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Too accessible to press: Vacaville city officials criticized by mayor and council.

Too accessible to press

Vacaville city officials criticized by mayor and Council

The city manager and city attorney in the Northern California community of Vacaville, situated between Sacramento and San Francisco, respond so well to news media inquiries that the City Council has asked them "to cut back" on their contacts.

The five members of the Vacaville City Council, headed by newly elected Mayor David Fleming, a retired Air Force lieutenant colonel, praised city manager John Thompson and city attorney Charles Lamoree in their performance reviews as "outstanding and extremely knowledgeable" but voiced concern over how the local press relies on the two for information.

Newspaper stories make it seem as if "you are |running the city' when in fact you are merely doing your jobs," Fleming told Thompson and Lamoree at a recent City Council meeting.

Thompson and Lamoree are the only two city employees directly accountable to the City Council and can be fired on a 3-2 vote.

Every Friday afternoon the staff distributes to the City Council and press (The Reporter, Vacaville; the Daily Republic, Fairfield; KUIC Radio, Vacaville, and the Vallejo Times-Herald) written news from each department, including the city manager and city attorney offices, and on the Friday before the monthly City Council meeting, the press gets detailed memorandums -- usually an inch thick -- from the staff to the Council.

In their advance stories, reporters draw heavily from the packet, attributing Thompson or Lamoree or contacting them for more information.

Since his election last November, Fleming has sought more control over information to the press. Fleming, being retired, says he is able to spend more time at City Hall than the previous mayor, Bill Carroll, who owns a music and television store in the city (and now serves as a member of the Solano County Board of Supervisors).

Known for his attention to detail, Fleming is frequently criticized both publicly and privately as being too picayune. However, it was that attention to detail--coupled with his slow-growth platform--that helped him grab 70% of the vote in his successful bid for mayor, Fleming readily acknowledges.

Longtime Vacaville real estate broker Glenn Miller was recently quoted in the Reporter as saying, "He's [Fleming's] a product of the military syndrome. There's the right way, there's the wrong way, and his way."

Fleming's wife Buff has written Boy Scout news for the Reporter for the past two decades. Fleming, father of three grown sons, continues as a scoutmaster.

Kathryn Keatley Garvey is a free-lance writer.

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Title Annotation:city manager and city attorney criticized by City Council
Author:Garvey, Kathryn Keatley
Publication:Editor & Publisher
Date:Apr 13, 1991
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