Assessing Chris Mann's accomplishments so far (6-25-24)

We received a public comment questioning Chris Mann's leadership, the current direction, proposed solutions, and the motivation behind it all.

Mr. Mann,

When you came to power, you did not reach out to the citizens for input. Your attitude from the beginning was: “I know best what is good for Yucaipa.” You were not interested in any insights from the former City Manager, Ray Casey, nor did you give him an opportunity to pass the baton or ask for his advice. You merely watched as he was ushered out of City Hall on the same night that you waited in the parking lot to be called in.

You also did not seek the advice or guidance of former beloved and longtime members of the City Council—members who know Yucaipa a thousand times better than you and truly care for Yucaipa.

You did not listen to the many residents who were asking questions about the drastic changes in City Hall, bringing up procedural concerns, and voicing disagreement with what was happening when you started your term. Instead, you dismissed them or responded in a deflecting manner. All this is well documented and on public record, and it has been repeated, I fear, too many times.

What you did do was initiate an expensive lawsuit against 197 citizens who exercised their constitutional right to petition for a recall of the City Council members who brought you in. If you claim that it was your City Clerk, Ana, who made the call on the lawsuit, then I question your authority and management skills for such a drastic measure. This was not a decision for an inexperienced City Clerk to make without consulting you, her boss. By the way, the lawsuit was destined to fail from the start; you knew this quite well. It just cost Yucaipa a lot of money, and its whole purpose was to delay, delay, delay.

When you became City Manager, you knew quite well that there was an existing structural deficit in the city’s budget. This was well known by anyone interested in local politics, and there was even a vote to remedy Yucaipa’s budget (Measure E), which unfortunately failed to gain sufficient support in March 2020. Despite your knowledge of Yucaipa’s unsustainable financial state, you did not waste any time spending even more money, instead of assessing the situation and proposing solutions to genuinely tackle the budget imbalance. For instance, you oversaw spending hush money to keep Ray Casey quiet, most likely about the events culminating in your ascent to City Manager (Why? Was there something to hide?), joining the Redlands Country Club right away when you took office, and meddling in support for the Wine Country Specific Plan with surveys and other expensive initiatives. And here is my favorite: creating a new, expensive, and completely unnecessary position for a city such as Yucaipa—a Public Information Officer. Plus, at the last City Council meeting, you proposed a change to his job title, effectively resulting in a $40,000 pay increase! For what? For being your personal PR person?

Other examples that demonstrate you are not really here to fix our budget are abundant. The last one I can think of was the multi-color glossy flyer that every Yucaipian received in the mail last week when you finally—mostly pro forma, I believe—asked for residents’ input. On that note, the only reason I see you appear to be listening more to input from citizens is the Grand Jury Report, which reflected poorly on City Hall and City Council—a report, by the way, that you dismissed on multiple occasions.

In summary, why should I trust somebody to fix our finances who sneaked into my house at night, is giving away my belongings to his friends, and got comfortable on my couch?

Robin Cowl, Yucaipa

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