Official: PR citizen action dangerous

May 2, 2012


Fred Strong

The city of Paso Robles faces only one big fiscal threat these days, according to city council member Fred Strong — and that’s the people of Paso Robles.

Strong summarized his philosophy in an email to a resident last month who had asked the official if bankruptcy is in Paso Robles’ future. (CalCoastNews is not identifying  the citizen with whom Strong corresponded; Strong, however, sent copies of his response to the entire council, Mayor Duane Picanco, and others.)

Strong wrote, “At this time the only danger of the city going into bankruptcy is from citizen actions and initiatives which have been, or are, proposed without assessing their unintended consequences.”

That appeared to be a direct reference to a newly-formed citizens’ action committee called Change Paso Robles Now, or CPRN2012, said Karen Daniels, a downtown business owner and chair of the non-profit group.

She asked Picanco and the other council members if they agreed with Strong’s assertion, and she suggested to Strong that he should explain or disclaim the comment.

In a string of emails that followed, Strong claimed he was referring only to “state” actions. Strong wrote to Daniels on May 1, “Although I’m unable to find our original correspondence on this computer, I believe this [issue] related to suggestions made to me that [mismanagement and overly-generous pensions] in the city would eventually bankrupt Paso Robles. I indicated that we already had (and are) addressing that issue and there was considerably more likelihood that citizen actions would bankrupt us” rather than mismanagement and benefits.

“I must clarify what I meant by ‘citizen actions,’” he continued. “That was based upon my interaction at all government levels and the misunderstood ‘initiative process.’ Initiatives were created so that citizens could correct situations which the government, especially at the state level, refused to address or correct.”

Daniels, who raised the issue Tuesday at a council meeting, told Strong in an email that “the comment you made…was pretty clear. I didn’t misunderstand it; I didn’t amend or otherwise alter it in any way. It didn’t mention all the things you have now expressed in your retraction or clarification of the statement you offered in a previous email. It did not mention the state nor offer any further explanation other than your precise view.

“Having discussed your statement with several others, we all came to the same conclusion:  you would blame the citizens of Paso Robles for their own actions and initiatives, and absolve the city administration from any wrong doing should the city fall into unintended financial hardship: bankruptcy.”

Daniels added, “I feel you made that bold statement to put us in our place. But what I don’t understand is why the city council turns a blind eye to the obvious: [City Manager]  Jim App needs to go. But the entire city council seems to stand behind him.  As long as he remains the city manager, the community will be divided, and will continue to push for change of those who administer their city.”

Strong, in a final missive to Daniels, wrote: “I would never have said ‘the citizens of Paso Robles’ could cause a bankruptcy of the city. Nor would I ever absolve the city council of responsibility for those things under its control.”

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What Mr. Strong fails to grasp is the responsibility of the voting and non-voting residents of the City of Paso Robles. Every citizen has a responsibility to be involved and that includes asking questions and receiving a response that passes the smell test.

In the City of Bell (which was a Greed Fest on steroids), there were all sorts of failings. The city council served as they pleased (which enriched themselves), the City Manager failed to lead (which enriched himself), the City Attorney failed to lead (and now the same law firm which represented the City of Bell –Best Best & Krieger– is the same firm Paso Robles City Attorney is with), and the residents of the City of Bell failed in their responsibility to be involved in their community (which was later attributed to the large number of undocumented individuals who opted to stay below the radar). It seems to me Mr. Strong would be much happier if those darn picky pseudo intellectual hick residents of Paso Robles would just keep their drippy noses out of the City Council’s, the City Manager’s, and City Attorney’s business. That’s the way his words make me feel and probably hits a few others similarly.

My three cents adjusted for inflation.

What’s “dangerous” is corrupt, self-serving pol’s promising public employees a Caddy for a Pinto payment and then sticking tax payers with the bill.

“That appeared to be a direct reference to a newly-formed citizens’ action committee called Change Paso Robles Now, or CPRN2012, said Karen Daniels, a downtown business owner and chair of the non-profit group.”

Don’t believe this is true. Strong was referring to the group, Concerned Citizens (not CPRN2012), who sued the city over proposed water fee increases. The city claims that the group cost it $2-4 million dollars (I have yet seen a listing of the costs).

“Strong wrote, ‘At this time the only danger of the city going into bankruptcy is from citizen actions and initiatives which have been, [past tense] or are, [present tense] proposed without assessing their unintended consequences.'” Is this some kind of competition… as in, which citizen action group does Fred Strong despise/fear most?

I think there isn’t one in particular. Based on what he writes, I think Mr. Strong despises, dislikes, and fears all citizen action groups.

I am very familiar with the emails…trust me. Forget about grammar. He was referring to citizen’s groups that have cost PR money. Elsewhere in the emails he specifically mentioned Concerned Citizens. Remember, the email exchange started with the that charge that Paso is headed to bankruptcy.

LG1, I really don’t understand your point here. I have all the emails in the exchange and even those you can’t have seen and do not know about….unless you are Fred Strong or a member of city council. So who are you?

In any case, I am happy to share them all with Mr. Blackburn for further report should you feel the need for confirmation of details. I am sure the readers here would be happy to see all…

Who are you?

I am correcting an incorrect statement by Karen Daniels in the article above. Deal with it.


I AM Karen Daniels from the article above. Now would you care to deal with that?

I am Jeff Wallace. You are the reason I did not rejoin CPRN.

Thank you for outting yourself, Jeff Wallace. I expected you to do this. I knew your arrogance would get the better of you.

CPRN2012 is NOT about me; it’s about the will of the people. You obviously don’t get that. It isn’t a popularity contest so your not liking me is really not causing me concern.

Have a great Friday!

“I’m Mike Wallace. Those stories and Andy Rooney, tonight on 60




I think Fred is feeling a bit stressed these days.

LG1, if you want a correction to the article, please contact Daniel Blackburn, the author. His email is right over there ~~~~>

He will request the entire email chain from me and I will gladly provide it, along with the other emails you can’t possibly have that could prove damning to those who want to remain nameless. Could make for an interesting followup….

Danika, BIG PROPS for standing up to Strong and his weineristic “veiled-threats” warning about citizen activism in Paso Robles.

He thought he was going to frighten CPRN2012 into apologizing, curtseying, and tip-toeing away. LOL, didn’t quite go that way, thanks to you!

For Strong to blame the citizen activists of Paso Robles for using whatever measures available to deal with the corruption and cronyism in PR–in other words, to take back control of the city–rings of desperation to me.

It would be like one partner in a two-partner business purposely squandering the joint funds used to pay bills, then blaming the other partner because the bills weren’t paid, late fees were incurred, and overdraft fees accrued.

I hope Strong will think twice in the future before he runs his mouth with empty veiled threats against citizen activists.

Really, who in the heII does he think he is?

He thinks that he’s a member of some “elite,” and that you shouldn’t bother him or threaten his little “empire.” After all, he knows a hell of a lot better than you how things should be done. That’s American civics for you, ca. 2012.

Fred, the outsider, is frantically trying to show his support of the old regime, to finally join the insider group.

I am reminded of the old tv show The Rockford Files with Jim Rockford and Angel (the perfect weasel). Look up some episodes on youtube with Angel and you’ll see what I mean.

Pretty soon there ain’t gonna be no “insider group.” Look up what happened to the “ancien régime.” Swept away by the force of public opinion. And it’s public opinion which ultimately rules. Absent that, a politician is a dead duck.

Mr. Strong, there’s nothing more dangerous than a government gone unchecked by those who put them in power, the public. Get over yourselves and keep in mind the reason we vote politicians like you in is because we, the people have no desire to deal with the bureaucratic BS, its not for our lack of ability or intelligence.

I must say that I am taken back by the comments and pent up anger by the citizens of Paso Robles. It is clear to me people were looking for a way to express outrage with what is happening with our elected officials and our city goverment. CPRN012 is all about change. We are looking at what is happening and what has happened. We have put a spot light on the city and they do not like it. The sad truth is because of residents and citizens being complacent for so long unchallenged, the city had a ticket to ride, and ride they did! Now with CPRN2012 and the sheer number of people that support our organization, one thing is crystal clear. Taxpayers are no longer going to put up with not having a voice any more. CPRN2012 did make one mistake however, we should have started this organization many years ago. We are only providing data for residents to make up their own minds about how the city is operating and we are sorry we waited until 2012 to organize. Better late than never. So now we are here and we remain steadfast in our goal to Change Paso Robles Now! Come aboard everyone, this organization does and will have have the Taxpayers best interest in mind.

Well said. I like this kind of talk. Take them to task for their arrogance and defiance of public opinion. When the election comes, GET RID OF HIM!

All of us must keep the pressure on the Paso City Council. Send them an email very week containing your opinions. Keep it simple and keep it civil.

Fred Strong blames the many FOIA requests by the pubic as a financial burden. Too bad Fred, the public has the right to know about what is going on in Paso. Cut salaries by 10% to pay for these requests. And fix some roads also.

…email every week….

And give up your $12,000 per year health care benefit.

Mr. Strong,

What about the danger of politicians in ivory towers not responding to or concerned about the citizens?

Understand the man is 100% accurate and truthful when he says that bloated wages. pensions and bennies will not force the City into bk. This is accurate because, as they have been doing for more then 20 years, they will simply offset obscene comp with decreased services and higher fees. As a mathematical matter this can continue for quite some time and I expect that it will.

What services will be cut in the future? Employee salaries and benefits already take about 80% of the city’s income. The city will face bankruptcy … its only a matter of time.

Jim App gets a raise in September and we get fewer services in exchange.

July 1 for Jim Apps’ raise. He also will get retroactive raise pay at same time. All city employees will get raises July 1, too. And Freddie blames the state for our bad streets. Pure insanity.

IH, it is my understanding App will get his retro raise pay on 7-1-12 and his raise on 9-1-12, unless we petition to prevent it. Are you all up for another petition?

I don’t know about the city of Paso, but a little bird told me that SLO county is ALREADY bankrupt? Am I wrong?

Not according to Jim Patterson and Adam Hill. They have saved the County from all the financial issues everyone else is suffering from in this economy. However, if you look around, when was the last time you saw a County crew fixing a road, bridge, etc. Other than county administration, judical services, social services, mental health and golf courses, nothing is really happening in this county. Where are all the workers… Just saying!