Parkinson: We didn’t conceal it from them

October 20, 2010

San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s candidate Ian Parkinson says in a published interview that he stopped his private work as a traffic accident reconstructionist around six years ago. [Tribune]

Parkinson, who continues to defend his actions in a 2000 Monterey County civil trial, also indicated that he had to receive annual approval from San Luis Obispo city officials to continue his off-duty consulting work.

Parkinson testified in 2000 that he had investigated about 3,000 to 4,000 traffic accidents during the nearly 17 years he’d worked as a police officer, and made several hundred reconstructions of accidents since 1990.

The controversy stems from a CalCoastNews article about Parkinson testifying as an expert witness for the plaintiff back in 2000 who turned out to be his sister-in-law Rita Tavernetti. A review of the transcript by both CalCoastNews and the Tribune shows that Parkinson failed to disclose his family relationship to the court, which eventually awarded Tavernetti $1.4 million.

“We didn’t conceal it from them,” Parkinson said of his relationship to Tavernetti in the interview published Wednesday. “If I knew that 10 years later I would run for sheriff, would I do it differently? Yes, I would make sure it was on the record that we disclosed it.”

Parkinson and the plaintiff’s attorney, James Murphy of Arroyo Grande, have maintained that Murphy disclosed the family connection to the defense attorney Frank Cunningham before the trial began.

Cunningham died two years ago and both his co-counsel and private investigator on the case have stated they had no knowledge of the Parkinson relationship.

Parkinson, currently a captain with the San Luis Obispo police department, is facing retired Pismo Beach police chief Joe Cortez in the Nov. 2 election.


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30 Comments

  1. Dave says:

    Here’s the Tribune editorial — right down the middle:

    We’re dusting the cobwebs off a 10-year-old brickbat and delivering it to sheriff’s candidate Ian Parkinson for testifying as an expert witness in a 2000 civil case involving his sister-in-law.

    Parkinson’s relative was a plaintiff in the case, which stemmed from a fatal accident near King City in 1998. At the time, Parkinson worked in his off-duty hours as an accident reconstruction expert, and often testified in civil cases.

    As Tribune writer Cynthia Lambert reported on Wednesday, Parkinson told the attorney handling his sister-in-law’s case about his connection to the plaintiff. The attorney says he relayed that information to the defense.

    Legal experts interviewed for the story say it was up to the defense to raise the connection at trial. They also pointed out that it is not unethical for an expert witness to testify on behalf of someone he knows.
    That’s all well and good, but this wasn’t just someone Parkinson knew casually — it was a relative. Given the closeness of the connection, it would have been better had he passed on this particular case, to avoid even the appearance of bias.

    That said, we’ve got to ask: If this were so egregious, why are those responsible for spreading this information only now stepping forward, 10 years after the fact?

    (-2) 6 Total Votes - 2 up - 4 down
    • Crusader says:

      The Tribune is now trying to distance itself from Parkinson. They should have grown a pair and publicly dropped their endorsement of the guy…

      NB: The reason the story is coming out now is because this election is the first time Parkinson has really been under the public’s microscope. He’s never been chief of SLOPD. There has always been someone else to focus on. Now it’s his turn and it hasn’t been pretty…

      (3) 5 Total Votes - 4 up - 1 down
    • patriotman says:

      The postition of SLO County Sheriff can not be taken lightly. This isn’t a popularity race where the winner is elected “Prom King”. Both Cortez and Parkinson have served our communities by doing a job that most citizens don’t have the guts to do and for thank I thank them both. However, when it comes to electing the top cop of the county there are some major issues that need to be discussed. I will be straight forward and let you know that my vote is for Cortez and I would like to share with the readers why I made that decision. It’s not so much about what Cortez has to offer but more about what Parkinson lacks. It doesn’t matter which union or special interest group endorses which candidate. What matters is who will do the job better and that is who should get your vote. Who wants to vote for a candidate who owes their seat to 6 dozen special interests? Parkinson criticises Cortez for running a smaller police department than the SLO PD. True, the Pismo Beach PD is smaller and has a smaller budget than the SLO PD. However, Cortez has the qualifications to run a PD, Parkinson does not. In order to be hired as a Chief of Police in any department in California you have to posses a Bachelor’s Degree at minimum. Cortez has a Bachelor’s degree, Parkinson is still “working” on achieving his. I don’t know how someone without a Bachelor’s degree could even be allowed to run for Sheriff. And besides, we’re talking about two police departments that are so small most people in the state don’t even know exist. To brag that one is bigger than the other is like comparing the size of two acorns. The Mardi Gras “riot” Parkinson is so proud of squashing was a joke. I wonder if Daryl Gates would have classified that disturbance as a riot. Does Parkinson consider the 1992 LA riots a “world war” then? When it comes to ethics and honesty Cortez completely outclasses Parkinson. During the KSBY forum when Cortez was asked by Jeanette Trompeter to explain his workman’s comp claim Cortez stood tall and explained the situation clearly. When Jeanette then asked Parkinson for his take on his “expert witness scandal” he tucked tail and refused to answer the question. If Parkinson would have just explained his side of the story or even stated that he made a bad judgment call by taking the case he would have earned some points in my book. But to weasel out of the question like he did says a lot about his character. And what about the 7 tax liens on Parkinson’s properties? This issue has never been fully addressed. When asked about it Parkinson claimed they got him confused with another guy. That’s an excuse a two bit street hood gives. Not a Sheriff’s candidate. As a captain Parkinson has no experience or authority in making a departmental budget. It seems like Parkinson can’t even budget his personal finances considering all the tax liens he’s collected. Cortez was not only responsible for the Pismo Beach PD budget but he saved the city millions by managing the budget wisely. When I look at Cortez’ face and see his salt and pepper hair and the crows feet wrinkles beside his eyes I see a man who has worked and sacrificed his whole life at something he truely believes in. Someone who has years of leadership experience that can’t be learned from any textbook or school but from having to struggle and make those hard decisions that effect not only an organization but a whole community. When I look at Parkinson I see a young fresh face wearing designer Lady GaGa sunglasses and the words “Golden Boy” written across his forehead. Someone from a rich family who has a lot of powerful friends in some high places who want to carry him as far as they can in the political arena. Whether you have already made up your mind about who your voting for or not just please make the decision that is best for San Luis Obispo County, not just what is best for yourself.

      (1) 1 Total Votes - 1 up - 0 down
  2. ApathyWillKillYou says:

    Curious as to the fact that the accident happened in May of 1998 but the law suit was not filed until 1 year and over 4 months later. Yet Ian Parkinson was on the scene within 10 days of the accident! This means his sister-in-law and family of King City had already chosen and hired a San Luis attorney, Murphy who in turn must have immediately retained Parkinson as an expert witness to be on the scene so quick!

    Also the now deceased defense attorney, Cunningham questioned Hayes’ testimony was unreliable because of his relationship with the plaintiffs. And if the sister-in-law relationship of the plantiff to Parkinson was disclosed then why did Cunningham not question the same unrealibity of Parkinson to testify. Either he was a bad attorney or he really didn’t know!

    (8) 8 Total Votes - 8 up - 0 down
  3. Crusader says:

    I’m feeling more and more that just the tip of the iceberg is being uncovered with regard to Parkinson’s shenanigans.

    (7) 9 Total Votes - 8 up - 1 down
  4. thinkaboutit says:

    I wanted to give an agreeable thumbs up to folks on this thread c, but the clickable thumbs seem to be curiously disabled.

    Pity.

    (4) 6 Total Votes - 5 up - 1 down
    • Cindy says:

      I also noticed that they were disabled yesterday. They seem to be back and working now.

      (3) 3 Total Votes - 3 up - 0 down
  5. Bluebird says:

    This article is not Karen’s style of writing and Karen’s name is not under it. It sounds more like Dave C. Dave when you write an article own up but some of them need to be under opinion piece. You don’t do Karen/Cal Coast News any favors. There were some other articles that sounded like your writing style. Basically I appreciate your support of Cal Coast News but you need to put your name under the articles you write. That is the ethical/decent thing to do.
    Bottom line Karen broke the story! There must have been a big pow-wow in the Tribune editorial room which means the public is asking questions about the issue. They obviously weighed in on reporting the issue.
    For me the issue is who is the more ethical candidate. Legal isn’t always ethical.

    (0) 4 Total Votes - 2 up - 2 down

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