Madera Tribune File Photo
Madera Mayor Andy Medellin.
A committee of Madera residents has qualified and filed a recall petition with the Madera County Elections Department, and is seeking signatures from citizens of the city to recall Madera Mayor Andy Medellin.
Should recall proponents be able to collect 3,600 signatures of registered voters in the next 120 days, the measure for Medellin’s recall will be eligible to be placed before voters in the November election.
In response to the news of the recall filing, Medellin said it was “nothing more than a destructive attempt by a handful of people who are trying to bully their way through City Hall!”
Recall committee member Vickie Sloan said the recall process was complicated, even daunting, but she felt the action was necessary.
Sloan said the mayor appeared to be a big part of the problem of what committee members believe to be administrative officials’ wages that are too high, and accused him of not being transparent in his mayoral role or listening to residents. She said Medellin over the years has voted for the raises and should be held accountable.
Medellin has also not reduced any executive salaries or other city spending, she said, and pushed for the appointment of former Madera police chief Steve Frazier to be the new city administrator at approximately $21,000 a month in salary and benefits, over the objections of three city council members and other residents present at recent public meetings.
Councilman Derek Robinson was one who strenuously objected to Frazier’s appointment on March 7 after a recommendation by an ad hoc committee of Medellin and council members Charles Rigby and Will Oliver. The ad hoc committee was appointed by Medellin at a previous meeting. Robinson said he and the other council members were ignored, and he called the appointment cronyism.
Medellin, Rigby, Oliver and Councilman Donald Holley voted to appoint Frazier, while Robinson and council members Cece Foley Gallegos and Mayor Pro Tem Jose Rodriguez voted against the appointment.
“This isn’t going to blow over,” Sloan said. “We are not going away. They need to remember who they work for — the residents. We are not going to be bullied or intimidated,” Sloan said.
Medellin was on the City Council before he was mayor, and had voted for the city department-head salary increases that made some citizens angry when they learned Madera’s municipal management salaries were among the highest in the valley, even though Madera is one of the poorest cities.
Water rates have also doubled under Medellin’s tenure.
The same salary consultants who provided the last salary study, the one resulting in the above-referenced raises, have been again hired for approximately $14,000 to provide another salary study to the council.
“Consultants hiring consultants! What a waste of city and taxpayers’ money,” said longtime business owner Khalid Chaudhry. “We all know these (executive) salaries and water rates are too high. Just reset and reduce them. It only takes four (council) votes to do that. This is cronyism! A lot of other qualified people would like these (city) jobs. Madera is one of the poorer cities in the Central Valley, with 60 percent of people on MediCal and struggling on a median income of $14,000 a year,” he said. “Medellin needs to go. Along with Rigby and Oliver,” Chaudhry said.
A Facebook page entitled “Save Our City — Recall Medellin” has been established to coordinate residents’ efforts in signature gathering.
Mayor responds to filing of recall papers
Mayor Andy Medellin’s response to the filing of recall papers against him last week:
“I have been the people’s mayor and I will continue to work together with the City Council and the community to move Madera forward.
“However, I will not be bullied by anyone to fulfill their personal agenda. As your Mayor I have not been afraid to make tough decisions and I am not afraid to stand up to those who do not have Madera’s best interests in mind.
“Working together we have overcome a million-dollar deficit and we are on track to a balanced budget for 2017-18. We have increased our public safety efforts by hiring 15 additional police personnel and we are moving forward with plans to build a new fire station. Over the last year violent crime has decreased by 25 percent and aggravated assault by 38 percent.
“I have proven to be transparent, ethical and a man of integrity. As your Mayor, I will continue to fight on behalf of the entire City of Madera.”