Who’s running SLO County?

May 12, 2009

By KAREN VELIE

San Luis Obispo County’s top two administrators are currently missing in action, and county employees have been ordered not to discuss their absences.

Monday, a source told CalCoastNews that County Administrator David Edge had stepped down following allegations of sexual harassment leveled by Assistant County Administrator Gail Wilcox. Our source alleged that the Board of Supervisor’s closed session discussion on May 8 regarding the allegations had resulted in the pair being placed on paid administrative leave.

“No one in the office is permitted to discuss Edge or Wilcox’s absences,” said a woman who answered the county administration office telephone and who identified herself as “Julianne.” She then refused to give her full name or spell her first name. “I have been directed to transfer all calls about this to the Board of Supervisors. The board has directed staff to transfer any calls to (Bruce) Gibson’s office.”

Gibson’s Legislative Assistant Sherri Aispuro (who also refused to give her full name or spell her first name), said Wilcox is currently on paid administrative leave and that as far as she knew, Edge was on vacation. Aispuro said she was not aware of when or why Wilcox had been placed on leave.

“I think Edge is back East at his son’s graduation,” Aispuro added.

Edge and Wilcox have been in the news before. In June, CalCoastNews revealed a cozy mortgage relationship between Wilcox and attorney and a prominent county vendor, attorney Clay Hall, in a deal approved and defended by Edge.


One Comment

  1. ccn_debate says:

    Member Opinions:
    By: starvingmexican on 5/16/09 [Delete]
    We think Government is crooked here.Yes,but as it goes up the ladder it gets much worse.The present Administration at ALL levels of the Federal Govt. will go down as one of the worst and most corrupt ever seen in our lifetime.
    They should ALL be kicked out of Office.

    By: soca on 5/14/09 [Delete]
    Let’s hope that CCN got it right. Karen was a little squishy on her tipster on the Congalton show. Also if Wilcox is a victim of SH, why is she on paid administrative leave? Isn’t more probable, given the situation, that both are being investigated?

    By: BeenThereDoneThat on 5/14/09 [Delete]
    Thanks 4Warn ;-)I like these guys CCN. Didn’t at first but man oh man, they get the goods. Congrats to them.

    By: 4Warn on 5/14/09 [Delete]
    Well said BeenThere

    By: BeenThereDoneThat on 5/14/09 [Delete]
    There it is Drumsrlrl said it. We can all now go and break the law and there is no reprecussions. Well I’ve got to get outta here. I have to go cheat more investors out of money, break laws, etc. Because that has been what almost all of these conversations here have been about and now I guess law be damned.

    CCN and Trib should cease to exist. I mean out side of sports we shouldn’t report rapists and robbers. May have been there first time. Maybe they were sorry? No more investigating any people. We can’t hurt there feelings. Murders? Maybe the guy that got killed pissed off the murders. I mean comon it was there first time. Yea maybe broke the law but that’s o.k.

    Is all the above absurd? Yes, to make point that this is why we have NEWS!! If people are so offended about reading it, then stop reading!! Oh yea that is your right. Same as the rest.

    By: TF157 on 5/14/09 [Delete]
    I care who is running or ruining SLO, as was reported above, by JOJO well I can tell you what I personally know. Yes Investigators have been speaking to many of former account holders and investors from several local Investments firms. Here is what I know, Robert JS Fowler once help start Mission Community Bank he made sure his partners got on the board they are Karl Wittstrom and Robin Rossi, he got the other parnter Doug Filipponi to be on Farm Credit West board all to get loans approved for there benefit. and Yes, they got each others loans approved and then got one named Congressman to get the local BOS to vote yes. So Jo Jo if your hubby is who i think he is you better call and tell him first because once he gets back from Humboldt operations he just might be pissed you exposed some of this, if your not who i think well sorry and good for you…..

    By: drumsrlrl on 5/14/09 [Delete]
    PS: Who cares who got journalistic credit, and who broke the story!

    At the end of the day, this will be a story about a couple of people who probably made some poor choices. All of us have made a poor choice or two that we would not want up on the cover of the Tribune or the CCN.

    Yes, there is some value to the argument of higher standards and tax dollars, etc. That same argument could be applied to many of our own individual sins that again I am sure you would not want on the cover of the local paper.

    In my view, the story has been told – now it is time to get back to living life.

    By: drumsrlrl on 5/14/09 [Delete]
    Win – Win Situation:

    First, David is an “at will” employee. Most are aware that David has been ready for retirement for awhile. If fired, David will receive a severance package – typically to include 18 months of salary ($225,000) plus his full retirement earned (this will not impact his County retirement package at all).

    Second, Gail will likely receive a quick settlement (this is the County’s history – to settle). Gail will receive an amount that will allow her to leave the County, and give her some time work out personal matters. Gail is in the prime of her life, extremely competent with executive experience. She will land a job that is much less stressful.

    In the end this is a classic Covey Win-Win situation.

    During this transition, the County will run just fine (already the County has appointed one of the best executives to manage the transition, Jeff Hamm). Yes, the tax payer takes it in the shorts – but the dollar amounts we are talking about here pale in comparison to some of the wasteful spending that goes on in government (to include SLO County).

    By: JOJO on 5/14/09 [Delete]
    I was impressed with your overall reporting on a wide range of issues. I work early in Financial business, thus have some knowledge of many of your stories. Can’t divulge due to many of our clients have been listed in the past on your site. I have a spouse who works out of town for days at a time in the SIU, with a Government Department. What I’m getting at is so much of your information is indeed very much on track, I see plenty of corruption and wrong doing in my job, with many of your named persons over the past year. So has my spouse but he can not speak out side his position or reveal who or what he is working on. But one former client of ours who took his money and went to RBS, said there’s indeed is some deep rooted corruption and payments have been made to people fairly high up in our local Gov. from Superior Court, DA, and others. So many major property owners ie’ SM Cattle Co. Farm Credit West are deeply involved and a very Sensitive Investigation into Bakersfield Congressman McCarthy and his Bank San Joaquin with ties to some builders & Developers who are involved with this FCW group and some sitting on the bench & Board. I hope your site stays on, and keep exposing this evil we have amongst us. A Free Press = Free and informed people. Why the Local Paper does not have a staff investigating and asking the hard questions is a puzzle to all of us, who care what happens in our Community and Government. Just for the record I can State the former client admitted there were interviewed by Federal Agents from three agencies on Loans, Investments and Payoffs.

    By: JOJO on 5/14/09 [Delete]
    I was impressed with your overall reporting on a wide range of issues. I work early in Financial business, thus have some know of many of your stories. Can’t divulge due to many of our clients have been listed in the past on your site. I have a spouse who works out of town for days at a time in the SIU, with a Government Department. What I’m getting at is so much of your information is indeed very much on track, I see plenty of corruption and wrong doing in my job, with many of your named persons over the past year. So has my spouse but he can not speak out side his position or reveal who or what he is working on. But one former client of ours who took his money and went to RBS, said there’s indeed seems to be some deep rooted corruption and payment have been made to people fairly high up in our local Gov. from Superior Court, DA, and some many property owners ie’ SM Cattle Co. Farm Credit West deeply involved and a very Sensitive Investigation into Bakersfield Congressman McCarthy and his Bank San Joaquin with ties to some builders & Developers who are involved with this FCW group and some sitting on the bench. I hope your site stays on, and keep exposing this evil we have amongst us. A Free Press = Free and informed people.

    By: 4Warn on 5/14/09 [Delete]
    Yo Sharibaby: What up with your ridiculous cynicism?

    Cal Coast smelled the smoke and blew the public whistle.. Bravo, Bravo to CalCoastNews.

    In this day and age we need more journalists like Velie and Blackburn.

    I just read the Trib website and they have indicated that the Board of Sups will decide Tuesday whether or not to fire Edge.

    Is that enough smoke for you Sharibaby?

    Personally I would like to see McClatchy give the heave ho to Sandy Duerr and replace her with the likes of Karen Velie. Only then will they start breaking real public news and only then I would return as a subscriber.

    By: 4Warn on 5/14/09 [Delete]
    Damnnnnn …. You have started a wildfire Karen.

    By: BeenThereDoneThat on 5/14/09 [Delete]
    Hey Sharibaby can you help me. I think there was two gentlemen back in the early seventies who worked for a little daily in Washington D.C. They quoted a source named, wait it’s coming to me, oh yea Deep Throat.
    And they brought down a President, um, oh yea Nixon. I think the guys names where Bartles and James. Oh wait that is a wine cooler. Oh yea Woodward and Bernstein!

    Point is the Trib is a daily and CCN is doing investigative journalism. Two different beasts. Oh yea I said that yesterday.

    I for one didn’t give CCN much credit in the beinging but in the last year, quite a bit of their digging has come to be true at the end of the day.

    Do they miss. Sure. But hey didn’t Dan Rather miss BIG TIME a couple years ago by flat out lying? I haven’t seen what I believe here to be lying. Just investigating.

    Personnally I can’t believe how they keep getting the goods on so many things. Must know the right people, in the right places for information. Hey isn’t that how the papers USE to do investigative journalism???

    Now they are lazy and print whatever MoveOn.Org tells them.

    By: sharibaby on 5/13/09 [Delete]
    Very sad day when a daily quotes a website who quotes a “source”. My bet it was Adam Hill who leaked.

    I bet you see that in the papers tomorrow. Adam Hill, Jim Patterson and Bruce Gibson are having a three way affair. There. I heard it. It must be true as this is on Cal Coast News, soon to be printed in the Trib.

    I hear that wikipedia just enabled the wool to be pulled over major newspapers with a false quote.

    Yup. the internet will be the greatest thing to happen to journalism.

    By: George on 5/13/09 [Delete]
    Truthbeknown said. . Never had a problem on the Tribune web site with expressing my opinion.
    Why so much excitement over an unsubstantiated report?
    unfortunately I had to delete the full comment.

    By: calvertworthington on 5/13/09 [Delete]
    Good coverage from CalCoastNews.

    Doing business across Ca. and several other western states gives me some perspective on “corruption’ and malfeasance. It’s everywhere.

    Interpersonal problems and lousy judgement are one thing, and make for titillating news.

    The really bad stuff results from the draw of the ‘power’ entrusted by the voters. It’s irresistible to the greedy, absent scruples and conscience. Time after time, and place after place, the acts are repeated. It’s’ almost as if the villains assume no one is looking outside of their own community.(?)

    By: mccdave on 5/13/09 [Delete]
    “Has this former FBI agent been to Humbolt, where three of the five supervisors are pot growers?”

    Oh, dear Christ. Pot!? Why haven’t they sent in the National Guard?

    I think we’ve hit on the essential difference between the picture painted by the SLO Tribune and the one rendered, however imperfectly, by CalCoastNews. This IS a surprisingly corrupt little backwater, but you’d never quite know that reading the Tribune. The scale of the real estate development fraud alone is astonishing.

    By: soca on 5/13/09 [Delete]
    Hey Lucky2 – You say:
    Former FBI agent once said this is the most corrupt county in California. I believe it. A start would be someone to run against Bruce Gibson. Next, Art Trinidade.

    First:

    A former FBI agent said this is the most corrupt county in CA??? Has this former FBI agent been to Humbolt, where three of the five supervisors are pot growers? I would suggest that this is a long retired FBI agent or you are misquoting him/her.

    Second: Bruce Gibson is representing his district – a very liberal, green one. He is doing his job.

    Third: Last I heard, Art Trinidade is in code enforcement and is either a supervisor or a manager. He can’t be voted out. Is your beef with him because you are a code violator or do you think he is corrupt. If the latter, then tell us what he did. Use facts, not anonymous rumors.

    By: Saveslocounty on 5/13/09 [Delete]
    Every city and county in this state certainly does not possess this level of corruption. Take a look at Santa Barbara County or Monterey County, nothing like this in modern times. To even suggest that everything is OK and normal shows a lack of understanding of government operations. Actually that should be how government is supposed to function and provide services to the communtiy. The money wasted by our Sheriff in his wiretapping caper could have put 20 Deputy Sheriffs on the streets for an entire year. That is not OK with me nor is this allegation. Placing the two highest payed couty staffers on paid leave is not done without being warranted. That sir, is not old lady gossip.

    By: SLOrunner on 5/13/09 [Delete]
    Two facts: We only know of a few “allegations”. Making conclusions of wrongness or comparisons to past lawsuits is nothing but old lady gossip.

    Secondly, Even if they all turn out to be true and nasty and juicy, the County of SLO is not going down the toilet, maybe just a few of its people. Every County, City, and community in this state has it’s similar problems.

    By: Inquiry on 5/13/09 [Delete]
    Dear Clairvoy, The terms equate depending upon which level of government were addressing. Executive = Federal and State (president or governor, cabinet and departments). Administrative = County, City, Special Districts, etc. (County Administrator or City/District Manager, department heads and staff). The President and Governor are elected while most others are appointed or contracted with by the elected governing (or legislative) body. The exceptions are those Charter cities that provide for a “strong Mayor” form of government where the Mayor runs the city.
    Question: Is Chairman of the Board of Supervisors Gibson directing things or is it a combined decision by the Board? If it is the Board … how do they comply with the Brown Act? How temporary is this measure?

    By: Clairvoy on 5/13/09 [Delete]
    Dear Inquiry,
    The 3 branches are Executive, Legislative and Judicial. Although many people confuse Legislative with Administrative in California, they are different in concept. Writing legislature and rules that we are governed by are different than the administration of those rules. In California we appear to have 4, at times. The United States Constitution identifies 3.
    You left out Executive.

    By: BeenThereDoneThat on 5/13/09 [Delete]
    To Lucky 2. This county is becoming a big bummer. I have lived here just shy of 30 years. When I got here it was pretty good.

    In the eighties we had the Block and Bower scandel in building and that was it.

    Now we have all these different builder scandels, local Gov. scandels, from the County, to Paso and the water issue, to Los Osos and their sewer issues.

    I have to begin to wonder if your F.B.I. contact may be right.

    Someone tell me where to flush this once great county. I know there are still a LOT of good people out there in the county but unfortunatly they are being taken advantage of by all this B.S.!! Arrg.

    By: BeenThereDoneThat on 5/13/09 [Delete]
    Couple things on this credit issue where credit is due. Page 1, paragraph six, Trib. this morning CCN got credit. Day late, 24hrs, 1440 minutes, etc.

    I think the he said she said is clouding the BIGGER point here. WHAT in the name of Haite’s is going on here with our local goverment officials!!

    In thread on web site yesterday for the Trib. someone makes the valid point, that these are well paid professials, that WE pay for and are possiblly putting us in a possition of liability of paying damages.

    As I stated before we seem to be paying MORE and MORE for local officials lately, (that I might add are WELL paid) because of their bad on the job calls.

    Also I say lets let this play out and give the officials their due and day in court if needed but if this (POSSIBLE charge of harressment)plays out at the end of the day that we (taxpayers) are on the hook again because of poor judgement, then I for one would like to see someone start looking into what is going on with these Gov. workers that WE pay.

    By: hotdog on 5/13/09 [Delete]
    It was reported on Congalton yesterday many times by Dave and Karen of CCN that the Trib DID NOT cite CCN in their last minute printed article, and that that was a breach of journalistic ethics at the least. If they are NOW crediting CCN then that is proper, but doesn’t account for yesterday.

    By: BeenThereDoneThat on 5/13/09 [Delete]
    To Black Copter Pilot, in fairness you may not have noticed that on the net version, the Trib. did NOT (unless they went back and added after last night) mention this site but in today’s print version on my doorstep they did. Why?? Who knows.

    To be fair to this site and to Trib. they are two different beasts. The Trib is more daily news and these guys are going for investigative reporting. Relax buddy.

    By: Saveslocounty on 5/13/09 [Delete]
    I am glad to have Cal Coast News to provide accurate balanced information about our community. They ALWAYS have the big stories and share them promptly, even if it is only every 10 days as Black Copter Pilot states. If the Tribume only posted when they had an exclusive breaking story, we would all be purchasing the Tribune’s once per year. The Tribune sells advertising and could not care about real news. It is time for a total house cleaning in the government center as the corruption is too great. Sorry David, you have embarassed us too many time. Time to head back across the pond and take your appointments with you. Come on BOS, fix this mess.

    By: lucky2 on 5/13/09 [Delete]
    Thank you Cal Coast- This County needs to be cleaned up. We need honest, independent, self controlled people running this counry- Heck I don’t even think smart matters, it’s not rocket science- Former FBI agent once said this is the most corrupt county in California. I believe it. A start would be someone to run against Bruce Gibson. Next, Art Trinidade.

    By: Black_Copter_Pilot on 5/13/09 [Delete]
    Dexter claims that the Trib didn’t identify Calcoast. They did….as CalCoastNews.com

    You have to read every line, Dexter, or you miss all the facts.

    I would also add that the Trib offers news/info daily and not merely weekly like this site does. But, maybe that is the mission statement here, to report every 10 days or so.

    By: Inquiry on 5/13/09 [Delete]
    Just to think about. U.S. Government is based upon a “balance” of powers. Three, separate and distinct branches: Legislative, Administrative and Judicial. Legislative makes the laws. Administrative implements and enforces them. Judicial is the arbitrator and defender of the people’s rights under our Constitutions (Federal and State).

    If one branch assumes the duties or responsibilities of another are we moving toward more democracy or more totalitarianism? Basic civics, basic logic or basic misdirection?

    By: R.Hodin on 5/13/09 [Delete]
    Thanks to BeenThereDoneThat for the reminder. According to the county government organization chart the electorate (in bold text, no less, to make us feel important) are/is the ultimate authority:

    http://www.slocounty.ca.gov/AssetFactory.aspx?did=6097

    I feel so much more in charge now after reading the chart.

    By: hotdog on 5/13/09 [Delete]
    Well, I think that Edge is the -manager- of the employees, but he answers to the supes. He isn’t here, nor is his deputy. Obviously the chain of command leads to the supes, and their chair. Just based on that road map Gibson must be in charge. I have no idea about the correctness of gag orders and other details of all this. I think any talk of his power grabbing is very premature.

    By: Newsome on 5/12/09 [Delete]
    Obviously, this is Cutting Edge reporting. Send your donations today to keep it going.

    My point, Hodin, that I didn’t articulate well, is that the staffers at the county do not work for the BOS, they work for Edge. If Gibson told them to keep a lid on it, it sounds like Gibson overstepped his authorities as supervisor. If he didn’t, who did? Could be I am all wet on this, but I don’t think so.

    By: Raymond on 5/12/09 [Delete]
    Thank you for exposing the mess we live with, I will email you some things we have been dealing with as well.

    By: Saveslocounty on 5/12/09 [Delete]
    Great job, once again, to Cal Coast News. You’ve hammered one more nail in the Tribune coffin for some actual investigative reporting. This is part of the on-going systemic problem with our county government. Edge continually swears at staff and is virtually rude to all. He even puts Simon Cowell to shame. You’ll notice that he has continually “Appointed” females to all department head vacancies. Even the incompetent Deb Hossli was his appointee. It doesn’t matter where, HR, General Services, Information Services and so on. There must me a reason and it is not surprising that Wilcox had finally had her fill of his abuse. If the Board of Supervisors can’t figure this out and just terminate the offensive bore than they will open us up to wasting millions more in legal process. How he kept his job after throwing a snit during the budget hearing was one of the stupidest moves I have seen. Get it together Board of Supervisors. Show us you can actually run this county.

    By: BeenThereDoneThat on 5/12/09 [Delete]
    Maybe R.Hodin is new to the block also. The Board of Sups. serve at the pleasure of the people who elect them.

    Irregardless it is probably a privacy issue. As a small business employer myself, there are laws on privacy disclosure and the county is probably covering their a** to make sure they don’t get sued over somebody disclosing something they shouldn’t. So the easy way is to make sure you have all the FACTS first.

    I don’t like the fact that an employee MAY have run afoul of the law (harressment) but also I don’t want to keep paying lawsuits (i.e. sheriff dept) again and again, over privacy violation issues.

    By: Dexter on 5/12/09 [Delete]
    Tribune finally reporting on a matter of great public interest thanks to Cal Coast News, who broke the story 4 hours earlier.

    The least Tribune could have done was to refer to Cal Coast News by name rather than “a local web site”

    Tribune is a joke and this is an example of why.

    Based on Tribune article it is obvious that Cal Coast News was right in exposing the smoke, and you know darn well that where there is smoke there is fire.

    Keep up your good work Cal Coast News. I am sending you a donation to help keep your site going strong cuz its the only one consistently exposing stories of public interest.

    By: R.Hodin on 5/12/09 [Delete]
    Maybe Newsome is new to the block, but all of the county executives serve at the pleasure of the Board. Bruce et al are Edge & Wilcock’s employer. I would imagine that the Board is not comfortable running the day to day tasks of county government, and I would expect that CCN would be able to tell us how that is currently being done in a followup article.

    BTW, Vic Holanda is now retired. To me, that is a bigger story, in the context of his acquiescence to the 3 Amigos’ ramming-through of the SMR approval this December last.

    But Mr. Arrogant hisself David Edge caught pushing the envelope of workplace decency? (—yawn—) It was inevitable, and so 80s. Legitimate claim or not, SLO county is an ATM.

    By: Newsome on 5/12/09 [Delete]

    Who has the authority to silence county staffers in the absence of Edge and Wilcox?

    Regardless of where Edge/Wilcox are, it would be HIGHLY inappropriate for the Board of Supes to directly tell staff what to do.

    Somewhere in the County’s charter or operating documents there must be an outline of the chain of command.

    That same document probably expressly prohibits the supes from directly managing County staff. I suspect that “daddy-knows-best” Gibson is likely the horsepower behind the silence, and that type of abuse of power is what has scared me about Bruce all along.

    By: karen on 5/12/09 [Delete]
    I will be on the Dave Congalton Show at 4:05 p.m. today to discuss this issue. Turn your radio dial to 920AM or listen live at http://www.920kvec.com.

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