CALIFORNIA CITY – The city will assign someone new to run the public works department, after the former director was fired from his position with little reason, according to Joe Barragan.
The morning of Sep 9. Barragan said he was called into city hall, where he met with Interim City Manager Anne Ambrose and the city attorney.
“She was handing me a packet of my documents and things to go over,” Barragan said. “There were two documents, basically resignation letters they wanted me to sign.”
Barragan said he was fully prepared to resign if city officials wanted him to, but he was not offered a severance package in return.
“I’ll gladly resign, I don’t want to be where I’m not welcomed or appreciated, but I don’t get anything? Why would I resign?” Barragan said. “I worked here 8 or 9 years. I did a lot for the city, and I have a lot of knowledge and experience. I did a lot of 10-to-12-hour shifts, working weekends and holidays to fix emergencies. There were times I worked when I really shouldn’t have because it was outside my scope of job. But [in the end] they told me no, you get nothing.”
Barragan says he refused to sign the papers and opted for the city to fire him. He still has no answers to why his work was dissatisfactory to the city but says he can assume.
““I think they thought I was too business friendly,” Barragan said. “I was pro-business, constantly pushing back to do our jobs a little better. There are rumors that council members got together to get rid of the former city manager Anna Linn, and that public works and the police chief are next. I think some people who support the mayor want someone in there who will do only what they say, only do business for them or favors for them. It just feels like that. It reeks of politics.”
Barragan said he felt betrayed by the city, after his near decade of service. He says he will be fine employment wise and will use his credentials to find work elsewhere. In the meantime, he may consider his legal options.
Ambrose confirmed there are city workers that are no longer employed since her tenure began this summer but could not get into specifics about personnel.
According to the city agenda dated Sep 28., Ambrose has already appointed Amador Meza as interim public works director and is expected to announce it publicly at the Tuesday meeting. The city will work with Human Resources to begin advertising for the director position and will be moving the Building Inspection program from Public Works and aligning it with Community Development.