Port Hueneme: Councilman Hensley strikes back with constitutional rights abridgement lawsuit

Port Hueneme Councilman Jim Hensley

By George Miller

Port Hueneme Council-censured Member Jim Hensley has filed a complaint against Mayor Tom Figg, former Deputy City Manager Carmen Nichols and the city, for 1st and 14th Amendment right of free speech abridgement, per a press release received today. A press conference announced only this morning was scheduled to take place at 11 am. Due to the short notice, there were no media attendees.

The Council removed Hensley from many of his official duties, such as commission memberships, based on allegations that he engaged in verbal harassment of officials and employees. PH’s insurance carrier imposed demands for additional training and policy changes, due to perceived heightened liability resulting from the Councilman’s actions. Accusations were made and discussed at a Council meeting, where Hensley was not allowed to defend himself or call witnesses. We don’t know what might have taken place in closed sessions. The linked articles below provide more details.

Hensley has responded via a letter writing campaign and reaching out to media and the community. He has now escalated that to legal action, as you’ll see below.

Hensley is known as a rough-spoken (although not profane) , straightforward old school guy who has little patience for political correctness. This appears antithetical to the Council style. Officials and some community members claim he had been sexist and intimidating. He has

Former Port Hueneme Deputy City Manager Carmen Nichols

approached employees directly in his questions/investigations, sometimes eschewing the chain of command. He has told us that these were attempts to get at the truth when he felt that transparency was lacking.

Carmen Nichols resigned some time ago, citing her problems with Hensley as one of the reasons. She settled a previous complaint against Tom Figg. She filed a complaint with PH concerning Hensley. Hensley told me that that there are 6-7 wrongful termination suits against PH, including Joe Gately’s, but he couldn’t tell me anything about them.

We asked Mayor Figg for comments on Hensley’s complaint and received only the following: 

Port Hueneme Mayor Tom Figg

“I’m sorry that I can’t comment on the specifics of the lawsuit. I must leave that to our legal counsel and insurance carrier. What I can say is how troubled and disappointed I am in Mr. Hensley’s fixation on unsubstantiated conspiracy theories. As a friend and Council colleague, I’m sincerely concerned about Jim’s well-being and his continued ability to serve those who elected him to office.”

When we asked Hensley for his comments on Figg’s statement, he said that he was “amused” and looks forward to seeing his lawsuit play out. Our observation is that it is not merely a civil rights complaint, but also a catalog of many of Hensley’s accusations we have heard in the last several years. Clever way to air them. This will be interesting.

Hensley then went on to remind me that Port Hueneme’s insurance carrier, Joint Powers Authority, paid out $329,000 for settlement of harassments by Tom Figg on former City Manager Cynthia Haas (sexual harassment) and Deputy City Manger Carmen Nichols. Both are now gone, Nichols is now Deputy City Manager of Goleta. Hensley also stated that Figg is very excitable and sometimes flies off the handle in public.  Keep in mind that these two were close allies during past power struggles on big issues.

We’re adding this message we received from Hensley on Sunday, November 19:

Hi George, please change the verbiage in the settlement part of your article.

A previous claim settlement of $279,000 to Cynthia Haas naming Tom Figg as sexual harassing Cynthia, and me as harassing her.  When one keeps seeking information from a city official it is termed “harassment.”

The $50,000 claim settlement of July 5, 20-16 was against three parties:

City Manager Cynthia Hass; Harassment to force the employee to quit.

Deputy City Manager Carmen Nichols;  Harassment to force the employee to quit.

Councilman Tom Figg: Sexual harassment;  this was the allegation made against Tom when meeting this  female in 2015 greeter her with; “Oh, I know you, I saw your name and phone number in the men’s restroom.” 

If my memory serves me correct.  This was the big brouhaha statement by Councilman Sharkey asked Tom Figg about the harassment brought up at the in public, was the ignition point that caused  Figg to angrily jump up to leave, got in a angry retort directed at Sharkey

No claim was paid out to Carmen Nichols for any harassment and/or sexual caused by Tom Figg, though Carmen has filed such a “Throw Mud Against the Wall and see What Sticks;  by me.

Here is the actual complaint: 

COMPLAINT FOR DAMAGES
AND EQUITABLE RELIEF FOR
DEPRIVATION OF RIGHTS
UNDER COLOR OF STATE LAW
PURSUANT TO 42 U.S.C. §1983

Jim Hensley Complaint – filed

 

2945 Townsgate Road, Suite 200
Westlake Village, CA 91361

(805) 654-1451

MEDIA RELEASE

ATTENTION: BUSINESS & LEGAL EDITOR

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: NOVEMBER 17, 2017

The Law Offices of Samuel F. Galici has filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Central District of California on behalf Jim Hensley, Councilman of Port Hueneme, CA against the City of Port Hueneme, Carmen Nichols , former Deputy City Manager of Port Hueneme, and Tom Figg, the current Mayor of Port Hueneme, for the abridgment of Councilman Hensley’s First and Fourteenth Amendments rights to freedom of speech, which cannot be lawfully curtailed unless it causes an actual disturbance.

Mr. Galici will holding a press conference to discuss the details of this court action with media representatives on Saturday, November 18, 2017 at 11:00AM at 2945 Townsgate Road, Suite 202 Westlake Village, CA 91361 on the 2nd floor lobby.

In this lawsuit, Councilman Hensley seeks damages including punitive damages against Nichols and Figg, reinstatement as Mayor Pro Tempore, and to regain his rightful assignments of the committees from which he was removed, and for a permanent injunction prospectively restraining the City and the City Council from engaging in viewpoint discrimination in violation of his right to freedom of speech. A full copy of the complaint and background follows this media release.

_______________________

Former Port Hueneme employee alleges … – Ventura County Star

www.vcstar.com/story/news/local/communities/port-hueneme/…/799823001/

 

Port Hueneme resolution attempting to bust Mayor … – Citizens Journal

citizensjournal.us/port-hueneme-resolution-attempting-bust-mayor-pro-tem-monday-…

Aug 6, 2017 – Jim Hensley for inappropriate conduct and removing him … unwarranted and unsubstantiated allegations continually made against her by

City of Port Hueneme “Team Building” session ends … – Citizens Journal

citizensjournal.us/city-of-port-hueneme-team-building-session-ends-in-bitter-conflict-…

 

Figg denied Mayor Pro-Tem post, Breeze became … – Citizens Journal

citizensjournal.us/figg-denied-mayor-pro-tem-post-at-port-hueneme-12-7-15-city-co…

Added by Citizen Reporter on December 9, 2015. … since the election of Tom Figg and Jim Hensley to the City Council. … Meanwhile, both sides have said they would involve the District Attorney’s office inallegations of improprieties by the other side. … Water Authority Board meeting was its removal of ChairJim Hensley …

Hueneme council descends into further conflict … – Citizens Journal

citizensjournal.us/hueneme-council-descends-into-further-conflict-majority-curbs-ne…

Suspicions of Corruption as City Council of Port … – Citizens Journal

citizensjournal.us/suspicions-of-corruption-as-city-council-of-port-hueneme-elections…

Oct 11, 2016 – City councilmember Jim Hensley and Galici suspect a complex web of … If the city didn’t press charges, why and where is the chain of reports?

Missing: removal

Port Hueneme Water Agency board removes … – Citizens Journal

citizensjournal.us/port-hueneme-water-agency-boarc-removes-hensley-figg-replaces-…

CitizensJournal.us- Letters to the Editor (Archived) | Citizens Journal …

citizensjournal.us/citizensjournalus-letters-to-the-editor/

May 26, 2014 – Councilpersons Tom Figg and Jim Hensley were sworn in the last city council …… The cost of decommissioning and removal of the old power plants is …… is arrested for arms trafficking, another one is accused of taking bribes, …

 

George Miller is Publisher/Co-Founder of CitizensJournal.us and a “retired” operations management consultant residing in Oxnard.


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One Response to Port Hueneme: Councilman Hensley strikes back with constitutional rights abridgement lawsuit

  1. William Hicks November 19, 2017 at 11:24 am

    Now, this will be interesting as the case progresses.

    Reply

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