Settlement stunner ends ticket quota trial

March 13, 2014

Pso signBy DANIEL BLACKBURN

A settlement reached during the noon hour Thursday abruptly ended a civil trial pitting a former Paso Robles police officer against his one-time employer for allegedly ordering unlawful traffic ticket quotas as part of a relentless quest for more city revenues.

Terms of the settlement, called “confidential” by San Luis Obispo County Superior Court Judge Jac Crawford, were not immediately known, but the agreement came after opening statements by both sides’ attorneys.

Paso Robles Police Chief Robert Burton said after announcement of the settlement that city officials would release a statement later today, but had no further comment. The trial had been proceeding in the Paso Robles courthouse.

(Burton subsequently issued the following statement: “Employees of the Paso Robles Police Department have worked hard as a team to strengthen the department and keep our focus of protecting and serving the community of Paso Robles.  Now that the trial has ended we can pay our full attention to serving the community and make it a safer place for all.”)

Jon Tatro, a 25-year veteran of the Paso Robles department, said he and other patrol officers were required to write increasingly frequent traffic tickets in order to reach a non-specified financial goal. Such quotas are illegal under California law.

Tatro said he had reported the apparent violation of law to supervisors, including then-chief Lisa Solomon-Chitty, and the only result was retaliation against him. He was scheduled to be the first plaintiff’s witness.

Tatro’s attorney, Jeffrey A. Lipow of Encino, told the nine-woman, three-man jury during opening arguments earlier Thursday that “the evidence would show” that city officials conspired with Solomon-Chitty to generate additional revenues for city coffers by increasing the number of traffic citations.

In an email to CalCoastNews prior to the trial’s opening, Lipow noted, “During [the process of]  discovery, we uncovered substantial information to support Jon’s claim, not the least of which were emails and memos between former Chief Solomon and [Paso Robles City Manager] Jim App about raising revenues for the city through traffic tickets.”

David Cumberland, representing the city of Paso Robles, told the jury he would be able to demonstrate that Tatro himself violated procedures and department regulations as he attempted to call attention to the alleged quota system.

Following announcement of the settlement, Cumberland declined comment other than to say, “I think the system worked.” Asked if he was satisfied with the settlement, he said simply, “Yes.”

Lipow noted, “We came to a financial resolution of the case, and as a result of that, the lawsuit is over. The city will have to deal with it, and Mr. Tatro will be able to go on with his life.” He suggested that city officials might be forthcoming about settlement details, “but I’m not at liberty to disclose that.”

Tatro said he was “satisfied” with the settlement and added, “I’d like to thank CalCoastNews for how they have covered this story.”

When Crawford announced the settlement,  jury members exploded in apparent joy. The trial had been predicted to last more than two weeks.

(Updated Thursday at 4:38 p.m. to incorporate Chief Burton’s follow-up statement.)


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NorthCountyGuy

Regarding corruption in Paso Robles, we are barely seeing the tip of the iceberg.


We should remember how Burton the Bastard aided and abetted assault-with-a-deadly weapon, motor vehicle, by one of Jim App’s road rage buddies.


We should remember how Jim App arranged the appointment of a corrupt judge to the Small Claims Court in Paso Robles.


We should remember how the corrupt judge (appointed by App) suppressed nine exhibits of physical evidence proving that Jim App’s road rage buddy was speeding in excess of 50 MPH in a posted 25 MPZ zone when he maliciously rear ended his victim’s vehicle with his face contorted in road rage.


We should remember how the corrupt small claims judge (appointed by App) had a priori knowledge of the case such that he parroted the exact words of the road rage elite’s attorney.


Jim App’s reign of corruption and tyranny needs to be put to an end soonest.


Burton and App should submit their resignations soonest.


prinsider

Jim App cannot appoint a judge, dude


Paso_citizen

Great thought, but the chances of either one resigning are much lower than me winning the Quicken Loans Billion $ March Madness bracket.


The most I can hope for is that I live to see the day that App, Burton, and most of the other peons that control this city get their just rewards. Unfortuantly, with the level of concern by the voters of this city, that may take several years.


Citizen

Can you tell us the name of the person or if not, the year this happened?


wineguyjc

Here is a thought people, follow the lead of King City


Your Town: King City council mulls city manager’s performance


King City’s council will hold a meeting on Tuesday to discuss the job performance of City Manager Michael Powers.

about 23 hours ago

READ MORE


King City manager subject of special meeting


King City’s council will hold a meeting Tuesday to discuss the job performance of City Manager Michael Powers. Powers, who has been manager for seven-and-a-half years, has come under intense scrutiny since a third of the Police Department was arrested two weeks ago.


wineguyjc

Stunner, my @##. App, Burton and council could never allow this thing to go to trial. All they did was waste tax payer money playing this game out to the last minute. Spend millions of dollars defending a claim that was legitimate.


To officer Tatro thank you for bringing these issues to light, but why did you wait to the end of your career to do this. Everyone knows how corrupt local government is in this county. Officers importing drugs, officers sell narcotics, employees embezzling City assets for personal gain, employees cultivating pot for distribution, employees going postal on other employees on facebook, employees beating up bar patrons, a chief of police with an appetite for sexual deviance, corrupt politicians cutting sweet deals for their friends, and so much more.


I wonder how much SLOTown will have to pay out once the “poundage ticket incentive program” sees the light of day. Now that was a program, reward officers for writing tickets based upon a perpetrator’s weight.


SuperDave

It’s hard to believe that Lisa invented the scam. Look at her critical thinking level through the years, and you see a meat puppet at best. App cooked this scam as much as Robert Rizzo scammed the City of Bell. The king of a city does not hire sharpies to defeat his plans. The mere fact they are there, means they are compliant and complicit with the Head Guy’s orders. App spends vast amounts of time micro managing his minions. Just wait for the Charles Lorenzen trial. More for App to sweat. What if Chuck starts to rat out other Dept. heads in return for some judicial favors? App’s punishment is to sleep the tortured sleep of the chronically guilty. Never trust anyone, lash out at detractors, his style thru and thru. The thugs in Bell never thought it would end either.


NorthCountyGuy

Make no mistake about it, App is a power-drunken thug.


Citizen

I do hope that there is a trial. Mr. Lorenzen always seemed to be competent and courteous.


Competence is severely lacking in our city management –evidence the fiasco of 21st street. If I were Ditas Esperanza, I would go out and clear that drain myself rather then expose the failure of the million dollar “flood control and beautification” project to the entire city and the ridicule from KPRL listeners.


Paso_citizen

To the other citizens of Paso – How does it feel to get sc***ed again? That large cloud of smoke over the city on Thursday must have been from all of you who got up and had a cigarette after the unprotected sc***ing you recieved at the courthouse. Hopefully all females were on the pill – thinking about what may be the result in 9 months is almost scary. As for the males – well what you got Thursday would make most prostate exams just a gentle walk in the park.


The “Big Phat Bald Guy” (his words, not mine) and his co-horts won again and will keep on winning unless and until the citizens demand a change. But they know perfectly well that will never happen. Like little lemmings we just follow along – mostly peacefully.


Too bad this city does not have a mayor will just some of the gumption the mayor of Morro Bay showed in getting rid of their city manager.


As for Mr. Tatro – you proved beyond a shadow of doubt that money does talk – loud and clear. If you had anything close to the case you had stated and anywhere close to the guts needed you would have never taken the bribe (or payoff). This puts you in the exact same league as Ms Chitty Chitty Bang-Bang. Screw those who had faith in you, then take the city’s money and run. How much money – we will never know; but it is very safe to bet it was more than Ms. Solomon got. Why? Because you at least had opening statements at a trial and it was fairly obvious the city controllers were a little concerned – so big (I mean BIG) money had to be involved. Money that could have, and should have, been spent of so many other things this city needs; streets, water treatement, sewer, higher salary for the top dogs (sorry already done), etc.


So in closing, am I mad? No. Severly disappointed in our city management? Yes, with a capital “Y”. Disappointed in the citizens of this city – also yes; we let these things happen, because enough of us plain do not care. So enjoy your cigarettes, but be sure to save one or two – you will get ‘screwed’ again.


Rambunctious

“ticket quotas are against California state law” that’s a good thing but I REALLY WOULD like to see more tickets written for TAILGATING!!!!! Thank you.


Citizen

Two groups of LA Police officers have recently won ticket quota lawsuits because ticket quotas are against California state law. If a police chief or city official chooses to violate the state law, they need to be fired. http://laist.com/2013/12/10/lapd_officers_awarded_6_million_in.php


topper01

Could it be? Is it possible that Tatro was lazy and not doing his job? You will never know because you are so prejudicial against those you hate that you believe any negative allegation. How sad for you.


Remember Tatro just came out of the dare program. That is where an officer hangs around the school all day and makes “friends” with the kiddies. He preforms no law enforcement function for weeks at a time.


He was used to being the “good” guy and when he was told that he had a job to do and that job involved traffic enforcement, he could not handle it.


Citizen

Is it possible that Tatro was correct that a traffic quota was being perpetrated on the citizens of Paso? How sad for you that you can’t admit, even when the City of Paso folds on the first day of trial, that the City was the law breaker and the culprit in this case.


You can attack Tatro all you want, but I’ll bet that the settlement agreement restores his reputation. Do you think that Lisa Solomon can ever be thought of as the “good cop” after all the evidence against her? And some of it is public record, and some of it I’ve seen myself. Lisa Solomon was a DARE officer and was then appointed as Police Chief. What do you say about that?


kayaknut

I do wonder if Mr. Tatro’s main purpose was financial or making the details public, (which a trial would have done)?, and since he settled, hmmmmmm. I do suppose it could have been “An offer he couldn’t refuse”, but it does leave the voters without their information.


standup

I guess it is time for a public records request so the public can see these “memos”. Jim App needs to go. This man could care less about the citizens of Paso Robles. What a pig.