A new Paso Robles chief just like the old chief?

October 10, 2012


Dennis Cassidy

A six-person Paso Robles “citizens’ committee” advising in the selection of the city’s next chief of police includes the man whose recommendation led to the eventual appointment of  disgraced Lisa Solomon-Chitty as the city’s first female chief of police.

Dennis Cassidy, a long-time veteran who headed the police department until retiring in July 2007, promoted Solomon-Chitty through the ranks to captain. Before he departed, Cassidy championed Solomon-Chitty to replace him. With tacit approval from council members, City Manager James App then appointed her to the post.

Solomon-Chitty left her position in March plagued by subordinates’ allegations of sexual improprieties and reports of her questionable, perhaps unlawful, management policies and practices.  City officials authorized an investigation into her alleged behavior, but it was not completed when Solomon-Chitty decided to quit her post, and thus its contents have been kept secret by city officials. Solomon-Chitty collected more than $250,000 in taxpayers’ money as she retreated, and publicly blamed the reporting of “an online news service” for damaging her reputation to the point where she was unable to perform her professional duties.

Council member John Hamon selected Cassidy for inclusion in the citizen group “because of his experience and background,” said Hamon.

John Hamon

“I had no second thoughts about picking Cassidy,” said Hamon. “This is just an advisory group.”

Asked if he thought the selected group was representative of residents, Hamon said yes, and then hung up on a reporter.

Cassidy did not return phone calls from CalCoastNews.

Council candidate Jim Reed called the appointment “ridiculous.”

“There is no plus side to this,” said Reed. “It’s just more of the same good old boys, and it doesn’t move the city forward.”

Steve Martin, another council candidate, said he thought Cassidy was picked “because they needed a former police chief on the panel.”

Karen Daniels, chair of Change Paso Robles Now (CPRN2012), also was critical of the appointment.

“Dennis Cassidy was ineffective in his stewardship of the safety of the people of Paso Robles.  Under his watch, both drugs and gangs took hold in Paso Robles. In my view, it is a conflict of interest that the ex-police chief who helped promote Lisa Solomon be chosen by a member of the city council to be on the panel to assist in the selection of the city’s new police chief,” she said.

Lisa Solomon-Chitty

The advisory group, hand-picked by council members and the mayor, also consists of Vivian Robertson, CEO of the Paso Robles Event Center (appointed by council member Fred Strong); Julian Crocker, superintendent of San Luis Obispo County schools, and Ed Bedrosian, a former Paso Robles police captain (Mayor Duane Picanco);  Armando Corella, director of the Paso Robles Housing authority (council member Nick Gilman); and Al Garcia, chairman pro tem of the city’s planning commission (council member Ed Stienbeck).

Prior to the selections, the council decided against enlarging the advisory committee to include more representative citizenry.


Here’s an idea as to how the “citizens’ committee” could have been picked, a random draw from all city residents that voted in the last two or three elections. What could the current council say, “They are not qualified” but those same voters were supposedly qualified enough to vote those same council members into office. Would this have not been a good way to get insight into the real issues of the city? The recomendation of this “citizens committee” would only be a opinion and not the only factor in picking a new chief, and of course the findings of this committee should be made public.


Fine idea, kayaknut, except for the fact such a group would be just too representative of residents, and therefore not easily manipulated by council, mayor, and Jim App.


A hand-picked “advisory group” chosen by the existing power structure, especially when the existing power structure has been embroiled in so many scandals related to power abuse and cronyism that it has lost the support of the people, is nothing more than a mummer’s parade.


Same people keep running and getting elected despite terrible job they do. Look at Atascadero, Pismo Beach etc. same problem, they are all inept so how can anyone expect a change? People on Central Coast are just ignorant of reality.


Only a majority of the less than majority of eligible voters are ignorant of reality, I still believe a small number of those who actually vote do have a brain, and one day it will pay off, in that those with a brain will be able to get those without to understand the facts. I generally have given up hope with those currently in office, what they have done or not done shows enough.


Because of the incumbent advantage, (unless the incumbent and/or their political party has committed an atrocity on the level of Penn State’s Jerry Saundusky, an uninformed voter, presented with the incumbent candidate and an unknown candidate, will chose the incumbent candidate.

From opensecrets.org (http://www.opensecrets.org/bigpicture/incumbs.php)

Historical Elections

Incumbent Advantage

The charts below show the enormous financial advantage enjoyed by incumbents. That’s one of the reasons re-election rates are so high—incumbents generally don’t have to work as hard to get their name and message out….

Mr. Holly

And here I thought it couldn’t get any worse. If the city had any strong leadership they would have recruited a professional, not Cassidy) police officer to recruit strong candidates. No one on this panel has any knowledge of police work. But I guess you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. More than likely a politician will be chosen for the police chief position and it will be business as usual less the grouping, singing and dancing on bartops.


All I have read , just makes me so HAPPY that I dont live in PASO , its the same old game , no new players , the whole bunch of CROOKS need to go , I guess that old saying tTHE WILL OF THE PEOPLE dont mean SQUAT in P town, good luck on getting rid of the VERMIN CITY COUNCIL


There is no “will of the people” in Paso. If there was, the people would go to the trouble to inform themselves enough to raise some hell about what has happened there and get decent people in to replace the “Good ‘ol Boys”. The fact that they haven’t shows that most of them don’t care enough to have a “will” on the subject.

Worse, this is not a situation unique to PasoRobles, SLO County, California or the whole US. People gripe and when on message boards at most but rarely research what they hear or ACT to support a person or cause they think provides a better alternative. (I could do better at the latter too.)


The existing power structure tends to win as long as the majority of the voters are uninformed or wrongly informed. This is a universal truth, and tends to hold except in a situation where the existing power structure commits egregious crimes, or is involved in such widespread corruption that the truth filters down to the people, despite the existing power’s ability to keep this information from the masses.


Mayor Picanco was interviewed this afternoon on AM radio. His responses were canned, his attitude shifted among frustration, impatience and arrogance and he didn’t seem to have a knowledgeable grasp of how the city’s budget operates. He sounded ruffled when a few callers challenged him with difficult questions.

In addition, Picanco strongly defended all the police chief selection committee choices including his own–Julian Crocker. When pressed as to why he’d choose Crocker–not even a resident of Paso–Picanco stated he thought gangs and drugs were Paso’s biggest issues (true) and that Crocker (County Supt. of Schools) would be an expert in that area. ??!!! Huh?? Crocker hasn’t even been in a classroom in decades; he sits behind a desk in an admin office in SLO! While I respect Dr. Crocker, he no longer lives in Paso and I’d hardly consider him an expert in fighting crime in Paso!

Overall, Picanco’s responses during the interview were nonsensical and naive, at best. Sorry Mr. Mayor, but Paso needs a well-spoken, ethical leader who is NOT part of the long-standing good ol’ boy network.

Mr. Holly

When was the last time that Crocker hit the streets to fight crime? Does he have any experience at all regarding drugs and gangs? Maybe in the schools which is far different than the organized gang and drug dealers on the streets. Crocker is a nice guy and Picanco shouldn’t be wasting his time with this. Considering the conditions of our school districts I certainly think one would have picked a more successful person to select a candidate for this most important position.

Hamon=Strike 1

Picanco=Strike 2

Who will make the next strike and completely put Paso Robles out of the game? Probably Fred Strong.

What a team.


Agreed. And to clarify, Picanco said two or three times that it looked like Crocker wouldn’t “be available” to participate in the selection process.

Translation: enough people have complained to Picanco and/or Crocker’s smart enough to refuse the gig!


QUOTING MR. HOLLY: “When was the last time that Crocker hit the streets to fight crime?”

This is a very logical question.

Being a police chief is a very unique position, and involves all of the basic knowledge a police officer has AND the knowledge and skills to administer a police organization so that it is effective in protecting the citizens for whom it works.

Mayor Picano should know this, and select a member for the adivsory committee who knows enough about the qualifications for police chief that the selected advisory committee member is able to contribute to the process of selecting a police chief who can turn around the PR PD, and bring back to the department the confidence of the PR residents.

And Mayor Picano chooses Crocker.

Incompetence and devotion to cronyism…quite a combination for someone who is a city mayor.


Mr Crocker attends graduations of the County’s community schools. I think that’s as close he gets to students who are in gangs and have drug problems. It would seem that if they were looking for “expertise” it would be someone dealing with these issues every day.


Did the interviewer challenge Picano on his illogical and uninformed statements? Usually larger media operations will, by default, support the existing power structure, and are loathe to challenge an entrenched politician, especially this close to election.


That’s typical… appoint Vivian Robertson, a very close friend of Ian Parkinson, a close friend of the Chitty’s. Well Viv’s choice will make sure Meter Maid’s legacy will not be tarnished any further. More of the same caliber: Good Old insider politics. Thanks council!


This really is little more than a “F-you all, we can do as we damned well wish” from Hamon and company.


This sort of arrogant crap should galvanize the voters of Paso Robles to get to the polls and vote new, fresh members onto the city council!


This exemplifies the exact reason why there needs to be a major change in who runs this city. Cronies helping cronies do their bidding. It has Mr. App’s fingerprints all over it – so visible you don’t even need dusting powder. He wants and needs, and will get, a police chief to his liking – one that he can control completely.

If Mr. Cassildy had any reasonable conscience – he would refuse Mr. Hamon’s appointment and respectfully decline to be further involved with a mess he played a mojor part in creating.

As for the overhead door man – yes, he needs to be removed from the council in 2014. Actually, if he had any real sense of responsibility, he would resign, but probably not.

The city council has stated many times that the feedback they get from citizens is that citizens do not trust the council. Can anybody wonder why, when actions such as this continue to happen?

Think it through and ask yourself – can you believe the council will spend the proposed 1/2% sales tax on roads? If you do, please allow me to sell you, cheap, some beachfront property in Tucson, AZ.