July 29, 2021

2020–2021 City Council: Linda Leeuwrik, Rick Cheatum, Roger Bray, Claudia Ortega (back row); Heidi Adamson, Brian Blad, Chris Stevens (front row) (Photo Credit: City of Pocatello)

Pocatello City Council Member Claudia Ortega has created, as she states in a July 12 email to Pocatello Human Resources Department Head Heather Buchanan, “…a list of potential positions to eliminate for streamlining purposes.”  She goes on to request, “…the dollar amount associated to each one, so I can calculate total savings.”

The list includes over 30 City employees.  It includes employees from multiple departments.  Positions on the list include:

  • Mayor’s Office:  1 admin position and the Public Information Officer (PIO)
  • Police Department:  2 lieutenants, 2 stenographers, and a crime analyst
  • Finance:  1 payroll and 1 admin clerk
  • H.R.:  1 position
  • Parks:  All seasonal employees except for the aquatic center, all team sports, and 2 FTE’s
  • Planning & Engineering:  1 Sr. Engineer, 2 techs, 1 planner, and the public works director
  • Utility Billing:  1 position
  • Legal:  1 attorney and 1 legal assistant
  • IT:  “AV guy”

Under the heading ‘Library,’ Ortega lists 11 positions, including one individual by name, the name being redacted on the list obtained through a records request.  Ortega also under the library heading, says, “Reduce hours and days to Mon, Wed, Thurs 12-7 and Sat 10-3.”

In a follow-up email sent by Ortega on July 13, she writes, “I want to add one more position to my streamlining list…the mechanic that works on the fire trucks. :)”

In a Special Meeting of the City Council held on July 26, requested by Buchanan, tempers flared as, prior to entering executive session, council members addressed the creation of what one called a “hit list.”

In response to Ortega questioning the need for the meeting, Pocatello Mayor Brian Blad said, “…there was a request that has names on it that, as it goes out to the public, it will devastate, even more so, the morale of the employees that we’ve had…”

Ortega said, “Well, first of all, first of all, I’m not interested in the least in damaging any of the people that work here, so the idea, is quite insulting, that you think that, in a public meeting I would say that, ‘Oh, by the way, we need to get rid of all these people to balance the budget.’  That’s absurd and insulting.”

Council Member Linda Leeuwrik stated that a specific list identifying individuals employed by the City for cuts was very different than public information readily available.  She stated, “To discuss that, out of the blue, for the first time in a public meeting, with what amounts to a kind of a hit list, is something that I’m not comfortable with at all.”

Just prior to entering executive session, Ortega said she only sent the list for informational purposes in preparation for a possible discussion of layoffs.

The public portion of the July 26 Special Meeting can be seen, here:


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