Williams Mayor, Pat Ash, began the meeting asking Mr. Charles Bergson, the City’s current elected City Clerk to come up to the podium and explain his letter as it is submitted to the council.
“Since January 1, I have carried out the duties of City Clerk and overseeing the ‘Form 500’, agenda, elections, and I am the person on record responsible for City Clerk and cities are required by state law to have a City Clerk and that is myself. I have exercised responsible charge during that time,” said Bergson.
Mayor Ash questioned Bergson’s inaccuracies.
“My question for you Mr. Bergson is that you cite in your letter that the resolution 11-06 is inaccurate. Ms. Anne Siprelle, the cities attorney, submitted this document in February 2011 when you were City administrator; and during the presentation you never once objected to the inaccuracies, if there were any, nor did you argue for retaining pay for the City Clerk,’ said Ash, “Why is it that it wasn’t until three years later,after you have retired, that you made issue of the document. And my question is why?”
Bergson commented that during the time he was ‘appointed City Clerk’ that there would be no additional compensation, which it was to be included in his City Administrator Salary of over $100,000 (Salary information provided by http:// http://transparentcalifornia.com/).
“I was told at the time that I was appointed City Clerk that there would be no compensation and that it was included in my pay – so I accepted it,” commented Bergson.
The compensation for the duties of Williams City Clerk is about $500 a month or about $6,000 annually.
“But we did not include it in your pay,” stated Ash
“Right, understood that,” Bergson replied.
Mayor Ash then stated that during Bergson’s first full year serving as City Clerk, he hired a retired City Clerk from the City of Woodland to perform the duties of administering the City Clerk.
“While this employee was only working limited hours she assumed the duties of City Clerk office, correct?” said Ash.
“No ma’am,” rebutted Bergson.
“Sue Vannucci?” Ash clarified.
“She worked under my direction,” Bergson replied.
“She did a lot of it on her own,” rebutted Ash.
Ash continued to state that Mr. Bergson continued to have statue responsibilities at the time an employee was hired to fulfill the position, and he never requested pay.
“When Mr. Bergson retired from the City as City Administrator, he performed as City Clerk, and hired the City Clerk from the City of Colusa to perform the several functions of his office including taking minutes at the City council meeting,” said Ash.
The Colusa City Employee hired to administer many of the City Clerk Duties of the City of Williams is compensated $500, per month.
“Still you have done nothing,” said Ash. “and according to City staff, all you have done is check-in. You have never administered any of the Clerk’s duties, and here you’re requesting pay for statutory responsibilities, but not having actually to perform any of the work?”
Ash also commented, “Now I can’t imagine the public, who elected you, and anticipated that you would be paid for having a responsibility and not having to perform any actual tasks, I assume that once this information hits the streets there will be a long line of people running for this office if they don’t have to do anything – and you know what I will be the first in line.”
A letter dated November 13, 2014, was submitted to the Council just days after election where Bergson successfully obtained a seat on the Council starting in December.
“This letter comes nine days after election when you campaigned to save people money, and to turn Williams into the Emerald City, with new streets, no sidewalk problems, no mosquitos and lower rates for water,” commented Ash, “What kind of message are you sending the people who voted for you – for them to pay you for a job that you did not do?”
Bergson stated in his letter that the Clerk’s duties include, and are not limited to: keeping record of City council proceedings, maintaining City records including City agenda and minutes, publication of City financial reports, maintain City ordinances, certify ordinance contents, act as ex-officio assessor, be the custodian of the City seal, appoint deputies, and administer the oaths of office.
“I hardly think it is ethical to ask for money for a figurehead job when our deputy City Clerk who does your job and your responsibilities for no added pay – and she does an excellent job,” Ash commented.
“Some months ago you stood right here and I asked you, ‘are you going to perform the duties of City Clerk?’, and you answered ‘yes ma’am!’,” Ash added, “You turned on your heels and you walked out the door and that was the last we saw of you until you were interested in running for City Council.”
This statement was verified in the January 15th, 2014 City Council Minutes of the Regular Session of the City of Williams Council Meeting.
Bergson remained silent and took his seat when Ash commented that she was done, asking any other council members for comments or questions.
Councilmember, Angela Fulcher questioned that once Ash and she were no longer sitting on the council that the matter would be brought back and voted on.
Ash commented that the matter would have to go before the City Attorney.
Fulcher also commented that the matter reminded her of former City Treasurer, Santos Jauregui, who also never performed his duties as City Treasurer but still received pay.
In research, Fulcher’s comments were confirmed after review of the City of Williams Council Minutes from April of 2006 to November of 2008, during Jauregui’s term as City Treasurer it was found that he only attended four out of the thirty-two meetings; and during his attendance he made no actual report.
Jauregui was also recently elected to the Williams City Council.
Both Bergson and Jauregui will receive compensation of $300 per month during their term on the Williams City Council.
The Council in a later agenda item discussed the reestablishment of a salary for the City Clerk effective with the appointment of the next City Council.
Bergson was recently elected as City Council Member for the City of Williams and can no longer serve as the City Clerk. Once the new council has been installed, an individual will be appointed by the council to fulfil the term remaining.