Six Degrees of Scandal
The Monterey County domino effect.
Thursday, August 27, 2009
Considering the cascade of troubles at the Peninsula’s neighboring City Halls, it’s tempting to use the phrase “domino effect.” There may be no direct link between one crisis and the next, but the Weekly has picked up on a few connections that are, at the least, intriguing.
Pacific Grove and Carmel-by-the-Sea share two sets of Millers who are unrelated, but deeply tangled in the latest scandals. Carmel HR Director Jane Miller is married to former P.G. councilman/police chief Scott Miller. Former Carmel community services director Christie Miller, a former P.G. councilwoman, is married to former P.G. recreation director John Miller. In Carmel, Jane alleges Christie had an affair with City Administrator Rich Guillen (which the city denies). And in P.G., a couple years ago, Scott didn’t oppose the firing of John. Awkward much? We’re guessing the Millers weren’t going on any double dates.
Both Seaside and Carmel-by-the-Sea retain local attorney Don Freeman for their cities’ non-litigation legal work. And both cities are tapping San Francisco firm Liebert Cassidy Whitmore to deal with their latest scandals. LCW’s Rick Bolanos is handling both Jane Miller’s complaint against Rich Guillen in Carmel, and the administrative shenanigans involving Police Chief Steve Cercone in Seaside.
On the plaintiff side, local attorney Michael Stamp has his fingers in several pots. He’s Jane Miller’s counsel for the Guillen complaint, and he won her husband Scott a sum in his earlier lawsuit against the city of P.G. for his ouster as police chief. Stamp also represented several former Carmel managers who settled with the city around their terminations under Guillen. It’s work he’s familiar with, having also worked for former Seaside employees who settled similar termination complaints in the mid-1990s.
Both Soledad Mayor Richard Ortiz and Del Rey Oaks Mayor Joe Russell were the original good ol’ boys. Both men have been on their respective City Councils for decades. Russell was elected in 1974. Ortiz was elected in 1983.
4. Rich Guillen
The Carmel City Administrator held a number of managerial posts in Seaside, including acting city manager, before Carmel recruited him in 2000.
To various degrees, each of the scandalized cities is being less than transparent. Carmel officials won’t talk at all about the Guillen case, Seaside officials are offering very limited information about their suspended police chief, and P.G. – the most open of the bunch – won’t unveil the identity of its new city manager until early September. Del Rey Oaks officials, since there allegations about employee mistreatment by Mayor Russell, have frequently used the “personnel issue” card to not talk about details.