Gangs, what gangs? Not in Paso Robles

February 22, 2012

Gary Nemeth


Reviewing budget recommendations made by Paso Robles City Manager Jim App, and approved by this Council, do you believe they have our health, safety and welfare in mind? Are they listening to anyone except App when the Council continually approves dangerous budgets that drive our community back to when App was first hired and our safety levels are now at 1991 levels instead of 2012?

Police Chief Lisa Solomon recommended cutting DARE, SRO, Gang Unit, SET, Oak Park Officer, and Council cut Oak Park Recreation Program, and so many other programs while raising our fees. Solomon gave App a contingency plan that 29 sworn officers was the minimum level the department could function safely, now they are at 27.  Picanco and council nonetheless supported the hiring freeze potentially putting our safety in jeopardy.

At the study session Saturday we were told we need 15 Police officers, 8 Fire Fighters and 20 General Employees, almost all line level and middle management positions.

Paso Robles pastor Ruben Tate of Second Baptist Church was quoted stated that “he also thinks the city ignored its gangs.”

The people who are committing crimes aren’t stupid and can see that the resources dwindle and see it’s easier to come into town and get a stronger hold on the community, I said during the meeting.

Solomon does not plan to devote an officer to gang prevention with the current new hires, citing ongoing budget pressures. Rather, she plans to get one when money is available.

Marci Powers is the coordinator of the San Luis Obispo County Anti-Gang Coordinating Commission.

The reason we’re doing the gang assessment in Paso is because we picked Paso because we know that there are issues in Paso and we wanted to start there and then go forward, Powers said. I know from the gang assessment that one of the things that concerns me is that we have the highest rate of teen pregnancy in Paso, we have the highest rate of truancy in Paso; compared to other areas of the county population-wise, the highest rates.

We have the highest rate of individuals who are accessing CalWorks programs, which means that the poverty in Paso Robles is higher, compared to other areas of the county. Poverty itself isn’t bad – it’s fine. But when you put all of those thing together, I think it just tells us that we need to be doing more than we’re doing, so those things are concerning.

I do believe that we do need a new source of revenue, but do you trust this City Manager (APP) and this current council with your money? We are not in 1991, we are in 2012, and this council needs to be replaced.

Gary Nemeth retired from the San Luis Obispo Police department following a 30-year law enforcement career. Nemeth sat on the Paso Robles City Council from 2000 through 2008.

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Imagine being one of the few City Council members who does NOT agree with App’s policies. Just maybe not all of them are going along to get along and trying to make a difference. If so, they must be beside themselves with frustration at the managerial choices taking place. You’ll never see those discussions at a City Council meeting.

I’m considering the possibility that just maybe some of them are pushing back and we’re none the wiser.