Paso Robles city government has real problems

June 26, 2012

OPINION By WALTER HEER

Paso Robles’ city government has some real problems. This episode with the Chief of Police Lisa Solomon is just the conformation that there is much more wrong.

I realized early on that Jim App operated very differently than any city manager we had in the past.

This came from my experience working with the city on the 13th street bridge. The then City Engineer John McCarthy was going to widen the bridge for $4 million. We were going to donate the land needed, as we did when the concrete bridge was built. App got rid of McCarthy in a move to secure absolute power over all remaining city employees. When I saw what was going on, I put a sign in my front yard. People in Paso Robles who used the 13th Street bridge might remember the 4 ft x 6 ft sign that said “FIRE APP.”

Anyway, it ended up that the project cost the tax payers $20 Million.

There is plenty of blame to go around, but all city councilmen who have allowed this App administration to continue are responsible. The city government developed an era of arrogance, and everyone became “yes men” to the city manager. I have had a previous councilman tell me that everybody including himself, is afraid of App because they felt he would come after them or their business. The philosophy became that the method used doesn’t make any difference, as long as the outcome looked good. App relied on taxpayer paid Attorneys to take care of his problems.

Our former Mayor, Frank Mecham, was willing to go along with the methods used by the city manager. In fact as spokesman for the city he would say that he wouldn’t want a certain thing to happen while he Is the mayor, at the same time App was doing exactly that. The mayor was in fact covering for the city manager. The mayor saw that if things went well (they didn’t get caught) he would be able to get on a life time taxpayer-funded retirement, which he did.

Choosing Lisa Solomon for Chief of Police fits the “looks good” pattern. A woman chief of police, who sings at community events. They just had to keep her other activities under raps. They thought they could get away with this, just like the other things they pulled off. The reason the Solomon deal blew up in their faces, was one of the news media outlets wouldn’t help them cover it up.

You may be aware of the tax money giveaway when the city bought a big hangar at the airport, remodeled it, then let a well known developer use it rent free. What you may not know is that your money was also used to buy out Aero Services as a gift to David Weyrich. They went ahead with the Nacimiento water project without securing tax payer approval, but forgot to include a water purification plant, so we are now paying for water that can’t be used.

It’s time for a complete removal of all city officials. The city manager type organization has always worked for us in the past, we just have to make sure we always have ethical people as the city administration in the future. Now that we have the ‘CHANGE PASO ROBLES NOW’ organization, I trust that we will have good people that will be willing to take on the task of cleaning up the mess that has been created in city hall.

Walter Heer lives in Paso Robles.


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9 Comments

  1. The Gimlet Eye says:

    Cities all over CA have serious problems:

    San Bernardino bankruptcy: Criminal probe underway

    http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow/2012/07/san-bernardino-bankruptcy-criminal-probe-underway.html

    (1) 1 Total Votes - 1 up - 0 down
  2. Paso_citizen says:

    Yes, voters of Paso Robles – please wake up and stop looking at everything thru the ‘rose-colored’
    glasses Mr. App and CC are so quick to pass around. This city has real problems, almost too many to enumerate. And real change is the only hope. They have failed us, the citizens, so many times and in so many ways that is beyond funny. Nacimiento water, water treatment plant, sewer upgrades, street conditions, Police chief, agreeing with hotels to abscond with added TOT revenue,
    letting cronies use city property free, and on and on. Will the list ever stop? NO, unless the voters speak in the only language needed – at the ballot box.
    Now App and puppets want to get their teeth into more money from us by getting a 1/2% tax increase
    with no absoulte guarantees on how it would be spent. Let me guess; salariers, salaries, retirement benefits, and more retirement benefits. Oh, and don’t foreget, they sill have to pay off the
    officers who have filed lawsuits against Paso as a result of our ‘excellant’ former police chief and her trying to grab more than just power.

    (8) 10 Total Votes - 9 up - 1 down
  3. HonestyPlanet says:

    Sorry Paso Robles…… but it’s time to think like Stockton. Chapter 9!!! Get your budget back in line, dump the obligations made by incompetents, and take care of your citizens and public facilities within the limitations of a real budget!! (Here’s the problem….the people who know that this is a real solution will never advise the elected officials accordingly, because it puts those entrenched (non-elected) public employee’s benefits on the chopping block.)……

    (26) 28 Total Votes - 27 up - 1 down
  4. danika says:

    CPRN2012, Change Paso Robles Now, is working with the support of the community to bring the much needed change to the city. New council is essential to the fiscal health and stability of Paso Robles. The current city council and mayor seem to forget they represent the PEOPLE to the city, not the other way around. The city has it’s own staff, well paid by taxpayers, to represent the city to the people, along with a questionable city attorney, Iris Yang.

    We encourage ALL persons who feel the need to bring change to Paso to join us in our efforts. Those of you who can run for mayor or city council should certainly do so.

    Thank you, Mr. Heer, for your letter. It certainly hit home. Paso Robles needs help only its citizens can bring.
    ~~~ Karen Daniels, Chair, CPRN2012.org

    (38) 40 Total Votes - 39 up - 1 down
  5. pasoparent5 says:

    Great op-ed…I wonder if the Trib would print this? I doubt it.
    But David Weyrich’s name is mis-spelled. (sorry I can’t access my e-mail to notify the moderator)
    The poor Weyrick family frequently gets blamed for things that they had no involvement with. David Weyrich has ripped many people off; the Weyricks are innocent. :)

    (24) 24 Total Votes - 24 up - 0 down
  6. pasoobserver says:

    Mr. Heer,
    Very good article with facts and not rumors. The citizens of Paso Robles need to “wake up” and
    elect new candidates come November. So, I hope there are three (3) new candidates going to file by
    mid July to replace the three (3) current incumbents. Sorry, Mr. Nemeth, you had your chance when you were on the City Council for eight (8) years and did nothing about the Nacimiento Water Pipeline Project at a cost $176 million to the taxpayers of Paso Robles. Also, in your haste, along with your colleagues forgot to built a needed WATER TREATMENT PLANT to filter Nacimiento Lake water. You allowed this financial burden to happen without VOTER approval. What a fiasco!

    (41) 45 Total Votes - 43 up - 2 down
    • mbactivist1 says:

      You can do it, Paso Robles! In Morro Bay, we just elected a new Council majority that represents the people, not the special interests. When they take office in December, things are going to start improving. You can take back your town. It takes a lot of people working hard, because the special interests have a lot of money to throw around, but it can be done.

      (29) 29 Total Votes - 29 up - 0 down
  7. BeenThereDoneThat says:

    I am NOT by any means in the cities corner on this but I would be interested in some clarity from Mr. Herr. On the subject of donating land. If this was the case then why did you fight so hard and want more money when the city went with eminent domann? On your sign I recall you put it up only after the city took your properity and was my understanding the sign was in regards to being upset about the eminent domain? Also you objected in the paper at the time, if I remember correct, about taking down the Oak tree to the west of your properity then by North River, which is now Union and that same Oak is still there today.

    On the bridge addition being only 4 mil? The Niblick widening which was done a number of years before this was almost 11 million if memory serves. How would the city a number of years later and during the boom (05) be able to get construction bids that cheap?

    I am not disagreeing with a lot of what you say but for clarity and objectivity I am curious about the above.

    (14) 20 Total Votes - 17 up - 3 down
    • standup says:

      Take a close look, the oak is gone. In fact, it declined due to the roots being severely damaged and had to be removed. Normally, the city would require a tree protection plan for this tree but apparently didn’t follow through or had an incompetent arborist monitoring the work near the tree.

      (16) 16 Total Votes - 16 up - 0 down

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