Mono County personnel appeal gets complicated

MONO COURTHOUSERichard Luman, a Mono County Public Works mechanic for 15 years, lost his job last October.  He says his supervisor created a hostile work place and assaulted him. Luman’s appeal hearing, originally set for two days, has continued on into the second week.

Luman’s attorney, Katie Bellomo of Mono City, said that last week, two members of the Personal Appeal Board, Ralph Obenberger and Ken Goode, declared that the third board member, Tim Hansen, was “biased” and should step down.  Bellomo said the board members later changed their minds.

After that bit of confusion, Bellomo began to present her case.  She said her witnesses testified to a hostile work environment – an angry and belligerent supervisor.  Bellomo said when she put on an eye witness, Mono County raised an earlier evidence ruling by the appeal board that restricted presentation of evidence.  The appeal board agreed that they did make an error and moved to allow more witnesses.

Bellomo said that ruling caused her to re-group.  She said that Mono County will present “additional documentary evidence on Dick Luman.  This will open a can of worms,” she said.  As a result, Bellomo has made a list of witnesses to be subpoenaed for Mr. Luman’s case.  That list includes District Attorney George Booth, Assistant DA Tim Kendall, Undersheriff Ralph Obenberger, Lt. Robert Weber, Mono DA Investigator Wade McCammond, Supervisor Hap Hazard, Mono Risk Manager Rita Sherman and Custodians of Records for the Mono DA and Mono Sheriff.

Attorney Bellomo said her witnesses also include Mr. Luman and three Road Department workers who will testify to the behavior in the work place and what she alleges was Mono County “not controlling a hostile work environment.”  Bellomo called this “an extremely political case when it should be a simple personnel case.”

Because of the delays and long periods of time involved in the appeal, Bellomo said she would ask the Mono Supervisors, as a show of good faith, to put Mr. Luman on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of the appeal hearing.

Sierra Wave Media contacted attorney John Vallejo of the Mono County Counsel’s office for the other side of the story, but Vallejo said he could not comment on personnel matters.

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60 Responses to Mono County personnel appeal gets complicated

  1. SAY WHAT April 22, 2012 at 6:49 pm #

    Looked up the case Fresno gave.SAY WHAT!!!!!!!!! Arkens cost Holy Cross some BIG MONEY My guess is Holy Cross said hit road Jack or was it Jim LOL now I would like Bing Hunt, Vicki Bouer,Hap Hazzard,Larry Johnston and Tim Hanson to respond to this. How did they miss this in background checks or were they happy to have such a liability to the taxpayers of Mono County? Looks like this man is a looser when it comes to winning court cases and John Vallejo still has milk on his lips he is getting the rest of his real world education on the backs of the taxpayers look him up for your self I guess he was all that Mono County could afford how sad

  2. Fresno April 21, 2012 at 12:12 pm #

    Taxpayers you need to look this up Case no CIV 05-1002 MV/LFG google it you will find out what kind of CAO Jim Arkens really is why he was hired is beyond me.

  3. Just the facts April 20, 2012 at 12:49 pm #

    I hate to burst your bubble FYI – but Mono County has a comfortable reserve of over $1 million.

    But I see the anti-this and anti-that (in this case, municipal government-haters) are out in full force today.

    So, what else did Rush talk about today?

  4. F.Y.I. April 19, 2012 at 8:02 pm #

    Is Mono county 45 million + in the hole?

    The Good Old Boy’s need a lesson or two on how to $teal and run!

  5. Jake boatman April 19, 2012 at 2:59 pm #

    Bellomo is doing the job she was hired to do! When the county attorney saw he was losing his case, he motioned to have certain issues reversed that were already ruled on! Seems pretty desperate to me! Bellomo then had to recall previous witnesses and additional new ones! Take time to watch its all public! Good old boy is right!

  6. Mike April 19, 2012 at 2:26 pm #

    The simple fact is that Mono County is playing the “good ole boy game” instead of addressing the real issues. Mr. Luman as a last resort filed a Hostile Workplace Complaint against his Supervisor and instead of handling the issue, the County chose to ignore it and when his Supervisor finally snapped and assaulted him, they chose to terminate Luman. (Remember there is potentially a huge liability for poor administration and human resource management.)

    As usual instead of the County owning up to their responsibilities, guidelines and protocol which the county has in place to protect their employees from this sort of violence they chose to fire him. When it was clear that he was not going to “Just accept” his termination and that he was going to pursue every legal avenue, the County involved other entities in an effort to cover up what had truly happened.

    What did they want to cover up? A failure to handle the Hostile Workplace Complaint that Mr Luman had filed as well as additional complaints by other employees who had complained of the same issues about their Supervisor. When it appeared that Mono was not prevailing, they tried to change the game .. and thus the multiple subpoenas are being served. Please take note of who is being served and hopefully the true truth of the matter will finally come out.

    Seems to be a Mono County theme…. complain about any “Good Ole Boy” and get fired..

  7. Neutral April 19, 2012 at 1:57 pm #

    I see you refuse to post my simple question re: Has Bellamo declined to comment on any aspect of this case?, Benett.

    I sincerely hope this is not Sierra Wave’s idea of fair and impartial news reporting.

    • Benett Kessler April 19, 2012 at 4:51 pm #

      Dear Neutral, I didn’t refuse to post anything I’ve been busy today. As you might see in the stories, I have quoted Bellomo extensively.
      Benett Kessler

  8. Neutral April 19, 2012 at 1:23 pm #

    Has Bellamo also declined to comment on any aspect of this case?
    Thanks in advance.

  9. Mono Citizen April 19, 2012 at 12:56 pm #

    So then you’re just making up facts about the County Counsel’s witness list?

    • Benett Kessler April 19, 2012 at 4:52 pm #

      I’m quoting Ms. Bellomo and other sources. I stand by my story. If you have something in it that you claim is inaccurate, then say it.

  10. Mono Citizen April 19, 2012 at 11:20 am #

    Did you confirm that the County Counsel had a similar list with anyone?

    • Benett Kessler April 19, 2012 at 11:58 am #

      The County Counsel has declined to comment on any aspect of this case. BK

  11. Neutral April 19, 2012 at 9:46 am #

    This seems to be a cut-and-dried case to me.
    The parties knew of the anti-violence policy in the workplace at Mono County and ignored it.
    They were fired.

  12. Mono Citizen April 19, 2012 at 9:34 am #

    Isn’t it ironic that Bellomo says this should be just a simple personnel matter when she requested all of those people to testify?

    • Benett Kessler April 19, 2012 at 9:39 am #

      To clarify that action by Bellomo. She subpoenaed the list reported after the Personnel Appeal Board changed its mind about their own ruling that restricted evidence; and as a result the Mono County Counsel produced a similar list of subpoenas. Benett Kessler

  13. jose chavez April 18, 2012 at 7:34 pm #

    are you talking about the brains tha are driving the town to bankrupcy? because thats what the future looks like!!!!!

    • Progressive April 18, 2012 at 8:00 pm #

      This whole appeal fiasco is about the county being punished for daring to fire a union employee. Meanwhile they want to drag this nonsense on perhaps for months and months (at taxpayers expense) so any firing of union employees will never happen again.
      And this is the mindset of the people who live in Bridgeport ant work at the county seat.
      Childish and backwards doesn’t begin to explain this nonsense.

      • Benett Kessler April 18, 2012 at 10:39 pm #

        I was told by the union that represents other government workers in Inyo and Mono that they no longer represent Mono County workers. Do you know what union, if any, does represent them. Unless you were named on the witness list, I’m not sure you really know anything about this case. Why not let it unfold and find the truth of the situation as revealed in a legal process. Benett Kessler

        • Neutral April 19, 2012 at 9:04 am #

          All unions are the same.
          Especially in a divisive economic climate.

    • Progressive April 18, 2012 at 8:03 pm #

      Why not ask Rick Wood and John Eastman what went on behind closed doors way back when?

      • P&B April 19, 2012 at 8:04 am #

        Progressive – you must not realize what a negative and ultra-critical personality you are putting out with your posts – very curious, unless of course that’s what you intend….

    • Progressive April 19, 2012 at 5:26 am #

      You’re going to have to find out for yourselves which greedy developer or those with direct ties to the developers, is responsible.

  14. Progressive April 18, 2012 at 2:47 pm #

    ps- ask any cop who has to make the 60 mile trip every time some miscreant has to be thrown in jail. What a senseless waste.
    Taxpayer $$$ down the drain when the County seat could easily be switched to the Mammoth
    area where the population, the dollars, the restaurants, lodging, entertainment, sports, the culture, the recreation, the brains, the future … EVERYTHING exists.

    • Wayne Deja April 18, 2012 at 4:40 pm #

      The brains ?….and the Future ?..In Mammoth ?….Where does THAT exist ?

      • Progressive April 18, 2012 at 6:29 pm #

        The nation continues to face challenges in providing equitable and adequate health care for rural Americans. This is especially true for mental and behavioral health care. Thus, while rural residents often have a greater need for these services, they have less access to care than their urban counterparts.

        State Offices of Rural Health have identified suicide, stress, depression, and anxiety disorders, and lack of access to mental and behavioral health care, as major rural health issues (Texas A&M University’s Southwest Rural Health Research Center, 2005).

        By the late 1990s, rates of suicide were 54% higher in rural areas than in urban areas (Bishop, 2009). Suicide is the second leading cause of death in states with primarily rural populations (Advancing Suicide Prevention, 2005).

        Rural areas have a higher proportion of people who are at risk for mental and behavioral health problems, especially older adults and the chronically ill (National Advisory Committee on Rural Health and Human Services Report, 2004).

        Data obtained by the National Health Interview Survey found that the prevalence of major depression was significantly higher among rural (6.11%) than among urban (5.16%) populations (South Carolina Rural Health Research Center, 2005).

        In short, when you live in an area where there is little stimulation for the mind – the mind starts turning to mush.

        But to each his own.

        • Wayne Deja April 18, 2012 at 8:18 pm #

          Progressive…..Don’t really know where your going with this one….Are you trying to say the people living in the little towns ,such as Bridgeport…or Lone Pine …and all the little towns in-between don’t have “stimulation” and things to keep them “busy”….. like mammoth does?…PLEASE give me a break!! When you point out the the bad behavior of those in Bridgeport, I know people that lived in June Lake that never went into Mammoth lakes to seek the “fun times” and the high-life going on there…Now if Mammoth Lakes is the home of the rich and famous…as you put it the “bon vivant stuff”,please explain to all of us why in the #^%* is the town going under?

          • Progressive April 19, 2012 at 5:24 am #

            Please refer to the studies above re: what happens to minds (especially aging minds) when people in rural areas have too much time on their hands and focus only on blogs such as this (that always result in angst and ill-will) all day long.
            Those who seek culture, art, concerts, plays, festivals, etc. and find these things in Mammoth Lakes appear quite well-adjusted to me.

          • Benett Kessler April 19, 2012 at 9:51 am #

            Inner reflection, the adventures of the mind, reading, writing, music, hiking, exploring, gazing at incredible natural beauty, photographing and painting it; attending plays, concerts, presentations (they do exist in many towns within driving distance). All areas of the Eastern Sierra offer a very rich and rewarding life without crowding and frequent crime. BK

        • sierragrl April 19, 2012 at 11:19 am #

          apparently then, you’ve been spending too much time in rural areas!

          • Wayne Deja April 19, 2012 at 3:05 pm #

            sierragrl…Maybe someone should remind “Progressive” of the recent incident in Mammoth Lakes where the man lost his job,his home,and decided the way to best handle the situation was to (allegedly) blow up the police station.

      • Neutral April 19, 2012 at 6:35 am #

        Sounds to me that Wayne Deja harbors an uncontrollable hatred for all things Mammoth.

    • sierragrl April 18, 2012 at 6:14 pm #

      just because Bridgeport is the county seat, it doesn’t mean the jail has to be there….

      • Progressive April 18, 2012 at 7:55 pm #

        Who in their right mind would want a jail in their community?

      • Reality Bites April 19, 2012 at 7:32 am #

        The Jail should have been placed in the southern part of Mono County where the population centers are located. The Good Old Boys in Bridgeport did not want to drive that far so everyone else has to.

        • Neutral April 19, 2012 at 9:54 am #

          You are correct Reality:

          Once again the cost of transporting prisoners from the population center you speak of to a wilderness area that is exposing itself as an economic drain, is preposterous in these difficult times.

          Kudos to those who had the foresight to place courts and other administrative offices where they belong – In Mammoth.

        • Wayne Deja April 20, 2012 at 12:14 pm #

          Build a new jail in Mammoth right next to the pot farm at 420….so the incarcerated “patients” have access to their “medicine” we on the outside are paying for.

          • Free Advice April 20, 2012 at 12:33 pm #

            I see Wayne Deja has been listening to the Rush Limbaugh show again.

            These foam-at-the-mouth neocon types always find ways to freak out about something those liberals come up with.

            My advice – instead of breaking your medicine in half – why not ingest the whole thing?

      • Neutral April 19, 2012 at 9:05 am #

        The town of Mammoth Lakes prefers to have the jail right where it is.

        • Reality Bites April 19, 2012 at 10:49 am #

          Actually that is not true. The town would like it to be next to the Whitmore Animal Shelter in the old Probation Camp area. Out of sight, out of mind, yet close to town with a big labor pool of employees.

    • hisierragal April 20, 2012 at 9:23 am #

      Yes. Move the jail to Mammoth so the inmates can stay closer to home. The town has “EVERYTHING” so let them keep their own “miscreants” as well.

      Signed, A happy, proud, well educated, well rounded north county resident.
      p.s. – you could not pay me enough to live in Mammoth.

      • Rude Awakening April 20, 2012 at 12:27 pm #

        I hate to break this to you hisierragal (sic) but the town of Mammoth Lakes with or without its developer mistakes and greed, continually appears on the Best Places to Live in America lists.

        And as in any premiere resort town, it isn’t cheap to live there.

        So, unless you are making $75-100K you are 100% correct.
        They probably couldn’t pay you enough (as you say) to live in Mammoth.

  15. Dingo April 18, 2012 at 12:16 pm #

    Geez, our tax dollars hard at work.
    I can’t help but to wonder how much of a distraction this is for current county employees who worked in this department and how much TIME AND MONEY is being wasted as a result of it.

    • Neutral April 19, 2012 at 9:24 am #


      And what a waste of tax money it is.

      One news source that has been monitoring this case on closed-circuit TV in Mammoth since day one, has witnessed non-stop repetive lawyer discourse with nobody willing to expedite the process. This case will clearly be going into June. Perhaps beyond that until somebody is willing to expose the filibustering and total waste of money and time.

      The only motivation one can imagine is that this is a punitive measure for management who has a written anti-violence in the workplace statute in place and willing to enforce it.

  16. Progressive April 18, 2012 at 8:51 am #

    This sort of nonsense is commonplace in the North County culture. These people clearly have nothing to do, and this drives a lot of them crazy. Why Bridgeport continues to be the county seat is a total mystery to everyone, and why public employees are allowed to have unions is equally mysterious. These people hate the South County believing all are snobs down there. Watch for an unnecessarily long, drawn out trial. At taxpayer expense. This is punishment for anyone who dares fire a union employee from the North County.

    Sell the North County to Nevada. Gambling will provide the necessary jobs that are needed.

    • Home girl April 18, 2012 at 10:16 am #

      well progressive with comments like that no wonder the folks in northcounty think South county folks are snobs, you talk like a snob and why should the county seat be moved from Bridgeport?? cause of population? Then you should move the state capital to Los Angeles, Nevada should move to vegas, etc…………. and if the county did wrong, the truth should be exposed no matter what the cost. to many underhanded dealings going on in this day and age all the way from the top to the bottom.

      • Progressive April 18, 2012 at 2:41 pm #

        Nonsense. The town of Bridgeport does nothing for the economy of Mono County but employ government tax-eaters generation after generation. They have nothing to do but get into fights with each other either at Rhinos or at work.- like in the good ol’ cowboy days.
        Like any municipal area they should contribute $$$ to the county – not backwards, backwoods crap like this.
        Anybody from South County would be a better educated, more rounded and overall better citizen and county employee.

        • Benett Kessler April 18, 2012 at 3:00 pm #

          I’m posting your opinion, but won’t post any further unfounded, insulting attacks on people just because they live in a small town.
          Benett Kessler

          • Progressive April 18, 2012 at 3:46 pm #

            Please do not put words in my mouth. I am not “attacking people.” Just pointing out what goes on in that” small town” (as you put it) and perhaps why things like this happen: Employees fist-fighting on the job.
            I might suggest you go undercover and interview some of the residents and get a first-hand evidence of what I am referring to.
            The overall bad attitude of many union-based employees of Bridgeport is finally coming to a head and is finally being covered by media sources.

        • Wayne Deja April 18, 2012 at 3:19 pm #

          Let’s see…..Where would I choose to go for a week’s vacation…and spend my money……Bridgeport,California….great fishing and camping….Bodie nearby…Mono Lake,Walker river (east and west)..Twin Lakes..Robinson Creek….a nice quiet walk through town the last night of the trip…..or would I choose to go to Mammoth Lakes?…Hmmmm…Let me think about that one…

          • Progressive April 18, 2012 at 5:57 pm #

            There are many reasons why the town of Mammoth Lakes is growing in population while the town of Bridgeport continues to shrink.
            In short, there is nothing to do in Bridgeport and this is starting to show when grown men (not smoked-up snowboarder visitors) start hammering on each other.

          • Progressive April 18, 2012 at 6:19 pm #

            It appears that Wayne Deja does not know that people that come to this area have money to spend. And like it or not, most want the finer things. Art, culture, numerous restaurants, golf courses, movie theatres, concerts, … the bon vivant stuff and spend they do.
            Not that there’s anything wrong with campfire marshmallows, hot dogs and fish bait.
            Different strokes for different folks.

        • sierragrl April 18, 2012 at 6:13 pm #

          this guy is all wet….Bridgeport does a very nice summer business and does bring in tax revenue….but I take umbrage with the thought that a town exists only to bring in tax revenue….That really makes no sense, at all.The point of a community should be to live in, enjoy, and hopefully make a better place for others down the road…Progressive sounds like one of those developers/real estate agents in Mammoth who seem to think success is higher real estate prices…I mean, how in the world does that equal success? In fact, if you want your kids to be able to be gainfully employed in this area and afford housing, higher prices is the last thing you want….They really don’t care about the community, and unfortunately, they are the ones that end up on city councils and planning commissions.

          • Progressive April 18, 2012 at 8:06 pm #

            Most of the children born and raised in Bridgeport who don’t want to join the union and work for the county are moving away looking for jobs.
            There’s your future – Bodie II

          • Neutral April 19, 2012 at 6:34 am #

            If it weren’t for the unionized county employment, Bridgeport would cease to exist.

    • Wayne Deja April 19, 2012 at 4:20 pm #

      Progressive…I’ve spent all my vacations the last 10 years in the Bridgeport area…and have gotten to know a few people doing so.Now what you say is kinda true,some of their residents aren’t too crazy about the “South County” folks..but from what they say..IMO…it’s not so much because of seeing them as snobs,or jealous of ,as you put it “better educated,more rounded and overall better citizens”,it’s more because of how Mammoth thinks they live in their own little world..and thinking THEY are better than others….kinda like how you,yourself, think they are….when,in all accuallity,they are far from it.

      • Progressive April 19, 2012 at 5:11 pm #

        Ouch, Deja!

        “and thinking THEY are better than others….kinda like how you,yourself, think they are….”

        Sounds like you’re coming unglued a bit.

        Instead of breaking your medication in half – why not take the whole thing?
        This IS an open format – isn’t it?
        What the Limbaugh-esque ad hominem attack?

  17. P&B April 18, 2012 at 7:47 am #

    It will be interesting to see if Katie is able to penetrate the clandestine cloak of that the county management uses to bury the truth in cases like this.

  18. Reality Bites April 18, 2012 at 4:42 am #

    The Good Old Boy system runs deep in Mono County!

    • DougFoley April 18, 2012 at 4:59 pm #

      Yes, our Good Old Boy system does run deep, just ask Mike Booher, or Stan Eller 🙁


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