Atwater police chief's home damaged

mnorth@mercedsunstar.comOctober 10, 2012 

ATWATER -- Layoff notices prompted public displays of frustration from city employees and residents last week, but officials are saying that anger was taken too far when someone vandalized the police chief's house after an Oct. 3 City Council meeting.

Frank Pietro, police chief and interim city manager, confirmed that some of his property, including his home, was vandalized after last week's special meeting.

At that meeting, the City Council declared a common-law fiscal emergency and confirmed that 14 employees were given pink slips and 24 received letters notifying them that they may be laid off.

Pietro declined to go into detail about the vandalism.

Councilman Jeff Rivero said Pietro has dedicated his life to serving Atwater by moving through the ranks of the Police Department to become chief and stepping up to take on the added role of interim city manager "to fix the ills of the city."

"He's done more over this short period of time than all the city managers combined since I've been with the city of Atwater," Rivero said. "So to do ill or show malice against this man is unthinkable to me."

Pietro did not take extra pay when he took on the duties of interim city manager, nor did he take more pay when he was promoted from assistant police chief to chief in April.

"It's not right to vandalize his house," Rivero said. "I can't believe somebody did that."

Mayor Joan Faul said she doesn't know much about what happened, but declined to comment.

"I'm just going to leave it right there," she said.

Pietro took over as acting city manager Aug. 22 when former City Manager Kathy Kivley was placed on administrative leave.

Though no official reason was given for Kivley's termination in September, the budget crisis, eminent layoffs and talk of municipal bankruptcy for the city started to swirl about the same time.

Reporter Mike North can be reached at (209) 385-2453 or mnorth@mercedsunstar.com.

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