A city’s staff at odds

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Seal Beach City Manager was criticized by a councilman and a member of the public at the Jan. 11 City Council meeting for decisions he made concerning the building of a new fire station on Beverly Manor Road.

Patty Campbell of College Park East said Carmany had put Councilman Gary Miller on his “hit list” for asking questions about the new fire station on Beverly Manor Road. Campbell had questions of her own about the fire station.

Campbell has criticized Carmany in the past for his role in the temporarily suspended Joint Forces Training Base composting project.

Campbell said Carmany had granted a $500,000 no-bid contract to architect Doug Andresen (sic) to design the project. During the public comment segment of the meeting, Campbell said the architect was Carmany’s best friend and that they had known one another since high school.

Carmany did not comment on any of the accusations made during the Jan. 11 meeting.

However, in a Jan. 18 telephone interview, Carmany told the Sun  Newspapers that he never made a secret of his relationship with Andreson. Carmany confirmed they had known each other since high school. “I’m proud to have known him for many, many years,” Carmany said.

Carmany said the new fire station was a beautiful building that came in $2 million under budget and two months early.

Carmany also said the job in question did not require the city to seek bids on the contract.

Councilman Gordon Shanks said no-bid contracts for architectural services were perfectly normal.

Campbell did not tell the public where she got the information about Carmany’s relationship with the architect.

During a telephone interview Monday, Jan. 18 Campbell told the Sun, “I got it from someone who knows and I don’t want to reveal that person’s name.”

Later during the Jan. 18 meeting, Councilman Miller also said Carmany had awarded a no-bid contract to a friend without disclosing his relationship with the architect to the council. Asked how he came by the information, Miller told the Sun, “What happened is, I had two independent sources that told me.”

Miller said he thought the sources were reliable.

Miller has said in the past he has doubts about Carmany because of his role in the JFTB composting project.

Miller has frequently accused Carmany of treating his travel expense reimbursement requests differently than those of other council members.

Was a new fire station
necessary?

Carmany’s relationship with the architect was not the only issue that Miller was concerned with.

Both Miller and Campbell questioned whether the station really needed to be replaced. Miller said he had been unable to get answers from the city manager about the fire station project—specifically, was it beyond repair?

He objected to the fact that one of the experts who recommended replacing the old fire station was the architect who ultimately won the contract to design the new station.

The councilman said had he known Andresen was a friend of Carmany, then he would have voted against the new building project.

Campbell said Carmany had not obtained an estimate for a remodel.

Campbell told the council that they had trusted Carmany instead of asking questions.

She said Carmany considers Miller a threat because he asks questions, if answered, would expose his poor decision making and his dishonesty.

That remark drew applause.

Carmany told the Sun that the decision to build a new fire station was decided in public by the City Council.

Councilman Michael Levitt did not speak to the relationship between Carmany and the architect. However, he told the council that he visited the old building before it was torn down. Levitt said the walls were rotting away. He said the roof leaked. He said the walls were contaminated with mold. He said the stairs were inaccessible, which was just as well because the second floor had collapsed.

“In my opinion, it needed to be torn down,” Levitt said.

Councilman David Sloan told the Sun that it had been a long time since he toured the old fire station building. However, he said as he remembered it the building had been in poor condition.

Carmany told the Sun the building had rats in addition to the other problems.

Complaints both ways

Miller said Carmany was trying to control and silence him. He said that in July 2009, Carmany filed one of two complaints against Miller, which contained 20 specific complaints against him.

He said the city attorney had found the complaints to be groundless. Miller said the complaints were offensive and libelous.

Campbell had accused Carmany of libeling Miller at the December 2009 council meeting.

Libel is defined as a published statement that is defamatory, harms someone’s reputation, is false or is not legally protected speech. For the purpose of libel law, anything written for the eyes of a third party may be considered published.

Asked what the complaints against him were, Miller said the city attorney would probably not allow him to say.

Miller complained to the council that people who were interviewed about the complaints were never told the results of the investigation.

Miller said one of the complaints was in retaliation for his calling for a December 2009 performance review of the city manager.

Councilman Shanks told the Sun that he called for Carmany’s 2008 performance review and Miller called for the 2009 performance review.

Antos said the December 2009 was a regularly scheduled review.

When asked to respond to comment on the complaints filed against Miller, Carmany said it was a personnel matter and he could not comment.

Asked to respond to Miller’s charge that the complaints were in retaliation for the performance review, Carmany gave the same answer. “Under state law, personnel mattes discussed in closed session are to remain confidential,” he said.

Shanks told the Sun that he didn’t believe Carmany was using city resources to retaliate against Miller. He pointed out that during the time the two men had been working for the city, Miller’s College Park East neighborhood had received a great deal of money from the city.

Impact on the council

The Sun asked all five council members if the tension between Carmany and Miller was interfering with the council’s work.

Miller’s answer was short: “No.”

Shanks said there had definitely been complaints back and forth between the two men. He said tensions between them had not made things easier for the council. He said it didn’t know if the conflict would end.

“It takes time away from regular business, but other than that I don’t want to comment on it,” said Councilman Charles Antos.

Councilman Levitt said he didn’t think the Carmany-Miller conflict was interfering with the council’s job. “Councilman Miller is one individual out of five,” Levitt said.

New Mayor David Sloan said generally he would prefer that everyone on the council get along. Sloan was reluctant to talk about the relationship between Carmany and Miller. “I think what’s between them is between them,” Sloan said.

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