Tracy city councilman resigns

Mayor Ferrazzano pleads for ending of negativity at meetings

TRACY — Tracy Mayor Steve Ferrazzano read a resignation letter from Councilman Bill Chukuske during Monday night’s city council meeting.

Chukuske sent his resignation letter by email to Ferrazzano before Monday night’s meeting, according to the mayor.

“I cannot work under these circumstances,” Ferrazzano said, reading from Chukuske’s email.

The letter went on to claim that since the beginning of the year, Chukuske had been “bullied” about the way he performed the duties of his position and that the “negative” force that brought about the special recall election for councilman Tony Peterson scheduled for February 2018, was also to blame for his own resignation.

“Unfortunately the 418 citizens who voted for me have not been able to make their voices heard,” the letter continued.

The letter said some have encouraged him privately but were afraid to attend council meetings because of the select group of people who have been loudly expressing their opinions. According to Ferrazzano, Chukuske’s letter also claimed city council positions are thankless at best.

“If these negative people are not quieted down, the city will go nowhere,” Chukuske’s letter said.

Afterward, the mayor then added a few comments of his own.

“I’ve been involved in city government for close to 18 years. This is my 11th year as the mayor, and I’ve been six years as a city council member,” Ferrazzano said. “I can tell you that the last couple of months, having to come to council meetings has not been a fun prospect. I never anticipated every single meeting would be good, but it’s been difficult to say the least.

“Within the past 60 days, we’ve had two resignations now with Bill’s, and the one recall petition, all within the 60 days,” he said. “You don’t need me to tell you that the view of our city is one of dysfunction. What I want to do, as much as I can as mayor, is to put an end to it now because we need to move forward.”

Citing the recall petition pending in February, he said, they didn’t have to rehash everything between now and then.

“We have a major paper, compared to ours, just up the street, that likes to print a lot of bad things about our city. It needs to stop,” Ferrazzano said.

“I get phone calls constantly about residents not knowing what the committees are doing, or they don’t like what this council member is doing or what that council member is doing. It’s got to stop because we’ve reached the tipping point where we’ve got to (move forward). I hope everyone recognizes that fact.”

Ferrazzano went on to lay out some things he would like to see happen at council meetings.

“I’m not going to take out the public forum,” he said. It said it had been suggested to take public forum off the agenda.

“But, I want to remind people that it’s not going to be used to run other people down,” he said. “If you have specific issues that need to be addressed, fine, but what we’ve seen lately is personal attacks against others. I personally don’t appreciate that. I’m trying to be as civil as possible about this. I know there’s going to be a difference of opinion on certain issues, but the public comment period is meant to bring up issues and not have personal attacks against others. Moving forward, I hope people recognize that.”

Ferrazzano also questioned letting the public viewing the agenda on Thursdays when council members receive it for the first time. Ferrazzano suggested that the council view it first and put it out on the carousel the next day for public viewing.

Ferrazzano also suggested not answering some questions from the public.

“If they’re general questions, I have no problem answering them right away,” he said. “If there are specific questions addressed to a specific council member, I want to leave it up to that council member as to whether they want to answer it or not. If they choose to, fine. If not, that’s OK, too. Does that sound fair?”

Council members agreed with him on both counts.

“For what it’s worth when someone is speaking, please be cognizant of what you say,” the mayor said.

“The way we’ve been going about it is not helpful,” he added. “We can’t have another 60 days like the past 60 days with two resignations and a recall petition. It shows that we can’t work together, and I don’t want that perception any longer.

“I know, in the past, it’s been said that I may ‘mollycoddle people’ and I’m not a strong leader. It’s because I want people to be able to do their jobs without being spied on and supervised with people looking over their shoulder. The same goes with council members. We need to have that liberty to do the job that we’ve been elected to do. From tonight on, we have to get rid of this negativity and work together.”

Later in the meeting, the council addressed the agenda item of legal issues. City Attorney Matthew Gross made the statement that it wasn’t his job to cite council members for infractions of city code. That would be up to law enforcement, he said, if a council member had done so, as was suggested by petitioners regarding Chukuske not declaring his conflict of interest on employee insurance issues.