Puckett’s dismissal just what the town needed (Valles)

By Angela Valles

Well, that was quick.

Doug Robertson, Apple Valley’s new town manager, says, “The puck stops here!”

Just days after he assumed his new position, Robertson gave Marc Puckett, one of four assistant town managers, his walking papers. Puckett earns more than $300,000 a year and gets a six-figure severance package as a result of the move.

If you do not recall, Puckett is facing felony hit-and-run charges after he allegedly crashed into a car around midnight on July 20. He told reporters that he left the scene to find someone with a cellphone to call for help because his cell phone was dead.

We must emphasize the “allegedly” part because Puckett, who has acknowledged being in an accident, has also maintained his innocence. He called reports that another vehicle was involved “an absolute crap story.”

Oddly, he also claimed that somebody in a Liberty Utilities truck was possibly following him before the crash. However, he does not accuse anyone of running him off the road so it is a rather bizarre statement in the context of the crash.

To date, I am unaware of any tin foil hats being found at the scene.

A week before Christmas in this very column, I encouraged Robertson to start cutting some of the bloated management in our top-heavy town administration and specifically argued that Puckett should be fired because he was blatantly dishonest to the residents. I had to enlighten the Council Interim GM Lori Lamson that Puckett’s contract allowed them to terminate him with or without cause.

In previous columns, I have highlighted how the top 30 highest paid town employees earn $5 million. It is a cavalcade of six-figure salaries and benefit packages.

There is absolutely no reason for any town to have a town manager and a whopping four additional assistant town managers costing us on average $300,000 each. It is revolting and shameful. And it is doubly insulting when a high-ranking public official lies to us and offers up some sort of lame excuse instead of owning their mistakes.

I have been critical of Robertson in the past and so I must praise him when he does something I agree with — and if I can’t praise him for following my suggestion to fire Puckett then shame on me.

So, kudos to you, Doug. This is a great start and hopefully, you are not done making some cuts because it is well past time to put the taxpayers in this town first for a change.

It would be nice to hear town officials and leaders start talking about placing caps on executive compensation. There is something out of whack when so many individuals are earning such exorbitant compensation in a town where the average household only earns around $50,000 a year.

Apple Valley residents are being taxed into oblivion by Gov. Jerry Brown and the Democrat-controlled Legislature. The gas tax went up in November. Car registration fees have started going up for car owners. The cap-and-trade gas tax of 60-70 cents will start hitting in the very near future.

And then you have Supervisor Robert Lovingood and Apple Valley officials floating the idea of raising both the county and town sales tax, too. It is insane.

A taxpayer revolt is coming if lawmakers at the state and local level do not get their act together soon.

The puck may stop with Robertson, but the buck stops with us, the taxpayers. Don’t ever forget that.

If you have suggestions on subjects or comments please contact me at [email protected]

Source: Daily Press