Monterey County

Carmel residents call for change at city hall

CARMEL, Calif. - On Tuesday, more than 500 people in Carmel claimed corruption and a lack of transparency at City Hall.  City council spent a good portion of its meeting, hearing from outraged residents calling for change at City Hall.  Mayor Jason Burnett said the city is listening and is planning to make improvements.

"I absolutely agree the city has made some mistakes," Burnett said.

Burnett admits the city needs to improve its ability to grant public records requests when residents ask for information.  He said the city has been too slow, irresponsible and has withheld information that should have been released.

This comes after some residents claimed they'd requested information on taxpayer money spent by the city to hire outside law firms for several reasons, one specifically to investigate allegations of misconduct by former IT manager Steve McInchak.

"These decisions to name a few have been unilaterally made by the city administrator and have led to statewide criticism, embarrassment," said resident Carolina Bayne.

Just a week and a half ago Carmel Police closed its investigation into McInchak, for allegedly gaining access to city personnel files, stating there wasn't enough evidence to move forward.  Some long time residents say there's little explanation for some recent firings at city hall.  Many of them blamed city administrator Jason Stillwell and called for his resignation.

"So I just wonder what happened and I ask that you all as the council and as the mayor continue to honor the people of this city that give their heart and work here because they love it," said resident Keely Hanson.

Some at Tuesday night's city council meeting said corruption claims at city hall are unfounded.

"I find it odd that a petition was sent out when the city appears to be tick, booming along quite nicely," said one resident.

Mayor Burnett said the city council decided to review and possibly revise its public records request policy.  He's also putting together a community group including former mayors to make improvements to city communication with its residents.

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