City terminates special projects contract

By BRIAN COSNER

News Review Staff Writer

The Ridgecrest City Council agreed to allocate $1,000 to Special Projects Consultant Justin O’Neill along with a 30-day notice of intent to end his contract with the city.

The news was not unexpected as O’Neill recently relocated to San Diego and has been working between the two locations.

“My understanding is that the city council is generally pleased with the work, but feels that it can’t afford to continue at this time,” said City Attorney Keith Lemieux.

“We have gotten to the point where I think the works has reached it’s natural conclusion,” said O’Neill.

“We want to commend Justin for a fine job,” said Mayor Peggy Breeden. “We knew he was limitations we put on him by making him work through us. We recognize that things can be done better in the future.”

Breeden said that moving forward, city staff should fill the role of O’Neill’s consulting duties.

O’Neil’s final task is to create a report for the to-be-hired City Manager who will replace Dennis Speer when he retires later this year.

O’Neill continued to impress upon council the importance of public relations and a strong, unified message to the community.

“My parting word would be, there is confusion out there and a strong public relations strategy is, in my opinion, the way to resolve that,” he said. “I don’t think you don’t know that, I just want to put that but in your ear...the sooner you figure out a process and focus on process, the better off the community will be.”

While many agreed with his approach and commended his efforts, some voiced contrary opinions.

Member of the public Ron Porter said the stress on outreach and social media was a “waste of money.”

He continues that the public has “to grow up and adults. Learn how to do their research. Learn how to pay attention. If they are really interested, they are going to go out and find the answers. If they really want to participate in the government, they know how to do it.”

“I would like to add my great thanks for all you have given and shown us,” said Breeden during her final comments on the matter.

Story First Published: 2017-05-26