Just when it seemed Oceano politics couldn’t get any weirder, two of the district’s directors suddenly resigned on March 28, apparently because of differences with the district’s general manager.
Both Board President Jim Hill and Director Carole Henson cited deteriorating relations with the General Manger Raffaele F. Montemurro in their resignation letters as the reason for their abrupt departure. Hill listed 18 issues he had with Montemurro, including the general manager not presenting financial summaries to the board, revealing confidential attorney communications, and disregarding the board’s instructions to finish audits from previous fiscal years. Hill had been on the board for six years and Henson for five months.
At the March 23 board meeting, Hill and Henson tried to schedule a closed-door evaluation of the general manager, but they couldn’t convince the other three board members to go along with their motion. The disgruntled duo left the audience and Montemurro with the impression they wanted him fired. Montemurro told reporters after the meeting he was preparing a spirited defense of his record as general manager.
Now, Montemurro’s most steadfast critics are gone, and he remains. Montemurro, like the other Oceano officials New Times contacted, seemed mystified by the sudden resignations.
“I don’t know what’s going on either,” he said.
Mathew Guerrero, a recently appointed director, seemed baffled by Hill and Henson’s move.
“I’m just in shock,” he said. “I don’t know what to think.”
Guerrero, along with the three remaining directors, will soon have to decide whether to replace Hill and Henson by appointment or by special election. Either decision is sure to ignite more controversy.
“We have to figure out how to move forward,” Guerrero said. “We can’t continue to be bogged down.”