App mute on moles at union meetings

March 14, 2012

Jim App

By KAREN VELIE and DANIEL BLACKBURN

Paso Robles City Manager Jim App and Police Chief Lisa Solomon allegedly used spies during negotiations last year with police officers’ union representatives and later discussed the practice in emails.

Members of the Police Officers Association (PRPOA) reacted sharply to the emails, copies of which were obtained through Public Records Act requests by CalCoastNews.

Jon Tatro, who until recently was president of the union group, said he has “long believed that (Solomon) has moles in the POA who report privileged information from our meetings directly back to her.” Tatro called the action criminal.

App Tuesday declined to comment on the matter. Solomon is on leave.

“It should be noted that if they gathered information from Solomon’s ‘moles’ to help them in any way to bargain against us in contract negotiations, it is a crime,” Tatro added. “It is conspiracy to commit fraud. They defrauded me out of a fair labor contract.”

Tatro’s suspicions of city spies are borne out by a Nov. 10, 2011 email from App to Solomon in which he asked, “Any info from your moles at last night’s meeting?” Union members were negotiating a new contract and discussing health benefits and salaries at that session.

Tatro and Dave Hernandez, another former union official, are accusing the city of negotiating in bad faith.

Other emails from App to Solomon showed they were involved in obtaining names and keeping track of union meeting attendees, as well as making demeaning comments about police officers for agreeing to lower wages.

Hernandez, POA president during those negotiations, said it was obvious the city manager and Solomon were trying to influence the association to vote in favor of a new health plan. He also thinks the “moles” were able to change the health plan union members voted for during the meeting.

“On that night, the officers voted unanimously to stay with the current health plan, not the one the city manager wanted us to go with,” Hernandez said. “The following day, after we explained to city management that we wanted to stay with the current plan, a sergeant began calling officers to confirm their vote.

“He explained we had no choice, that we were being selfish, and that we should change to the new health plan,” Hernandez added. “The sergeant said he was able to get enough officers to change their votes, and the health plan was switched to what the city manager wanted.”

Tatro also took issue with a Nov. 30 email exchange between Solomon and App in which the pair discusses the city’s police officers’ pay being lower than earnings of San Luis Obispo County sheriff deputies.

“So, why does anyone still work for us?” App wondered in an email to Solomon after reviewing the salary comparison.

“Good question,” Solomon responded.

“I can answer that question,” Tatro said. “Many of us are hoping not to have to work for either of you two much longer.”

Inquiries to city council members seeking comment on Solomon and App’s actions got only one response, from Fred Strong.

His March 8 email to CalCoastNews is reprinted here verbatim:

“As a member of a legislative body (one of three branches of government in the United States) and one which, at the local level, is sometimes called upon to exercise the duties and responsibilities of the judicial branch, I choose to follow Constitutional protocol and neither interfere with, nor pass judgement on, the operations or process invoked within that branch of government until and unless it comes to me in an official capacity. At that time, with appropriate evidence, rather than unsupported statements or opinions, I will respond according to established protocol and process.

“However, I do not choose to prejudice my quasi-judicial status, should it be invoked in matters that are purportedly headed in that direction.

“This has nothing to do with ‘freedom of the press’ or ‘transparency.’ It has to do with due process.

“I have never seen nor heard of any specific email content within the administrative branch of government prior to this communication. Therefore, I apologize if my response is not what you were expecting. Once alerted to the possibility of being cast into a quasi-judicial role regarding personnel matters within the Police Department, I have diligently avoided any and all articles and electronic media once the words police department, Solomon, Chief, etc. have come up in view, hearing or print.

“If this matter comes to me officially, I will give it my full attention and seek to find the truth through evidence and/or corroborated allegations. Until this clears I do not choose to engage in any discussion which might taint the process or prejudice the outcome.

“Thank you for considering me worth contacting. Best wishes, Fred.”


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184 Comments

  1. doggin says:

    Good to see the D/A aggressively investigating this ordeal along with the rest of the CC’s corruption..

    (25) 29 Total Votes - 27 up - 2 down
    • Crusader says:

      The current DA is a wasted paycheck.

      (11) 13 Total Votes - 12 up - 1 down
      • south says:

        Lest we forget something very important: The District Attorney only brings about an investigation after, AFTER, a complaint has been filed by either a law enforcement agency or a credible witness. This allows the DA to be a credible prosecutor. So unless you know the DA has ignored or dismissed charges don’t be too hasty in your criticism. You wouldn’t want the same agency that investigated you to also prosecute you would you?

        These situations are currently internal affairs, and the PRPD and the City have sadly not felt the need to bring in an outside agency, just a private investigator. This is not uncommon when there is a civil charge against management. Butt in this case it’s a horrible mistake due to the fact that the charge is violations of the Vehicle Code and the Penal Code. You cannot have a civil investigator paid by you to investigate crimes or violations caused by you and have the final report be taken seriously.

        In this case the referral should have gone to the DA, who would have demurred due to the closeness of agencies. The State Attorney General should have been the next step. It’s not too late to correct this.

        Tatro was correct in taking this first to the Superior Court – a State agency. Why this was not recognized as appropriate is confusing.

        (10) 12 Total Votes - 11 up - 1 down
  2. pasoman says:

    To: Tatro, Henandez, and the POA

    You have App & Yang on the ropes, finish this thing!

    Call the Council and tell them the suit will be dropped upon delivery of A & Y heads. That’s a win win for the City AND the police officers. No drawn out court battle, the Council can use the money they saved from a court battle and pay App a little package. You guys can get back to what you would rather be doing, your LE jobs. The Council can get a new person to clean up our City mess.

    All in favor post your reply!

    (7) 43 Total Votes - 25 up - 18 down
    • MaryMalone says:

      I don’t agree with the recommendation of anyone who has been harmed by the City of Paso Robles dropping their lawsuits or other legal actions.

      These people have suffered, as has the union, at the hands of solomon, app and the PR city council. There rights for redress of the intentional harm done to them.

      In addition, these legal actions may shed light on other areas of illegal actions and conspiracy perpetrated by solomon, app and the members of the city council.

      I think it would be unlikely that–given the level of illegal actions solomon and app participated in, and the fact that they occurred over time (i.e., were not one isolated incident–that they may have committed illegal acts of a financial nature, as well.

      In addition, the legal actions by those solomon and app have harmed will be a means to discover who else was involved in their schemes. If co-conspirators are allowed to remain in place, it does not good to get rid of the two ring-leaders and the city council who allowed them to do harm to the city, its employees and its residents.

      I agree about solomon and app being unable to continue in their positions at PR. They have not only miserably failed in their jobs, but have actively and intentionally abused the power of their positions for personal gain, intentionally harming others along the way.

      But it is very important that the legal actions go forward. The more that is known about what has occurred under cover of the city-council’s support, the more likely it is that enough of the guilty people will be removed so that the city can really have a chance of moving forward.

      (33) 39 Total Votes - 36 up - 3 down
      • pasoman says:

        Ok MM, while it may be a long and drawn out affair, you may be right. I just don’t have any faith in the system and the quicker App & Yang go the sooner we can heal as a City. But again, maybe more of the dirt will surface and we can deal with that as well. Finger crossed in either case!

        As usual good post MM, thanks.

        (22) 28 Total Votes - 25 up - 3 down
        • MaryMalone says:

          We usually agree on the important stuff, as we did here.

          I totally agree with you that Solomon and App are finished and should be drop-kicked by the city council. Of course, Yang should go, too. It is under her watch as city counsel that this debacle, and many others, occurred. Jon Seitz should go, too, since he is assistant city counsel and did nothing to counter Yang’s legal advice.

          I don’t think they will get rid of Yang, for the same reason that the Oceano wastewater treatment plant has not terminated Michael Seitz’s contract for providing legal counsel. Seitz has been in on the fraudulent activities at the WWT facility from the beginning, and “knows where the bodies are buried,” metaphorically speaking.

          I don’t think the city council will let Yang walk away, either, because she knows too much.

          It’s like they have each other’s necks in choke-holds. Our only hope is that they strangle each other in the process, and that they do it quickly.

          (12) 16 Total Votes - 14 up - 2 down
    • TacomaRose says:

      Hate to say it Pasoman but sometimes the only way to effect change is to score a direct hit on their checkbooks.

      I just wish that the Cities and Counties wouldn’t cover for the misddeeds by picking up the legal bills and payouts for those who have obviously behaved unethically. Those payment should come directly out of the wrongdoers checkbook.

      (31) 33 Total Votes - 32 up - 1 down
      • pasoman says:

        Agreed. Just sooooooooo hoping A & Y move on, they’re ruining our City. It’s just so painful to watch. My worst fear is No Change.

        Thx for for the reply!

        (24) 26 Total Votes - 25 up - 1 down
      • MaryMalone says:

        This is my understanding on how it works. However, a city or district may have policies that are askew from the norm.

        The city manager, personally, can be sued for his actions as city manager, and a $$judgment can be awarded to the person suing the city manager. Under certain conditions, the city would be required to reimburse the city manager for the money paid in the $$judgment, and legal costs (if the city didn’t pay for the legal costs up front, as they were occurring, during the case).

        If the city’s policies are set up as many are, where the city council directs the city manager, and the city manager implements the CC’s directions into actions (including decisions regarding the hiring and firing of city staff).

        Usually (at least on paper) the CC would not instruct the city manager to hire or fire an employee because, if they did, it would open the members of the CC to potential liability. The city manager could claim she/he was just following the instructions of the city council.

        Usually the CC toes the line when it comes to not giving the city manager (at least, publicly) instructions on hiring, firing, reprimands, etc. of employees, or other specific operational details of the day-to-day management of city staff.

        However, I know one case where the district manager claims it was the members of the board who directly instructed him to fire an employee, and for the district manager to make up reasons if he had to.

        In this case, the board members are being named individually in the legal complaint from the wrongfully terminated employee, as is the district itself (and, of course, the district manager), because the board members instructed the manager to fire the employee.

        (1) 7 Total Votes - 4 up - 3 down
  3. Crusader says:

    The more I think about it, Solomon is done. She won’t be coming back from her mini-vacation. I sure hope residents don’t like this arrogant prick App off the hook…

    (55) 61 Total Votes - 58 up - 3 down
  4. jackal says:

    The Oscar goes to…………….

    Google………

    solomon & app paso robles

    (20) 26 Total Votes - 23 up - 3 down

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