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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pasoparent5

Pardon me, but I was not attempting to “bait” anyone. I SINCERELY wonder what Typoqueen’s opinion would be since she’s posted on this subject at least 50 times. No need to THREATEN me with banishment but it’s your site so do what you must. Perhaps you could just DELETE my comment. Oh,and I cannot e-mail you because when I click the link there’s a windows internet explorer error. Thanks for your understanding.


moderator

Pasoparent I am[very] sorry for my word choice and tone. I didn’t threaten you with banishment and I did not put you in the queue,

the word typoqueen in your comment filtered it to the moderation queue. I was trying to do a clean up over on “aisle 9” and did not want the toxic spill here, BTW looking into the Email glitch thank you for mentioning it. Sorry to bite your head off like that.


pasoparent5

Thank you, Mr./Ms. Moderator. I am also sorry for my tone. Forgive me for being an uptight jerk.


danika

; ) PP5.


danika

I have literally read this article 3 times and am still shaking my head saying “My, my”. It boggles the mind, the shear audacity, arrogance, and out right willful disregard from those persons holding the highest trust of the people of Paso. These people have wronged an entire city and absolutely MUST be held accountable.


Crusader

This whole App/Solomon/Yang circus is going to continue to get worse and worse. We’re not talking about honorable and able people who screwed-up in a given instance or two. We’re talking about sociopath losers who have been acting in an unacceptable (and in some cases illegal) manner for many years.


They got away with it because of apathetic and enabling city councils and pathetic local news coverage. Now CCN is digging deep and uncovering all the crap. As CNN’s reputation continues to grow in a positive way, it’s building trust that will make more and more people come forward with more and more information. That combined with CCN’s every deeper mining is eventually going to flip Paso Robles City Government flat on its back. That’s when the citizenry of Paso Robles really needs to step-up.


I’m now waiting for App to try and fire Solomon, although it may be too late for that. I’m also waiting for one of the “Spineless 5” (the Paso Robles City Council) to step-up and provide some actual leadership out of this cesspool of a situation. It might well be a long wait.


No matter what I think the exposure is now to great for the scumbags to sweep this back under the rug…


The Gimlet Eye

Can’t these worthies be recalled?


standup

Well Strong, that’s it. There is your friggin evidence. Emails don’t lie. Either get rid of the corrupt sobs or face criminal charges for aiding and abetting this complete abomination of justice. These leaders including yourself are crooks. You don’t have the balls to lead us and you should immediately step down along with the rest of the lackeys on the council including the Sergeant Shultz from Hogan’s Heroes, “I know nothing” excuse for a mayor. You all deserve a good kick in the private place for this crap. I am pissed off.


interest

Paso Robles City Council,


We hired you to lead!

Please get your head out of the sand and do something.

The following was taken from The Paso Robles City Council Policies & Procedures


2 – CODE OF ETHICS

2.1 PREAMBLE The residents and businesses of Paso Robles are entitled to have fair, ethical and accountable local government. Such a government requires that:

► Public officials comply with both the letter and spirit of the laws and policies affecting operations of the government;

► Public officials be independent, impartial and fair in their judgment and actions;

► Public office be used for the public good, not for personal gain; and

► Public deliberations and processes be conducted openly, unless legally confidential, in an atmosphere of respect and civility.

To this end, the Paso Robles City Council has adopted this Code of Ethics to encourage public confidence in the integrity of local government and its operation.


CHAPTER 4 COMMUNICATIONS

4.1 COMMUNICATION GENERALLY

A fundamental role of a Councilmember is communication – communication with the public to assess community opinions and needs – communication with staff to gain an

understanding of policy alternative implications and provide policy direction –

communication with other public agencies to represent the community’s interests – and, communication with the media to inform the public about the functions of government.


MaryMalone

The fact that Paso Robles wipes its kiester with its codes of ethics is no surprise. It seems to be endemic to this area.


slojo

I would say “unbelieveable!’ or “who does that?” but I’m not surprised. This happens EVERYWHERE. These people just got caught. Idiots. All of them.


MaryMalone

I think it’s like what they say about sociopaths: We only know about the stupid ones. The smart ones get away with it.


So consider this little Paso Robles exercise in corruption to be kind of a natural-selection process. The stupid ones are being weaned out of the potential corruption pool.


Crusader

Not one Paso Robles City Councilman has the integrity and resolve to stand-up and proclaim “NO MORE!”


The hell with all five of you. You’re all cowardly wasted paychecks…


Crusader

Another open letter to the members of the Paso Robles City Council:


You five cowards are not doing your jobs. If you were diligent there would be no App, no Solomon, no Yang. Get off your apathetic asses and do something or resign your positions!


You promised to serve the community of Paso Robles. You have broke that promise. All five of you need to man-up and resolve these issues once and for all. Or you can get the hell out. Your choice.


MaryMalone

Well, SOMEBODY instilled the “judgment” idea in Strong’s mind, because I’ve never heard that concept before in my life.


City councils are executive, not judicial.


danika

“City councils are executive, not judicial”. Apparently, they don’t know that, MM.