Patterson Councilwoman Stripped of Appointments and Admonished in Wake of Investigation

The investigation explored alleged mistreatment of volunteers and patrons at a local senior center.

Local newspaper The Patterson Irrigator reported last week that the Patterson City Council had formally admonished Councilwoman Sheree Lustgarten. The council also passed two resolutions, one stripping Lustgarten of all council-appointed positions, the other outlined a list of recommended actions going forward, should she not submit her resignation. The City Council called for her resignation earlier this month after the report’s findings had been made public.

A yearlong outside investigation had concluded that while “Lustgarten more likely than not behaved in a way that left multiple senior citizen volunteers and visitors to the facility feeling bullied, intimidated or belittled, the councilwoman did not violate the city’s discriminatory harassment policy.” The findings also prompted the council to request repayment of the $5,000 in legal fees that the city paid on her behalf regarding the investigation.

Special legal counsel Shelline Bennett said, “… her bullying and abusive conduct is not within the course and scope of employment or her role as a City Council member. Accordingly, the city is not legally required to indemnify Councilmember Lustgarten for her costs or any of the costs related to her legal representation.” 

Moreover, the city has filed for a workplace violence restraining order against Lustgarten as a result of threatening remarks toward fellow Councilmember Dennis McCord. Bennett made the situation clear in a statement, “(Lustgarten) has stated, in front of several witnesses regarding one council member, that if that council member leaked out session information, I quote, ‘He’s dead. He’s dead,’ ”

Mayor Luis Molina reported out of the July 14th closed session that “If Councilmember Lustgarten does not voluntarily resign, the City Council unanimously voted to request that she submit to a fitness-for-duty examination, as it is unclear if she is competent to continue to hold her office.”

Lustgarten contends that the steps taken have proved to be punitive in nature and has yet to weigh in on the list of recommendations that the council vote in favor of last Tuesday.

CityNews is following any further developments in this story.

To read the city’s press release containing the list of recommendations for Councilwoman Lustgarten, see here.

Further reading on the issues within Patterson’s City Council, see part one here, and part two here.

For the investigations findings, see here.