County sex scandal reveals misdeeds

July 29, 2009

By KAREN VELIE

In addition to detailing the improper relationship Gail Wilcox engaged in with a sheriff union negotiator, the recently released investigative report commissioned by the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors unveils how government leaders conspired to hide “corruption” from the public.

In an e-mail, made public in the report, former County Administrator David Edge offers Wilcox, his second in command, suggestions on how to protect herself from the possible ramifications of her affair with a married union representative she was negotiating against. Edge laments that if the media discovers the conflict of interest it will be labeled corruption.

“If the story breaks through UncoveredSLO, or similar, it will be sleazed up to the max and will be defined as obvious corruption in the media,” Edge says in the e-mail.

He goes on to suggest that Wilcox should first remove herself from the negotiation, and then inform a few people about the affair so that when it does become public it doesn’t appear that they were attempting to deceive the public. Edge notes that expecting the information to remain secret is a “long odds strategy.”

Edge also warned Wilcox that if the revelations about her relationship with Tony Perry became public it could bring up the “Clay issue again,” which could result in Wilcox loosing her job.

Last summer, CalCoastNews revealed a cozy mortgage relationship between Wilcox and attorney Clay Hall, whose firm receives hundreds of thousands of dollars annually as the vendor responsible for the majority of San Luis Obispo County’s outside legal work.

In a deal approved and defended by Edge, Clay put half the money down on Wilcox’s $580,000 Arroyo Grande home.

Hall’s firm has provided no-bid legal work for the county for more than two decades. County regulations require that contracted work of more than $10,000 be placed out for bids.

A month before the Wilcox’s Blackberry Avenue deed was granted, Edge put a proposal before supervisors purporting to “review and update” the county’s conflict of interest codes. The resolution, placed on the supervisors’ consent calendar and approved without dissent on March 20, 2007, also contains language specifically exempting Wilcox’s residence from the conflict regulations.

The exemption appears to circumvent California law governing public officials’ conduct and defining conflicts of interest.

Last summer, Edge claimed on Dave Congalton’s radio show that the wording on the consent order did not exempt Wilcox’s home.

“The dynamic in this scenario is different from that with Clay Hall because 1) there was no inappropriate relationship and 2) we’d taken action to shield you from any real problems with the business deal…,” Edge says in an April 29, 2009 e-mail to Wilcox.

On May 12, UncoveredSLO broke the news that Wilcox and Edge had been place on paid administrative leave due to allegations of sexual harassment. A week later, the board of supervisors terminated Edge.

Wilcox than filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against Edge and the county. In response, the board hired an out-of-area attorney to investigate the allegations that led to the termination of Wilcox.

The investigation report documents how a few high ranking county employees used their government e-mail accounts to send “juvenile” and sexually explicit messages to one another.

In one such e-mail from Edge to Wilcox, he says, “So you didn’t get to scratch the itch but – you did hang tough and let him initiate texting this time.”

Wilcox asserts in her lawsuit that Edge’s interest in her personal life was unwelcome, however, earlier this year Wilcox e-mailed Edge from a hotel room to discuss a sexual liaison.

“(Redacted name) texted 2 say his flight sucked, he missed me and he had fun. Of course he’ll probably have another woman in his bed by 2night but getting the text made me smile of course,” Wilcox says in the e-mail.

In order to prevail in a sexual harassment lawsuit, a relationship cannot be either consensual or welcomed.

According to the report, “The evidence does not support Wilcox’s assertion that she personally found Edge’s behavior to be unwelcome or intrusive into her private life.”

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One Comment

  1. ccn_debate says:

    Member Opinions:
    By: NorthCountyGuy on 8/1/09
    Speaking of toothless watchdogs. Why is the useless Grand Jury of SLO County not doing the oversight that it is being paid to do.

    By: Truthbeknown on 8/1/09
    One has to wonder what role the rest of the DSA cronies played in this. Not only should Perry be investigated, Strobridge and his business partner Brennler should be investigated as well.

    By: NorthCountyGuy on 7/31/09
    SLO County does a great job of setting a bad example. At the same time, SLO County doesn’t miss a beat in fleecing the taxpayers with even more “new and improved” incidents and scandals.
    James McKiernan – Why the frequency of sexual harassment lawsuits …
    The Darlene Swack sexual harassment settlement may not be the last … In that instance, Paul Floyd, auditor, was accused by six women in his office of …
    http://www.jamesmckiernanlawyers.com/…/james_mckiernan_comments_sexual_harassment.htm
    New Times SLO :: Publishing Local News and Entertainment for over …
    In 1990, San Luis Obispo auditor Paul Floyd was accused by six women in his office of sexual harassment that included repeatedly grabbing, touching, …
    http://archive.newtimesslo.com/index.php?p=showarticle&id=2798

    By: lucky2 on 7/31/09
    These Supervisors are all bad. Lets add up all the work they are not doing and all the problems that have gone on. We need a clean slate- Katcho you and Gibson need to go- How can any of them sleep at night. Be honest and stop always trying to cover things up- Grow a set. Katcho one said in a BOS meeting his heart was sad to vote out Edge but he wanted to help make the vote unanimous- Seriously!!! Dont represent us if your a fish- And as for the Coastal Commision you are not helped by anyone when you have no kahonies.

    By: katmello on 7/31/09
    Karen, please further investigate the Katcho angle in all of this. Me thinks he has much to hide.

    By: slovoter on 7/31/09
    Wilcox is pathetic. She is guilty of stealing thousands of tax payer dollars by using her “business” trips for sexual hook-ups. The County taxpayers paid for her hotel rooms so she could stratch her “itch.” For being so “self-proclaimed” smart, she was used and abused by the DSA during negotiations. She needs to go to jail for corruption. The investigator needs to dig a little deeper. Katcho has been sexually involved with County employees for years. A complete conflict of interest. Several present and former County Counsel members had knowledge of Edge’s, Wilcox’s, Hossli’s and Katcho’s behavior but chose to remain silent. Duke had knowledge and did not come forward. She should resign or be terminated. Time to clean house. Taxpayers deserve better.

    By: dhgscw on 7/31/09
    It appears there are too many people in SLO county government acting ‘stupidly’.

    By: Myself on 7/31/09
    What frys my butt is that these govet people are only worried about covering each others butt and not doing their job, they impose rules and regulations on us the gereral public that we must obey but they dance along as they please at our expense, nothing gets done at the court house, except dodging responsibility.

    By: Black_Copter_Pilot on 7/31/09
    I believe that even instigating a conversation where the subject is sexual, constitutes sexual harassment. One does not have to show his/her horndog side to be engaged in sexual harassment

    Seen it happen and heads were severed

    By: Cindy on 7/31/09
    I wonder if David Edge could have a counter suit against Wilcox for malicious litigation and slander? She did seriously slander him. He didn’t conduct himself professionally but her claims of sexual harassment don’t pass the muster. No where (so far) do I have the impression that he wanted her for himself. It does appear that she fired a “preemptive strike” for fear that she was about to be exposed. My assessment of Gail and her attorney – Dumb & Dumber.

    By: nosedatruth on 7/30/09
    Love the banner ad at the top of the page – “earn your executive certificate in negotiation”…

    Hey, wait a minute, is that Tony Perry’s picture? If not, he should be teaching the negotiation course!

    By: bluemule on 7/30/09
    The way Perry insists on “deferring to Wilcox’s dates” when questioned about their affair is very telling. He’s protecting her by not telling the whole truth about the situation, which he undoubtedly recalls quite accurately. That he’s still essentially lying rather than opening up is reprehensible, and his poor wife can only expect the same treatment.

    By: DashRiprock on 7/30/09
    Perry played Wilcox like a drum and the SLO County Board of Supervisors are sticking their head in the sand…yes, the current ones too.

    By: Cindy on 7/30/09
    The way I see it Perry is either a prostitute or an extortionist. Its questionable whether he
    serviced Wilcox during the negotiations or immediately following them. If it was during then he screwed her for money. If it was immediately after then he held out on her until he got what he wanted and thats extortion. Its not as if he didn’t know about her itch.

    By: Truthsayer on 7/30/09
    It should be noted every deputy is required to sign an oath that they will uphold the laws of our land which includes his impropriety as a union offical. Now of course, in this country adultery is not considered the breaking of any law per se, but then who in their right mind would want this type of person out protecting us and our children when he treats his own family in this way.

    By: Afriendindeed on 7/30/09
    Lighten up, Marty: There are many aspects to this story. Karen has mentioned Tony Perry in the story posted below. if you can read, you should easily detect that this particular story is not about DSA, but about Wilcox, Edge, and Clayton Hall and their unethical arrangement.

    What did Tony Perry do wrong? At this point he’s answerable only to his wife and children. Wilcox, Edge, and Hall are in far more serious trouble.

    By: Roo on 7/30/09
    That’s what I call a good negotiator: securing a sweet contract and banging the opposition to boot.

    Why would the Deputy Sheriff’s want to police that?

    By: SanSimeonSam on 7/30/09
    It just so happens i have 2 bits in my pocket. Anyone have Gails phone number. I should get it from Edge but i am not sure what SLO pimps charge these days.

    My biggest concern here is that the board of supervisors are supposed to be the watchdogs for the people. They are supposed to have the good judgement and the fiscal common sense to protect our investments in this community. So far the supervisors have demonstrated to me that they are either complicit in the corruption that is ongoing or to incompentent or lazy to control it. Case in point the dismissal of the pimp and party girl…Katcho A a supervisor who has much more than an arms length relationship with both the pimp and the party girl (even parties with the party girl) did not recuse himself from the dismisal vote. While he did vote to fire his friends he exhibited extremely bad judgement in not excusing himself from the vote. Gibson says that he asked Katcho about excusing himself and Katcho said he was comfortable voting on the issue….and Gibson accepted that. Another case of bad judgement. There is clearly the appearance of impropriately on the part of both these men. Its this lack of judgement and mismanagement that must be exposed and stopped. We need to move out the supervisors and replace them with honest intelligent and fiscally responsible individuals. This will become more apparent once the rest of the story is told on the others who are on PAID leave until prosecuted. Keep up the good work Karen…..Next you need to tackle the Romero/Copeland crime family.

    By: rogerfreberg on 7/30/09

    Hey Mar-tay….

    WHO and WHAT are you defending?

    Tony Perry is a nice side car story … one little tryst among — apparently — many. Tony is merely a distraction compared to the apparent wasteful spending… and dare we say “corruption”? ( didn’t Edge already worry about people saying that?)

    Tony Perry is beyond contempt on many levels… law endorsement officers should hold themselves to higher standards. I leave it to the Deputy Sheriffs themselves to handle their own.

    What I’d like to hear more about is what the Board of Supervisors are going to do about pulling in out-of-control departments whose lavish spending and bazaar behavior has to be discussed in blogs before it ever gets to the newspapers… and finally to the Board of Supervisors?

    Firing two individuals whose egregious behavior has been well known to so many within and without the county government is not ‘change I can believe in.’

    Do something.

    By: FRACTUREDFAIRIETALES on 7/30/09
    Marty: Unless you have direct proof that this all came from Strobridge, I believe you need to put a sock in it. Whether it came from one source or another, it DOESN’T MATTER AT THIS POINT!! The whole bunch of them are worse than frat boys (and girls). If this is the way our society has progressed, God help us all….

    By: marty on 7/30/09
    Excuse me Kool-Aid drinkers, but I was talking about Karen’s reporting, not the actual report. The other media outlets have also summarized the report and Tony Perry and the DSA are mentioned; but not in Karen’s reporting… She has been getting information from Dale Strobridge for some time now and Dale is using her to spin this story away from Tony Perry.

    And I hope Cindy doesn’t vote for Parkinson that will make it easier for my candidate to win.

    By: Cindy on 7/30/09
    I don’t see where this sexual harassment suit has any legs. I can understand why Gail’s attorney didn’t want the report released but what really cracks me up is that he said it would hinder her from getting a fair trial! A “fair trial”! I’d say her case is dead in the water. Edge and Wilcox were obviously great friends and I love the part about Gail telling Edge that her Sacramento lover Mr. xxx said she had a big butt so as she bid him farewell after a romp she backed out of the room so as not to let him see it again! LOL. Those kids are just so cute.

    By: Cindy on 7/30/09
    Marty – Oh Gee Whats This, ” Edge also warned Wilcox that if the revelations about her relationship with Tony Perry became public it could bring up the “Clay issue again,” which could result in Wilcox loosing her job.”
    Are we reading the same article? Keep it up Marty, I’m still not going to vote for Parkinson.

    By: yelapop on 7/30/09
    Marty: Try paragraph 5, idiot.

    By: BeenThereDoneThat on 7/30/09
    Marty.

    Go read the 50 page PDF over at SLO.com. Tony is mentioned everywhere!!!

    Karen is just giving a breakdown of the overall story. That seems pretty normal for reporting.

    By: RoscoeRules on 7/30/09
    Don’t worry marty. Those of us that are able to think for ourselves see the writing on the wall. This looks like it is part one of a collaborative attempt to spin the DSA/Perry/Wilcox/Strobridge/SLO County story elsewhere so all of us mindless lemmings will forget all about their collective transgressions and the damage they’ve caused. Problem is, it’s not going away.

    By: marty on 7/30/09
    Nowhere in this article do we see the name Tony Perry. Why is that? It’s like he and the DSA were not even involved in the biggest scandal in county government since the Paul Floyd Sexual Harassment Case of 1988.

    I know you and Dale are “close” (wink wink), but really Karen, does Dale do your thinking too? If he drank a glass of water would you be unable to speak?

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