Paso Robles ‘mole’ interests prosecutors

April 5, 2012

By DANIEL BLACKBURN

Members of the Paso Robles Police Officers Association (PRPOA) discussed ongoing contract negotiations for several hours the night of Nov. 9, 2011, unaware that at least one city spy sat among them.

With the resulting inside information in hand, city officials later were able to manipulate and significantly affect the eventual pact, according to police union members. Those particular actions would interest prosecutors if a complaint were to be received from officers, San Luis Obispo County Chief Deputy District Attorney Jerret Gran said Tuesday.

Evidence of the existence of a double agent among police union ranks was contained in an email provided by the city to CalCoastNews following a Public Records Act request. City Manager Jim App wrote to then-Chief of Police Lisa Solomon at 8:37 a.m. the morning after the union meeting: “Any word from your moles about last night’s meeting?” No reply from Solomon to this specific message was included among the emails provided to CCN.

In the same email, App suggested that Human Resources Manager Marlaine Sanders already “had a list of attendees” from the officers’ meeting.

Paso Robles Police Officer Jon Tatro, a former PRPOA president, said that when when he and his fellow officers learned of the App-Solomon email they reacted angrily. Tatro 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.

Union members said they have “long suspected” that city management conspired to insert one or more spies into ongoing negotiations, and believe they know the identity of at least one such person.

App insisted this week that the email was just “silly language.”

Noting that “CalCoastNews has already posted highly presumptive suppositions that I interfered with union negotiations and broke the law,” App wrote in an email, adding, “Bottom line, there was no meddling, interference, mole, or illegal activity.” He claimed he simply was inquiring “about the outcome of the POA vote.”

The group was to vote that night on the most recent offer by city negotiators regarding health benefits.

App wrote, “I sent the referenced email to ascertain the voter result (I use silly language to make light of (and) bring humor to otherwise tense situations — the receiver (Solomon) knew exactly what I meant, i.e., ‘what was the vote?’) App argued that at the time, he was “up against insurance company and council agenda deadlines” and did not want to wait to learn the outcome of the vote.

Solomon has since left the department.

Members of the PRPOA have expressed their belief that App and Solomon committed a criminal conspiracy to defraud officers of pay, benefits, and pensions, and were eventually successful in their efforts.

Gran said the act of placing a “mole” inside confidential contract negotiating sessions would probably most correctly be construed as a violation of collective bargaining laws, more of a civil issue than criminal.

“But I would be very interested in looking at a formal complaint regarding the possibility of a conspiracy,” Gran said.

In California, a complaint about an unfair labor practice could also be submitted to the Public Employee Relations Board (PERB) as a possible violation of the Meyers-Milias-Brown Act, which governs public sector bargaining. The law requires negotiating “in good faith” and prohibits interference with, or threats or discrimination against, bargaining units.

An apparent paper trail exists to bolster police union suspicions about the alleged mole activities. Former officer Dave Hernandez, president of the police union during those negotiations, said city officials were trying to influence the association to vote in favor of a new health plan, and that the “moles” were able to change the health plan union members voted for during the meeting.

Officers voted that night to stay with their current plan, not the reduced plan offered by the city. Hernandez said. The next day, all officers began getting phone calls from a department sergeant armed with a list of all officers who had attended the meeting. He called union members “selfish” and managed to coax a vote change among officers.

“The health plan then was switched to what the city manager wanted,” said Hernandez.

“Utilizing ‘moles’ is conspiracy to commit fraud,” Tatro said. “(City officials) defrauded us out of a fair labor contract.”

Public sector attorney Martin Mayer, of the Orange County law firm of Jones and Mayer, said he’s never experienced a situation where management placed a “mole” into labor negotiations.

Mayer, noting that his firm exclusively represents the interests of municipal management, said, “This is only my personal observation, but it seems to me that this would be an unfair labor practice. It is terribly inappropriate for either side.”

Confidentiality of negotiations “cuts both ways,” he said. If such an incident did occur “it would certainly undermine the intent of confidential negotiations.”

 

 

 


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Cindy

Now why would anyone be surprised to hear that the highest paid City Employee who oversees all the other city employees and makes all the crucial decisions on behalf of the good citizens of Paso Robles uses “silly language” with the silly Police Chief who can’t keep her silly clothes on or her silly hands out of her Officers pants?


Its just all nothing but silly I tell you. Please don’t read any e-mails between us from our public city e-mail site, its just “silly language” and when you see something that is illegal, you can’t prove we meant it……….

Please don’t try to understand all the silly money she got paid to leave or all the city money Mr App will get paid to leave, YOU TAXPAYERS ARE SO SILLY.


pasojim

These pin heads have let our city infrastructure crumble, they are strangling its once vibrant economy with all of apps over regulation, they are now working on over taxing us and trying to bankrupt us.


I am beginning to think that wouldn’t such a bad idea. The only people that have anything left to loose are the over-paid city bureaucrats.


Our town is already being patrolled by the sheriff department and highway patrol, I am sure the county can do an equally good job at maintaining our city infrastructure (roads and sewer are already trashed), and maintaining the parks etc. etc.


What are we getting for having to keep them around.


On the plus side city citizens would be free of app. Bankruptcy would also get us out of a lot of the stupid contracts we have been forced into.


Why don’t we just let these pin heads bankrupt the city.


viamagnolia1

And that is why CPRN2012 was created. Residents of Paso Robles have had enough It’s the same crap just different day. Voters of Paso Robles are talking and they are talking to us! Join us at cprn2012.org or call us at 400-5652. We are here to CHANGE PASO ROBLES NOW 2012.


SLOBIRD

By the way, who signed off on this contract? What Council/Mayor gave this guy this contract? We need to know so this can be exposed during the upcoming election.


OldNed

I know questioning the prevailing view that everything App does is criminal or at least unethical, but one email using the word “moles” is pretty skimpy evidence on which to base a criminal complaint. I’ve never used a “mole” or participated in any activity in which a “mole” was used, but I have used the word “mole” as loose slang for someone who might have some idea of what is happening in a situation involving confidential information. Whatever his faults, App is not stupid and knows that his written communications are subject to PRA request. Under those circumstances, does anyone actually believe he would be foolish enough to write about illegal activity? Beyond the email, the “evidence” seems to ne little more than speculation on the part of POA members who already are involved in disputes with PRPD. Anyhow, that’s just my alternative perspective. If the city really did put a spy in the mix, let the DA go nuts (or at least as nuts as our DA can go). Have a great day.


racket

I agree.


Lots of valid reasons to call for App’s termination. However, loose-lipped querying isn’t one of them.


It would be like firing him because you believed he thought the chief of police was a lovely meter maid.


It sounds like idle bantering more than actual nefariousness to me.


Dexter

@ OldNed: Ref your question “Under those circumstances, does anyone actually believe he would be foolish enough to write about illegal activity?”


The answer is yes !!!


App, Soloman and others have been getting away with this and other dishonest acts for so long that they became complacent and arrogant of consequence.


Somebody needs to come into city hall and start scrubbing the floors and walls of all the filth


OldNed

Damn, my message was missing a phrase. Please insert the following in the first sentence after “unethical” and before “, but”: . I hate trying to post more than a few words with thumbs. Now that my post is complete, I’m sure it will be welcomed with a flood of positive responses.


Citizen

Jim App is arrogant, and sometimes arrogance leads to stupid acts because the person believes he is above the law or above criticism. Complaints need to go to state agencies. The DA is part of the crony network in this county. Afterall, the DA’ was in on protecting Lisa Solomon and her unregistered loaded gun; the gun was traced back to the DA’s Office.


SLOBIRD

I say fire his a$$ because of his wrongdoings, give him no settlement because of his wrongdoings, and let him sue the City and expose all the wrongdoing in Court. ALL City Council will be defeated if they hang onto this a$$ but then again we know two Lisa Lovers who are going anyway. We would not be better off without any Council Members – rule by the people…


Dexter

If he is found in violation of law he can be giving his walking papers without the huge payout. Just like the crooked City Manager of Bell.


Robert1

I bet the “spy” has sought out legal representation and soon a deal will be made before the spy is the one going to jail. If the spy thinks they can trust App, look at what happened to Solomon. I bet no one thought 6 months ago that Solomon would be out. O’ The web we weave.


pasoparent5

“App insisted this week that the email was just “silly language.’ ”


City Manager App just loves that “silly language.” Remember one of his professional-sounding messages to the disgraced by Lovely Lisa the Meter Maid? “Just wonderin if’n ewe bee havin nuf time 2 crap on the hit piece?” [Nov 23 ’11 e-mail]


He detests CCN because they keep exposing the corruption in Paso’s city hall. The only media coverage App wants is the kind that the Trib provides: feel-good fluff pieces that pretend that all’s well in darn near paradise.


BeenThereDoneThat

App insisted it was just silly language. Really? How long till this BOZO is GONEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!


pasoparent5

I completely agree, but…at Tuesday’s city council mtg, Sally Reynolds from CPRN2012 read aloud from Jim App’s salary contract info. If App leaves his post (fired, resigns, whatever) he gets an astronomical amount of money…I think she said 12X his salary?? Maybe danika or someone from CPRN2012 could clarify.

My jaw dropped when I heard the amount. No wonder the council’s holding onto the guy. The city just coughed up a quarter of a million for Lisa; how could they afford another huge payout to App?


celebratepaso

Most of the time, doing the right thing (in this case getting rid of App) takes sacrifice of some kind. Wouldn’t we be better off digging deeper into the coffers and sending this guy on his way?


Cindy

Get rid of him by the least costly means possible and see to it that no city official ever receives a contract like that again. If its cheaper for him to quit, then demote him and he will quit. If its cheaper to get rid of him by prosecuting him for wrong doing, then lets gets our hands on the rest of the e-mails that the city attorney is hiding. A judge can review all e-mails with no redaction’s and make a determination if there is wrong doing. If the e-mails have been destroyed, they can be resurrected with a hard drive analysis of the deleted items.


JUST GET RIDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDD OF HIM and replace that City Council.


viamagnolia1

We are working on it Cindy!


kayaknut

Maybe once a new city council is in place the city should declare bankruptcy, then all contracts are void, no payout for App, then fire him. It would hurt a little but the end result would allow the city to heal and move forward.


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