Dalidio accused of funding farmers’ association

February 7, 2010


An e-mail distributed by the San Luis Obispo Chamber of Commerce incorrectly claims that rancher Ernie Dalidio funded a recent controversial San Luis Obispo County Farmers’ Market Association’s advertising campaign. This has created a political firestorm over who is behind these rumors.

On Feb. 3, the chamber sent out an issue of the “e-Insider” – an online source of controversial news – to all of its members stating that Dalidio’s financial support of the farmers’ association had helped “drum up” vocal support for the nonprofit organization of family farmers.

“Insiders report that the television spots and full-page print ads that ran in the week leading up to council meeting were financed by a local rancher-developer who has previously sparred with the downtown association,” according to the e-mail. “The publicity helped drum up significant public testimony, written communications and phone calls that were overwhelmingly in support of the San Luis Obispo County Farmers’ Market Association continuing its 27-year role.”

In the advertisements, the farmers’ association voiced its objections to the San Luis Obispo Downtown Association decision to terminate its relationship with the farmers’ association and to take control of the market portion of the popular Thursday night event. The e-mailed misinformation prompted some readers to question if the battle over who runs the farmers’ market is less about a grass roots effort and more about Dalidio’s “grudge” against the SLO Downtown Association.

“It is crazy,” Dalidio said. “It‘s untrue. I did not finance the (farmers’ association’s) campaign.”

Ermina Karim, the chamber’s director of governmental affairs,  said the information that Dalidio had funded the advertisements was confirmed through a “number of sources who would know.” However, no one from the chamber attempted to contact Dalidio, the farmers’ association or Dave Cox of Barnett Cox & Associates (the advertising agency that produced the advertisements).

“The Insider is usually substantiated rumors,” Karim said. “We usually try to confirm by hearing it from sources that are well placed people that would know. The Insider reflects what people are talking about.”

The spokesperson for the SLO County Farmers’ Association, Peter Jankay, said that all funding for the media campaign came from the reserves of the farmers’ association.

“I am shocked,” Jankay said of the allegations that Dalidio was funding the media campaign. “There are real hard working people on both sides trying to work for a solution and this is not productive.”

Dave Cox also confirmed that Dalidio was not involved in financing the association’s media campaign. He did, however, take pictures in front of Dalidio’s barn to use in the ads.

“I asked Ernie if he would mind if we shot pictures in front of his barn,” Cox said. “I don’t think I told him who the client was. He has one of the best looking barns in the area.”

Dalidio has battled opponents of the proposed 131-acre development on his land in the county bordering the city of San Luis Obispo for 18 years. Opponents of the project include environmental groups, the SLO Downtown Association and competing developers.

In early 2008, Dalidio filed a declaration to allow a Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act lawsuit against the LLC that funded the campaign against his development and the SLO Downtown Association. Dalidio’s multimillion-dollar lawsuit claimed that the association and Responsible County Development LLC conspired and implemented unlawful business practices to thwart the proposed development.

U.S. District Judge Christina Snyder in Los Angeles tentatively dismissed Dalidio’s case because of a local ruling that has since been overturned.

Following information from Dalidio’s attorneys that the SLO Downtown Association and No on Measure J had run an illegal campaign against Dalidio’s proposal, the Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) researched the claims and determined they had merit. As a result, the FPPC authorized Dalidio’s attorneys to act as representatives of the state investigating election fraud.

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Just how many of these “farmers” are actually local anyway? It is easy to jump on the bandwagon of the farmer, and I am just as prone as anyone to do so. Misrepresenting anyone, even Dalidio, is simply wrong. I too am extremely resistant to the Down Town for my own reasons, though I immagine the downtown could probably care less if I spend $$ there or not judging from the typical reception received from most of the businesses.

many are smaller farmers and/or organic , who cares where they are from . you don’t have to support them , but i will .

I think that all farmers can use a leg up. But if Deb Cash’s ransom, I mean compensation, were eliminated, that expense could defray booth space costs so that truly local farmers and mom & pop farmers are not charged and that farmers from out of the area only pay a nominal fee.

I think it would be very informative to view the downtown business ass. balance sheets. How much money is generated and where does all the money go??? Not in generalities, but in details.

Anyone here have time to follow up on that? I’m sorry that I do not. The financial information should be available now that they are a “non-profit” gang, I mean group.

this fma thing has opened a whole other can of worms for me . the balance of city tax dollars spent on the downtown area is way out of line with the money spent on the rest of the city . for example , outside the downtown area there are so many pot holes , broken sidewalks that need a grinder or replaced , there was a lamp post on my street that took three and a half months to replace a burnt out bulb .

I think SLO has made a joke out of itself with the whole dalidio situation. What ever happened to free enterprise in this country. Are we going to start telling new software makers they can’t build new software because it will take money out of Bill Gates pockets. All you people against Dalidio can go to hell. If I were him there would already be a hog farm there or a feed lot. This is the reason my wife and i refuse to shop in downtown. Not one dime of my money will ever go to these bigots.

Why the hell is dave garth and the and his arrogant worthless chamber of commerce spreading rumors like a little fcking high school girl around town about a local business man???????? What, he has his own gossip e-mail?? What an idiot. This damn organization is so in bed with the downtown ass, it’s not funny.

The job of a chamber of commerce is to promote commerce for the community. Not to gossip about local towns people on the internet like adolescents. I am a business owner in SLO and do not pay a thousand bucks a year to garth because I do not want to be associated with these morons. I would encourage members to evaluate what you are really getting for your dues paid.

Their chamber organization and the down town association are a giant waste of business owners hard earned money and are a giant pain in the ass. These organizations are about themselves.

thanks for saying what everybody knows of garth and his cohorts .

I am against Ernie’s project 100% for several reasons. But what does that have to do with this issue? Who cares if he supports the Farmers association. Being from a family of farmers I would expect him to support them,,,so what? Why is this even a news story?

Does the truth not matter to you?

“It’s difficult to piece together a puzzle if you don’t first know what it looks like,” Chamber President Dave Garth said.

Sure, and Dave Cox didn’t mention to Ernie who the client was that needed photos of the best looking barn around. Everybody is for farmers. Remember though that Farmer Ernie hired highest priced PR firm around, Barnett Cox, to fight the Downtown Assn. If Dave Cox didn’t happen to mention who the ads were for, you can bet he mentioned who they were against.

As a former downtown business person, please understand that most of the businesses have no control, no input that is recognized, and very little influence on what the Downtown Association says or does. I personally did not like the proposed Dalidio project only because I felt he was not going to be paying his fair share of the needed improvements, but I had no objection to Mr. Dalidio or the project itself, just the way it was being negotiated. I was bothered by the advertisement campaign that was launched against the Dalidio project, and I was pretty sure the Downtown Association was behind it. I would not care one bit if Ernie Dalidio did finance the ad campaign, even though he did not. As for the “misunderstanding” between the D. A. and the Farmer’s Association, I stand firmly with the farmers; just don’t blame the downtown business person for the outrageous behavior of the Downtown Association. The business owners have no choice whether or not to be a member of the D. A.; the dues come right out of your business license, and in order to have a license in the downtown core area, you must pay both your license and the dues for the Downtown Association.

well, I can’t really blame the guy… first, he’s sticking up for farmers so I think that’s cool… plus I suspect there are more personal reasons regarding the downtown association and their handlers alleged involvement in fighting a certain local election we all know about.

Somehow, I can’t find any sympathy for the downtowners.

Not that it matters at all but didn’t the busisness association vote against his project years ago when it being handled by the city? So yeah, it would make sense for him to go against them. But again why does it matter? He can support who he wants (as long as they’re on the up and up).

And Here We Have Government Trying To Take Out The Local Business Person Again.