Editor, Ceres Courier,
I remember the day that Art (deWerk) was hired. Ceres was a sleepy little valley town at that time. Chief "Papa" Peterson kept us safe for decades and he wanted to retire. He protected our community with a relatively small police force. We now had the "new guy," Art deWerk who had a formable presence; big guy with a big smile and an exceedingly smart person. He was different from the usual law and order cops. He quickly gained the trust of both his staff and officers and the community at large.
Art set the standards for ethical and professional behavior not only by his staff and his officers but what he expected from the community. lt was a two-way street. As a great administrator he developed a loyal following. He led the community without the drama that our neighboring communities are so adept. By efficient management he saved the community untold millions.
When faced with urban terror he dealt with the needs of the community, quickly and with strength. No one will ever say that Art was remiss in protecting the city or the officers he loved.
The mayor and his economic advisor now want to take our community in a "new direction." That is a fair thing for a "leader" to do when there is a problem. We did not, however, have a problem other than that a goofy person with a personal agenda was elected to council and the mayor seems to have developed a special kinship with an investor all the while having his eyes on higher office.
I had an opportunity to speak personally with our new city manager. I asked Toby what was our "new direction." He stammered and stuttered and could not state even one change. What is interesting is that the only thing new is that our beloved chief, Art deWerk is gone. There is no document outlining the new direction, there is nothing except for "feel good crap." The city now is spending more than $200,000 on new administrative expenses (Toby now has a better paying job) and political lackeys have been repositioned to places of power.
The results will be predictable. The city is going to face the trials and tribulations of lawsuits, good police, fire fighters and staff leaving for less drama. I am comfortable stating that there will be investigations that will grind through the city. Our good mayor's political advancement is toast and in fact there very well may be a well-funded recall election for two of our elected officials.
This city has been remarkable in its lack of stupid stuff in the past. The political winds are changing. lt will be the responsibility of each and every voter to tell the Ceres politicians that they do not want to deliver this community to the cowboys and the Hells Angels to do the bidding of the city. They also want all permits issued to be valid and protect the institutional safety for the public. They want the elected officials to hold the interest of the general public above their personal political and economic interest.
Lastly the public employees want to be led by a seasoned leader they trust and who has the capacity of "protecting their backs."
It appears that the FBI and perhaps the Grand Jury and others are looking into the city's new direction. Perhaps they will be able to sort out the economic interests at play.
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