Gilman may not defend Paso Robles council post

May 23, 2012

Nick Gilman

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 She has withdrawn a subsequent disability claim — one that city officials had agreed not to contest.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.”


42 Comments

  1. Citizen says:

    Word on the street–gossip–coming from an unnamed city councilman is that 90% of the allegations against Lisa Solomon were true according to the city’s investigation.

    At least one city councilman was disgusted that Jim App and Iris Yang pushed and insisted on the 250,000 dollar payout when they had this information in hand.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  2. manmouse says:

    So now jim app wants us to save his butt by putting another 1/2 % in his back pocket!!!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  3. manmouse says:

    If Nick goes Paso Robles will never recover or move forward ! Nick has done more behind the scenes for Paso than any other person on this council

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

    • Citizen says:

      If this is true, then we deserve to know what he has done for the city behind the scenes. Please explain further.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

      • manmouse says:

        try doing your own research—–do some digging!

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  4. Paso_citizen says:

    If Mr. Gilman decides not to run for re-election, it is probably best. The citizens of Paso can only hope
    Mr. Strong and Mr. Picanco make similiar decisions. Unfortunately, this is probably hoping for a little too much. With me, Mr. Gilman made his bed with the complete and total mishandling of the police chief mess. He now has to lie in that bed, along with the others who were involved in this mess.
    Any of them could now turn water into wine, or lead into gold – and I would still believe they are totally incompetent as city officials. $250,000 of taxpayer’s money as a ‘sympathy’ payoff will never be an acceptable action. Go to Wal-Mart, get a sympathy card, and pop in $25 – $50 of your own money, BUT do not be so liberally free-spending with the taxpayer’s money. She broke the law, while being in a position dedicated to upholding the law. She should have been FIRED (period, end of discussion)

    On to second subject – new candidates for city council and mayor.
    I very much look forward to seeing the names of the candidates who will soon announce for these positions. It is by belief that the sooner is better than later for this, but I am not in any big rush. The goal is crystal clear – get rid of the city government as it now is and make REAL change happen.
    It should be expected by all prospective candidates, that they will be vetted to the upteenth degree.
    It would be a disgusting disaster to trade Tweedle Dee for Tweedle Dum on the council or for mayor.
    The candidates that are truly interested in these positions must be eager, willing, and able to state clearly what they would do concerning issues that are important to the citizens. They should be expected to be asked some very tough questions and to be judged on their answers.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 1

  5. danika says:

    The State has requested the financial records for audit for the City of Vernon. I think citizen awareness is on the rise and will prevail in many cases.

    http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-vernon-subpoena-20120526,0,4786498.story

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 1

  6. pasojim says:

    I am officially announcing my intention to run for Paso Robles City council.

    If I am elected my first order of business will be to create a new city employee.

    This new employee will be called something like city manager liaison. This position will be a function between the city council and the other city employees. This new city council will, I am sure, still represent all of the special interest in the city, but will also include all of the citizens of the city as well. The city manager liaison will direct city management according to what the citizens have directed the city council to do. City manager liaison’s political agenda does not matter. This positions wage and benefit package will be directly tied to what private sector earns in the real world

    The current city manager’s job description will be changed to managing the city’s parks and sidewalks. The city manager will be supplied (at the cities expense) white 5 gallon plastic trash bags and 1 gallon plastic trash bags. The 5 gallon trash bag will be filled up with doggy doo doo from the parks and city sidewalks and the one gallon bag will be filled with expired cigarette butts. Of course there will be a quota of 5 bags each a week.

    This will actually save the city a lot of money not having to pay off the city manager to get him out of his employment contract. And another plus side is we will have impeccably maintained parks and sidewalks.

    What do you all think, do I get any of your votes?.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 35 Thumb down 2

    • CONCERNEDINPR says:

      This nonsensical banter is the reason that the city is in the trouble that it’s in. Jim App needs to be fired
      and replaced by a competent civil servant who understands the necessity for transparency and dialogue
      in working with the community.

      Make no mistake about it, Jim App is the problem. Remove him from office and we can start anew. Keep him in his position and we will make absolutely zero progress in resolving the issues that plague the
      city.

      Unfortunately, we have not made any progress since Lisa was forced out in keeping the pressure on this self-centered autocrat who has effectively run the city into the ground.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 19 Thumb down 0

  7. JB Bronson says:

    What would this City Council be like, with a different City Manager?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 28 Thumb down 1

    • MaryMalone says:

      Interesting question. It raises the issue of the inverted power differential that exists between the PR city council and the PR city manager.

      This is how it is supposed to work.

      The city council listens to the people they represent. The city council then directs the city manager what the CC wants done. The city manager implements it.

      The city manager is not supposed to be at the top of the food chain. It is supposed to be the city council.

      So, if the same city council remained and a new city manager was hired, the new city manager would be yanking the CC around by the short hairs. It would STILL be the city manager calling the shots–it would just be a DIFFERENT city manager.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 25 Thumb down 1

      • SLOBIRD says:

        Good statement, Mary! Certainly a view I had not thought about. Thank you!

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 0

      • danika says:

        Excellent observation, MM. The City Manager and the City Attorney run the city with the CC being their puppets. The thing to do is get 3 new councilmembers, change the City Manager and have the City Attorney position be one that is elected and not appointed. In this, the power should rightfully change back to the people.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 28 Thumb down 2

        • MaryMalone says:

          That sounds like a plan.

          I bet Ms. Iris P. Yang would not have such a sour look on her face all the time, and would not be so snippy, if she knew she could be voted out of her position.

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 21 Thumb down 0

    • Mr. Holly says:

      It’s not necessarily the person but what the description of the job is. Currently most city councils only employ 2 people, the city manager and the city attorney. Everyone else answers ONLY to the city manager. As it is currently structured a city manager has 100% absolute control of a city. What needs to be done is to adjust the power of these city manager. This in itself can have problems depending on what the makeup is of the council might be. I do think that more daily decisions made within cities should involve city council members. Then again there are city council members who show up on council night and completely rely on what the city’s management team leads them to beleive. It’s kind of like a mushroom farm. Keep them in the dark and feed them full of caca.
      At some point in time city councils are going to have to take back control of their cities and actually become responsible for the daily operations of the city. This would include monitoring the lavish benefit packages that most of these cities have for their management teams. Currently they are all negotiated within the team. Or I’ll take care of you and you take care of me.
      Oh well November is around the corner-we’ll see if anybody really care.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 15 Thumb down 0

      • MaryMalone says:

        I think the problems arise with the system when the city manager is a weak leader or incompetent at their job. I agree with you about the problems that can exist, especially keeping the council members in the dark.

        I’m not in favor of changing the arrangement where the city manager is the liaison between the rest of city city staff and the city council. It is too easy for collusion to occur between staff and one or two council members. In addition, it can drive staff crazy because of conflicting requests/commands coming from multiple council members.

        I’ve worked at two local government agencies. In one, the city manager was a strong leader and the system worked very well. In the other, the city manager was a very poor, weak leader, and would attempt to shift blame to a staff member for something he himself had done.

        I don’t think having the city council members being in charge of the day-to-day operations of the city is a good idea. Council members are politicians, and having access to control how things are done could turn into a nightmare, as one council member pulls power trips over another, in an attempt to gain more power in the council. It would be heII for the poor workers, that’s for sure!

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 5

        • Mr. Holly says:

          Agree it could be hell for the workers although as is it is now it’s hell for the citizens. There has to be some type of balance. I know Nick Gillman and feel for him as I think he really cares and would like to do something about the ills of Paso Robles. Unfortunately other members of the council, a majority, are 100% politicians and are only going to go where it is going to be to their benefit. With election time coming up nothing of any controversy will come before a council,
          The only exception to this will be Atascadero where the 6-7 year wait for a hearing is approaching. Although at the same time councilmember O”Malley who has more or less declared himself the new Mayor of Atascadero is not going to go anywhere that may be controversial. If that were to happen it would force him to continue his flip floppin on issues and denying any prior statement he has made. This is kind of where Paso Robles is now with their current career politicians.

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1

        • pasojim says:

          Wow Mary,
          I have always agreed with 99.99999% Of you view and Ideas, But you left me on this one.

          Each one of the points you made is exactly why the status quo needs to go.

          Let just say “If” there is a city somewhere that the relationship of the city council and the city manager works properly then WE could try to model paso’s relationship accordingly, not just accept this dysfunctional system we suffer with here (and sounds like exist in many other cities.)

          I still luv and respect you. WE are just down to 99.98888% Agreement.

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

        • prbizownr says:

          Mary,
          Have to agree with you. Having been on a CSD board for a 4 year term, it would not have worked for the board to be in charge of day-to-day operations. It was difficult enough to get the board to work together enough to approve resolutions to keep the plant in good working condition with manipulation from power players in the community.

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

    • manmouse says:

      Firstget rid of Stienbeck ,Hamon andStrong and we might stand a chance!

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  8. MaryMalone says:

    Yeah, but is Gilman the dog or the flea?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 17 Thumb down 2

    • Slowerfaster says:

      Would you sleep with either, Mary ? I wonder.
      You claim to be a Democrat, but continually take extreme Republican positions .

      Needless to say, I don’t trust you.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 27

      • MaryMalone says:

        Just because one belongs to a political party does not mean one has to be that political party’s mindless puppet.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 24 Thumb down 2

      • SLOBIRD says:

        What, she is NOT suppose to think with her own brain and use common sense because she is a Democrat. The reason we are having these financial, management, and corrupt problems are because people have not used their brain and good ole’ common and have relied on the “PARTY” (both sides) to make their decisions for them without question. Of course, we wrongfully trusted people to do the right thing. You go Mary, viewpoint was on target!

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 17 Thumb down 1

    • bobfromsanluis says:

      Mary: I was suggesting that Gilman got fleas from being in bed with the council that let Jim App “handle” the Lisa Solomon debacle. He is now kind of scratching himself trying to decide if he should try to hang on to his council seat. I’m sure he is “itching” to get out of the public spotlight.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 1

      • MaryMalone says:

        My question was rhetorical. Sorry I didn’t make that more clear.

        I think, in this case, App and the city council have developed a “Mutual Flea-Sharing Society.”

        If Gilman and the rest of the city council would have been doing their job, the Solomon fiasco may not have happened, and certainly would not have gone on, and caused as much damage and waste of resources, as it did.

        In addition, if the city council would have been doing their job, James App would not be allowed to run the show. The fact that App felt so comfortable as to habitually use the ridiculous “hip-hop” language in city emails to peers and subordinates indicates how much App believes he is completely above reproach.

        The city council is supposed to be superior to James App, and that is not the way it is.

        So, IMO, the cause of the problem (the fleas one gets stuck with if one lies down with dogs) could be either the city council or App.

        Yes, App was calling the shots in the Solomon debacle, he was only able to do so because the city council members had abrogated their power and role in running the city to App.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 0

  9. pasojim says:

    The simple fact of the matter is our city is no better off now than when he started. In fact, I believe the city is worse off now than when he started. Move over and make room for someone else.

    Now we just have to work on getting rid of the 2 career politicians that have been presiding over the demise of our city for too long.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 20 Thumb down 3

Comments are closed.