Two members of Mono appeal board uphold Luman’s firing

MONO COURTHOUSEThe long and public appeal hearing of fired Mono County mechanic, Dick Luman, has ended. His attorney reports that the Personnel Board deliberated and found against Luman, sustaining his termination.  A written decision is pending.  That document is expected to explain the reasons for their decision.

Attorney Katie Bellomo said that she and Luman do know that the vote in his appeal was 2 to 1.  Undersheriff Ralph Obenberger and employee Ken Goode voted to sustain Luman’s termination.  Supervisor Tim Hansen voted to reinstate Luman. Hansen indicated he would issue a written dissent.

Last October, Luman accompanied a fellow worker, Jim Kerby who wanted to meet with a Public Works supervisor, Jerry Vande Brake to complain about Road Department Manager Brett McCurry’s allegedly hostile behavior.  McCurry came into that meeting, words were exchanged and Luman said McCurry threw him against some tool bins.  Two eye witnesses said McCurry was the aggressor, and a third ended up  changing his testimony and blaming Luman.  Both Luman and McCurry were fired.

In her closing statement, attorney Bellomo said that the County had not “met its burden of proving by a preponderance of the evidence that the termination of sixty year old mechanic Dick Luman was justified.”  She pointed to Brett McCurry’s appeal getting underway this week with what she described as “two of McCurry’s closest friends” sitting on the appeal board.  Bellomo called the County’s investigation of the circumstances into Mr. Luman’s termination “incomplete.”  She said the County blamed Luman to “deflect attention from the County’s failure to address a hostile workplace problem.”

Bellomo points to the two men who saw the altercation and their unswerving testimony that McCurry was the aggressor.  She also pointed to manager Jerry Vande Brake who at first said he did not see the fight and then later claimed Luman started it. His change of view was documented in a report done by Mono County’s insurance investigator.  Bellomo pointed out that it was Vande Brake who “failed to deal with hostile workplace complaints about Brett McCurry brought to him by several employees.”

Bellomo said that the altercation left Luman with “fractured ribs and a hernia requiring an operation.”  Now, she and her client await the Personnel Appeal Board’s written rationale for their decision.


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32 Responses to Two members of Mono appeal board uphold Luman’s firing

  1. Just the facts June 28, 2012 at 6:36 am #

    There seems to be a growing amount of cases of violent behavior amongst older people today.
    One would assume that when you reach an advancing age you would never think of violence … especially in the workplace. This sort of creepy, uncivil behavior must be stopped immediately, no blame games. Own up to the mistake. Be an adult. This age group is fostering a party mentality. One should consider therapy before violence.

    • Big AL June 28, 2012 at 7:42 pm #

      I totally agree .. except for the therapy part, I’m not a big fan of therapy being used wholesale like the fashion is today.

      A lot of issues can be resolved by one as you say .. owning up to your mistakes … owning up to your responsibilities in general.

      don’t get me wrong .. therapy has a value in some cases. but it is very much abused as well.

      • disturbing element July 1, 2012 at 2:44 pm #

        Our older people are getting freakier by the day.
        You tube “tea party” to see what I mean.

  2. Friar Tuck June 28, 2012 at 7:04 am #

    Dick Luman needs to hire Gloria Allred to file a civil suit against Mono County, Then we’ll see these country bumpkins run for cover. I’ve seen this before, They protect their own until the big league attorney arrives, then everyone looks out for their own survival.

    It is actually a more profitable move than getting your job back at 60 years old anyway Dick. Nothing to loose and everything to gain at this point, bottom line is their forcing your hand, now cut of their head with the sharpest tool in the business.

    Have your attorney contact her office and watch how the game changes!

  3. Eastern Sierra local June 28, 2012 at 7:56 am #

    Sounds like a kangaroo court to me

  4. Scholl Bowl June 28, 2012 at 8:16 am #

    Of course Obenberger voted against him that is what the CAO and Rita Sherman wanted him to do and you know that Ken Goode isn’t going to vote against Undersferiff Obenberger…. his wife is being investigated for embezzlement by the Sheriff’s Department. Do you really think he was going to make a issue with the MCSO when his wives freedom and everything he owns is on the line here? Both of these people being on this panel is a complete and utter conflict of interest and just shows that Mr Luman never had a chance. I feel so sorry for this man, he is the victim of the curruption that is going on in Mono County. I hope that Mr. Luman takes this travesty to Grand Jury, then maybe he will get some true justice!

    • SierraFan June 28, 2012 at 10:48 am #

      I’m with you on this one! From the outside this stinks to high heaven!!! I didn’t think Lumin would have a true fair shake in this, he needs to appeal and maybe in a different county.

  5. Scholl Bowl June 28, 2012 at 8:20 am #

    I appoligize for spelling corruption and Undersheriff wrong…. I was so disgusted I was typing too fast. Sorry 🙂

  6. kerbear June 28, 2012 at 8:35 am #

    Bennett, I would like to know how long the panel deliberated? That will tell the real story…..

    • Benett Kessler June 28, 2012 at 9:56 am #

      I’ll check. BK

    • Benett Kessler June 28, 2012 at 1:15 pm #


      They deliberated roughly two hours in a closed session. Luman’s attorney had requested open deliberations.

      Benett Kessler

  7. Just the facts June 28, 2012 at 9:48 am #

    Perhaps this will be a wake-up call for some and a lesson for our youth that grown men better find better and more civil ways to express themselves during disagreements.

    • SierraFan June 28, 2012 at 10:52 am #

      Just the facts,

      You’re certainly right in the civilized handling of situations but with out being there at that moment, we’ll never know what started or who started this thing. My guess is that Mr. Lumin was protecting his rights as an employee and had considerable pushback and perhaps and over zealous boss. Again, this is speculation but I can tell you that I was in a similiar situation once and had no leg to stand on as the employee which was defeating!

      • Big AL June 28, 2012 at 7:34 pm #

        Yeah I hear ya SierraFan, yeah we need to get past slugging it out, but that is hard to do at times for some, it is in the human condition and for some it is very strong. People deal with things differently.

        Yeah as you say, it started with one side, the other had to defend himself, I’m sure whether he had no choice in the matter at that point.

        • SierraFan June 29, 2012 at 5:21 pm #

          Big Al,

          We’ll probably never know.

    • Big AL June 28, 2012 at 7:24 pm #

      Right on Dr. Facts … good post

  8. BiasedMuch June 28, 2012 at 10:57 am #

    Conflict of interest? The only dissentint vote came from Tim Hansen, one of Luman’s dear friends. Tell me how him being on the panel was in any way fair! You can’t fight at work and think you are going to keep your job? Where has people’s common sense gone these days?? Rules are in place for a reason and when they are broken, there are consequences.
    As for calling in Gloria Allred, don’t be ridiculous. She doesn’t go to court. She only creates a media hay-day and then asks for a pay day. Hmm…sounds familliar, actually.

  9. Just the facts June 28, 2012 at 11:05 am #

    Everything is contractual. Otherwise violence-prone miscreants (who should know better)would choose to settle ALL their disagreements by beating on each other (Like in a drunken bar room brawl).
    Surely there is a clause in their emplyoment agreement prohibiting violence in the workplace.
    They signed the contract.
    They ignored the clause set forth in the contract.
    They chose incivility and beat on each other.
    Consequently they broke the signed contract they agreed to honor.
    As things become more and more polarized today – you had better honor your contracts.
    The children are watching.

  10. Scholl Bowl June 28, 2012 at 11:29 am #

    You know the more I learn about this the angrier I get. When are the Board of Supervisor going to see how Obenberger is abusing his power? He is over the top. I just heard he is going to be on McCurry’s panel also! Is this true Bennett? Please find out for us. Thanks

    • Benett Kessler June 28, 2012 at 11:55 am #

      Appeal hearing testimony indicated that Obenberger, Harry Bryan and Tom Musik would comprise the Personnel Appeal Board
      for Brett McCurry.

  11. kerbear June 28, 2012 at 11:37 am #

    Something is smelling awful fishy with the SO. *sniff sniff* YEP, PRETTY FISHY!

  12. Scholl Bowl June 28, 2012 at 12:15 pm #

    Thanks for answering my question Bennett. How is it that Obenberger is on both of them? Doesn’t this man have issues with the Sheriff’s Department that he should be dealing with instead of sitting on both of these panels? I guess taking care of the counties agenda is more important.

    Now I have a prediction. Luman’s two friends will vote to reinstate and Obenberger will vote against to make this whole thing look legitmate. What a crock.

    Just you wait and see…..

    • local lady June 29, 2012 at 2:58 pm #

      Scholl Bowl, re: your last comment——your prediction? Are you really talking about Luman’s hearing or is that a mistake & you’re meaning McCurry’s hearing when you’re speaking of his two friends being on his panel? Just curious

  13. Scholl Bowl June 29, 2012 at 3:41 pm #


    When can we expect to see the written dissent from Hansen? I bet he will have some very interesting things to say!

    • Benett Kessler June 29, 2012 at 5:35 pm #

      Don’t know, but we will continue to check.

  14. Ross June 29, 2012 at 7:18 pm #

    You people make me sick! Two grown men fighting and people defend why they are out of work on a website. I speculate that most of the pro employee post n here are from the parties involved or that other baby. Try working construction where your boss will tell you to pack your trash and hit the road if he doesn’t like the way you looked at him….. literally

  15. School Bowl July 1, 2012 at 11:32 am #

    To Local Lady
    You’re correct I misspoke myself. My prediction is for McCurry’s hearing. Thank you for your correction and stay tuned to see what shanigans will go on next. This whole thing is just the sad reality of a county that never gets held to the proper and legal standards that any regular administrations would be held to, but I have a feeling things are gonna change soon ! Let’s hope anyway! Someone will flush that bowl soon!

    • local lady July 1, 2012 at 5:07 pm #

      Appreciate your clarification and change would be welcome

  16. Time to clean the Stall July 2, 2012 at 9:02 am #

    Now we can watch the shenanigans cost Mono big time! The Federal Court won’t buy the Mono way…..

  17. Just the facts July 2, 2012 at 12:06 pm #

    Just one more example of what the power of union labor can foster in California.

    Bad idea, Governor Brown.

    Solidarity is good. But it must also give a clear-cut thumbs down to violence in the workplace.

    60-year old men should be providing a healthy and civil example for the next generation – Not a violent one.

  18. Scholl Bowl July 10, 2012 at 9:57 am #


    I was wondering when we will hear the dissent from Hansen and what reasoning the panel had to sustain the termination of Luman? If their decision still has not been written, would you find out why?

    I would also like to hear what the findings were of Brett McCurry’s hearing. I have a feeling I already know, but would like to hear it as a fact. Thank you.

    • Benett Kessler July 10, 2012 at 11:34 am #

      According to the County Counsel’s Office, the Personnel Appeal Board has not yet issued its written decision and neither has the dissent.
      The Board will meet tomorrow for further review. It is expected that the written decision and the dissent will come out at the same time.
      We’ll stay on it.
      Benett Kessler


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