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Battle lines emerge after filing of petition to recall mayor

Battle lines have been drawn after the recent filing of a petition to begin the recall of Madera Mayor Andy Medellin.

The recall petition was filed, recorded and served on March 26.

It claims that Medellin approved the largest salary and benefit increases for city executives in Madera history, has failed to be transparent and failed to take corrective measures.

The recall effort, led by local residents and business owners, has about 120 days to obtain roughly 3,600 signatures to place the measure before the voters on the regular November ballot.

A rebuttal by Medellin about the recall effort denied the allegations, claimed he is a man of integrity and a man of the people, and is being bullied by residents with personal agendas.

An anti-recall effort has been organized. Money questions

Medellin has claimed the 2017-2018 city budget is now balanced and that violent crime is down 25 to 38 percent.

Statistics from the Madera Police Department show an increase of 12.25 percent in calls for police service, but an overall reduction in violent crime of 25 percent through 2017. However, police say homicides, rapes and robberies are up.

Local developer and recall proponent Michael Pistoresi, who first brought to light the issue of what he believes to be too-large city salaries prior to the abrupt resignation and retirement of the former, longtime city Administrator David Tooley in December, wants to know why the mayor allowed city salaries to become among the highest in the Valley.

Pistoresi and others also are concerned that fees for water are going up too fast, although management consultant Ron Manfredi in a report April 4, said increases had been put off too long. Also, there is a question of how long the council might have known the salaries they were paying were out of line.

The Madera City Council was reportedly planning to hold a closed session vote to remove Tooley from his position just prior to his December departure, according to several city council members, after the salaries and other major city issues had come to light. It is not known whether the vote of the seven-person council would have been successful in removing him.

Pistoresi claims the city budget is not actually balanced, and that new and remaining city officials may now also be raiding or misusing the $3.5 million in Measure K public safety fund money to backfill large budget gaps in the city’s General Fund caused by prior salary increases, poor management practices and uninformed council choices, only postponing what they believe will be a budget collapse.

Mayor Medellin also could have acknowledged and directly addressed the salary and deficit issues in January, residents said, and made the hard budget decisions, but he chose not to. Instead Medellin doubled down on his defense of the previous city manager and salary decisions, they said, leaving residents wondering about his loyalty, choices and motivations.

“It’s not transparent, or the way residents would like to see their city run,” Pistoresi said. “It is time for you to step aside Mr. Mayor, and realize that you no longer have a future in politics. You have squandered the faith and trust placed in you by the citizens of Madera.”

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