It's not the small town politics that has Isleton once again airing their dirty laundry with film at eleven that is embarrassing the good folks of Isleton once more. It's small people who has held this delta city hostage because of the "small fish wanna be big fish in small pond" mentality.
No answer on the phone at City Hall this morning, and a call to the City Manager's Office went to a voice-mail box for someone who hasn't worked there since July.
That's the way it is in the Peyton Place politics of this Delta town of about 850 residents, where political infighting and money woes apparently are the stuff soap opera's are made of.
The disfunction continued with the removal Thursday night of Dave Larsen, who had served as city attorney for several years and recently took over the city manager's post as well.
Larsen, who effectively ran the town, was removed for cause by a 3-2 vote of the City Council, members of the council said Friday.
"There were just so many things that he was not able to carry out, nothing was able to get done," Vice Mayor Rebecca Villones said Friday. "We have so many bills, and it's really difficult to deal with it anyway.
"He was not able to do what we needed to do."
Larsen had been a controversial figure since Isleton's aborted effort last year to allow a large medical marijuana farm to set up shop on the city's outskirts in return for monthly payments to help ease the city financial problems.
The farm plan was scrapped after federal prosecutors threatened to move in, and the Sacramento County grand jury report slammed the plan.
As part of the grand jury probe – the eighth involving Isleton in recent years – Larsen was singled out for criticism, and District Attorney Jan Scully accused him of having a conflict of interest.
Larsen, while working for the city, also was being paid $250 an hour by the pot farm developer to help draft documents for the project, Scully's office said at the time. Larsen defended himself, saying everything had been done properly and in the open.
In response to his dismissal this week, Larsen said he had done nothing wrong in the marijuana deal and that he had done a good job for the city.
"I've never worked harder in my life or achieved more in my life in six months and I'm really proud of what I did," said Larsen, who was being paid $127,500 annually for both municipal posts.
The 61-year-old attorney added that his removal for cause means he will not get three months' pay as severance and that he could end up filing for bankruptcy protection.
Larsen also said that he believed he had the city on the precipice of being economically viable, and that he had an Indian tribe interested in talking to the city about coming in with a casino, a move that he said could have put Isleton "in hog heaven."
Dave Larson also was in discussions to redevelop the boondoggle town house fiasco that sits abandoned and is a testimony of Isleton's council member's inability to put personalities aside and take care of business.
It is too bad as there are many in the new chamber who brought back the Crawdad festival last year with success who are seeing their hard work go down the PR drain because of a few petty and vindictive council members whose ego's rule their decisions.
Larsen said he believed Villones had been angry with him since the marijuana controversy, and another council member said his removal stemmed from bruised personalities.
"I know that it's very personal with Rebecca," said City Councilwoman Elizabeth Samano, who opposed Larsen's removal. "She just didn't like him."
Normally, the comings and goings of bureaucrats in a small town would not cause more than a ripple, but Isleton is a special case.
The city has had a perennial budget crisis and recently had reached out to Sacramento County in hopes of getting a $300,000 to $500,000 bailout loan to help it pay its bills.
The council decided Thursday night not to pursue that loan, Villones said.
Larsen's removal also short-circuited plans to hire a police chief. The department, which has two officers and three reserve officers, is currently run by interim Chief Steve Adams.
Samano said there were plans to interview four candidates for the post Friday, but that with Larsen's removal she expected to go down to City Hall to make certain the candidates knew no one would be available to speak with them for now.
Villones said the council has a candidate in mind to replace Larsen and that he should be in place by Wednesday, although she declined to name him before then.
The council member said she believes the city now is moving in the right direction. "We're all excited to do what we need to do to rebuild here in Isleton," Villones said.
But Samano wasn't convinced that removing Larsen represented progress.
"It's just more of the same," she said. "It disappoints me. I was confident in the decisions that were being made."
Underneath public scrutiny, the plot thickens as the "McCoy s and Hatfield s" square off for the next feud over a proposed "Blues Festival." The sad thing is that the bitterness and selfishness of the adult participants are being watched and picked up by the young people coming up. After all, these council members have followed in their families footsteps for years in the immature battle for control over a broke and sad little city.
Luckily the chamber has a great lineup for this years Cajun Festival. The festival goers will as usual have a great family friendly event. However, when it's over most folks who shun the gossip and have real lives will just hold their noses and mind their own business.