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.”


Loading...
MaryMalone

QUOTING ARTICLE:

“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….”


Who is this POS toady sergeant? I bet he’s a co-conspirator, with app and solomon, too.


MaryMalone

QUOTING ARTICLE:

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


—-


MUWAH-HA-HA! Transparency’s a *itch, isn’t it, ms. solomon and mr. app.


Cindy

LMAOROF


I’m with you MaryMalone – gloating about “getting over on people” while typing out ones wrong doings to each other in e-mails on a public computer is what I call, really, really, super duper, superbly “STUPID”.


MUWAH-HA-HA,


MaryMalone

Totally agree with the stupidity of solomon and app.


One should never participate in a Gloat-O-Rama when it involves gloating over committing a crime that harms others.


If nothing else, it tends to turn the judge and jury against you.


pasojim

I am not sure stupidity would be the proper term, Although it applies,


I think arrogance might describe their attitude better.


That only makes it worse in my book


MaryMalone

I don’t know…..I think the “arrogance” would have to go beyond “arrogance.”


Maybe “delusional”?


Of course, “pride” goeth before a fall.


Whatever it is on their part, I experience it as insulting to the residents of Paso Robles, and to those who want this county-wide corruption to end.


They really thought that SOMEONE, especially with CCN hot on the trail, wouldn’t invoke the PRA and gain access to those emails?


The Gimlet Eye

How about “hubris”?


danika

Pasogate continues.


This is how the beginning of the end looks, Mr. App.


crazyone1

I’m ashamed to say that I work for the city of paso robles. When the city wanted to cut our health benefits from 90/10 to 80/20, they had told our union that police and fire had already agreed to the new plan and we were the only hold out. We agreed to go to the 80/20 plan and come to find out that police and fire had not even voted on whether or not they were going with the new plan. Another occasion; we voted on deferring a pay raise for the 3rd time and majority vote was to recieve the pay raise that we had been denied. Unfortunately for us, we somehow had to have a re-vote a few days later because supposedly some people didnt understand what they were voting on. So needless to say we had a re-vote that was in favor of the city deferring the raise yet again.


danika

You did a good thing, speaking out as you have just done. The more people who speak to the issues surrounding Mr. App, Solomon, and the entire city council, the better we can effect change. Thank you!


SLOBIRD

Thank you for coming forward and being honest and part of the solution. You are the type of employee organizations need. Please be careful about using your work computer. The City of SLO is on a manhunt to find the moles in the City who are leaking info out. Use your personal phone or home computer when writing here… Again, thank you!


Cindy

I have to say that I’m torn here crazyone1. I’m incredulous witht all the dirty dealings going on in Paso Robles and I’m outraged that the Police Chief and the City Manager broke the law and deprived the POA of fair negotiations regarding their contract.


I should say that I don’t believe that Unions belong in the public sector and I also want to say that most taxpayers who work in the private sector have never ever had medical insurance at 90/10 in fact it is almost unheard of. The best 95% of us have EVER HAD was 80/20 so consider yourself doing a lot better than the people who pay your salary.


However, regardless of my personal feelings about Unions in the public sector and “super benefits” on the taxpayers, I support you because this isn’t about Unions that serve the public servants or their benefits, its much bigger than that. Its about the law breaking the law and believing “they are above” the law they are sworn to uphold and a City Council that appears to have become engendered along with their top dogs. If this were happening in my city, I would be at that City Council meeting and all over them, even if I had to take an ativan to get past the anxiety brought about by the intimidation tactics employed by the powers that be (such as what occurred at your last CC meeting).


I hope you Stand up, Speak up and VOTE THEM OUT, better yet, as SLOBIRD said, impeach, but the vote will come sooner and is the fastest cure. Best to you and all your co-workers.


MaryMalone

Cindy, it sounds like you have never worked for a local government.


If it was not for the benefits, they would have a hard time getting anyone to stay in their employment long enough to provide even minimal continuity of service. The turnover would result in far worse than what Paso has experienced from solomon, app and the city council.


If any group of people need union representation, it is those who work for local government agencies.


The cronyism in these little fiefdoms is unbelievable. When they hire city managers or other managing staff, they go for willingness to support the existing corrupt status quo first–whether the person is the best qualified person, as far as doing the actual job description, is way down on the list of priorities for hiring.


So you end up with managerial staff who are there by virtue of being spineless little toadies, who have no interest in actually providing good management for the people who work for them. Often, they are there because they have worked elsewhere in the area and have built up crony brownie points by (metaphorically) blowing those with ranking jobs at other local government agencies. You blow what of your “betters” long enough, and you just might get a job as a first-level manager.


When you have an incompetent manager, who has experience “blowing” their betters in order to keep a position or advance in an organization, who also has no interest in actually being a competent manager, you have a manager who will do ANYTHING they are told to do by those who have the power to fire or promote them.


The workers in local government, as a result, have NO ONE to stand up for them. In my experience, they are afraid to even talk to each other about it for fear they will be ratted out, and then become a target by their manager.


Once the worker becomes a target, it is only a matter of time until the worker is wrongfully terminated. To accomplish this, there are some great tactics the managers use. There are real horror stories about what local government employees have had to deal with at the hands of these corrupt managers.


The abuse that goes on in local area governments is simply unbelievable, and it goes unchecked. It is institutionalized, and I well appreciate what crazyone1 and PRPD officers have done by speaking out against it.


Cindy

Mary, the offering (bribe) of salaries and benefits that are far outside the pay scale or benefits offered in the private sector is NOT the solution to the problem you describe. I have no doubt that your rendition is reasonably accurate in fact I have seen it occur myself but to justify reaching deeper into the taxpayers pockets to make it worth our servants while to stay on a job that is overseen by a bunch of self serving, crony incompetents makes it all the BIGGER RIP OFF, in my opinion.


Perhaps HR and its Director has to be separated from all other gov entities and that position has to be filled in a different fashion. Perhaps they should be in charge of reviewing all candidates and confirming their credentials etc before they can be interviewed by a manager for a gov position. I’m currently far less concerned with the pay scales or benefits than I am with the corruption and lack of competent employees who serve the public particularly in upper management. Talk about a train wreck.


I feel sorry for the sincere public employees who do an honest and competent job, this sort of disclosure reflects on all of them, unfortunately.


danika

I do not live in Paso Robles but my business is there and has been there for 16 years. I lived in Paso for many years, up until I got married 4 years ago. I realize I cannot vote and speak for the citizens in that regard but I can speak to the issues and can help represent the other half of Paso, the businesses. I can and WILL absolutely speak up and out against those who have turned this fine city into the chaotic political hell hole it has become. When the people and the businesses of Paso unite for the cause, there will be change.


MaryMalone

I know a lot of people don’t understand how these conditions continue to exist in Paso’s city government.


I’m guessing, based on what I experienced, that they have created a toxic environment of institutionalized harassment, intimidation, retaliation, and wrongful termination of those who refuse to be doormats for the “leadership” at PR.


City workers probably, if they have ethics, feel a little bad about going along with the toxic environment, because they know they are contributing to the increase in strength of the city “leadership” and the continuation and worsening of the toxic environment.


In this bad economy, the city workers are even more leery of standing up to the toxic working environment at Paso city, because they have seen or heard of other city workers who were wrongfully terminated for standing up.


Worse, the “leadership” takes advantage of the bad economy by trying to shove through decrease in insurance benefits, etc. when the city employees are at their weakest.


Crazyone1, is my description close to a description of what Paso city workers have had to deal with?


crazyone1

Mary, you are correct about the toxic work environment that the employees have to deal with on a day to day basis. Let me give a little insight on what its like to work as a rank and file employee for the city of paso robles. First off, there are two types of employees; management and rank and file. We rank and file employees are held to a higher standard then our managers. For example, as I had commented on in a previous article that a parks employee was accused of soliciting sexual favors from a transient and was put on IMMEDIATE administration leave pending an investigation. Lisa Soloman? Nothing. A vast majority of my coworkers are demoralized from all the politics. We are involved with the political BS everyday, which makes our job harder but makes the fat cats happy. For example, we can’t afford to buy an impact gun because General fund ‘borrowed’ millions of dollars from our enterprise fund to build the Gahan project over by Target. Isn’t that illegal? Did you know that if you worked for the city and were friends with Jim App your development impact fees would be waived and you don’t have to pay monthly for your 2nd sewer connection? Just ask B. Partridge at 11th and chestnut. How about the one about Paso Cleaners owned by R. Smiley? The property was zoned for no retail and somehow was able to put a retail in. You know Smiley right? He’s the guy who spoke on Lisa Soloman’s behalf at the city council meeting. Sounds like he owed a good ole boy a favor. So yes, I’m ready for a change. Let us cut this cancer out now before we all perish.


danika

It is people like you, people who are willing to step up and take the risk for truth, a huge risk, that will help make Paso right. I applaud you. We need more people to come forward as you have.

Blessings.


The Gimlet Eye

Why don’t the lot of you file a lawsuit against the perpetrators?


pasoparent5

crazyone1, you shouldn’t be ashamed. It’s not the rank-and-file employees like you that are corrupt; it’s your management. I don’t know what department you’re in, but hopefully you & your co-workers will stand together and keep speaking out. App wants all of you to shut up but the light of truth is shining bright and hopefully better things (bye bye App & Solomon) are on the horizon…


SLOBIRD

I am sitting here in total disbelief of this article. I cannot believe that in this day and age this type of internal behavior of arm twisting and backroom thug tactics is this blantant. I am so appalled with the ENTIRE MANAGEMENT PERSONNEL for the City of Paso Robles.


There is an old and wonderful saying; If you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem.


I attended the Feb Council Meeting when citzens were going to go to this meeting and openly speak about the Police Dept issues. I sat there and watched all the City Departments (Human Resources, Recreation, Public Works, etc. etc.) reserve their sits in the first four rows of that Council meeting, show their support for Mr. Apps and Chief Solomon including the detectives, and officers of the Police Department laughing and joking with each other as if you had the power and to hell with us citzens (best and first RESERVED sits, proud of annoucing each of your positions, the kissing, handing, shaking, hugging, and then after this display the circulation in the room to the rest of the audience to make sure that they had filled out a “speaker card with your name and address” and now as I sit here reading this viral behavior from Mr. Apps and Ms. Solomon I ask myself several questions: 1) I am sure this was not done to only the police personnel and therefore you must have all conspired with Mr. Apps to do despicable things to other City staffers and departments, 2) how can department heads and managers support this type of day-to-day behavior and not somehow say something to someone officially (council, people running for office, press, etc) but instead show up in public in full support of all this corruption, 3) how much have you been paid off for with benefits, time off, etc. and 4) most importantly, how can you look at the citzens of your community, go to your churches, organizations, friends, etc. knowing all of this information and not say anything. You all need to be replaced and FIRED!


pasojim

It is not hard to understand how app convinces his employees to support his corruption.


We are all aware of the ridiculous wage and benefit packages the dept heads and staff are enjoying.


When god czar speaks, all minion czars comply or…………………….


MaryMalone

You can believe this is true.


Worse, I bet the employees at PRPD who have spoke out have not even touched the tip of the iceburg of abuse, harassment, intimidation, retalation, wrongful termination actions, and illegal acts perpetrated by the management staff, such as solomon and app.


You know why we have only heard the tip of the iceburg? Because they know that, unless one has worked for one of these corrupt fiefdoms, like PRPD, they simply would not believe it.


jeffs thoughts

It sounds to me like all of Mr. Apps puppet strings are coming unraveled. My thoughts are he will throw everyone under the bus to cover his backside. Including the board since they don’t seem to want to inform themselves. Mr. Strong cut your strings before he hangs you with them.


pasojim

jeffs thoughts


I respectively disagree with your advice to Strong.


While I believe citizens have plenty of ammunition to use against him in the next election. I would still welcome any more that could be added prior to the next election.


Strong is the worst example of a career politician and need to go.


MaryMalone

Strong basically said that he will willfully remain ignorant, except for what app and solomon want to spoon feed him, about the huge amount of scandals and illegal acts perpetrated by app–who the council is responsible for hiring and firing–and solomon–who app is probably responsible for firing.


BTW, there should be no doubt about why app hasn’t fired solomon, or sent her out on administrative leave.


Usually those involved in a conspiracy to commit criminal acts try very hard to remain BFFs with their co-conspirators.


danika

LOL @ ” BFF”s between App and Solomon. Got a visual on that. LOL!


jeffs thoughts

PasoJim: The point I was trying to make is he is another one of Apps puppets. I think App will hang everyone out to dry to cover his back side. Any board member that is not concerned needs to go period. They themselves are the check and balances of city. thanks jim


pasojim

jeffs thoughts: Point taken, keep up the good work………….


jackal

Don’t forget about City Attorney, Iris P Yang. She’s been giving legal advice to all these Bozo’s for many years. She’s just as slippery as the rest.


MaryMalone

And Jon Seitz. He’s assistant attorney.


SLOBIRD

OMG, now we have the root of the real problem. We have a councilperson who thinks he is a Supeme Court Justice, a City Manager who thinks he is a king, a City Attorney who thinks she is the hand of the king, and of course, Queen Lisa and they think they rule of Kingdom of Paradise.


Where to start with this despicable lot. FIRST, this City Attorney who’s roots were geared in the City of Bell, who’s mentality is do as you want, the citzens are too stupid to know anything, a City Manager who leads with the most unethical behavior and disregard for its citzens, a Police Chief who does not have the leadership skills or the correct moral compass to protect this City, and a bunch of idiot councilmen who thinks that if they do nothing they are innocent of anything – except leadership which is what they were elected to do (you good ole boys just don’t get it).


Do what the City of Bell! Contact the Attorney General’s office, remove everyone – every councilman, department head, manager, the sergent at the police department, and every crony associated or supporting these criminals that stood by and have said and done nothing but support them. You are guilty by association. This is what the gangsters and mob use to do and maybe when they all disappeared they moved to Paradise and really do control the kingdom. IMPEACH, IMPEACH, IMPEACH!


KatieEvans

It’s not that the taxpayers of the city of Bell were stupid, dumb or uneducated and I don’t think anyone thinks the people of Paso Robles are either. What the taxpayers in the city of Bell were guilty of is ignorance and this exactly what App has counted on in Paso Robles. It worked and probably would have continued working for some time except for one big wrench in the spokes that he didn’t count on.


Can anybody say CAL COAST NEWS !


MaryMalone

QUOTING SLOBIRD:

OMG, now we have the root of the real problem. We have a councilperson who thinks he is a Supeme Court Justice, a City Manager who thinks he is a king, a City Attorney who thinks she is the hand of the king, and of course, Queen Lisa and they think they rule of Kingdom of Paradise.


It sounds like the Red Queen’s Court to me.


The Gimlet Eye

A clean sweep would not be a bad idea.


Scarlet

Does anyone know: Have either KPRL or The Trib covered Solomon’s leave? Why wouldn’t they????


MaryMalone

Because they don’t want the business they get from the city to go elsewhere.