Thursday, November 19, 2009
August 2005: Seaside City Council hires Ray Corpuz as its new city manager. Corpuz had left his job as Tacoma city manager under heavy criticism for promoting a police chief who later committed murder-suicide, and for suspected special favors from the Tacoma PD. Corpuz, who was eventually cleared on all allegations, was also lauded for redeveloping the Tacoma waterfront, which impressed city leaders eager to develop Seaside’s downtown.
June 2007: With the support of the Seaside Police Officers Association and City Council, Corpuz promotes five-year Seaside Police Department captain Steve Cercone to chief.
Fall 2008: SSPD Code Enforcement Officer Vanessa Alcaraz complains of sexual harassment by then-Sgt. Barry Pasquarosa. In October the city places a temporary restraining order against Pasquarosa and puts him on administrative leave. The SSPD and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission later clear him, and he returns to work in early 2009 – but is demoted from sergeant to officer.
Feb. 2009: Alcaraz files a complaint of sexual harassment against three police officers, including Cmdr. Mike Kimball.
May: An internal affairs complaint alleging multiple policy violations begins against Deputy Chief Louis Lumpkin. The Monterey County Sheriff’s Office begins an investigation.
July: Cercone separately places Kimball and Lumpkin on leave. Lumpkin subsequently files a complaint against Cercone, alleging retaliation.
Aug. 7: Cercone places Pasquarosa on leave in response to Alcaraz’s complaint.
Aug. 10: Corpuz places Cercone on leave in response to Lumpkin’s complaint.
Aug. 11: Stephen Willis, a former Sausalito police chief, begins as SSPD’s interim chief.
Aug. 13: The District Attorney’s office confirms Cercone asked the DA to investigate a potential crime – later revealed to be alleged criminal stalking – in his department shortly before Corpuz placed him on leave. Corpuz had preferred treating it as a personnel matter.
Aug. 19: Cercone files a grievance against Corpuz, alleging obstruction of justice and retaliation, among other charges. Corpuz denies interfering with a police investigation. An attorney for the city says the decision to place Cercone on leave “had nothing to do with the DA.”
Aug. 24: Don MacQuarrie, a former Sausalito police captain recruited by Willis, is introduced as Seaside’s interim deputy chief.
Aug. 26: The city retains attorney Richard Harray to handle Cercone’s grievance.
Aug. 27: The Weekly reports that at the time of his hire, Willis hadn’t gone through the vetting required under state Peace Officer Standards and Training rules.
Sept. 4: POST informs Seaside it’s out of compliance with regulations. Willis jumps through the necessary hoops and is cleared to work in the interim position.
Oct. 1: The DA’s office drops its investigation into the stalking allegation against Pasquarosa, citing insufficient evidence.
Oct. 7: The city receives the findings of a public safety staffing study that recommends cutting five SSPD positions and creating 12-hour work shifts, among other efficiency measures. The POA complains it’s already made concessions to reduce spending. Corpuz says that while layoffs aren’t inevitable, the cash-strapped city must trim public safety, which makes up almost 70 percent of General Fund expenses.
Oct. 19: It’s revealed MacQuarrie received disability retirement from his job as Sausalito police captain last spring. California Public Employee Retirement System rules state that a person who claims disability retirement can’t take up similar work. The city revises MacQuarrie’s title from “interim deputy chief” to “interim deputy executive officer.” The city later claims the matter has been resolved, but a CalPERS spokesman says the investigation is ongoing.
Oct. 22: The POA begins a vote of no confidence in Corpuz, Willis and MacQuarrie.
Nov. 5: The Weekly reveals a fifth officer has been placed on administrative leave. The city is examining the 2008 hire of Frank Salzillo, who works closely with POA president Nick Borges and formerly co-owned Zillo’s Italian restaurant in Carmel, a past favorite of Cercone’s.
Nov. 10: The POA passes a vote of no confidence in Corpuz, but not in Willis or MacQuarrie.
Nov. 16: The SSPD receives the Sheriff’s Office report on the investigation into Lumpkin’s conduct. Officials do not release the findings. A group of 18 Seaside residents submits a public records request to the city, demanding closer scrutiny of the city manager’s decision to suspend Cercone.