Gilman may not defend Paso Robles council post
May 23, 2012
By DANIEL BLACKBURN
First-term Paso Robles City Council member Nick Gilman said Tuesday he is uncertain if he will try to protect his council seat in November, saying, “I have been disappointed by my inability to help.”
Gilman, fellow council member Fred Strong, and Mayor Duane Picanco each face reelection in the fall.
Emphasizing that he is still considering options, Gilman told CalCoastNews he has been “surprised and perhaps naive to learn how little influence individual council members have.” He said he believes the council has been able to accomplish “very little” during the past three and a half years. And over time, he added, “I have become less enthusiastic.”
“But there’s no negative slant on anything… it’s just a lot more points of view pushing in different directions,” Gilman said.
Gilman, an architect and former member of the Paso Robes Planning Commission, found himself embroiled recently in a controversial public defense of former Paso Robles Police Chief Lisa Solomon-Chitty. That was after The Tribune reported that the council would have “forced her (Solomon-Chitty) out” if she did not depart her position willingly.
Solomon-Chitty has been accused by former and current police officers of sexual assault and administrative wrongdoing, such as ordering unlawful traffic ticket quotas, and retaliation against certain officers. In an agreement with the city, the 43-year-old Solomon-Chitty took “early retirement” and accepted a $250,000 payout.
City officials justified the amount by claiming her reputation had been irreparably damaged by online news reports of her behavior. She has withdrawn a subsequent disability claim — one that city officials had agreed not to contest.
Gilman and council peer John Hamon objected to the assertion that the council would have pushed Solomon-Chitty out. In a “Viewpoint” commentary published by the daily on March 28, Gilman wrote, “My comments [to a reporter] were meant to convey that the atmosphere caused by the on-line attacks were making it extraordinarily difficult for Lisa, and I was being sympathetic. I have had, and still have, the utmost respect for Lisa and the way she ran the police department.”
Hamon and Gilman jointly penned this comment: “What became clear over the last two months was that the allegations regarding, and especially the online rumors, speculation, and attacks on Chief Solomon were making it increasingly difficult for her — as well as other city officials — to attend to the management of city business.”
Gilman’s was one of five still-secret votes on the issue of Solomon-Chitty’s departure package, and that could cause him grief in a reelection campaign.
He said he did not relish “the process of running… campaigning is no fun.” And, he noted, political campaigns are getting more and more expensive, “even in a little community like Paso Robles. You can’t ask for [campaign] money without someone wanting something in return, and I don’t want to feel obligated.”