Paso Robles city government has real problems
June 26, 2012
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.