Community Columns

Howze either playing games or ill-informed

Turlock Councilman Ted Howze stated in his op-ed "Brown Act turned back around on itself in Turlock dispute" (Dec. 6, Page B-7) that there are three ways to call a special meeting: The city manager can call it, the mayor can call it or three or more members of the council can call for it. That's inaccurate; the city manager does not have that power. Howze apparently doesn't know the role and power of the city manager.

In his op-ed, Howze did not deny that a Brown Act violation occurred, but rather tried to justify it. It is reported that Howze was "gauging" other council members about what they thought on this city manager issue. "Gauging" is not mandatory to call a meeting. Calling and asking to support calling a special meeting is OK, but not discussing why one might be needed. If discussion is needed, this should be done during the public portion of a City Council meeting, listed on the agenda as "comments by council." If action is desired, then the issue could be scheduled for a future council agenda.

When Howze wrote that the Turlock City Employees Association's contract burdened the general fund and took dollars away from police and fire, that amount was only about $350,000 during a multiyear contract. Many TCEA employees are paid from the enterprise funds specific to their areas of work. This money cannot be spent in any other area.

Howze wrote that increased sewer and water rates would be used for employee benefits and such; this is inaccurate. The sewer rate increases have to pay back a bond that was acquired for capital improvements for the wastewater treatment plant, etc. Spending that bond money on employees would be illegal.

His op-ed was so inaccurate and misleading that he must either be playing games with our community or there is a major liability in our community's leadership. If this had not been from a councilman, it could be ignored as an opinion. Since it came from a councilman, people are already taking it as fact. He is expected to know the policies and information, but he doesn't.

Fransen is a city of Turlock employee and writes for the online