City Manger says 'rogue councilman' is harming the city

Taft City Manager Bob Gorson kept quiet Tuesday night during a lengthy attack by Councilman Cliff Thompson.

Thursday afternoon he fired back, taking shots at Thompson and questioning the Kern County Grand Jury report released last week that was strongly critical of both Gorson and the city council.

Gorson accused Thompson of everything from trying to pressure him for a city job to trying to fire him and making life difficult for city employees.

Gorson also released a copy of the letter he sent in response to the Grand Jury report.
That letter accused two Grand Jury members of pressuring him about an item on the agenda for a December council meeting and called their conduct “inappropriate at best and perhaps unethical and intrusive at worst.”

Gorson said Thursday he was stunned at the Grand Jury report, especially one section that he said implied he had given confidential information from a subpoena to the media.

“I expected fair and unbiased treatment so I was shocked at the unfair treatment,” Gorsons said of the report. “That implies that I leaked something, and I resent that.

Thompson, Gorson said, “is the only one that leaks “ privileged information.

Gorson saved his strongest words for Thompson, who has been accused by unnamed employees of “creating a hostile workplace.”

In a 30-minute press conference held before about 25 people, most of them city staff members, Gorson placed the blame on Thompson for stress on city staff and said Thompson’s Tuesday night PowerPoint presentation on city staff raises was more than just inaccurate.

Gorson said the numbers in Thompson’s presentation were wrong – that a starting salary Thompson mentioned was off by $450 per month and that the employee received just 20.5 percent in raises instead of 40 percent as Thompson said.

“This was just one of the latest slanderous and false allegations by Cliff Thompson against several hard working and dedicated employees of the city of Taft. This reflects his unethical behavior and total lack of integrity,” Gorson said.

Thompson, Gorson said, “is a rogue councilman committed to destroying people at city hall.”

Thompson’s actions, Gorson said, have added to the stress level at city hall to the point where he is working through the city’s risk management agency to start a stress reduction program.

“It is very difficult,” Gorson said. “It is very difficult when you’ve got city employees having a hard time dealing with stress.”

He said Thompson and Councilman Craig Noble were wrong when they said Gorson offered Thompson a job as a safety coordinator.

Gorson said instead that Thompson “pressured me multiple times ” for a job as assistant city manager and public works director.

He said he finally told Thompson off:

“As long as I am city manager here you will not be hired by the city of Taft,” Gorson said he told Thompson.

Gorson said he would not make any response to continued questions about his business relationship with Thompson.

Both men were castigated for engaging in a conflict of interest.
Gorson said the ongoing controversy that has engulfed city government is harming not only the people that work at City Hall but the city’s long-range goals.

Despite the problems, Gorson said he wants to stay on.

He said he was asked by Mayor Dave Noerr if he plans him on staying on the job.

“My preference is to stay here,” Gorson said he told Noerr. “My preference is to stay here and help implement this vision.”