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Cerritos City Manager Was Never Available

April 04, 1991

We would like to respond to the recent letter from George A. Ray (Times, March 21) regarding the firing of Cerritos City Manager Gaylord Knapp. As residents of the city since 1973, we have obviously seen numerous positive changes within our community. We're sure that Knapp deserves a share of the credit as well as Barry Rabbitt, Diana Needham and the other long-serving members of the City Council for planning the success of our community during its formative stages.

Ever since we arrived, and participated in the original Redevelopment Agency hearings, we have been faced with the five-letter word--"staff"--which Ray used. Our City Hall revolves around its staff, not its residents. On numerous dealings with City Hall we have been faced with an adversarial relationship--"us versus them" or "staff versus the residents." Whenever we brought a problem to "staff," the response was never to identify a problem and solve it, but only to placate.

It went like this: (1) There is no problem; (2) if we would not be persuaded, then the problem was not as bad as we thought; (3) if we persisted, we were given a telephone runaround and stonewalled until the problem went away. The words used on Step 3 were: "Well, you've finally reached the right person to handle this for you," but they never did. It was only after calling City Council members that action was ever taken.

The one person we were never able to reach in any of the situations over the years was Knapp. He was never available, and on one occasion we were even given the excuse that his secretary could not set up an appointment because she could not find his calendar. Why didn't she come out and tell us his policy was not to make such appointments with city residents?

Ray accuses Mayor Ann Joynt, since she was elected to the City Council, of holding a personal vendetta against Knapp. Knapp's absolute control over the city, and his apparent abysmal relationship with its average citizen, judging by our 18-year experience, should have dictated his dismissal years ago. We hope others will come to the April 4 public hearing to speak out and support the council we elected.

SHARON and DONN SILVIS

Cerritos

BACKGROUND Cerritos City Manager Gaylord F. Knapp was dismissed by the City Council on March 6. He is contesting the firing, however, and has exercised his right to have a public hearing before the council. The hearing is set for 7 tonight in the council chamber at City Hall, Bloomfield Avenue at 183rd Street.

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