Willows Mayor Jeff Cobb fed up with Hoslinger complaints
Willows Mayor Jeff Cobb said he's had enough.
The first-term mayor conceded on Tuesday that the handling — or perceived mishandling — of complaints against City Manager Steve Holsinger may result in the resurrection of a policy that was first considered in 2009.
"Don't be surprised when you find it on a future agenda," said Cobb, who opposed the suggestion that the city needs a uniformed process for handling inquiries and complaints.
Although complaints against Holsinger aren't rolling in, the same complaints resurface just about every time the City Council meets.
Forest Sprague, Jeff Williams and Todd Miller filed formal complaints in recent months.
Miller filed a complaint in October accusing Holsinger of not telling the truth.
Sprague filed a complaint in December that Holsinger interfered with his business dealings.
Williams filed a complaint in January that Holsinger threatened him.
Sprague raised the issue of his complaint again Tuesday, which resulted in a sparring match between him, Cobb and Councilwoman Terry Taylor-Vodden, who accused Sprague of grandstanding.
"There is not one (complaint) that hasn't been dealt with," Cobb said. "They have all been addressed."
That statement, however, came as a surprise to Sprague, who said he has heard nothing from anyone that the complaint was even reviewed.
"I have no idea what was done," Sprague said.
Sprague said the difference between the handling of his and Miller's complaint was that former Mayor Vince Holvik had the courtesy to respond to Miller in writing, letting him know the complaint was investigated, and that the complaint was determined to be unfounded.
Sprague said as far as he knew, the city was simply ignoring his.
But Cobb said the City Council is under no obligation to respond, nor is the council under any obligation to discuss with the public or the person lodging a complaint the process or outcome of any investigation.
"It's a personnel issue," he said. The comment, however, didn't sit entirely well with some of the other council members.
Councilman Bill Spears said the city should have a set procedure to handle complaints because the way they are handled now is not making them go away to anyone's satisfaction.
"Some are handled some way and some another — or at least that is how it appears to the public," Spears said.
Spears, who has his own well-documented and public antagonism with the city manager, acknowledged that the continued airing of the complaints in public was not fair to Holsinger.
Holsinger agreed that while most cities typically don't have set procedures to handle complaints against the city manager, other than to forward them to the City Council, it was not the first time Willows has attempted to address it in policy.
Holsinger presented a previous council with a draft amendment to the city's administrative procedure and policy manual that was proposed in 2009.
The policy was developed to provide the public with a prompt and uniform response to inquirers, requests for service and complaints which are commonly received through all city departments.
The policy was never adopted, Holsinger said.
"It was during Heather Baker's tenure as mayor," Holsinger said.
Among other things, the policy would have required timed responses to the public indicating to whom the complaint was directed and when the matter might be resolved.
All correspondence directly concerning the conduct of the city manager would be forwarded to the City Council and a response would be required.
Although Cobb said the city handled the Holsinger complaints appropriately, he suggested the possibility that a policy would come before the City Council in the future.
Meanwhile, Cobb told Sprague to take his complaint to the Attorney General or grand jury if he did not like the outcome of the investigation.
CONTACT Susan Meeker at 934-6800 or firstname.lastname@example.org.