Jim Hill on issues facing Arroyo Grande
September 30, 2014
OPINION By JIM HILL
Brown Act – California’s Ralph M. Brown Act, also known as the “open meetings act,” makes it illegal for a majority of the members of city councils, commissions or boards to converse on any topic under the group’s area of responsibility outside a public meeting.
It also strictly limits topics allowed in closed session meetings. This has proven necessary to eliminate the “back room deals” that otherwise get made without the knowledge of the public.
It is clear that the Arroyo Grande Council has disregarded the Brown Act in matters conducted in closed sessions under the guise of performance reviews. In the past, I’ve irritated other members of boards who routinely practiced such violations, by not contacting them outside of meetings. I am not here to gain four new buddies. I will strictly observe the Brown Act in conduct of city business.
Charter City – I am opposed to making Arroyo Grande a charter city due to the increase and concentration of power that would result. It is better when some powers are spread out and citizens retain more control.
Conflicts of Interest – As past South San Luis Obispo County Sanitation District Board member from Oceano, I recognized the conflict of interest then Administrator John Wallace had by assigning district engineering work directly to his own firm. My efforts to separate the contract for administration from that for engineering was opposed by Mayor Tony Ferrara (the longest tenured Board member) and Bill Nichols of Grover Beach until the SLO County Grand Jury investigation forced change.
Employees – Employees of the city have carried on providing high quality services while controversy engulfs the city manager, council and mayor. In point, the Arroyo Grande Police Department continues to provide exemplary service even though failures of city management and officials compelled a response that required as much courage as the police routinely exhibit on the job. Every Arroyo Grande resident owes our employees a vote of thanks.
Equal Treatment – I believe city laws and policies must be applied equally to all citizen, employee, administrator, and official alike. If laws and policies need change, officials have the capacity to do that. Favoritism and unwritten exemptions for the privileged undermine trust and morale and cannot be tolerated.
Term Limits – I support term limits because they are the most effective mechanism available to prevent elected and appointed officials from becoming too comfortable in their positions and slipping into patterns of privilege that no longer benefit the constituents or the city. I will immediately move to adopt eight-year maximum terms for city council and mayor, as well as appointed positions such as planning commissioners. Additionally, I believe certain city contracts should occasionally be reviewed and changed. For example, good financial practice requires that auditors be changed every three to five years. In Arroyo Grande, it is also clear a change in city attorney is timely.
I am humbled and honored that so many of you have asked that I run for mayor of Arroyo Grande. I am your qualified and registered candidate. If you agree that it’s time for change in Arroyo Grande, your choice is to write-in Jim Hill for Mayor on your blank ballot line under “City of Arroyo Grande – Mayor” and fill in the oval to the left of that line. If elected, I will represent your views and work to change city policies to avoid future derailments. I can be reached at 481-5654 and deeply appreciate your support.