Verbal swords still crossing in Atascadero
February 19, 2009
By KAREN VELIE
In Atascadero, change means more of the same when it comes to contentious city council sessions, with councilmember Tom O’Malley and cohort councilmember Jerry Clay demonstrating they have enduring memories.
O’Malley’s barrage of accusations aimed at Mayor Ellen Beraud during last month’s “strategic planning” meeting caused her to walk out of the meeting. O’Malley had brusquely contended that Beraud “misrepresented” the council and had secret correspondence with Wal-Mart officials.
The incident was reminiscent of last year’s “trust building” meeting during which councilmember George Luna stormed out after fielding accusations that his wife had broken the law. During the same meeting, O’Malley challenged former Mayor Mike Brennler to handle their disputes his way, man-to-man out in the parking lot.
Check out the following blow-by-blow council discussion from February 10 — ostensibly about citizen concern regarding a lack of decorum at the council session in which Beraud walked out.
Clay: We still have the nay sayers out there at the first of the meeting spreading their poison….I think its disappointing that we still have people just stirring the pot trying to make things look bad and it’s disappointing to me and I just wish they would go away and join the (inaudible) folks.
Councilmember Bob Kelly: We all know what happened after it happened and I walked away with the impression that Tom had apologized to you (Beraud) and you had accepted that….
O’Malley: Actually I didn’t apologize….
Beraud: So are you saying you are not apologizing?
Clay: Well, ahhhh.
O’Malley: I thought it was a good process we resolved some.
Clay: So my point is you talked it out. Right?
O’Malley: That’s right.
Kelly: I thought everyone came away satisfied.
Beraud: I still think I could have used an apology. I do not think I would have ever pushed someone to the point that I would upset them [enough] to make them leave the room.
Beraud: I would appreciate an apology, but if you believe in your heart of hearts you did absolutely nothing over the line, that is your decision.
O’Malley: I though it was really appropriate to review my concerns with you and we did it very calmly.
Clay: I think we are hashing this out.
O’Malley: That is why I suggested that I think it might be helpful to review council norms.
O’Malley: We can bring it back on the agenda and talk about it.
Clay: I never got a call from you, Ellen, when you requested that someone be in the room when I requested you meet with me and so you know you do not have to apologize. All kinds of little things happen and we just move on to better things.