Ray brings boyfriend into political fray

May 1, 2014

ethicsBy JOSH FRIEDMAN and KAREN VELIE

A San Luis Obispo County supervisor currently running for election has used her political position to further the career of her boyfriend, in violation of an ethic’s policy.

Last October, Governor Jerry Brown appointed Caren Ray to the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors to fill a seat vacated by the death of Supervisor Paul Teixeira. Ray is currently running for election to keep her seat on the board.

Prior to joining the board of supervisors, Ray served on the Arroyo Grande City Council. As a member of the council in Jan. 2013, Ray skirted the city’s ethics policy and appointed her boyfriend, Arroyo Grande architect Randy Russom, to the city architectural review committee (ARC).

An Arroyo Grande ethics policy prohibits any decision making by government officials that even appears to create a conflict of interest. The policy strictly forbids making decisions that relate to financial interests or personal relationships.

“Officials and employees shall not use their official positions to influence government decisions in which they have a material financial interest or where they have an organizational responsibility or personal relationship that may give the appearance of a conflict of interest,” the policy states.

Still, Ray said she did nothing wrong by appointing her boyfriend to the ARC.

“There is no conflict, there was no gain for me,” Ray said.

Caren Ray

Caren Ray

Just a few months after Ray appointed her boyfriend to the ARC, San Luis Obispo architectural firm RRM Design hired Russom, according to a post on his Facebook page. In addition to doing architectural work, RRM provides land use consulting services and often brings projects before the board of supervisors and city councils in the area.

In October, Arroyo Grande Councilman Joe Costello appointed Russom to the Arroyo Grande Planning Commission.

Ray said that on her second day with the board of supervisors, she spoke with County Counsel Rita Neal about her relationship with Russom. Neal informed her that she could vote on matters pertaining to RRM, so long as Russom is not working on the project, Ray said.

Neal did not respond when asked for confirmation. Neal’s county email said she is currently out of the office.

Ray and Russom have been dating for at least a few years and are now living together, according to multiple sources. On March 18, Ray purchased an Arroyo Grande home where the couple now resides.

On March 4, 14 days before the closing of Ray’s home, the Arroyo Grande Planning Commission meeting minutes note an administrative decision to designate her recently purchased home as historical. Because of the Mill’s Act, this decision is slated to significantly lower Ray’s property taxes.

State law prohibits officials from making any governmental decisions on issues in which a party involved has a shared investment or interest in real property. Government Code Section 18730 bars office holders from deciding on any issue when a conflict of interest of such has surfaced within 12 months of the hearing.

Multiple requests for a copy of the San Luis Obispo County’s ethic’s policy to the board of supervisors, county council, and the county clerk recorder’s office over several days were unsuccessful. However, several employees responded noting that they were attempting to find the document.

During the past few years, questions about officials violating conflicts of interest codes have arisen because of the romantic relationships of two other county supervisors.

Board chairman Bruce Gibson has dated his legislative aide Cherie McKee for several years, and Supervisor Adam Hill is engaged to Dee Torres, the homeless services manager for the Community Action Partnership of San Luis Obispo, for which the supervisors approve millions of dollars of funding.

Gibson hired and rehired McKee as his aide, a position that pays a base salary of $70,000 a year. Hill has advocated that the board increase the homeless services funding to CAPSLO while decreasing the amount of support given to competing organizations.

But, Neal has exonerated both supervisors of any wrongdoing and of failing to recuse themselves when they had conflicts of interest.

In addition to creating a looming conflict of interest, Ray has left Arroyo Grande with an advisory body member who has admitted to financial misconduct.

Shortly before meeting Ray, Russom went through a divorce. During the end of the marriage, Russom took loans and credit cards out in his then wife’s name swindling her out of almost $100,000 she inherited following the death of her father, according to notarized statements signed by Russom.

“I have forged her name to use her checks and signed for credit cards she knew nothing about,” Russom says in a notarized security document he signed at the time claiming he planned to pay his wife back. “I, Randy Russom, have stolen, cheated and lied to my wife.”

Russom did not respond to a request for comment.


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pasodowny

Caren Ray has the ethically-challenged Gibson and the bumbling bully buffoon Hill as mentors. This is predictable. And sad. Gawd we deserve change.


r0y

Lots of people were hoping for change for the last six or seven years, and look where that’s gotten us. To paraphrase the late, great Burgess Meredith:

“You can crap in one hand, and hope for change in the other… and see which one fills up first”


kettle

“late, great Burgess Meredith”


No, he did not, please stop trying to bring up Obama.


Pelican1

San Luis Superhero”s…


Cop-u-Later, Adulterator, and Medallion Man….

Biff! Boom! Pow!


Pelican1

OK…OK..Three Stooges.


Nancy

ROFLMAO – I can’t believe this, she is really on our Board of Supervisors?


“And while Ray, a Santa Maria High School social sciences teacher, contends this is just normal adult activity, her comments about drinking in public places such as the Arroyo Grande Wal-Mart parking lot, sex on the running trail and her students’ drinking has caused some to question her ability to represent the city.”


IT GETS BETTER:


“Earlier this year, another Yahoo message string starts with the posting of a man’s bare butt with the word “bitch’ welted or stamped into the skin three times. While the picture says “by SLO-Cop-You-Later,” Ray contends someone else posted the photo.


Next on the string, Stubby Python asked, “Where is my phone, where is my hair, why do I have a black eye and what the f**k is stamped on my ass?”


Ray responded by telling Stubby Python she could clear up his questions.


“That’s not your ass,” Ray said. “Yours was tied to a pole with a five dollar bill stuck in your crack.”


Ray told CalCoastNews her postings were in reference to a birthday party she attended with people she has known for 30 years and that her comments should have been kept private.”


UNBELIEVABLE


Kevin Rice
Kevin Rice

I particularly like the line, “[my] comments should have been kept private.” Right! Because Caren thought the INTERNET is a private forum!!! Oops. Clerical error.


kayaknut

I’m sure Donald Sterling was thinking the same thing, but now his comments were in the privacy of home, certainly the internet is more private than your home??????


Kevin Rice

Better check with Al Gore, the inventor, just to be sure.


Cindy
Kevin Rice

One might finger Jerry Brown, but that would leave out Ferrara, Costello, et al. who elevated her to the A.G. City Council in the first place.


SLOBIRD

Don’t forget that Adam Hill personally went to Sac and made the request for Ms Ray. But then we all know that she is independent of Adam Hill. RIGHT!


Kevin Rice

Ding!


Cindy

Signed bu the live in boyfriend of Caren Ray!


“I have forged her name to use her checks and signed for credit cards she knew nothing about,” Russom says in a notarized security document he signed at the time claiming he planned to pay his wife back. “I, Randy Russom, have stolen, cheated and lied to my wife.”


Oh brother, Ray is not emotionally competent to be making important decisions for the rest of us. The above say’s it all.


MaryMalone

No kidding. It seems the only way a majority of our county supervisor’s can get laid is to get some total loser a job at the taxpayers’ expense.


Cindy

It gets worse Mary. Remember the story about the Hash Hound Harriers and the woman who was appointed to the AGCC. That wild child was Caren Ray. I just found out when Kevin Rice posted the moniker that Ray use to use “SLO-Cop-You-Later.


I can’t believe she ever got appointed to the BOS to begin with. This is a woman who brags about getting drunk and people ending up naked and waking up with their ass branded after drinking jello shots in the Wal-Mart parking lot. Yeah that’s what she does for fun on weekends. I suppose the way she gets her kicks is her own business but could we please have all seats on the BOS represented by an adult mentality?


I’m looking for the link to the original story now.


Lewy

Randy Russom? I don’t know him from Adam – if you get my drift.


MaryMalone

I think it would be more accurate to say you don’t know Rossoman from Dee Torres or Cherie Mc Kee.


MaryMalone

Correction: Rossom (Kindle word sub error).


JB Bronson

You view is myopic Jorge. Dude accepted the appointment knowing where it came from and he is responsible for that.


It may not be illegal according to the letter of the law, just like Gibson and his girl-friend working for him in the same office, Hill and Torres? there was a conflict of interest there no doubt, but it won’t materialize that way in this County.


So while it may not be illegal, it is not the way the larger public wants to do business in this County.


Jorge Estrada

I don’t know Randy Russom and I would not vote for Ray but I will ask for an apology for this press. He is not married and is not running for public office and guilty by association doesn’t work here.


Kevin 99

No rules have been violated. It would be a waste of everyone’s time to file a complaint with the FPPC–and especially a waste of time for the FPPC employees who would have to spend time rolling their eyes before responding to this claptrap.


You can actually study the issue by googling “AB 1234 Ethics Compliance.” You will find any number of sites that will explain the issue truthfully, as opposed to what you may read in, er, “other” places……


Kevin Rice

SLOH3 is going to have to call for an emergency disaster hash to serve up some down-downs on their Supervisor with a running [for election] problem. Looks like SLO-Cop-You-Later is in need of new campaign mis-management to keep her on-on the trail. Her ousting by the electorate could be dubbed the “Redress Run”.


Cindy

OMG, As soon as I saw your “SLO-Cop-You_Later” reference, I was reminded of the hysterically funny story that CCN ran a few years back about the “Hash House Harriers” and the person who had been appointed to the AG city council. I wondered if that person had been Ray as it’s been a while since that article came out? Low and behold, it’s her, Caren Ray! How the hell did this wild child who runs with a bunch of drunks, drinks jello shots in Wal-Mart parking lots and posts outrageous comments under the moniker “SLO-Cop-You_Later” ever end up on our BOS to begin with? This is an outrage, we have an outlandish teenage minded party girl on the BOS with a boyfriend who is an admitted thief, guilty of forgery and grand theft to the tune of over100K. How is that even reasonable?