New Arroyo Grande councilwoman leads a harried secret life

June 8, 2010

By KAREN VELIE

Scandal-ridden former councilmember Ed Arnold stepped down to allow the Arroyo Grande City Council to avoid distraction related to his personal life, but at his replacement’s very first council meeting, questions about her lifestyle started a confrontation between her supporters and her critics.

Public comment about recently appointed Arroyo Grande Councilwoman Caren Ray’s activities with the San Luis Obispo Hash House Harriers brought a moment of stunned silence to Tuesday night’s City Council meeting.

“I think it is highly embarrassing,” said Kevin Rice speaking about Ray’s activities as part of the reputed drinking club during the public comment period. “It is not reflective in what the community is looking for in a councilmember.”

An unnamed supporter of Ray and the SLO Hash House Harriers confronted Rice in the lobby of the city building and angrily accused him of ruining Ray’s professional life by making private matters public. Another supporter, who also refused to be named, objected to Rice mentioning Ray doing Jello shots in the Wal-Mart parking lot in ear shot of his 8-year-old daughter during public comment.

And while some residents contend that what Ray does in her private life should be kept private, others do not agree.

“With her lifestyle, she should not be a councilmember,” said Deb Napzok, an Arroyo Grande resident. “This is not who we want to represent our town.”

According to the SLO House Harriers web site, they are “a drinking group with a running problem.” They organize runs called hashers, an event that involves drinking and running after someone dubbed the hare.

Hashing is a mixture of athleticism, drinking, public nudity, cross dressing and hedonism, according to a hasher website.

Members are given nicknames such as Princess, Panama Jackoff, Rub Her Dinghy and SLO-Cop-You-Later (Ray’s nickname).

“It is a running group,” Ray said. “I have not been to an event in some time because it can be misjudged. I am no longer a member.”

And while Ray, a Santa Maria High School social sciences teacher, contends this is just normal adult activity, her comments about drinking in public places such as the Arroyo Grande Wal-Mart parking lot, sex on the running trail and her students’ drinking has caused some to question her ability to represent the city.

A 2009 news article about the Santa Maria High School swim team which is coached by Ray, notes that the swimmers have been given nicknames such as a girl dubbed Cherry Drop and a guy named Princess.

A few days after the story was published, another Hash House Harrier, Julie Workman said on the Yahoo string frequented by the group, “What’s up with one of them having the same nickname as our own Princess? Hmmm, nicknaming a student after your husband, should I be concerned?

“Also, Cherry Drop isn’t a half bad hash name,” Workman added. “Does she like to drink beer?”

Another hasher, “Otter Sea My Clam,” chimed in and asked Ray if the naming of her student was part of a hash crossover.

Ray responded, “We’re totally unashamed of taking a page out of the Hash Handbook for namings! The kid named Princess… :-) And yes, funny you should ask, Cherry Drop has been known to toss a few back.”

Santa Maria Principal Craig Huseth said it is inappropriate for his teachers to be discussing their students on public message boards. Ray, however, does not agree.

“There is nothing wrong with me commenting on a student’s drinking,” Ray said. “She (Cherry Drop) is known to toss a few back.”

Earlier this year, another Yahoo message string starts with the posting of a man’s bare butt with the word “bitch’ welted or stamped into the skin three times. While the picture says “by SLO-Cop-You-Later,” Ray contends someone else posted the photo.

Next on the string, Stubby Python asked, “Where is my phone, where is my hair, why do I have a black eye and what the f**k is stamped on my ass?”

Ray responded by telling Stubby Python she could clear up his questions.

“That’s not your ass,” Ray said. “Yours was tied to a pole with a five dollar bill stuck in your crack.”

Ray told CalCoastNews her postings were in reference to a birthday party she attended with people she has know for 30 years and that her comments should have been kept private.

“There is nothing questionable or irresponsible,” Ray said. “Some of this is tongue in cheek.

“This goes back to a difficult appointment and there are camps of people upset that their person didn’t win (the council seat).”

Rice does not agree and points to several YouTube videos which display hashers exposing themselves and to photos on the group’s website.

Pictures include female genitalia, a man with his testicles placed on a passed out man’s head, a man with his pants down and Ray at a picnic table.

Late Tuesday night, most of the photos from the site were removed. Nevertheless, CalCoastNews has copies of the website’s original version.

Last month, the City Council voted to replace former councilman Arnold with Ray, one of seven candidates for the recently vacated council seat. She had been serving as chair of the Arroyo Grande Planning Commission.

Arnold faces five felony charges stemming from an alleged assault last December involving a female Arroyo Grande city employee, who is allegedly dating his wife, and two charges related to allegations of child pornography. He has pled not guilty to all counts.

“I am not the only person involved in city politics who is a hasher,” Ray said and refused to provide the other SLO Hash House Harrier member’s name. “What upsets me about this is the city has been through so much.”


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Saveslocounty

IAccepting a public office necessitates some degree of lost privacy. Especially when your private acts are posted for all to see. Are you telling me that none of the Council knew about her “Hobby” or reputation before her appointment? Something smells fishy to me.


downdown

One might argue that posting stories and photos in a public Internet discussion forum, on a web site, on You Tube, and many photo galleries wouldn’t really be considered “private acts” by most reasonable persons.


AGDUDE

YUP!


ds_gray

Of course they knew! It was political ammunition to be used when a council member needed Ms. Ray’s vote. To assume they didn’t know would be to assume the council members who worked with her in City Hall were monumentally naive, or so incredibly inept as to be beyond the skills needed for breathing.


Cover was blown, secret got out, Ms. Ray’s value to the other council members is gone. She will be gone as well, in a very short time – but not until this news event falls off the radar.


Cindy

They tore down their crazy website tonight. I saw it a few days ago and I have to tell you that if it was a bunch of 16 years old’s it would have been funny but this crazy group that call themselves the “SLO Hash House Harriers” are adults and some are professionals at that. I saw a photo they had on their web site of a person with another person who had his pants pulled down and was resting his scrotum on his buddies head! It was completely bizarre. To an extent I agree that people are entitled to be nuts if they want but I also saw the post’s that Karen Ray’s did talking about some her high school students.

The posts about Princess indicates that he has a boner while Cherry Blossom likes to party down and I just really don’t get it. Like I said, this is the kind of stuff that 16 year old’s do or maybe even college kids but certainly not any “adults” that I have ever known and I can party with the best of them IMO.


Cindy

Too Funny, I wish I could have been there to see this one go down!


BTW, Sorry about your guy, it was definitely a very close race. I guess we are both on the same side now.


Saveslocounty

That was nice of you to say. You guess right because my opinion of Parkinsin could not possibly change. Cortez can take this one with just a little extra work. I’ll be calling to offer my assistance in the near future. I have enjoyed sparing with you and bouncing stuff around. While we did not always agree on a particular issue, you were always class about it. Long night now I have to get to work. Take care Cindy.


AGDUDE

I’d like to help you guy’s but I have to run…


Cindy

Too Funny, I wish I could have been at the City Council meeting to see this one go down! This is beyond funny, this is hysterical.


Cindy

I rewrote my post because after I wrote it, I realized that people might think I was talking about wanting to see what happened in the Wal Mart parking lot rather than the CC meeting!

Time for bed, I’m exhausted.


AGDUDE

furious, I bet he was in line!


AGDUDE

For mints!


Cums Solo

What? How did a Jello shot morph into giving a BJ? Get your facts straight.


Cums Solo

Cindy, isn’t the practice you describe in the photo above named after a conservative political movement?


BiggerProblems

Maybe you should propose a law about how “adults” are expected to party. If you can “party with the best of them IMO” then you better not run for any office in AG. One of your party goers may “out you”. Oh, and heaven forbid a high school teacher that actually knows what her kids do. That may lead to conversations about creating a successful life and still having fun.


Judge on AG. Judge on.


TacomaRose

Im going to agree with Mr. Rice who spoke at the council meeting and indicated that Ray’s activities were not the best reflection on the town, particularly in view of the recent fiasco involving former Councilman Arnold.


Certainly you can argue that Rays private life is her own, but when she engages in such behavior it doesnt set well with most folks who expect their coucilmembers to behave at a higher standard.


If the behaviors eluded to in the article are common practice, it would seem much like adolecent behavior, not that of mature adults.


As suggested in previous posts, the most troubeling issue appears to be Ray’s behavior in the context of her occupation as a teacher. I don’t think I would want her around my kids.


BiggerProblems

It is so much better to have your kids around teachers that, if they are doing something adolescent (that is the correct spelling) or maybe even breaking the law like sneaking beers onto the beach, they deny, deny, deny. Welcome to the world. If being politically incorrect (in the hash’s use of names that have sexual innuendo) then we’d have no comedians or jokes. If being paranoid about a public social group is normal then you live a sad life.


slorealitycheck

If you are willing to work for the people in a public capacity you should be able to take the heat. I think what disturbs me the most is her flippant attitude towards her students and their behavior and the way she talks about them. Frankly, if I discovered my child’s teacher was like that, I would be going to the school board.


BeenThereDoneThat

OMG. Another local offical caught in another bad case of judgement. My brain is starting to hurt from all the overload of these a**holes b.s. I’m off to bed to think about what to say that already hasn’t been said, because of all of this that goes on WAY to much. See what I can DREAM up. :-)


AGDUDE

I cant stay long I have to go run, wink …wink … woops my pants fell off, oh I it when that happens!!


BiggerProblems

Wow. Really? You didn’t sound like a pre-teen/teen with their pants half off their ass! When are you going to make the law against that look? I’d rather see a butt then a young man walking down the street with one hand trying to keep his pants from falling down and still look cool. The first just looks silly and probably very white (why is a baby’s butt acceptable but an adults isn’t?), the second look like an idiot.


Al

Sounds to me like she has a sense of humor and the ability to have a good time, both attributes to a well rounded mind. This ain’t wife beating…. and I am sure it is easily taken out of context. I agree with mkaney…”Because of an excessive focus on the social morality of politicians, we wind up with liars and crooks who put up a good front.”


mkaney

Not my sort of thing, but I find nothing objectionable about this sort of behavior. I also find it sort of refreshing that she didn’t try to distance herself from it like a hypocrite. Because of an excessive focus on the social morality of politicians, we wind up with liars and crooks who put up a good front.


CitizenR

You know, mkaney, you have a good point. She may be a little immature, but at least she is not a lying hypocrite who claims “Christian family values” in public while doing the naughty with who knows who in private. My concern is that after Arnold, AG really needs Caesar’s wife (beyond reproach) not an honest party gal.


AGDUDE

Good Lord, wake up… Can’t We all just go on A “run” … It’s all about Running, pay no mind to those bare butt’s .. it’s all in good fun, We got rid of one horses A.. now we got his sister.. how cool ,is that … jello all around ,for all the staff and council!!


Mr. Holly

Oh boy here we go1


AGDUDE

This whole city search for a new city council was a joke, open it up to public, then you pick from a planning com. Sounds like the water is still boiling, sounds like they sound picked a outsider, The heat might of not been so hot. .. But the city council and staff got what they wanted, Now they can sit in that mud puddle, all them!!, maybe they can go for a run,or a drink ..or some thing WINK!..”normal adult behavior” Yes Mr mayor, let spend another 10 min’s patting the political insiders on the back, .. and how open minded, you guys ,were about your selection.. I think we all need to be open minded, But I think after arnold, and Mr mayor, you picked ms.ray cause ,she like minded ..as arnold… Now we know why..WINK wink!! I would say Ms. ray.. should be worried .. people expose their butt in public,is normal?? she is standing there clear as day! Am I stupid.. or is this … not proper? The search for a new council men was a shame, they wanted a insider, Thats what they got, arlo guthrie lost because of backlash! And abbot and custello , It’s all a joke folks, The people of this city should be worried…jello heads! impeachment!!


BiggerProblems

If you’re going to rant, use English. Go back and get a GED and learn punctuation etc. You might also want to consider a logic class. Using the example of a “butt in public” to define the character of a group is pathetic, let alone the character of a person. Why don’t you ask Arlo about this crazy group? Oh, and don’t forget to do some research that also shows we do quite a number of charity events for local groups. (Arlo can’t go hashing because he’s already been to jail – I don’t think the hash group wants that kind of publicity) *sarcasm*


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