Arvin City Council member José Flores says he voted against giving settlement money to former Arvin Police Chief Tommy Tunson. Flores believes the city handled Tunson's termination properly and thinks giving Tunson any additional money is unfair to the city.
"I believe that he had no grounds to sue the city and prevail," Flores says. "Because, number one, the city of Arvin decided to let him go to release him for management styles, so there's no cause whatsoever."
Tunson signed a settlement agreement with the city August 27th to be reinstated to employment with the city and placed on paid administrative leave. City council members agreed to pay him an additional $10,000 in a lump sum settlement and to pay him through the end of the year.
Settlement documents show Tunson filed a claim against the city July 3rd saying his rights were violated and that breach of contract, racial discrimination, emotional distress, and a hostile work environment played a part.
We spoke with Tunson's attorney, Christopher W. Miller in Sacramento, who says Tunson is "very pleased that the city acted in good faith to reach a settlement in this matter. We've resolved all of his outstanding issues with the city."
Miller says Tunson is now coaching a local football team, and the settlement concludes any litigation between Tunson and the city of Arvin.
"I respect the city council's decision. They did what was the best thing for this community," Flores says. "Of course, if you continue with a process it's going to be costly in regards to legal fees and all that, so they wanted to reach a consensus to put this to rest. We complied with everything, and I strongly believed that he deserved no more than that."
Some Arvin residents have mixed reactions on the settlement.
"If they think he wasn't doing the right job, do whatever you need to do, but do something for the city," says Ruth Aguirre, an Arvin resident for 50 years. She says she believes not much will change in the city regardless of what happens.
"You shouldn't have fired him in the first place if they knew they were going to pay him the $10,000 and keep his benefits and keep everything. He should've just stayed," says Gustavo Pantoja.
Tunson's contract stated he could be fired with or without cause, so why the city is paying him is unclear. Tunson is also eligible to modify his previous retirement application with CalPERS.