An open letter to Paso Robles residents

May 10, 2012

John Reynolds


My name is John Reynolds.  I am a resident of Paso Robles, a voter, and a taxpayer.

Contrary to some comments on CalCoastNews, I am not a lawyer; but I believe I do have a good sense for the legality or ethicality of an action. The smell test works for me: if something doesn’t smell right, it probably isn’t. I also have no desire or intention of running for mayor or any other public office; there must be many other citizens of this city much more qualified than I.

I was surprised and a little shocked that the email I sent to City Manager James App and Mayor Duane Picanco, asking about the workers’ compensation claim filed by former Police Chief Lisa Solomon-Chitty, had the result that it did. If that email helped cause her to withdraw (or be asked to withdraw?) this claim – then great.

I, as a citizen, was simply trying to get answers to questions that I believe any taxpaying resident of this city should have  If she violated state workers’ compensation regulations concerning filing a fraudulent or non-validated claim, then she should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

I am a follower of city government, have attended many council meetings, and have seen and heard many things that have upset me. The whole debacle relating to the Nacimiento water issue and new water treatment plant – is but one example. Paying for this since 2004 with added fees or substantially increased water usage rates and not getting to use this water until 2016 (at earliest) has no logical explanation.

But the one that proverbially broke this camel’s back, was the way in which the mess associated with our ex-police chief was handled by our elected and appointed officials.  No need to go into details – this has been done over the past several months – but for this city to spend thousands of taxpayer dollars for an investigation that was never “completed” (per Mr. App), to subject this city to huge monetary expenses for sexual harassment and wrongful traffic ticket quota lawsuits, to allow Solomon-Chitty to ‘retire’ with another $250,000 of our money, to not contest her workers’ compensation claim for mental and physical stress from ‘misleading’ accusations, and then to publicly heap praise and accolades on her for outstanding police officer credentials (including sound moral judgment and professional demeanor). This whole thing so failed the smell test, and begs for major changes in our elected and appointed city officials.

What these changes are, and how soon they occur, is up to us, the citizens.

There have been lots of comments on articles published in both CCN and The Tribune about the many issues facing this city. Hopefully, these comments are a true reflection of citizens’ anger and frustration with how this city being run. Some have been derogatory and some have been very insightful. But all the comments in the world pale in comparison to actions.

A more informed and enlightened citizenry is mandatory to making changes happen.  As long as the city manager and his obedient inner circle (i.e. city council) believe they can do whatever they want; tell us anything they want; use coercion, threats, or our money to keep things running along as always; and ‘sweep’ things under the carpet as it suits them; nothing will change.  This city needs and deserves a mayor that does more than pass out commendations and proclamations.  This city needs and deserves a city council that puts the citizens above all else and spends our money as if it were coming from their own pockets.  And this city needs and deserves a city manager that publicly acknowledges that he/she serves the citizens, not the other way around.

We currently have none of the above.  There has to be enough people in this city that agree with some or all of this and will, thru individual and group actions, make these happen in the upcoming election.

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How much are the cover-ups of violent felonies committed by politically influencial members of the Ol’ Boy Clique costing the taxpayers.

O.k. not purposely trying to flaunt new rules you now list above (which are all good) but the one I had to comment on that made me laugh. Flogging livestock. Now I have nothing to do when I’m out and about the county during the week. Hehehehehe

Right on Viamagnolia1…..I like the fire in your belly!!! It’s that attitude that might get others to jump in the pool….yes, I don’t live there but I’m sorry to see the way things have turned out. I was at the North County Homeless Shelter fund raiser event last month and who was there but Soloman looking like a million $$$.

A friend of mine said “not a million $$$…more like $250,000.” That was funny but it really isn’t, is it??

I will contribute to some who decide to run but I want to know what their plan of action is first!!!

Response to pasojim’s belief that the issues raised by Mr. Reynolds will just be swept under the carpet. That will only happen if you, and hundreds of other citizens, have already made up your mind that the the ‘status quo’ is the way it is and can not be changed. There is basically nothing wrong with that decision – but be bold enough to say so. I can only add that that mindset is what has gotten this city in the condition it is in. And it will stay there, unless that mindset is changed. If you, and others, are happy with that, then OK. If not, DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT !!!!!!!!!

Questionable spending?

From the city’s 2008 budget

* a new copy machine, Item#, I112210-5454, Canon ir2050, $16,668, for the City Admin offices.

* a new computer, Item# 1121305454103, HPdc7100, with 19in monitor, $1,556 for the Council Liason

* Tourism Promotions, Item # 1001305224104, N.I.T. Web design, $6,668, from City Mgr Dept.

*Tourism Promotions, Item # 1001305224104, Kraftworks Brand developemnt, $35,000 from CM Dept.

*Downtown Prk Study, Item #1107105224781, Downtown Prkng Plan, $8,000, Genl Reserve/Contngncy

* Seismic Mitigation Grants, Item # 2277106235211, $42,500 2nd Baptist Church, Homeless, TFS Motel

This is a SAMPLE of items showing in the 2008 budget. It seems 2008 was a “free-for-all” spending spree for every city department to get new computer systems, servers, copiers, etc.. from 2008 Hundreds of thousands of dollars has been spent updating computer related items from 2008-2012. Technology does indeed evolve and apparently quicker at City Hall !

You can find this budget and other years thru 2012 on our website.

We are aggressively auditing each line item of each budget, from 2008 thru current and will post our finding on our website: We encourage you all to register to our group for important updates and information.

I have a question on this. As you know where I stand from prior posts about the city, in fairness I am curious about the upgrade. Was this a upgrade after a long time of no updades, (lets say six years in the business world) or like two or three? If it was two or three years then yes a excessive but if it hadn’t been for six or more than I would have to see more.

Also the donation to the homeless isn’t a big one for me. And a parking study for 8 grand sounds in line with what SLO has paid in past. My bigger concern is the paying of some salaries and more to point our ex chief and payments etc.

Also the tourism web design is not far out of line for a professionally designed site (especially if it starts to have many pages) and that does benifit the city in the end.

Don’t get me wrong that I have gone soft on the city. I just am trying to be objective and fair.

I agree. Nitpicking a three year old budget and taking things out of context will not further your cause. The issues raised by Mr. Reynolds will further your cause.

Not nitpicking, just providing information and resource for anyone who wants to see how the city spends their tax dollars. Most people want to know. Clearly you have issue with this.

If you pick the nits, you wind up with a huge infestation. Kind of like the old saying mind your pennies, the dollars will take care of themselves. Personally I believe it is time for nitpicking.

sorry, haven’t had breakfast, what I meant was if you DON’T pick the nits you wind up with a huge infestation.

Please go to the 2010 budget paid in 2011. You will see computer/server upgrades yet again. The City Managers office was $32,000. The Emergency Service Dept. computer upgrade was only $17,000.

I am all for the homeless being helped. In fact, I contribute throughout the year myself. it happens to be a pet cause for me. My question was not the value, but the description.

Who is the City Council Liason….anyone know?

Well that makes better sence. You mentioned 2008 so that was what I was commenting on. If they did this again in 2010, then yes what the hell is going on.

While your are looking at the budget, notice that Mr App’s City employees went up 60% from 2002 to 2008, then came down 30%. He and Fred will never mention they went up that much first.

This is right off the City website financial statement.

Does Jim App represent the kind of leadership in the City government culture that represents the people who live and work in Paso Robles?


to: Danika @ CPRN2012, I suggest that Reynolds resign from your group and run for the council w/o

any endorsement from your members. I understand that you have refused to endorse Gary Nemeth. Now I understand the reason why. It seems to me that you must somehow, find qualified candidates

outside of your organization to run for office; otherwise, you’re all spinning your wheels in the sand.

Dream On scoopone. You do not even live in Paso Robles. We are not spinning our wheels in the sand. We would have never taken on this challenge if we could not affect change in Paso Robles.

We are focused, determined, and confident. We are digging deep and we are doing our homework.

Do not under estimate CPRN2012.

I trust your city is running well? Apparently so since the only city you are concered about is Paso Robles.

Scoopone, thank you for your suggestions. We have not refused to endorse Gary Nemeth, we simply do not endorse ANY candidates. Period. Gary Nemeth is a candidate for Mayor. You assume there are no “qualified candidates” coming to the forefront. Just because they have chosen to remain annonymous at this time and you don’t know about them does not mean they do not exist. It is their position to make their candidacy known, not mine, and certainly not CPRN2012. But I can appreciate the urgency for new candidates to come forward. I can’t speak to their choice of timing to do so.

I never “spin my wheels” in the sand. I am well aware of the challenges before me and am prepared to move forward with determination and support of many in my community.

I hope you are right and the candidates are indeed just waiting for the right time!