An open letter to Paso Robles residents
May 10, 2012
OPINION By 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.