Change Paso is getting to work

April 10, 2012

By DANIEL BLACKBURN

There are many problems facing Paso Robles these days, and most of them have been caused by poor management in an environment where cronyism thrives, said the co-chairperson of a new group with “change” high in its agenda.

Karen Daniels, an insurance executive who has seen downtown Paso Robles’s infrastructure crumble to what she called “an embarrassment” since she opened her Spring Street office 16 years ago, leads Change Paso Robles Now, or CPRN2012, with co-chair Sally Reynolds.

Daniels cited diminished police services, terrible downtown streets, an ancient water treatment system, and a powerless panel of city council members for most of the problems.

“The city’s own objectives have not been met,” she said Monday. “Officials claim to be making efforts to maintain public dialogue, but I see no evidence of that happening. They claim elected officials ‘pride themselves’ on being available to the public. Again, not true. And they claim this is a well-organized city — the evidence speaks volumes to the contrary.”

Police services have been pared down by more than a third, with only 0.9 officers per thousand residents. By contrast, she noted, the county average is 1.8 officers per 1,000, and Pismo Beach has 2.2 per 1,000. The police department initiated a “safe mode” recently, which calls for limited response to 911 calls, and which was planned and initiated in total secrecy.

“The leadership of our department is suspect, too, ” she said, pointing to the recent departure of Lisa Solomon, the former chief of police who collected $250,000 and golden retirement benefits after news reports of her alleged sexual behavior on the job and her spotty management methods.

“Our city officials too often act autonomously, and ignore input from the residents,” Daniels said. “And there is an attitude around City Hall that the people of the city are to be tolerated, not served. Frankly, we are very tired of that attitude.”

Daniels noted that Jim App, the city’s manager, has been in his job for more than 16 years. “His arrogance is indicative of someone not realizing their place as a public servant,” Daniels said. “The people of this city run this city, and that is what these folks (currently in office) need to understand. We certainly understand it.”

“We live in a city where tourism is very important, and the condition of our streets in the downtown area is just pitiful,” she said. “While top management of the city is getting bloated, self-serving salaries, the city crumbles around us.”

Daniels said CPRN2012 will advocate that a new police chief not be hired until after the November elections, when two council members and the mayor are up for reelection.

“And we do not plan to support any new tax revenue until there are new people in those key seats of government, whom we can trust to use any new revenues in a proper manner,” she added. “Mayor Duane Picanco himself said he heard comment from citizens of Paso Robles that they do not trust their city council with their money! If the mayor can say that at a city meeting, there is definitive merit to it. We need to be able to trust who spends our money, and where it is being spent.”

The new group already has nearly a hundred members and is growing steadily, Daniels said.

“It’s quite obvious that many other people in this community share our concerns,” Daniels said. “We plan to make a huge impact. The people are the authority in this city. We are taking back Paso Robles!”


117 Comments

  1. danika says:

    The new interactive CPRN2012.org is now up an ready for you. All you need do is register. On our site, you can state your thoughts, opinions, news, photos, etc without fear of reprocussions or breach of privacy. We have provided blogs, forums, calendars, discussion topic, question and answers, etc.

    We have exciting news but you can’t receive it if you don’t sign up. Take a moment and go to

    http://WWW.CPRN2012.ORG

    Remember to always question Boldly!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 1

  2. panflash says:

    This may not directly relate to anything specific on the current CCN site, but it may have good general application to the notion of the value of citizen oversight and press scrutiny.
    It is a risk to just assume that just because a town is “small” that everything is always okay. Here’s the kind of stuff that can happen in a small town if no one is paying attention:

    http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/ct-met-dixon-comptroller-embezzle-charges-20120418,0,5457912.story

    Keep in mind that Dixon, Illinois is only 15,000 people, with an annual budget of $8-9 million. And yet their treasurer managed to siphon off more than $30,000,000 in only six years. That’s not a typo- you read it correctly- $30 MILLION.
    The message: close citizen oversight and scrutiny and aggressive press attention is utterly essential to keep government honest.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  3. Sherlock says:

    04/17/2012 at 10:22 am
    pasoman pasojim marymalone pasoobserver: You all make very, very good points. You show sound judgement and are courteous to others. Perhaps the best place to take this discussion is into a neutral forum….perhaps the League of Womens voters? They take on high profile subjects in a safe / friendly setting
    and invite everryone to attend. Removing App at this point in time with all the water / sewage / treatment issues may seem like changing horses in mid stream (or jackasses) :) but the country has gotten through worse things: 911. The City got through the 2003 earthquake. We got through the closing of the Boys School. We got through the devastated downtown when Walmart opened. We got through the 1991 – 1997 recession. We will get through this. First, a resolution stating we can’t go back, we must resolve the issues at hand. Second, a thorough assessing of the actions taken to date and reflection on the path chosen. Third, an honest / open-forum effort to seek new ideas or revisit old ones. Lastly, we forge ahead, like we have always done in Paso Robles.
    There is nothing wrong with change, change is good. What does not kill us makes us stronger. Changing the CC, the CM the CA and anyone else is not a bad thing; it is what it is: change. CPRN2012.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  4. MaryMalone says:

    Sufferin’ Jesus. Lisa Solomon Chitty has her very own twitter account: https://twitter.com/#!/LpasogirlC

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 7

    • pasoparent5 says:

      Lisa’s words: “Paso Robles girl…living the Cali dream. Love my life, my family and my career!”

      I guess the “Cali dream” includes getting a quarter of a million dollar hush money payout.
      Her “career” has been a laughingstock and she’s shamed herself and the Paso PD.

      She’s truly living in a delusional state of her own reality.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 2

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