Settlement stunner ends ticket quota trial

March 13, 2014

Pso signBy DANIEL BLACKBURN

A settlement reached during the noon hour Thursday abruptly ended a civil trial pitting a former Paso Robles police officer against his one-time employer for allegedly ordering unlawful traffic ticket quotas as part of a relentless quest for more city revenues.

Terms of the settlement, called “confidential” by San Luis Obispo County Superior Court Judge Jac Crawford, were not immediately known, but the agreement came after opening statements by both sides’ attorneys.

Paso Robles Police Chief Robert Burton said after announcement of the settlement that city officials would release a statement later today, but had no further comment. The trial had been proceeding in the Paso Robles courthouse.

(Burton subsequently issued the following statement: “Employees of the Paso Robles Police Department have worked hard as a team to strengthen the department and keep our focus of protecting and serving the community of Paso Robles.  Now that the trial has ended we can pay our full attention to serving the community and make it a safer place for all.”)

Jon Tatro, a 25-year veteran of the Paso Robles department, said he and other patrol officers were required to write increasingly frequent traffic tickets in order to reach a non-specified financial goal. Such quotas are illegal under California law.

Tatro said he had reported the apparent violation of law to supervisors, including then-chief Lisa Solomon-Chitty, and the only result was retaliation against him. He was scheduled to be the first plaintiff’s witness.

Tatro’s attorney, Jeffrey A. Lipow of Encino, told the nine-woman, three-man jury during opening arguments earlier Thursday that “the evidence would show” that city officials conspired with Solomon-Chitty to generate additional revenues for city coffers by increasing the number of traffic citations.

In an email to CalCoastNews prior to the trial’s opening, Lipow noted, “During [the process of]  discovery, we uncovered substantial information to support Jon’s claim, not the least of which were emails and memos between former Chief Solomon and [Paso Robles City Manager] Jim App about raising revenues for the city through traffic tickets.”

David Cumberland, representing the city of Paso Robles, told the jury he would be able to demonstrate that Tatro himself violated procedures and department regulations as he attempted to call attention to the alleged quota system.

Following announcement of the settlement, Cumberland declined comment other than to say, “I think the system worked.” Asked if he was satisfied with the settlement, he said simply, “Yes.”

Lipow noted, “We came to a financial resolution of the case, and as a result of that, the lawsuit is over. The city will have to deal with it, and Mr. Tatro will be able to go on with his life.” He suggested that city officials might be forthcoming about settlement details, “but I’m not at liberty to disclose that.”

Tatro said he was “satisfied” with the settlement and added, “I’d like to thank CalCoastNews for how they have covered this story.”

When Crawford announced the settlement,  jury members exploded in apparent joy. The trial had been predicted to last more than two weeks.

(Updated Thursday at 4:38 p.m. to incorporate Chief Burton’s follow-up statement.)


42 Comments

  1. NorthCountyGuy says:

    Silly serfs, the elitist Oligarch of Paso Robles, Jim App, is totally corrupt because his Oligarchy of Paso Robles has decided that App is totally exempt from the Rule of Law.

    App’s useful idiot, willing prostitute and accomplice in crime, Burton, will be tossed under the bus the the moment Burton ceases to be a wiling prostitute of App’s evil agenda.

    Don’t be fooled by misleading labels.

    Paso Robles is an Oligarchy, not a community nor a city.

    Machiavellian elites like App explain why government can’t be trusted.

    The premeditated ambush and murder of Donal Schneider was not an accident. Who orchestrated the premeditated ambush and murder of Donal Schnieder?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  2. studioclubnews says:

    With yet another PAY OFF to cover their evil tracks the Paso Good Ole Boys keep things in the closet so not to expose the inner corruption. Same with Lisa Solomon-Chitty pay off and what happened to this story CalCoast?

    http://calcoastnews.com/2013/09/paso-robles-supervisor-departs-under-criminal-cloud/
    And here was the cronie good ole boy that was in charge of the Paso streets for years… until Jim App and his good ole boy network is ended this town will go no where and continue to suffer…ten years go by and we are all waiting for the town to do well… and it keeps going down the drain, however there is no water now to go down the drain…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1

  3. Paso_citizen says:

    Jolly good, Krusater; but as has been stated so many times before: you get what you ask for. And the citizens of this city (as evidenced by the vote) have asked for – and are getting – exactly this type of city government. Nobody, but us, can be held blame for this mess – and nobody, but us, can fix it. .

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  4. Krusater says:

    Wow! What made Officer Tatro fold up his tent and slither away, never to be heard from again? Instead of exposing some long covered-up details of the disgusting behavior of our town “servents”, we are treated to secrecy and non-resolution to this sordid soap opera. What a sorry bunch of wet noodles this town is composed of.
    Look how we’ve been duped to raise our sales tax, without specifically calling for it to be spent on road repairs. So what do we get? NO repairs in the year and a half since this tax has been collected. What a bunch of dolts. Like we didn’t know this would happen. We are frittering away all our resources to benefit a few sheisters. This town that is so-called “Darn Near Paradise” is actually a haven for scofflaws and a disfunctional quagmire, just like every other city in this county. Why is that? You tell me.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0

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