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Council splits on union negotiator hire
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In a 3-2 split Tuesday night the Turlock City Council approved hiring retired law enforcement official Dave Young to act as an outside labor negotiator in the upcoming contract discussions with the city employee unions.

Young has worked with City Manager Roy Wasden several times in the past. He retired as assistant chief from the Modesto Police Department while Wasden was the police chief and has previously filled interim positions at the Turlock Police Department, including a short stint as police chief.

For the past two years the city has hired an outside negotiator to act in the city manager’s stead and at his direction while in negotiations with the city’s employee unions. Wasden was requesting the city approve spending $15,000 to continue the outside assistance, but this time it would be Young at the helm.

While all lauded Young’s years of service, some council members questioned if he was the right fit for the negotiator role.

“It looks wrong to hire Mr. Young,” Councilmember Amy Bublak said. “Nothing disrespectful to him, but he worked as a subordinate for Mr. Wasden and is going to continue as one. He has less time and experience than you (Wasden), so you’re going to have to help him and bring him up to speed. I can’t imagine there aren’t other people that are available that know all unions and not just police.”

Bublak pointed out that last year Wasden had to spend considerable time in the negotiations even though the city was using outside help and that if the city was going to spend $15,000 again this year, it “should be for someone who knows all the unions.”

Councilmember Forrest White was the other no vote for hiring Young, which he said he cast because he felt the city manager should make the negotiations a priority.

Also on Tuesday the City Council:

• Voted unanimously to amend the Turlock Municipal Code to ban pedestrians from the city medians, except when crossing a street.

• Approved a new tow-away zone in downtown, which clears the path for the Turlock farmers’ Market to move one block south. The Turlock Farmers’ Market will set up shop on Fridays on S. Broadway, between W. Main and A streets.

• Gave their support to the San Joaquin Tributaries Authority and their efforts to stop the State Water Resources Control Board from imposing a 35 percent unimpaired water flow mandate to the Stanislaus, Tuolumne, and Merced rivers.

• Approved the final project study report for State Route 165 from south of the Merced River to Highway 99.

• Adopted the City of Turlock 2013-15 Strategic Plan.