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Former Chief Mayberry Clears The Air

But Not Everyone Is Convinced

The Fort Bragg City Council meeting of December 8th could not be held at Town Hall due to construction work. Costs of those Town Hall building improvements were a minor point of contention in the recent election campaign for three of the five council seats. The December 8th gathering in which the three campaign winners (former councilmember Lindy Peters, recently retired public works department employee Michael ‘Q Ball’ Cimolino, and Mayor Dave Turner) would be seated was held at a smaller venue on Dana Street, the John Diederich Center. Only 30 chairs were put out for public seating. Those were filled long before the six o'clock meeting start time; another 30 or so people stood behind the folding chair audience and several handfuls more flooded outside the entrance door. The attraction seemed to be Agenda Item 5.C: “Receive Report Regarding Modifications to Main Street Merge Lane Relocation & Streetscape Project in Response to Business Concerns and Provide Direction to Staff.”

Main Street business managers like Autumn Stuckey were on social media earlier in the day urging a big turnout for the meeting. On Facebook, Stuckey stated, “So let’s all try to be there and welcome the new council in and put to voice the stopping of this project. Then we can move on to the next issues.”

Though she doesn't own a Fort Bragg business, Roberta Mayberry, the wife of recently retired Fort Bragg Police Chief Scott Mayberry responded with this lengthy comment, “The two new council members agree with the people, no main street project, but the Queens not worried because the rest of them don't care what the community and business owners want, they do what they are told… If you are smart you'll get to all the business owners and remind them in person that they need to be there. ‘She’ said this will all pass and everyone will just go back to normal. Then we'll be back to 5 people at all the meetings… I would hope she is mistaken folks. I say, let's get that petition going to say good riddens to bad rubbage!”

There's no use placing [sic] next to every spelling, punctuation, or grammatical error when this woman is on a roll. The “Queen” and the “She” Mrs. Mayberry referenced is Fort Bragg City Manager Linda Ruffing. Seemingly, Roberta Mayberry can't bring herself to write the woman's actual name.

The Main Street Merge Project was obviously designed by someone unaware of the ingress and egress needs for several downtown Fort Bragg businesses (because Main Street in Fort Bragg is one and the same as Highway 1, much of the blame falls squarely on the oft criticized folks at Caltrans), so it has become a cause not just for those business owners who might lose customers due to construction, but those opposed to the project have found anti-city hall support from citizens still disgruntled over the dismissal/retirement of Scott Mayberry from his position as Chief of Police.

Unfortunately for the latter group, by the time former Chief Mayberry took to the podium during the public comment period of the city council meeting the vast majority of the audience (the Main Street business people) had left the building as surely as Elvis.

Undaunted, Mayberry began by noting that not a day has gone by since July without some member of the public asking him to reveal exactly what issues triggered his apparently early retirement and to clarify what accusations had been made about/against him by city staffers. It would seem clear he referred here to City Manager Ruffing and possibly her assistant, Ginny Feth Michel.

“So I'm going to clear up some of those issues,” Mayberry said.

The next words out of his mouth made it evident that awareness of irony may not be the highest priority in the Mayberry household. “As we know, I have been probably the most humble person in the world – three and a half years as Chief of Police here.”

I can't just leave that quote hanging there to lynch Scott Mayberry with his own words. On the job he is generally a gentleman who, at times, even delights in self-effacing humor. Like all of us he is not perfect, his choice of words at this meeting was sometimes self-aggrandizing and self defeating, but from his point of view, from his world as a leader of police officers, he spoke as genuinely as he could. As a member of Coast Copwatch, I've seen Scott Mayberry make mistakes. His steadfast defense of a rookie officer who made one misjudgment after another brought periods of closed doors to critics from a public servant who professed an open door policy. On the other hand Scott Mayberry has been seen taking a bag lunch to Bainbridge Park to sit down on the grass and eat beside the homeless or chat amiably with those afflicted by drug problems. He is a man of contradictions, but there are many, many folks in Fort Bragg who believe in him. His departure from the police force was clearly an impetus behind the candidacy of Michael Cimolino, and the anger and frustration of those residents of Fort Bragg who believe strongly in Scott Mayberry was the chief reason Cimolino was the second highest vote-getter in the November council election.

As he spoke to the City Council, Mayberry pointed out that comments were made by city staff at council meetings this fall that damaged his reputation. He also disclosed what many in the public may not have known, that at the end of June his doctor recommended that Scott Mayberry needed at least 30 days away from work, essentially to recover from the physical and emotional stress he had been under for the three months following March 19, 2014 when Deputy Sheriff Ricky Del Fiorentino was ambushed and killed and shortly thereafter Fort Bragg Police Lieutenant John Naulty killed the assailant. Mayberry provided immediate backup on the scene. Naulty has been on leave ever since. (This too may become a controversial issue at some point.) At any rate, Mayberry not only filled in for Naulty on duty, but according to Mayberry's account, he also worked extra shifts, including graveyard, so that his sergeants and other officers could have time off with their families.

Scott Mayberry & John Naulty
Scott Mayberry & John Naulty

Mayberry stated that city staff accused him of “abandoning the department at an important time.” Mayberry revealed that his physician had told him, somewhere near the end of 2013, that his physical condition was such that he needed to take six months off from work to successfully recover. Mayberry offered to make public all medical records needed to prove the point.

According to Mayberry he told his doctor that he could not do that because the staffing at Fort Bragg PD was so low he could not take time off. Mayberry reiterated, “I did not abandon the department, I would never abandon the department. In 30 years of law enforcement I have never abandoned anything I have done. And to be accused of that is outrageous.”

Mayberry divulged that he had been suffering from pseudoseizures while on the job. He said that when this happened he pushed his office door shut so subordinates wouldn't notice and he didn't point this out because he needed to get on with his job and “get things done.”

The former chief went on to cite other alleged statements made by city staff that purportedly insinuated things like, “There's more to Chief Mayberry, but personnel rules prevent us from talking about it.”

Next, he attempted to turn the tables, saying that if there were incidents that proved he had performed in a way that amounted to abandoning the Fort Bragg Police Department, all of those specifics should be cited in his personnel record. He offered to make such records public, seemingly daring city staff or the city council to cite any formal documentation of such failures. Mayberry's clear implication being that there's virtually nothing in his performance evaluations that specifies anything that would be interpreted as abandoning the department.

Scott Mayberry clearly feels disrespected, I might feel the same way in a similar scenario, but here's the problem: Roberta Mayberry. The former chief's wife's comments noted above already top the snarky meter and move on into blatant disrespect. Mrs. Mayberry's comments were made online, which in today's world is as public as any civic meeting, possibly reaching a broader audience and creating a longer lasting impression.

Mrs. Mayberry didn't stop there. No sooner had the City Council meeting broken up, she was back on line with this litany about City Manager Ruffing, “She can put that in her pipe and smoke it! Isn't he just wonderful! I feel so sorry for this community losing someone who loves this community so much. SHE is the reason this happened… SHE needs to be next. He proved she is a liar tonight when he disputed three separate things she had made statements about… Once a liar, always a liar!”

I don't know about you, dear readers, but as for me that's quite a mouthful of insolent disrespect. Scott Mayberry is perhaps rightfully upset that he has not been fully respected by Fort Bragg's city staff and the city manager in particular, but c'mon, if this is how your spouse behaves publicly, you can't expect most people to take you seriously.

In the immortal words of Steve Martin, “Excuse Me,” Mr. Mayberry, but when your spouse is out their online dissing another public figure in a manner more suited to a spoiled teenaged cheerleader than a sympathetic supporter, well, if that's the case, and it most certainly seems to be, then my best advice is to “fuhgeddaboutit” and move on with your new job as an investigator in the district attorney's office, a position that you took on willingly without six months of doctor mandated R&R beforehand.

By the way, the Fort Bragg City Council ended up listening to the majority of business owners and unanimously rejected the Main Street Merge Project. The newly constituted city council elected Dave Turner mayor and Lindy Peters vice mayor.

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