Parks and Rec Director Seeks $900,000 from City of San Dimas

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After being placed on administrative leave, Parks and Recreation Director Hector Kistemann is seeking damages for alleged humiliation, anxiety, stress and loss of potential income. Photo: Danielle De Luna.

By Christian Shepherd

Editor’s note, Feb. 8, 11:55 a.m.: Over the weekend, City Manager Chris Constantin was unable to provide any information regarding whether Kistemann was told why he was put on administrative leave or if any efforts were taken to quell rumors regarding his removal, stating “no further disclosure would support the public’s interest in ensuring a complete review of this personnel matter.” Constantin also said that when the process is concluded, “the appropriate public response would be provided.”

As of now, no elected city officials nor Assistant City Manager Brad McKinney have provided comments on the situation. Constantin told SDCP that “we should not expect a city councilmember or employee to violate their obligation to protect an objective evaluation process in either a claim or personnel matter.” It is standard procedure for most organizations to withhold comment about ongoing personnel matters until the issue has been resolved. SDCP will continue to update this story as it evolves.

Editor’s note, Feb. 5, 11:00 p.m.: This story is breaking and will continue to be updated with comment from city officials as they are made available. San Dimas Community Post has reached out to all city councilmembers, Mayor Emmett Badar, City Manager Chris Constantin, Assistant City Manager Brad McKinney and Parks and Recreation Director Hector Kistemann for comment.

Hector Kistemann, director of the Parks and Recreation Department, has filed a claim against the city of San Dimas for $900,000 in damages. 

The claim, filed on Jan. 28, alleges the then-Interim City Manager Brad McKinney unfairly removed Kistemann from his position and the current mayor and city councilmembers failed “to promptly address accusations or rumors” surrounding his removal, causing him humiliation, anxiety, stress and other medical issues. 

The claim also alleges McKinney failed to promptly address accusations that damaged Kistemann’s reputation and potential for future employment, in addition to several other unnamed individuals who falsely accused Kistemann of improper conduct.  

In the claim, Kistemann alleges he still has not been told why he was removed from his position, but that any rumors or allegations regarding “financial impropriety” are false and “used as pretext to remove me from my position.”

The claim also states there was nothing on Kistemann’s personnel file regarding allegations of misconduct, financial misdeeds or insubordination. 

Kistemann has been on paid administrative leave since Oct. 14, 2020. Currently, Assistant City Manager Brad McKinney is overseeing the Parks and Recreation Department.  

McKinney said the Parks and Recreation Department has continued its normal operations.

Kistemann is being represented by attorney Ronald T. Vera in Claremont. 

Councilmember Ryan Vienna declined to comment and referred San Dimas Community Post to the city manager and city attorney. 

Layla Abbas contributed to this story.

4 Comments

  1. I really question what is going on in our city.

    From what I understand, this is the third case of a city employee being put on administrative leave over the past year. During this same time period, I happened to have had an experience working through a possibly contentious issue concerning Mr. Kistemann’s department. Throughout the process, I found him to be extremely reasonable, communicative, conscientious and helpful.

    With the increasing number of questionable moves being pushed through by some members of our City Council (especially their latest motion to limit public participation in Council meetings), I am very concerned about the direction in which our city government is moving.
    My husband and I have lived in San Dimas for almost thirty years, and I’ve never seen our public officials make a concerted effort to reduce community involvement…until now.
    This is our city, and if we don’t all start making a vigorous effort to pay attention to what is happening (especially at City Council meetings), we may wake up one day and find that our pleasant, community-involved, small town, that we have loved so much, is being run by a small group of elected officials who no longer value the input of their constituents.

  2. I gave up trying to resolve an issue I have had with the city for over a year, in which I reached out to Mr. Kistemann ( a matter under his control) with phone calls, visits, messaging and he never returned one of my calls.
    I feel completely ignored by my city of 43 yrs.

  3. Some recently elected City Councilmembers (viz. Ryan Vienna) ran on a platform of increased transparency. Initially, I experienced his engaging the community, keeping everyone informed to the extent possible via Facebook and other social media, meeting with us in our neighborhoods. I recall a need for greater transparency was raised in particular with finances. A call for auditing.
    I wonder if this type of energy and effort ran into resistance given the conditions occurred under long-serving incumbents. The situation can even feel threatening if councilmembers experience themselves as threatened by community members seeking greater transparency, especially in a context where we are regularly witnessing other elected officials in other communities in trouble.
    Our city is changing. The job is part-time, but the demands and knowledge required are increasingly complex and the forces entering our community, such as the railroad, are powerful. This is all happening during a dynamic time in which established power is finding itself challenged by new families and new ideas moving into the area. We do not have to be at odds with one another. The families and ideas represent the attractiveness of San Dimas and its promise and potential! However, we can only achieve our promise and potential if we come together, identify and prioritize our needs, and work towards them.
    We need to attract new businesses. Pioneer Square (PSQ) is a great start to revitalizing the area and keeping $$ within our community as well as enhancing our quality of life. It offers entertainment for all ages while meeting the requirements for development within the zone of the Gold Line.
    We need more such businesses. The economy is transforming. Curative, supporting the fight against COVID-19. Gilead is another major biotech firm. This is a great start! San Dimas can continue to develop as a great place to work-live-play with amazing schools.
    We cannot control the filing of lawsuits by individuals. We can and should find forums and ways to come together as a community to identify common problems and work towards common goals.
    At multiple City Council meetings, the problems of homelessness, gangs, public intoxication, and other social problems have been raised that impact several areas of our City. These problems are growing. San Dimas is also becoming a popular place to live for a fast-growing homeless population that is residing in and around downtown. How can we partner with agencies, project Room Key, and other options, to help connect homeless with services while preserving the safety and quality of life of our families.
    Change is hard. In any turnaround, there are individuals who resist change. There are individuals who are threatened by change. It may reveal past mistakes. If so, let those revelations be opportunities to learn and grow and move forward. The way I see it, our City is at a pivotal moment. We can chart a course of development to fulfill our potential. PSQ is a great step in that direction and builds on a strong foundation of our excellent school system. Or, if we resist change, we can witness the decay of our beloved City. No one wants the latter.
    The greatest thing I saw from the City Council was its willingness to engage with community members. In response, it acknowledged the need for outside help and engaged consultants that helped us achieve a win-win outcome with PSQ. This is the kind of win-win that happens when we engage one another with vulnerability and empathy. It reveals our common humanity and creates win-win outcomes. I hope we can continue to come together, have difficult conversations, and through the process achieve similar great outcomes…and still throughout it all remain good neighbors to one another.
    A single lawsuit, while a significant economic threat to our city, ought not be a distraction from the fundamental challenges that face us and that we can work on together. God grant us the serenity to accept the things we cannot change, the courage to change the things we can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

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