Solomon out as Paso Robles chief

March 20, 2012

Lisa Solomon

By DANIEL BLACKBURN

Lisa Solomon has stepped down as chief of police of Paso Robles following a tumultuous two months of relentless accusations by her own officers of sexual misconduct.

An agreement between her and the city calls for payment “within five days” of a lump sum to her in the amount of $250,000.

City Attorney Iris Ping Yang read a brief statement following a 40-minute closed session that was held after the city council’s regular meeting, acknowledging the separation. Council members left without comment.

Solomon termed her action “early retirement” and in a letter to the council blasted what she called “recent attacks on my character by unscrupulous media sources and self-serving individuals.”

CalCoastNews reported in late January that Solomon was being accused of sexually touching at least four of her officers in social situations, often in front of other sworn police personnel. Since then, other allegations from current and former officers have surfaced.

Solomon said public comment “has reached a level of indecency so great, I will no longer subject myself, my family, or my colleagues, to such invasions of privacy.”

City Manager Jim App praised Solomon after the meeting, calling her “a great asset” to the city and “a dedicated public servant.” He said he was personally distressed by Solomon’s departure.

“She has been a big part of this city for 24 years,” he said. His comments were the first regarding Solomon since the scandal broke.

Several officers told CalCoastNews Solomon emailed her former staff and said she had elected to take an early retirement. However, the officers said she is not able to collect her retirement for seven years and this is not early retirement.

Solomon’s last official day will be April 2, but she has effectively left her post and will not return. Her city-paid health benefits will cease on that day.

Capt. Robert Burton will act as interim chief until a search for a new chief can be completed.

The agreement with the city reads in part, “(Solomon) desires to leave employment, due to recent events which she believes, through no fault of either party, have caused damage to her reputation and other adverse effects.”

As part of her release, Solomon has agreed not to sue the city for any reason.


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pasojim

I believe if there was some way to measure the attitude of the city citizens, I don’t believe the current council has the consent of the governed any more.


I thought that was a major component of a participatory democracy.


In light of the corruption and malfeasance in our city government, should this council be allowed to decide who the new chief or the new city manager will be.


Our public servants are heading full speed ahead on finding a new chief as we speak.


danika

I wonder if the details of the Wcomp claim are made open to the public in light of her position and the fact the premium is paid by public tax money. Anyone know what happened? Wcomp is normally held in privacy on behalf of the claimant. Even the employer doesn’t get privy to the status or details…just the payout.


SLOBIRD

I believe she just filed the Worker’s Comp Claim on March 13th which is part of the package… Because the City accepted the claim she will get bi-weekly payments until the case is settled and at that time she will get her permanent disability and health care for life. IN CASE ANYONE IS INTERESTED, THE CITY IS “SELF INSURED” AND SO WE WILL BE PAYING FOR ALL OF THIS FOR LIFE. The Council/Mayor, Mr. App, Ms. Yang and Ms. Sanders are all at fault for this settlement that is costing the City millions, not thousands. And we haven’t even the payouts for all the lawsuits coming down the pipeline.


The Gimlet Eye

Would an injunction stop the city’s actions until the smoke clears and an investigation is done? It appears to me that the people of Paso have lost control of their city government!


Control is a two-way street in politics. Politicians constantly seek to find ways to control the people. Some of these controls are legitimate government operations, others are not. Knowing the difference can be critical.


What the people forget is that they must constantly seek for ways to control their government, too! After all, their government is supposed to represent them and their interests! If it fails to do so, it’s time to go on the war path!


danika

Workers Comp, regardless of self insured status or not, is regulated by the State. Just because she filed a wcomp claim does NOT mean she gets bi-weekly payments without claim review having first been completed. Her claim must be validated to ascertain the injury occur during the course of employment. Wcomp also is unrelated to disability claims.


MaryMalone

Danika, I read in the LATimes article about the City of Bell’s police chief getting workers comp right before he went to work for the City of Bell (apparently, this was rigged up by Bell’s mayor Rizzo, without the knowledge of the police chief’s prior employer, the City of Gardena).


Rizzo did it so the new police chief would only have to pay taxes on half of his pension.


This is how above-the-law Rizzo thought he was: the workers comp claim (which went against the City of Gardena, his immediately-prior employer) was for neck, back and shoulder problems, and his new job as police chief for the City of Bell had the same physical requirements that Gardena had for the police chief position.


Anyway, in this article, they indicated that an award for a workers comp claim can also be reversed at any time it is felt there is just cause.


In your experience, is this true?


danika

It has happened that claims paid were followed by charges of fraud. It is a crime to file a false Workers Comp claim and companies stand at the ready to dispute claims that even hint at falsehood. Self insured or not, there would be claim review to determine validity of injury. It takes some time to do this. If the claim were filed on March 13, ten days s not long enough to make the determination. To your question, awards can be reversed but I have never seen this done. I have seen the fraud unit get involved and charges filed. I can’t say that is the case in this claim because I don’t know all the details.


Crusader

One thing that really interests me is how did Lisa Solomon become chief in the first place?


I wonder how she actually performed as a sergeant and for how long? What sort of reputation did she have? Did she actually serve as a lieutenant and a captain? When she applied for the chief’s job was she the ranking officer on the PRPD next to the chief? Did anyone else apply either from outside or within? Was a proper search completed and if not, how was that circumvented? Did App really have the authority to promote her without at least a wink from the entire city council?


When she was given the job who comprised the city council? How was her appointment viewed by both law enforcement and local citizens both in and out of Paso? About all I can recall is a brief fluff piece in the Tribune. I remember thinking she sure looked young and naive to be a chief. I also remember thinking she must be a driven high-performer to have landed the job (ha!)


Depending on the answers to my questions this is some pretty serious ammo for the coming election and for quite frankly, Jim App’s future. Maybe the Tribune could write such a story about Solomon? It’s the sort of research they might actually be able to handle.


MaryMalone

QUOTING CRUSADER:

“I wonder how she actually performed as a sergeant and for how long? What sort of reputation did she have?


——–


I think her performance as a sergeant that warranted her promotion to police chief was pretty much just like is discussed in the 2nd video released yesterday, where App is talking to Mayor Picanco following termination of solomon’s employment:: her ability to wave her legs in the air.


Look at how inept solomon was as chief of police right before she is terminated. If she’s that incapable after years being chief, can you imagine how incompetent she was years ago, when she was made police chief?


She had YEARS to learn (workshops, classes, books, whatever) on how to effectively manage people in the workplace, and to become quite familiar on what managers are allowed to do and what will get the manager, as well as his/her employer, in a heap-load of trouble, liability, and possibly criminal charges.


Yet, it seems that, if anything, her “management abilities” worsened.


Instead of proactively taking the steps necessary to improve her ability to lead the PRPD, she took the classic weak-leader approach: I’m the boss, I can do anything I want to with those under my charge, and they have no option but to do what I say.


I believe she reinforced this “leadership approach” by abusing her power as police chief. Her “leadership skills” seem to only consist of intimidation, retaliation, and sexually harassing/assaulting those she led.


The Gimlet Eye

An excellent question. This case generates many excellent questions, and the city council should be made to answer every one of them under oath.


This gets into who does the hiring and why, and that appears to be the crux of this whole problem.


It seems to me that the Chief, then, bad as she appears to be, is not the underlying problem. Somebody else above her IS the problem, and that person must go as well, if the purposes of good city government are to be served.


oldbrown

Answer: Affirmative Action gone amuck.


oldbrown

Affirmative Action


Crusader

I think an interim chief should be hired on a contract (someone like Joe Cortez) so they can wait until after the election to choose a permanent replacement. Paso needs more competent oversight during this critical selection process and it would give an interim chief enough time to accomplish some very distasteful tasks before the final replacement settles in.


Crusader

It looks like the SLO County Board of Supervisors had more courage and integrity than the Paso Robles City Council. David Edge and Gail Wilcox ran roughshod over county employees for years. They also developed a form of Animal House atmosphere amongst the small number of high ranking insiders much like App and Solomon as evidenced by their e-mails. Finally things went south and they tried to take each other out. The sups did the right thing (finally) and effectively canned both of them.


The Paso council should have fired both App and Solomon. Instead they acted like five good ole boy cowards. Now the guns need to be pointed at them along with App. They all must go. My sincerely belief is that Duane Picanco won’t end-up running again because plenty more will be revealed by election time. No matter what, reformers will be elected and App, Yang and company will be GONE but it will take a lot of work.


One thing that is critical. App and the board had better hire a bona fide chief from the outside and not another boot-licking slut. If they start interviewing questionable candidates, that information needs to be known publically and members from the community need to make contact with the respective candidate(s) to let them know that scumbag behavior is no longer tolerated in Paso Robles…


MaryMalone

QUOTING CRUSADER:

My sincerely belief is that Duane Picanco won’t end-up running again because plenty more will be revealed by election time.


———-


I could not agree more. There is a reason that emails were erased and the city won’t release the investigator’s report.


I think, in many ways, the City of Bell scandal is a textbook on the different possibilities for corruption in city government. In Bell, until the corruption was outed and a coverup needed to be constructed, every bit of corruption was all about money. Every bad decision could be traced back to a goal of illegally accessing city money.


I believe we will see the same reality unfold in Paso Robles. We already know they submitted false crime statistics to the state and feds, and that these statistics were part of state and fed grant applications.


Crusader

I very much agree. When it comes to App, Solomon and company we are not talking about inherently good people who did something stupid (and out of character) and are now trying to cover it up. We are talking about immoral losers who seem to feel they have license doing as they please no matter how many people they hurt or laws they break.


As long as CCN keeps chugging away, App and company will go down.


danika

Why is the separation check specifically made payable to Lisa Chitty, not Lisa Solomon? I realize Lisa Solomon is aka Lisa Chitty but this specific pay to seems…odd.


MaryMalone

If her payroll checks were always made out to “Lisa Chitty,” then the termination bribe check being made out to “Lisa Chitty” isn’t so odd.


But if her prior payroll checks were made out to another name….then I think it is more than just odd.


danika

Her letter of resignation was on Lisa Solomon letterhead and signed “Lisa Solomon”. You would think her name would be the same as that on her paychecks. I think this is odd, but I question most things with boldness…


panflash

OK, let’s not start popping any champagne corks just yet. There’s still a lot of unfinished business and more heads to roll. And then there’s that little matter of the quarter-million dollar gift of taxpayer money that Picanco and the Puppets gave to what’s-her-name, along with the big packages that the Puppets are probably already talking about giving away to App, Yang and maybe the human resources director as well. And on Congalton tonight Karen already alluded to more articles to come, so who knows what more garbage may yet be unveiled.

As has been elsewhere already heralded on this site, Karen and Dan have done incredibly courageous investigative work to reveal the misbehavior in Paso government. They’re reporters, and they are doing their job. But that only goes so far. Now the onus is on the public to pick up the torch and carry it across the finish line- the housecleaning of Paso government.

The main stumbling block is Picanco and the Puppets. One candidate is already apparently in the race to dethrone Picanco, but more candidates are needed to oust the other two puppets who apparently are up for re-election this year. Then there’s the matter of the other two puppets, and there is already talk of recalling them.

All well and good. But recall can be an enormous task. Resignation is much more efficient and time-saving. So, it might be prudent to quickly develop a direct assault of pressure on all five puppets. They have seen fit to evade their responsibilities to the public by simply paying off the problem with $250,000 of the taxpayers’ money. OK, fine- how about making the puppets pay that back to the taxpayers? That $250,000 payoff breaks down to $50,000 per council member. So how about initiating a public movement to use whatever public, political, personal and legal pressure available to recover that $50,000 from each puppet? Get an attorney to help organize an effort to charge all five puppets with public malfeasance and seek to recover the $50,000 from each of them through liens against their personal property.

The documents detailing such legal action should also indicate that the $50,000 sought from each council member will be adjusted to add their proportionate share of any further such payoffs to any further city administrative personnel who may also pursue any such separation agreement as was given to Solomon. So, the more public tax money this council considers giving away to the wrong-doers, the more that will be assessed against each council member personally. There is nothing- nothing- that worries a city council member more than fear of having their own personal property and financial condition jeopardized by their participation in city business matters.

Now, this all sounds great, and it’s great fun to write this all out, but, unfortunately, the fact of the matter is that such liens against the council members probably are not practically achievable. But that’s OK- force the puppets to get legal counsel to represent themselves against such actions, even though they might be able to use Yang to do it. But, again, that would force them to dig themselves progressively deeper into the hole of public disapproval and probable eventual political defeat. At the very least, such a mass action against the council members would force them to expend more personal attention away from their other matters and lives, and the more time, effort and personal money they have to spend on possibly-futile campaigns for re-election, the more probable it is that they will just throw in the towel and resign or simply not run for re-election.

In the meantime, and/or if all else fails, then proceed with recall in addition to the campaign opposition against those up for re-election. Bottom line- there are many ways that the citizens of Paso can make the puppets’ remaining time in office very, very unpleasant. So unpleasant that they may no longer wish to continue. The people have more power than they generally realize. And now they’re beginning to understand how to use it. That scares elected officials.


danika

Is there an attorney out there who would consider such litigation on behalf of the people of Paso Robles?


panflash

Well, let’s see if an attorney steps forward, preferably pro bono. And, as an amendment to my original proposal, how about also adding to the lien target list the hack media people who so strongly defended Solomon and criticized the citizens who have been speaking out and demanding answers? After all, over the past several weeks we’ve seen highly vocal defenders- so wouldn’t this be an ideal opportunity for those people to defend their actions by putting their money where their mouth is? In other words, how about making Picanco and the Puppets and all their media supporters reimburse the Paso taxpayers for their payoff to Solomon and for any subsequent payoffs to other officials who have been complicit in this scandal?

That way they can be fully accountable for their actions, as they should be.


robert a

Liens against public employees are a favorite tactic of the crackpot far right extremist “sovereign citzens” groups and they usually fail.


Now, you want to include media people for their opinions? What’s next? Liens against regular citizens you don’t agree with?


You’re as bad as the officials you are after. A new reign of terror, meet the new boss, same as the old boss.


No thanks, I’ll stick to the rule of law, and impeach, recall or vote them out, not some extremist legally dubious tactic.


panflash

Note that the original post detailing the proposal concludes by saying:

“At the very least, such a mass action against the council members would force them to expend more personal attention away from their other matters and lives, and the more time, effort and personal money they have to spend on possibly-futile campaigns for re-election, the more probable it is that they will just throw in the towel and resign or simply not run for re-election.

In the meantime, and/or if all else fails, then proceed with recall in addition to the campaign opposition against those up for re-election. Bottom line- there are many ways that the citizens of Paso can make the puppets’ remaining time in office very, very unpleasant. So unpleasant that they may no longer wish to continue. The people have more power than they generally realize. And now they’re beginning to understand how to use it. That scares elected officials.”

So, the idea here would be to act on all fronts, including recall and election opposition. The objective would be to cause the present council members to think very, very carefully before they vote to give away any more of the taxpayers’ money to anyone involved in this mess that they created. The council is using taxpayer money and the public can hold them accountable and responsible. That’s what this is about.


danika

The public SHOULD hold them all responsible for the spending of tax dollars. Each and every one of them should have to speak to the public about the whys and what fors of every penny spent after monies having been collected on the backs of the very people striving to make ends meet everyday.


Vallybear

Every local administrative sector should be shaking in their boots. The ‘go od ole boys’ should be looking into the mirror and wonder if they are next. CSD;s who don’t want the public to see what they are doing; holding closed meetings without public knowing about it; engineers who are double dipping and the locals are paying huge salaries to feed their coffers. The next investigation should be to the cosy group in the south county. Maybe at the other end of the county (the south end) they will take an interest in this travesty called Paso Robles governing agency and look to their own ‘good ole boys’ network.

As I have heard it mentioned more than once, if the Meter Maid had been a Meter Man, he would have been out on his a** long time ago and a public investigation would have been demanded. Solomon was a key player in the ‘good ole boys’ network in Paso and good riddance. It is sickening to think she is getting paid a handsome handout for her resignation. Do you think the citizens of Paso will object to this payout? They probably don’t even believe any accusation against Solomon.


MaryMalone

QUOTING VALLEYBEAR:

“Every local administrative sector should be shaking in their boots. The ‘go od ole boys’ should be looking into the mirror and wonder if they are next….”


——–


I agree they SHOULD be afraid.


However, those in the local administrative sector know they have the largest print news source in the county, the Tribune, aiding them in the coverup of their scandals and crimes. Therefore, they know, with the Tribune’s coverup aid, there is the strong likelihood they will go scot-free on many, if not all, of the charges.


The Tribune’s coverup of John Wallace’s many unethical and possibly illegal acts has allowed Wallace to continue to do pretty much whatever he wants, illegally scam work to the wallace group whenever he wants, overbill, etc., and he will suffer NOTHING negative for doing it.


That’s why corruption is so shamefully rampant in local government agencies in this county. When they have the major source for print news in their hip pocket, they can do whatever they want, without repercussion.


I’m not dismissing the incredible impact CCN has had in shedding light on the corruption in our county. The fact that solomon was “relieved of command” by the city of Paso Robles is incredibly inspiring, and the result of a lot of work by Karen Velie and Dan Blackburn.


I’m just saying that, when the majority of county residents see the Tribune as their source of “real” local news, it is very difficult to build up the kind of public pressure needed to force corrupt city and county officials to do their job and protect county residents from the devastating impact of the avarice and greed of corrupt government leaders and contractors.


SLOBIRD

The gift that keeps on giving! This “settlement” is ridulicious.


Let’s see on how this works for the taxpayers: 1) Lisa goes on paid leave for 10 days to work through her settlment, 2) Lisa resigns as of April 2, and will be paid w/benefits for another 13 days before her departure, 3) Lisa gets $250,000 for being such an asset to the City of Paso Robles and serving Mr. App’s for the past 10 years, 4) Lisa has filed a Worker’s Com claim against the City of Paso Robles which she will most likely win, as the City (Mr. App’s, City Attorney Ping Yang, Human Services Director Sanders and our outstanding City Council) have already agreed to not reject the claim, as this is the other part of the deal they made with her and did not tell us about whereby she will get her pension immediately, 1/2 will be tax free and best of all she will get lifetime medical, and 5) if #1 – 4 was not enough, according to her settlement published on the Tribune website, Page 2, Item B, she will continue to get her current Health Benefits through the end of April which is why they used the April 2 resignation. I am sure this came from Ms. Yang as Mr. Rizzo, Mayor of Bell, hired a Police Chief and allowed him to screw his prior employer with a Worker’s Comp Claim after Bell hired him which came under the supervisor of City of Bell’s legal staff.


This is the same Attorney who will be directing and guiding the City on all the upcoming lawsuits which this City will get and deserve. We have not seen the end of the financial ruin on this saga.


Yep, we showed her! Our City MUST unite and vote out all these bozo’s and vote for anyone who runs on the platform of throwing Mr, App, Ms. Yang, Ms. Sanders and any other manager of wrongdoing out of their positions. REFORM PASO ROBLES!!!!