By Trudy Wischemann
There’s been some heroics in Lindsay over the past few weeks. I haven’t been party to any of them, tied up in my own domestic and work efforts. But I did get wind of one in particular by the newer councilmembers, who voted against giving our illustrious city manager a raise at the very end of the May 14th council meeting. Item 10 might just go down in Lindsay’s history as a turning point.
Before the meeting, rumors spread that Bill Zigler would be asking for a raise. You know how small towns are. It was almost too fantastical to imagine for me, still tripping on another of Zigler’s Follies. I’m referring to the newest roundabout, the one he’s been planning and promoting for more than 10 years. There’s a telephone service panel sticking up on the northern edge of the circle, well within the traffic lane. For a couple of months it was protected by some rather imposing concrete bollard-type things, which made it impossible for semi-trucks to make it through unscathed. Now there’s just some smaller blockades protecting it, forcing all traffic to drive over the bricked inner circle. I do not know if-and-when they plan to have the telephone panel moved, but if someone hits it beforehand, some of us are going to be missing our phone service.
Nevertheless, Mr. Zigler proposed that he be honored with more money in next year’s employment agreement. It’s been hard for the council to turn him down on anything he asked for in the past, and frankly I expected they would have the same difficulty this time. But I was wrong!
Item 10 followed Item 9 (as you might expect,) which was the closed session, where members of the public are asked to leave and the council discusses issues in private. During the closed session, 4 items were discussed: 1) real property negotiations between the City and Kern Ridge Growers, LLC; 2) anticipated litigation regarding significant exposure to who-knows-what; 3) labor negotiations with Lindsay Police Officers Association; and 4) the city manager’s employment agreement for next year. When the council returned from closed session, Mayor Kimball re-opened the meeting for the vote on Item 10: “Discussion & Possible Approval of Employment Agreement with William Zigler as City Manager.” (You can hear all this in the last 1.3 minutes of the audio recording of the meeting, which is posted on the City of Lindsay website under “Council Meetings.”)
Mayor Kimball asked first for discussion, which was followed by several moments of silence. She then asked “What action would the council like to take on Item 10?” which was followed by 9 seconds of dead silence, broken by a whispered truth: “No one wishes to take action on Item 10.” Then Councilwoman Flores said, “Okay,” taking the baton. “I will move to not give the City Manager a raise – not a reflection on him, it’s just that we’re not in a position to do that.” Councilwoman Sanchez seconded the motion. Mayor Kimball restated the motion as a vote to not approve the employment agreement and asked the city clerk to take roll. One by one the councilmembers voted Aye to not approve the agreement until it reached Mayor Kimball, who voted No. Given that Mayor Kimball had negotiated the employment agreement, I guess it’s no surprise that she didn’t want to turn him down.
Who knows what will happen next? But as of this moment, Mr. Zigler has had his comeuppance. For all the times he has baldly responded to any citizen’s suggestion of a needed improvement “We’d love to do that but we just don’t have the money,” there’s no better response to his request for a raise. Thank you, Councilmembers. I doff my hat to you.
Trudy Wischemann is a rural researcher who writes. You can send her your thoughts c/o P.O. Box 1374, Lindsay CA 93247 or visit www.trudysnotesfromhome.blogspot.com and leave a comment there.
This column is not a news article but the opinion of the writer and does not reflect the views of The Foothills Sun-Gazette newspaper.