Paso Robles must learn from history

June 4, 2012


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


Great op-ed, Karen. You should submit it to the Tribune and New Times.

I guess the take-home message Babs wanted to leave us with was that she is a tool (and not a very sharp one at that), and that she has zero ability to gauge the political environment. PR residents are rightfully outraged, and it is self-serving comments like Babs’ praise of Jim App that ensure PR residents are going to be sincerely and vociferously outraged if App and the city council try to cram their hand-picked, crony-lovin’, App-serving police chief.


Thanks, MM…I did submit it to the Tribune but it likely won’t run. They have a habit of deleting my comments these days…coincidently, since the birth of CPRN2012.

Am working on an exciting new project could use your assistance….


Aye-aye, Captain.


Send me copies of your posts and I’ll post them…just to see if the “editorial control” of posters’ opinions are opinion-related or poster-related.

In other words. I’d like to know if they have it out for you.


Yes Paso Robles residents for the most part are rightfully outraged.

To the best of my knowledge, the same can’t be said of App and Babs: neither are residents of the City of Paso Robles (as in live within city limits).


Fact is Barbara Partridge and Jim App are best buddies. They worked together at the City of Paso Robles for years until Partridge retired, and now fills her pockets with City retirement dollars. Probably still neighbors too. She is his “Rah Rah” girl and that was her job at the meeting: try to smooth ruffled feathers, wave her pompoms, blow kisses, and do everything to convince us “backward” people that “It’s a Wonderful Life” if we only click our heels together and chant her chant and drink some Kool-aid. Ok, that may be a little over the top, but you get the idea. This from a woman who kept a crown on her bookshelf in her private office at City Hall because (as she would say) “I’m the Queen”. Not making this stuff up folks. Not a surprise “Babs” was there. It’s more of the same baloney and best part is we don’t seem to be buying in to the fiction.

Fact is the purpose of her monologue and huggy-po demonstration was to white wash the serious problems facing this community, wave pompoms in our faces, point out the rainbows ahead of us “if only we believe hard enough” (starting to sound more like a Disney movie), while telling us to ignore the boatload of garbage and the stench associated with the garbage. How dare we want better! We should actually be paying them MORE! Hellooooooooooooo!


Whoever it is praising the performance of city manager James App, friend or foe, one thing for certain: they have something to gain by App continuing to be able to whore the position of Paso Robles city manager to serve his cronies.


I totally agree. Why the residents of the city don’t demand a professional, fully vetted, city manager with a proven track record is beyond me. App is neither–he came to the city to run personnel and ascended as city manager because he was available: first head of city personnel and assistant to the city manager. The city council went cheap and told Jimmy to take the big chair and by paying him big bucks that would magically make him a city manager. Giving someone a title and salary does not qualify the person to do the job. The City should have sought a city manager from the same “head hunter” resources they used in the past just as all cities do. Heck Paso Robles council could have taken the City of Atascadero’s short list of city manager candidates from their head hunter outfit and seen what kind of professional person was interested.


I wonder if App sends faux-ebonics phrase-laden emails to Babs, like he sent Solomon?

The whole inbred Paso Robles City Hall skeezy antics makes my skin crawl. Truly.


I don’t think she is smart enough to get it Mary. She’s not known for being particularly intelligent. One time she drove her car to drop off a project,walked back to her office, then when she couldn’t find her car in the parking lot she freaked out squealing that someone had stolen her car. ‘No Babs, you forgot your own car down the street.’. She’s wouldn’t get Ebonics, prolly doesn’t know what it is.


As human nature would have it, most citizens don’t like upheaval, high emotions, mud slinging and outright bad news. They would prefer to alleviate the/their current distress as efficiently and quickly as possible. Yes, they know this will require them to replace the incumbent City Council Officials. Apart from that, as human nature would have it, they want to return to their complacent comfort zones.

If the Good Ole Boy’s must go and they know that their day’s are numbered, then it would be in their best interest to back and even mentor someone who is willing to let bygones be bygones. No one is held responsible, no investigations, everybody just moves on. A good PR firm would take this approach under these circumstances if they were seeking to make the best of a bad situation for some scoundrels with something to hide.

Simply said, in my opinion, Barbara is a plant. She will not get my vote.


I was kind of shocked when Barbara Partridge commented that the city staff are under paid and have taken Paso from being a back words community to what it is now! ( I guise she likes pot holes)

The median salary in san luis county is around 29000.00$ a year from what I’ve seen staff make four to six times that!


I also heard the comment from Barbara Partridge. Those of you “backward” people of Paso who didn’t realize you were indeed “backward” should kiss the feet of the current city council, administration, and city attorney for your rebirth into a being “respectible” community…This according to Barbara Partridge.


I can’t imagine anyone who actually cared about Paso Robles and its citizens doing anything but recoiling in disgust when encountering city manager App and the city council members.

Anyone who praises App or the city council members has something to gain from their corrupt, destructive type of “administration by cronies” they practice.


A former employee told me of an experience that is similar to other experiences different employees have relayed: when encountering App there is one cardinal rule: you are to never look him in the eye. Never. Not that it has any bearing on the discussion at hand, but it is rather interesting. In some Asian cultures you are to never look a superior person in the eye, and I understand the significance in those ancient cultures. Just hadn’t encountered that rule in America, let alone Paso Robles. It’s an interesting “lens” to look through.


It’s not just Asian cultures.

Looking someone (who is not a family member or other close, trusted acquaintance) in the eye, to some people, is called “mad-dogging,” and is considered, in some groups and species, to be a challenge or threat to the other’s power, position, right to rule, etc. Prisons, gangs, poor neighborhoods where there are turf battles, etc. can be iffy places to make direct eye contact with a stranger. The reaction to direct eye contact can differ between cultures, too.

An adverse reaction to direct eye contact is not unusual, depending on where you are and who you are interacting with. It’s part of our species. The person with the lesser power, in some cultures and situations, must never make direct eye contact.

It’s the same in chimpanzees and gorillas when they meet members of their own species or even humans. if you meet a big male gorilla in the Rwanda preserve, you best not make direct eye contact. Ironically, making direct eye contact with an elder Rwandan is considered very rude and disrespectful.

Making direct eye contact with chimpanzees in a zoo can cause some pretty profound agitation and displays of dominance.


Are you implying that App might be a lesser primate or possibly a great ape?

JB Bronson

Isn’t one of the lessons history has taught us is that if the City Manager is entrusted with the final selection of the new Police Chief, he will choose amongst all the qualifications of the applicants, someone he can control in a detrimental way?


Doesn’t appear to me that we are looking back; we are still operating our police force in safe mode, there is still graffiti and drug dealing activity going on openly and blatantly and the streets still have potholes big enough to lose a small vehicle in. All the while the City is raking in hundreds of thousands of dollars for tourism and sitting on 10 million dollars of reserves. Funny how there is money for: huge payoffs, polishing up the wheelchair ramps on all the sidewalks, new libraries and parks, (even while we are closing down other public parks and the swimming pool), but forget the citizens of Paso Robles and their safety. Time out for the current regime, the residents of our City need to be a priority for a change, we pay the taxes! If they won’t acknowledge the problem and work to change it, we CAN and WILL vote them out in November.


Thank You CCN for allowing us the place to have these discussions.

Thank You Karen Daniels for your discussion of the condition of our city and the dismal future if responsible citizens are not able to begin to alter the course it is taking.

I don’t know who Barbara Partridge is and I don’t care what her opinions are, thank you Karen and CPRN2012 for the info. I hope the member list continues to grow.

With all that being said, CCN offers us this warm and comfortable place for us the vent and get things off of our chest. But I don’t see much else happening.

If you look at the discussions we are having here, there might be 30 – 40 people that will actually type in a response a couple of times and maybe, optimistically, 100 people that will check the like or dislike box. We might have 150 – 200 people that are involved enough in the change we know is necessary, a far cry from the 5000 or so it take to get someone new elected.

I have a number of times on these discussions asked where the organization or the people are with the inspiration is to achieve this goal, and the silence is deafening. We all seem to be standing back waiting for someone else to do it.

If I knew how to do it I would.

I guess Barbara Partridge will do it..


paojim, As a local statistician, by this I mean an individual who collects statistics county wide for analysis purposes, I caution you not to underestimate the coverage of the local media. In fact CCN has, at this point, a responsibility to the public that I’m not certain they even recognize. It is true that very few readers apply the voting tools available to them and even less readers post. In fact, you should know that less than 0.01% of readers post on local media sites and less than 0.10% or 1 in 1000 readers use the voting tools on all local media sites. There are reasons for this lack of outward participation that aren’t of significant importance.

What is important is to consider the mass who do read and do formulate opinions based on what they read and also the impressions they formulate based on what the participating public interjects. Here is a “simple test” where you might compare ‘apples to apples’. Consider the long standing presence of our local Tribune and the number of individuals who post on those threads. More so, consider the times that it is common to observe 20 votes attached to any single post on any single thread at the Tribune site, it is uncommon to observe at least even 20 participating votes of any sort on that media site. Compare that to common votes on these threads where 20-40 and even 60+ votes are common and perhaps you will gain a perspective of the impact and the influence that abounds these seeming small media venues?


Thank You KatieEvans,

Any bit of reason in these matters is appreciated. I just hope the light at the end of the tunnel isn’t a train


pasojim, The elections are close but still far away to expect to see an array of Candidates coming forward. They will come forward as the elections begin to draw near. Give it 2 months time and you’ll be surprised. As for the populates at large, they will be informed by the time they mark their ballots. They will be informed if I have to do it myself and I can do it myself, that isn’t just talk. No I haven’t had the time to attend any CPRN2012 functions or even converse with their members and no I don’t intend to be a Candidate but yes, I intend to see change as do many others whom I have conversed with. Heck, my neighbor two houses away is considering running for office if no one steps up that he likes, if he is thinking that way, then so are many others.


Good Job Man, Keep up the good work. I hope there are many more like you……………


There are times when odd circumstances arise in our lives. Hindsight is always 20/20 and we often find that but for our momentary poor judgement we could have avoided the unpleasant circumstance that we find ourselves in. Other times, we find that no matter what we had done, we would have experienced the same result. At those moments, and I’m sure we’ve all had them, all we can do is make a quiet mental note of our error in judgement, recognize that we are human, we do our best but sometimes “SHIT HAPPENS” anyway. It just does. Those are the times when we just move forward and don’t look back.

It would seem that Barbara Partridge would like this to be one of those times, IT ISN’T.

You don’t know where you’re going if you don’t know where you’ve been. It’s time for analysis, damage assessment and preventative measures to ensure that the past doesn’t equal the future. Sometimes it’s far less costly to pull the rug up and assess the problem when those same nasty blemishes keep popping back up despite all the cleaning agents you’ve applied.


100,000% CORRECT!! Any organization, company, city or government that truely wants change MUST be willing and able to look at the WHOLE picture – not just the part that looks pretty.

I, too, was at the town hall meeting on Saturday. While not being surprised that Ms. Partridge said what she said, she does have her right to her opinion, I am concerned about the rumors I have heard that she is going to run for city council (possibly mayor).

Based on what she has said – I have the uneasy feeling that this would be very bad for this city.

Continuing to have this city run by those who choose to only look at the good parts, ignore the bad parts, refuse to learn from past mistakes, and ignore the desires or the citizens will keep the city exactly where it is now.

If that is what we want then that is what we will get!!!!


Rest easy, Paso_citizen, Paso doesn’t have the will to elect a woman to the council or to mayor. Just ask Mary Chambers about that.

Not my opinion, just fact. Paso ain’t Morro Bay


How condescending. Barbara’s Committee is going to have to do better than that.