents helping Calexico’s economy.

Interim Finance Director: Fenley appointed Eduardo Gutierrez a 20-year finance veteran Interim Finance Director for the city, filling the position after John Quinn resigned in August.

Gutierrez is an experienced finance department employee who will direct the department in the day to day operations.

Currently the city of Calexico has an acting city manager, interim finance director, interim city attorney and interim chief of police, raising questions on the city’s stability.

“We will be opening the city attorney position publicly to include Best Best & Kreiger in addition to the Finance Director position,” said Kim “We are currently working on the city manager position which is our priority at this time.”

Furthermore, the California Joint Power Insurance Authority (JPIA) issued Calexico Mayor Kim a letter expressing great concern by their Insurance Authority over the recent firing by the city council of city manager Warne.

The letter mentioned that they were “gravely concerned” and that the council “calls into question the city council’s commitment to stability and its good faith interest in partnering with the Authority.”

Calexico’s city insurance by JPIA was pending on the city council showing stability, mainly by hiring Warne as the permanent city manager.

The letter ended informing Mayor Kim that the executive Committee will consider Calexico’s continued participation in the Authority’s protection programs at their next regular meeting on October 28.