Moty threatens legal action over Jones' 'blatant lies' as supervisors' battle deepens
The bitter battle to recall three Shasta County supervisors continues to escalate as one of the recall targets is now threatening legal action to hold one of his fellow supervisors accountable over what he calls “blatant lies" made against him.
Supervisor Patrick Jones, a leader of the recall, alleges in a "Red White and Blueprint" podcast and docuseries episode that while he was on the Redding City Council nearly 15 years ago, the council voted in closed session to terminate Leonard Moty, then the city’s police chief.
In California city council-manager governments, it is the job of managers, not councils, to hire and fire department heads, including police chiefs.
In a statement released Thursday, Moty and three former city mayors and the former city manager who served during this time said the meeting behind closed doors that Jones spoke of never happened.
Moty, who is now a Shasta County supervisor, and two other members are the target of a recall attempt. Red White and Blueprint is a documentary series that chronicles the effort to replace the three supervisors.
Jones did not provide proof to back up his statements that the meeting took place but told the Record Searchlight he would take a polygraph test to prove it.
“All elected officials are subject to criticism from the public, but I draw the line when it’s blatant lies about me, about my family, about the 40-plus years of service I’ve had to this community,” Moty said. “Jones is a public official. He should be held accountable for these kinds of things.”
Law firm sends letter
Carr, Kennedy, Peterson & Frost, the Redding law firm representing Moty, sent an Aug. 27 letter to Red White and Blueprint — including its managing members Jeremy Edwardson, Jon Knight and Carlos Zapata — Mountaintop Media and Anti Quo Pictures to “demand” a correction. Matthew Taylor of Red White and Blueprint LLC in Carson City, Nevada, also was sent the letter.
Moty, in an interview with the Record Searchlight on Thursday, said they have not received a response and that his next move could be legal action.
“Here’s a perfect example of one of their leaders telling blatant lies, which is what the recall has been — fabrication and lies,” Moty said.
Why city officials say what Jones describes couldn't have happened
Moty, who represents District 2, District 1 Supervisor Joe Chimenti and District 3 Supervisor Mary Rickert are being targeted by Recall Shasta. Petitions to get a recall on the ballot started circulating in early June and proponents have until Sept. 29 to turn in the required signatures.
Current Redding City Manager Barry Tippin in an email to the Record Searchlight posted a Sept. 4, 2007, closed session agenda item on labor negotiations involving the police chief.
“I am not privy to what was discussed but I can assure you that it was not the firing of the chief. Police Chief Moty retired in October of 2008 in good standing,” Tippin said.
Reached by the Record Searchlight, Ken Murray, who was on the council at the time, couldn't specifically remember what was discussed, but he is certain about what wasn't discussed or voted on.
"The council never meets for the purpose of firing an employee other than the city manager or city attorney. A (police) chief can only get fired by by the city manager," Murray said.
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Redding City Attorney Barry DeWalt confirmed that.
“We have a council-city manager form of government. This means that the city council only hires and fires the city attorney and city manager,” DeWalt said in an email to the Record Searchlight. “All other personnel actions are handled by the city manager.”
In the Shasta Forward news release, the anti-recall group quotes former city councilors Murray, Rick Bosetti, Mary Stegall, who were on the council with Jones, and former City Manager Kurt Starman. They said the meeting never took place.
Shasta Forward was co-founded by Moty, Chimenti and Rickert.
“Mr. Jones fancies himself as the arbiter of truth and transparency when in fact he is pathologically unable to speak the truth. None of these statements are true, this supposed meeting did not happen, nor could the events even have,” Bosetti said.
He and Jones both served two four-year terms on the Redding City Council from 2006 to 2014.
How Jones remembers the chief's retirement
For his part, Jones said he noticed when he first came on to the council in 2007 that Moty was “up for retirement” in six months, but the chief had yet to announce when he would make his retirement effective.
Jones asked Starman if one of the department’s captains was in a position to replace Moty so the city had a smooth transition. He said Starman told him it was Moty’s decision to retire. Jones said that didn’t make sense.
"How does he know when I am up for retirement? I don’t get that," Moty said. "I can retire when I think it's appropriate ... I didn't tell anybody at that time that I was thinking that way."
Jones couldn’t give the exact date of the closed-door meeting but said it might have been in late July or early August of 2007.
Starman told council members that he was recommending Moty stay on as chief for another year because it was a time when the department needed strong leadership, Jones added.
Starman then held up his hand and said there was “one caveat” and that was that Moty get a 20% pay hike, Jones said.
Jones said he was upset and told Starman that “you guys put us in this position to spike his salary.”
“So, we had a 5-0 vote to let him (Moty) go,” Jones added.
Stegall in the news release countered she was the council liaison to the Redding Police Department in 2007 and regularly met with Moty.
“I had no reason to vote to fire him. Secondly, those who know me, know that I would not have participated in this kind of behind-the-scenes skullduggery,” Stegall said.
Moty adds city role before retirement
Moty said he did receive a 10% raise, but it was for six months and it was because he also took on the job of acting assistant city manager until the council hired a permanent one.
“But we specifically set it up to where it didn’t count toward my retirement pension,” Moty said, showing a 2009 email from Starman to the Record Searchlight stating that Moty’s job as acting assistant city manager did not increase his pension benefits.
“All of these statements by Mr. Jones shows how intellectually challenged he really is. After spending two terms on the City Council he still does not understand how city government works,” Bosetti said in the Shasta Forward news release.
Said Murray in the same news release: "This fabrication is typical Patrick Henry Jones and/or his campaign committee. Mr. Moty retired on his own terms at a time of his choosing."
David Benda covers business, development and anything else that comes up for the USA TODAY Network in Redding. He also writes the weekly "Buzz on the Street" column. He’s part of a team of dedicated reporters that investigate wrongdoing, cover breaking news and tell other stories about your community. Reach him on Twitter @DavidBenda_RS or by phone at 1-530-225-8219. To support and sustain this work, please subscribe today.