Paso Robles must learn from history
June 4, 2012
OPINION By KAREN DANIELS
There are some people in Paso Robles who believe that any process leading to selection of the city’s next chief of police should look forward, and not back.
Many of those same people want the new police chief selected in record time. This “don’t look back” philosophy was so stated by Barbara Partridge at yesterday’s Town Hall meeting. She spoke of how well the city is being run under its present administration and offered no criticisms whatsoever; in fact, she ended her extended comment with a hug for City Manager Jim App. Her comments reflect her passion for keeping the status quo.
I disagree with Barbara Partridge. Not looking back at the perils and pitfalls that got us where we are today would be a colossal mistake for many reasons. How do we learn to be better people, better employees, better city administrators, if we do not look at our past, admit to our mistakes and learn from them so they are not repeated in the future? This is not living in the past or harboring personal vendettas… this is a fundamentally productive way to ensure a successful future!
Last month, current city council member Fred Strong said at a public meeting conducted by CPRN2012 that he was happy when he and other city officials named Lisa Solomon-Chitty to the chief’s post — because it would get her off the road where she “kept crashing police cars.” He laughed loudly after this statement.
Solomon-Chitty’s propensity for damaging city equipment, apparently, was not nearly as effective as her inclination to damage — possibly permanently — the city’s hard-earned good reputation. In just five years, the position of chief of a fine Paso Robles police force has been sullied in a grievous way. How did Lisa Chitty-Solomon get to be Police Chief? Was she vetted by anyone? Was the public offered then the same Town Hall Meeting opportunity to discuss her qualifications before promoting her to the highest position of safety in the city? No.
Yet there remain those city cheerleaders who wish for no backward glance, who hope that no serious analysis be made of Solomon-Chitty’s egregious and yet-unexplained behavior, and that the citizens of Paso Robles simply forget and forgive, and go on as though nothing has happened.
That is not going to happen.
This council is comprised of members who appointed Solomon-Chitty; who ignored her conduct while on the job; who went mute when her astounding activities finally came to light; who paid her a quarter of a million dollars upon her departure; who heaped praise on her as she walked out the door; and who continue to act as though one of the biggest scandals in Paso Robles’ history never even happened. In not looking at our past mistakes we are destined to repeat them!
This is a city council in name only, having become a clutch of men who answer only to the city manager, App, and follow his lead precisely as he mandates.
This is a city council made up of men who are mainly self-serving, and who should have final say in the appointment of our new chief of police. But App will have the final say, and always.
This single-minded and inefficient group of elected officials, as well as a lethargic and disinterested electorate, need to answer this call to order and take part in bringing change to Paso Robles.
CPRN2012 was formed because the city allowed its citizens to be protected under the covert police “safe mode” policy. This policy is still in force today. Citizens are not protected as they deserve to be. The streets are in poor condition, and the park is often hijacked by organizations which lend their voices to City Hall. THIS MUST CHANGE!
It is not wrong to look back, acknowledge mistakes made, and move forward — and not repeating past errors. It is imperative for a better tomorrow.
Paso Robles business owner Karen Daniels is chair of CPRN2012.org.