Passing the Puck (December 19, 2017)

By Angela Valles

Assistant Town Manager Marc Puckett is facing felony hit-and-run charges for a July 20 traffic accident where he allegedly injured an innocent civilian. The incident occurred around 11:30 p.m. along Interstate 15.

Up until now, I have reserved public opinion as I waited for charges to be filed. But privately I have thought Puckett’s lame excuse was BS since the very beginning. I would have found an alien abduction story more believable than his tin-foil hat conspiracy theory about Liberty Utilities following him home the night of the crash.

Hey buddy! If they were following you home, it was probably because they wanted to ensure you stayed hydrated and didn’t wake up with a hangover. Mmmkay?

Now to be fair, I don’t know if Puckett was intoxicated. Maybe I should give him the benefit of the doubt and just assume he wasn’t. After all, surely someone who makes $322,000 a year would possess the means to call an Uber or get a hotel room were that the case. Right?

It isn’t Puckett’s blatant and insulting lies that wind me up. I mean, my 7-year-old grandson can spin a better yarn than the Puckster.

It is the response by our town officials to this unfolding scandal. You can learn a lot about what a person thinks of you based on how they lie to you. Clearly, Puckett thinks we are a bunch of low-IQ hicks. But more importantly and more offensively, Mayor Scott Nassif and interim Town Manager Lori Lamson obviously feel the same way.

Last week, Nassif passed the puck and told the Daily Press that the town manager is responsible for the hiring and firing of all town employees (Apple Valley Mayor responds to Puckett controversy, Dec. 8). Please stop insulting our intelligence. Everyone knows that the town manager is responsible for a myriad of decisions. But, we also know that Puckett serves at the pleasure of the Council and that the Council provides input and direction on said issues. Maybe Mayor Nassif forgot that the Council approves all contracts.

It gets even more insulting in the same article.

Lamson, who earns $270,000 a year, also passed the puck. She says that California law prohibits the town from utilizing an arrest not resulting in a conviction in determining any condition of employment (including discipline). She cited section 432.7 of the state’s Labor Code in doing so.

That is a total red herring because it implies that the only reason people are asking for him to be dismissed is because he allegedly committed a crime. That is not true.

Perhaps, she should have cited section 3.1 of Puckett’s employment contract with the Town of Apple Valley. It reads: Employee serves at the will and pleasure of the Town Manager and may be terminated with or without cause, and without right of appeal or hearing.

It is very simple. Puckett can be fired for any reason. This was true before the alleged hit-and-run. And it is still true today. If the town fires Puckett without cause he is entitled to a six-month severance package. If the town fires Puckett for cause then he is not entitled to a severance.

But rest assured, the town has the power to fire him.

Section 3.3 of Puckett’s contract provides four reasons in which an employee can be terminated for cause and avoid paying severance. One of those reasons listed is: Any acts of dishonesty, fraud, misrepresentation, or other acts of moral turpitude.

It is plain as day that Puckett has been dishonest about the events that transpired that evening and misrepresented his involvement. And one could conceivably argue that leaving an injured person at the scene of a hit-and- run, who could have theoretically suffered a life and death injury, is an act of moral turpitude. And what about having integrity? I think a finance person must have integrity if they are to care for our hard earned tax dollars.

Now, watch them continue to pass the puck and allow this dishonest man to return to work while using dishonest arguments to deflect from the truth. And then remember these lies the next time they try to sell you on voting for a higher sales tax.

If they are going to lie to us about whether or not they can fire an employee who lies to our faces, has no integrity, and embarrasses our town, why on Earth would you ever believe them when they try to con you out of your hard earned money with some story about needing more taxes to keep you safe?

Side Note: I wanted to thank you all for the outpouring of support for my column. Keep them them coming. I love hearing from you.

If you have suggestions on subjects or comments please contact me at [email protected].

Source: Daily Press