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City of Lodi completes investigation of union conflict

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Posted: Thursday, November 3, 2011 12:00 am | Updated: 7:29 am, Thu Nov 3, 2011.

Lodi Human Resources Director Dean Gualco will not be Lodi’s lead negotiator with the Lodi police union during the current round of negotiations, because of allegations that surfaced earlier this year that he had a business with the lead negotiator for the officer’s union.

The city finished an investigation into the alleged business relationship, but that had no bearing on the decision to pull Gualco from negotiations with the Lodi Police Officers Association, city spokesman Jeff Hood said. City staff made the decision before the end of the investigation, he said.

“Dean will not be negotiating with the police union, not because of any result of an investigation, but because the allegation was made,” Hood said.

The LPOA filed a claim in mid-May alleging that Human Resources Director Dean Gualco and Lodi Police Sgt. Sierra Brucia started a consulting business together. A claim is the first step toward a lawsuit.

The union alleged that if Gualco and Brucia had a business it would void the five different concession agreements the unions signed starting from February 2009 to June 2010. The union argued that they deserved more than $1 million in past wages and benefits that they gave up in negotiations during that time period.

City staff counter-claimed that if that were the case, then the relationship also negates a 20-percent pay raise and other benefits negotiated in the union’s contracts.

The union ended up settling the claim, but the city still had to hire an outside company to investigate whether any wrongdoing occurred, according to city staff.

The city spent about $18,500 to hire San Francisco-based consultant Renne Sloan Holtzman Sakai to research the employees’ relationship.

City Attorney Steve Schwabauer said he cannot release any of the conclusions of the investigation because state law prevents the release of any personnel records of police officers without a court order.

Hood said pulling Gualco from the negotiating table is the best solution for both groups.

“I’m not sure how beneficial it would be for him to be negotiating with the group that made an allegation against him,” Hood said.

Contact reporter Maggie Creamer at maggiec@lodinews.com. Read her blog at www.lodinews.com/blogs/citybuzz.

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