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Ryno resigns from council, citing city failures
District 2 seat now empty
Ryno resigns
Councilwoman Linda Ryno read her resignation speech on Monday as Zoom captured the expressions of Mayor Javier Lopez (bottom), Vice Mayor Bret Silveira (upper left), Councilman Mike Kline (upper right), and Councilman James Casey (middle at left).

An embattled Linda Ryno resigned from her Ceres City Council seat at Monday’s meeting after reading an eight-minute statement citing what she believes to be the city’s failure to remedy blight conditions and leveling a gamut of criticisms at both Mayor Javier Lopez and Vice Mayor Bret Silveira.

The issues have caused her too much stress and affected her health, causing her to explain: “I have made the decision that my health is more important than my seat on the council, therefore I resign.”

The stunning surprise leaves a vacancy in the Council District 2 seat which is up for election in November. The council has the option to appoint a successor until the election.

Ryno was elected to the Ceres City Council in 2013 to a four-year seat but was given another year as the city transitioned from at-large to district elections. She was re-elected in 2018 to another four-year term that expires at the end of the year.

Ryno started out saying she believed that there would be changes in the city following the November 2020 election.

“I’ve always believed members of the council should be held to a higher standard so I was surprised to learn that a newly seated councilmember was in arrears on his city utility bill and had been for months,” said Ryno. “If this individual is still in arrears he should be treated the same way as all citizens when the city starts shutting off delinquent accounts next month.”

Ryno did not name the “newly seated” councilmember and the Courier has not learned who the member is.

The two-term councilwoman also stated that she was surprised when Silveira sent her a text to criticize her asking questions of a former city manager, adding, “Shouldn’t all of the council be asking questions of city staff? I thought he was attempting to mentor me but his ending words were, ‘Feel free to respond or not,’ which definitely not a mentoring comment.”

Ryno said the level of complaints from citizens about code enforcement violations have rose higher lately than in her prior eight and a half years. She mentioned citizens complaints about the city’s lack of progress in tackling, issues of blight, code violations, abandoned vehicles and homeless “and their feeling that the city has stopped caring about the look of our community.”

“These citizens were frustrated. They had either reached out to the mayor or filed a report online with no response.”

She mentioned one complaint of a multi-family complex that continually had a dumpster with overflowing garage at the front of the property. The complainant began emailing the mayor about the problem in July and eventually her emails were ignored, Ryno charged. While the city Public Works Department sent a letter to the property owner advising them that the dumpster needs to be within an enclosure, the problem continued into January. The trash enclosure was a condition of the project yet never constructed, according to Ryno.

Then she learned that city staff decided that the owner didn’t have to build an enclosure at a cost of about $20,000 and could use Toters instead of an enclosure.  She estimated 14 waste-wheelers were required and not kept out of sight.

“What concerns me most is why an interim city manager unilaterally decided not to enforce the condition that was placed on the property,” charged Ryno. “That should be a concern of everyone who is sitting on this dais.”

Ryno cited another example of blight allowed to continue. When she drove down Hackett Road in District 4 when it was unrepresented by a councilmember she saw a property cluttered with a burned-out RV near the road, another RV being lived in and junk vehicles and garbage strewn “as far as the eye could see.”

“I wondered how this property could have missed code enforcement’s eyes.”

Ryno sent photos to eyesore to the city manager while another citizen had complained on social media that her complaints fell on deaf ears and resulted in no cleanups. She did acknowledge that City Manager Alex Terrazas “took the matter seriously and arranged to have most of the front of the property cleaned up.”  But the city has allowed the RV to be lived in. Ryno stated that she received conflicting reports on the cleanup effort, saying that code enforcement officers pledged to check on the progress weekly yet she observed an extra fifth-wheeler now on the property.

“At some point, instead of talking with the people code enforcement should have started an abatement process on this property.”

Ryno said while Police Chief Rick Collins – the one who oversees Code Enforcement – has been responsive to complaints, she called for Code Enforcement to have “a major overhaul, not just more bodies.” She said the city needs a code enforcement supervisor “who is fully aware of the process.”

Ryno went onto level complaints directly at Silveira, saying she was embarrassed at him “yelling at a community member who was attempting to get his unanswered questions answered.” She was referencing a dialogue between Silveira and Gene Yeakley at a meeting earlier this year.

She also expressed embarrassment over Mayor Lopez’s Jan. 21 email to citizen John Warren regarding his complaint about an illegal “pop-up event” at Blaker and Whitmore. In that email, Lopez chastised Warren, saying, “In no shape or form will I continue to allow you gentlemen to disrespect my city staff, with your comments.”

“Yet, the mayor allowed Mr. (John) Osgood to disrespect staff on more than one occasion and said nothing,” said Ryno.

Ryno went on to mention a “chastising message to me from Vice Mayor Silveira.”

“This time he accused me of berating staff and creating a hostile work environment,” said Ryno. “I have never spoken to anyone the way he has to community members and I certainly haven’t cussed and stomped off the dais when I have not liked the decision my fellow councilmembers have made which Vice Mayor Silveira did.”

Ryno next addressed a growing pile of pallets visible from Highway 99 near the Ceres Drive-In property. She said staff did press for the user to obtain a conditional use permit but the fire marshal found a number of violations, including OSHA violations. Weeks after a scheduled follow-up check, “it appears that pallets are still arriving,” she said.

Ryno said the weight of all of the issues began creating health issues for her and family members were concerned. Ryno suggested she seemed like the only one of the five councilmembers who is concerned about code enforcement and blight issues.

“I have made the decision that my health is more important than my seat on the council, therefore I resign.”

Following her remarks, none of the councilmembers had anything to say.

Ryno’s resignation speech came moments after Mayor Lopez announced the departure of Diane Nayares-Perez as city clerk.