Hensley’s not going down without a fight: attorneys continue discussion

Attorneys keep quibbling regarding the former Tulare police chief, Wes Hensley’s possible public hearing regarding his firing. Specifically — Hensley’s attorney says he is required to have one, and the City of Tulare’s attorney disagrees.

Hensley’s attorney, Michael Lampe, is pulling out all of the stops to make one happen. Heather Phillips, the city’s attorney, says that only a more limited hearing is required.

Chief Hensley was fired on March 20. He had been on paid administrative leave for nearly six months, and was under investigation as directed by the city’s former city manager. However, his termination was not attributed to the investigation, but as stated in his termination letter –

“You are not being dismissed from employment as the result of misconduct.

You are being dismissed to further the goals of this Organization, due to a loss of confidence in your ability to lead the Police Department in a manner that is consistent with the goals of this Organization; having management style that is incompatible with this Organization’s/Administration’s goals and the philosophies of leadership upon which they are based.

The City thanks you for your many years of service to the City of Tulare.”

As the Valley Voice has reported, Lampe hopes to prove in a public appeal hearing a list of items, including just what the initial cause of Hensley’s being placed on administrative leave was; and, that while denied by the actual Notice of Termination, that reasoning came into play with Hensley’s termination.

He would like to depose or call upon some 18+ witnesses.

Who said what?

The latest discussion has centered around an alleged misquote of Phillips to another media outlet with regard to comments made by the California Police Chiefs Association (CPCA) officials regarding the Hensley case. In the Visalia Times-Delta, Phillips was quoted as saying –

“Hensley will be provided an appeal in accordance with what ‘the law provides for.’ Hensley’s reinstatement as police chief will not be a possible outcome, she said.”

“’The California Police Chiefs Association and all relevant case law have been consulted to ensure that the city is following proper procedure in this case,’ Phillips said. ‘An administrative appeal does not mean a full evidentiary hearing. That is only available to persons with vested property rights in their continued employment.’”

Lampe questioned the quote and contacted the CPCA himself. After a day of communications, James Touchdown, CPCA legal representative, sent a letter to the Times-Delta, copying it to Lampe, who forwarded it on to the Voice. In part it stated,

“I am writing this e-mail to you because your article incorrectly asserts that the California Police Chiefs Association, and specifically both I and the Executive Director for the Association, have purportedly ‘confirmed’ that it is the Association’s position that Chief Hensley is entitled to a ‘limited liberty interest administrative appeal hearing.’  Please be advised that this statement is incorrect.  The Association has ‘confirmed’ no such position with Ms. Phillips.

The Association has taken no position concerning the legal dispute between Chief Hensley and the City of Tulare.”

Lampe also spoke during the public comment period at the April 3 city council meeting, stating he felt the city and Phillips owe the former chief an apology.

Phillips responded to the Voice in an email regarding the incident and to her response at the April 3 council meeting.

“My comments on Tuesday were in response to the emailed quote from Mr. Lampe and his quote read at Council on Tuesday night. I now believe that his representation about the quote was incorrect,” she said. “In fact, the Times Delta did not insert Hensley’s name into my quote – instead the article was written in a manner that made it sound like I was saying the Association had weighed in on Hensley’s termination and Mr. Lampe added Hensley’s name to my quote in his representations. In fact, the Association was only ever asked and only ever gave information about how they have seen other agencies interpret govt code 3304c.”

She further stated –

“The Association would never weigh in on a pending legal matter, nor would they have all the information to do so, because Hensley’s contract, the City Charter, City personnel rules, and govt code 3304 must be reviewed to do that.”

With regard to a hearing, Phillips recommends a Lubey hearing.

A Lubey hearing is based on the court case, Lubey vs. the City and County of San Francisco (1979). “The court noted that ordinarily probationers can be dismissed without a hearing, since they have no property right in continued employment. (Lubey v. City and County of San Francisco, supra, 98 Cal. App. 3d at p. 345.) However, the court concluded that in certain situations a hearing may be required,” according to Lawpipe.

“The City is absolutely comfortable with the position it has taken on providing Mr. Hensley with a Lubey liberty interest hearing, as cited in my letter,” she said. “Obviously, Mr. Hensley always has the ability to try to change the City’s mind and void the termination, however, ordered reinstatement by a hearing officer will not be an option. This is standard with at will employees throughout the state. That is why they are at will and not civil service employees. The only complicating factor here is the application of 3304 directly to a chief of police. We have double checked all of our findings and have concluded that it provides for an administrative appeal hearing to a Chief regardless of the reason for the termination, thereby increasing the situations in which the Chief would get ANY hearing compared to regular at will employees. It does not, however change the type of hearing required.

“If Mr. Lampe would contact some other jurisdictions, instead of jumping to conspiracy theories that I am trying to deny his client’s fair hearing, he would be able to confirm that they take the same position as Tulare.”

Phillips further said, “Wes Hensley is no longer employed with the City. Therefore, the City has no authority to conduct an investigation and the investigation that had been ongoing was immediately suspended upon termination of his contract.

“Mr. Lampe has indicated that Wes Hensley will waive privacy and confidentiality on behalf of his client in the future. I have previously indicated to him in writing that I am happy to release all information possible to the public as soon as he sends me a copy of that signed waiver. No such waiver has been received. Once it is, or he makes this a public case in the Superior Court, I am happy to answer any and all of your questions and show the citizens that the City’s actions in this case were lawful and justified.”

Lampe responded, “Contrary to Ms. Phillips’ assertion, she has never requested a signed confidentiality waiver from my client.”

In a March 26 letter from Lampe to Phillips, he stated –

“As you may be aware, Mr. Hensley has previously indicated that he will waive his right to privacy, and hereby demands that his Administrative Appeal be conducted in a public setting, open to both the press and interested citizens.”

That public case in Superior Court just may be coming.

The Mayor says

The city council is not supposed to intervene in employment matters of the city. However, it has been embroiled in the matter, and asked by the public to intervene. This and other council matters have brought some to claim the city is in turmoil, a fact brought up to Mayor Carlton Jones during his weekly K-TIP radio chat.

“We’re not even close to in turmoil,” Jones said during an April 9 chat.

When asked about his support of the former chief, Jones responded, “it’s not an issue as to whether you support a person or not – I wish the best for Wes. Our city manager still had a job to do.”

He further commented, “I totally disagree with the approach that his representation is taking and if it was me, personally, and there was an issue between myself and my employer or myself and the people who work under me, I would have took all of the effort and energy to repair those relationships rather than going after a council that the truth is I have nothing to do with my employment. The employees who put out a letter of no confidence in you.”

It is believed Jones was referencing a press release of December 5, from the legal representative of the Tulare Police Officers Association, which was also presented to council.

“The stuff I was reading in the paper – and you see the comments that they were looking into a credit card.

“We all know the truth, including Wes that if he was doing an investigation he should tell people what the outcome of that investigation was. I know that I didn’t use the credit card frivolously, or in the wrong manner, I know exactly what I did.

“He called me right after that and told me what the outcome was — he should share that with people instead of letting them believe or think that there was anything different.”

On September 27, 2017, Hensley was told by the then city manager, Joe Carlini, to look into the receipt of a dinner Mayor Jones had paid for with a city credit card. The receipt indicated a meal for three at Cattlemen’s Restaurant in Selma, with Corp. James Kelly, who is also the president of the Tulare Police Officer’s Union, plus one.

According to the letter, Lampe has sources beyond Hensley who were aware of the situation and overheard a conversation between Carlini and Hensley.

“I have the f*****g Mayor committing fraud with the city credit card, what is next?” was a quote by Carlini within the letter.

According to various sources, Carlini later told Hensley to back off from looking into the incident. The mayor’s wife had come in and reimbursed the city for the dinner. At this point, it is still unclear as to who the mayor had paid for other than himself.

Mayor Jones has also been quoted as having said, “So I bought my family dinner. What’s the big deal?”

Hensley was placed on paid administrative leave later that day. Weeks later, Cpt. Fred Ynclan and Lt. Jerod Boatman were also placed on paid administrative leave. To date, the two officers remain on leave and under investigation.

The issue of the council’s use in credit cards has become another hot issue, one which Councilman Jose Sigala asked to be explained to the council and to the public. It was placed on the agenda of the April 17 council meeting.

7 thoughts on “Hensley’s not going down without a fight: attorneys continue discussion

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  1. For the sake of all that is still good and decent in our town, please do not back down Mr. Hensley. While the added, continued stress is not fair for you and your family, your story still must be heard. Once it is, the true story will be known once and for all, and more importantly the implicaters will be publicly identified. At which time, the implicaters should no longer have jobs themselves or support professionaly from the people. Instead of constantly trying to double-down on everything, rather than owning up to the truth, they are so disillusioned and full of themselves, that I’m sure they don’t even realize that their professional days are coming to a close. These individuals are not ‘Tulare’, although one of them desperately clings to the disillusioned thinking that he is. But Mr. Hensley, you Sir are ‘Tulare’…so fight and stand your ground!

    • No one could put it better! Great comment. Keep up the good fight Mr. Hensley. Tulareans need to see what Carlton and “his” attorney are really all about……and it most certainly is not about what is good of Tulare.

  2. I think some of the council should be voted out of office come on Tulare do the right thing let’s get so people in there that want to do the right thing For Tulare

  3. It seems like to me, the reason the chief was fired was to insure he wasn’t eligible for a hearing that might have saved him his job..( Phillips said. ‘An administrative appeal does not mean a full evidentiary hearing. That is only available to persons with vested property rights in their continued employment.’”) I would also ask how a Top Cop placed on leave for 6 months with no hint as to why , could reasonably be expected to retain the confidence of the department? Maybe its just me, but it seems like Hensley was not given a fair deal here regardless of his “at will” employee status. It looks like the City Attorney pulled some trickery to justify her and others insistence on taking Hensleys job from him without having to explain themselves.

    • I think it is more than high time that the City Attorney is investigated. Question…….how does the mayor’s private attorney end of being City Attorney? Did you pull some strings Carlton?

  4. (…However, the court concluded that in certain situations a hearing may be required,” according to Lawpipe)

    Can you please add the link to that case in “Lawpipe” ?

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