Letter: Why Are City Employees Leaving Laguna Beach?

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I want to thank City Council for listening to residents and doing a nation-wide search for City Manager. We are a wonderful city for which many qualified current city managers would love to work. With this excellent firm, I am confident we will find a great city manager from the nationwide pool. 

Something disturbing happened to me last Monday while I was at City Hall on business that I feel compelled to share. It was an intimidating and chastising encounter I had from our city manager while I was waiting. I spoke to City Manager Pietig when he came in to check on the entry monitor in the waiting room or Council Chambers. When he finished I thanked him for listening to residents’ concerns and selecting a search firm for the city manager job. Instead of a positive exchange between us, he resorted to scolding me and in his words accused me and others like me of making it hard to recruit candidates because of our negative comments and that we needed to stop. I was shocked by the aggressive tone and rude behavior from our top city employee. I found this encounter quite disturbing and I can hope that others have not been subjected to this type of interaction with our city manager.

For the record, I have great respect for our city employees and the job that they do.  In fact, I have been concerned about the rumors of internal discord for quite some time and have tried to get this council to conduct an employee survey to help identify and resolve any dissatisfaction that may exist. It’s important to me that we have a city hall that operates and functions in a healthy manner with supported employees. With valuable employees like Human Resources /Risk Management Manager Tiffany Bates leaving this week, adding to the steady stream of people exiting for other towns over the past few years, I think we have a culture problem at city hall. In fact Bates’ LinkedIn page states among her achievements that:   

“During a period of significant staffing changes within this city government agency, I’ve implemented changes to establish stability and increase morale among 270 FTEs and 300 seasonal/part-time personnel across nine departments.”

Establish stability and increase morale? For the city manager to blame residents who are trying to do something about this is a deflection of where the real problem is, and insulting to those of us trying to get a better run city with happy employees.

City Council – please insist on an employee survey now to find out what’s going on internally. If you won’t do that, at the very least do an exit interview to find out why these valuable and competent employees are leaving. And why now.

Michèle Monda, Laguna Beach

11 COMMENTS

  1. Shoulda’ kissed his ring like you’re supposed to, I mean all you do is PAY HIS SALARY and now retirement for all the great scams he pulled over. Now move on Monda.

  2. In defense to the city employees, residents like Michele Monda and MJ Abraham, who tag team articles and attacks, make life a nightmare for this town and for those elected.

    While her article claims to be victimized yet again, most of this town had to part ways with her Laguna Beach GOP for her toxic RINO behavior. We really want no part of the confusion, and I fail to understand to understand what the constant attacks resolve??

    Good for Pieteg for saying what he really “feels” now that he is retiring!

    The same bonechilling and eyerolling circus acts when Michele and her cohorts show up to speak on Tuesdays have become all too much of a redundant circus act.

    Why not try to unite and make this town efficient again??

    Michele Monda and Residents First (which sounds much too Trumpian) have single handedly destroyed Mo Honaker and those who spent their hard earned money on their homes, investing in Laguna, saving businesses and the like. Stop being that obstacle that for so long you used to fight against. The bad moral comes from residents like them. No wonder people do not want to work here anymore!

    Look at Residents First! and all they are trying to control. When we lack investment, then good people leave this town, which I suppose is their goal.

  3. A refreshing comment to reveal the underbelly of the bullying City Admin has entitled themselves to for years. It’s not enough for them to get paid to do a job for the people, they demand their rings kissed as a tribute to their ‘public service’

  4. When did “saying what you feel” become appropriate behavior in business, nonprofits, or among City managers, staff and Council Members? Free speech does not cover saying whatever emotional blip I’m experiencing to be aimed at my staff, clients or buyers in my corporate work. Part of adult behavior includes learning how to curb what you feel in speech so as to communicate and work together. We even teach our children to speak politely to others (versus how they feel) so that they don’t get fired from their jobs and are pleasant for others to be around. Why should such unprofessional behavior be acceptable on the part of city managers or council people? We get written up or fired if we behave that way in business. We should hold our City managers, staff and council members to the same standards. Shame on Mr. Pietig and Blake for behaving this way.

  5. Deborah Laughton AKA Deborah Weiss, wife of city council member George Weiss. Kindly stop hiding behind your maiden name when putting down city staff and other council members. What a cowardly move.

  6. Mr. Kling, I don’t know you personally but aren’t you the resident that was PERMANENTLY banned from the Laguna Beach NEXTDOOR community platform for inappropriate postings and a lack of following their participation guidelines? If so, it comes as no surprise that you would openly attack people as you have done here.

    Regardless of your opinion that a highly-paid city servant should be allowed to address citizens in the manner in which City Manager Pietig did with Ms. Monda, I believe that the majority of LB constituents would never tolerate being intimidated like this by a city employee. I have worked with multiple City Managers and none would ever behave like this towards a citizen. Fact is, if CM Pietig was so concerned about “city employees work environment feelings” he should have taken the time to actually survey them during his management employment (20 years) to see how satisfied they were with his management style and if they actually have any concerns about public civic input. I’d start there before trying to pin employee job dissatisfaction on the public. From what I have observed, the only people interested in our LB city employee job satisfaction and their management feedback are local stakeholders. Shocking as it seems, several of our CC members don’t support an employee survey. Certainly makes one wonder why our city leaders would take such a position. Especially since we are in the process of interviewing for a management professional to replace our city manager. Guess this individual will find out soon enough if the rumors are true that employee issues run deep at city hall and the turnover continues. Not the best way to approach this IMO.

  7. MJ, you are the one in all likelihood reporting Mr. Kling. You have been kicked off more than once as well. The way the both you and Michele knit pick the city council, complain at every turn, bully community members, and stifle business. No one wants to work for a town like ours when it is full of toxic neighbors. We can thank you guys for ruining, and putting into bankruptcy the Hotel Laguna, the Museum project, and Clio project. I recall Michele chiming in on how it should be designed. Really? You guys are now designers?

  8. India Hynes- at least get your stories and references straight. I never opposed any plans for the remodel of the Hotel Laguna nor the Cleo Hotel project. I did not support the Museum Hotel as proposed. Still waiting for the revision on that project. I ask that you provide proof of your ridiculous accusations.

    As for Nextdoor, they decide their guideline enforcement and when they “permanently”ban someone it’s because that person will not abide by their policies. Furthermore, multiple people have to report violations and their designated community area LEADS vote on the violation. Both Christopher Kling and Peter Blake were permanently removed for violations. I believe it had to do with personal statements they made about other residents just as Mr. Kling does here. Attempting to put the blame for their actions and outcome on others is absurd.
    Reply

  9. MJ, what’s really absurd is your inability to tell the truth. I was blocked from Nextdoor and decided to not go back. I was not “permanently removed” Political predators like you turned what began as engaging political discourse into mindless attacks. Why dont you accept the blame for your actions instead of hiding behind your passive/aggressive alter-ego. Everyone knows what you’re all about!

  10. Nice try Peter Blake. The fact is that you were removed from this community communication platform because you were blocked and then sneakily went around the ND guidelines and used your wife Stephanie Blake’s ND account to continue your name-calling and verbal assaults on residents you target. In fact, you recently admitted on your KX Radio Resident Bashing Show that you did this and she was so surprised when she couldn’t access her account. It appears you jeopardized both of your accounts with your sneaky behavior and trashy vitriol. So who has the real problem with transparency, honesty and telling the truth?

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