A Modesto man who thrust himself into Atwater politics was denounced publicly on Monday by the local chapter of the NAACP.
Darryl Davis, president of the Merced chapter of National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, distanced the organization from statements made in May by Frank Johnson.
A former president of the NAACP in Modesto, Johnson now describes himself as the CEO of a group with a similar name, National Association for the Advancement of All People based in Modesto.
Davis read from a letter he submitted to the city in May. He said he confronted Johnson late last year and told him to cease his investigation into Atwater politics.
Johnson left the Modesto NAACP in April, the branch office confirmed. Last month, he publicly accused interim City Manager Scott McBride of running an illegal hotel from the mother-in-law suite at his home.
My concern at this time was that Mr. Johnson has given the community of Atwater the impression that the Merced County branch of the NAACP may be behind (his) actions.
Darryl Davis, president of the Merced chapter of National Association for the Advancement of Colored People
“My concern at this time was that Mr. Johnson has given the community of Atwater the impression that the Merced County branch of the NAACP may be behind (his) actions,” Davis said.
McBride was one of two candidates seeking the full-time city manager position. He announced in May he no longer sought the job, and his contract ends at the end of June.
McBride has also said the public accusations were intended to “smear my character.” He said he no longer rents out the suite.
Johnson has submitted a number of public records requests to the city dating back to at least December. Reached by phone, Johnson declined to answer questions about why he, a Modesto man, is interested in Atwater city business.
Also during Monday’s meeting, City Attorney Tom Terpstra said the council voted in closed session to have another interim city manager beginning July 1.
During Monday’s meeting, he doubled down on accusations toward McBride. “Being in a leadership position, he knew better,” he said publicly.
He called for the council to punish McBride, though did not name a specific punishment.
Atwater’s search for a city manager has been fraught with controversy.
Residents at a special council meeting in April complained about the perception of wrongdoing after the other city manager candidate, former Ceres Police Chief Art de Werk, was seen at a restaurant with three council members. Councilmembers denied discussing city business at the restaurant or violating any open-meetings laws.
Later in the month, the council decided to start the search over, this time using an executive search firm.
Questions also have been raised about de Werk’s relationship with Councilwoman Cindy Vierra, whose husband used to work for de Werk at the Ceres Police Department. Vierra has denied having a personal friendship with de Werk and brushed off criticisms, saying she doesn’t have any conflict of interest.
Also during Monday’s meeting, City Attorney Tom Terpstra said the council voted in closed session to have another interim city manager beginning July 1. During a special meeting in May, the council hired Bob Murray and Associates to search for the next permanent city manager.