Friday, July 21, 2006

Gold Hill Mayor Redefines Huff, Quits Immediately

Sometimes the smallest burgs in our fair state offer the most interesting stories. Remember the City of Union's husband-wife recall? Good times, good times. And so it is that the Jackson County Mail Tribune brings us the climactic moments of the doings in Gold Hill:
Gold Hill Mayor Sherry Young has resigned effective immediately.

"I'm out of there," said Young. "It's all so crazy."

Young's two-year term was due to expire in December. She had planned to present her letter of resignation at tonight's City Council meeting.

But instead Young turned in her keys and documents to City Recorder Mary Goddard this morning, she said.

"I figured I didn't need to get beat up again at one more council meeting," said Young. "I'm at that point in my life where if it's not fun I don't want to do it."

Council President Donna Silva will preside over council meetings until a new mayor is elected in November, city staff said.
With a little digging, we've discovered some of the backstory that led to Young's Take This Job and Shove It swan song. Go back to last November, and we discover that Young and Police Chief Dean Muchow complained bitterly about a judge's decision to dismiss a series of parking tickets issued by Mulchow's department, which had increased fivefold in two months. Why did he dismiss them? Because Young allegedly told him (twice) that the city was trying to raise money to fund another officer:
Leahan — a 25-year veteran officer with the Los Angeles Police Department’s Narcotics Division — said he verified his information with the city and explained his position to Young before Monday’s court session, when he cleared about 35 cases by slashing fees and dismissing those citations he found questionable.

"I understand Gold Hill needs funding," said Leahan. "But now they’re lying or denying what they told me. I talked to the mayor twice and she told me they were trying to fund a third officer. For her to deny that is self-serving, unprofessional and untrue."

Leahan said Young named reserve officer Chris Hansen as the third policeman the city hoped to hire.
Here's where the conflict starts. Young and Muchow wanted to blame the judge, but other Councillors pointed the finger right back at them:
Police liaison and Councilwoman Jan Fish disagreed with Young’s characterization in the Rogue River paper of Leahan’s actions as "totally inappropriate." The city has a long- standing problem with speeders, she said. But it is the chief’s inability to follow a budget that has placed the city in an embarrassing position — and the future of the department in peril, said Fish.

Excessive staff overtime has tapped out the police budget, she said. So did Muchow’s credit card purchases of gift certificates, alcohol and celebratory dinners made during the department’s remodel earlier this year, she added. And paying for gas, insurance and repair bills on six vehicles for a two-officer department doesn’t make sense, she said.

"I’m not happy with the course of events since the new chief has been here," Fish said. "The department is in trouble now."

Just prior to the ticketing spree, Muchow wrote in his September department report, "A way to finance this (third) officer, and also help pay for gas, citation books and other forms, would be through traffic and ordinance citations."
The smoking, uh, pen! Things appeared to get even worse when Muchow was indicted on felony theft Union County. He was eventually acquitted, but bad feelings remained. That led to a healing workshop of sorts in March, on the theory that it might clear the air. The noises were hopeful that things had been patched up, but I guess it didn't take?

Good luck to the citizens of Gold Hill on their political housecleaning...!