A reckoning for Councilman John Ashbaugh
October 29, 2014
By KAREN VELIE
In the aftermath of San Luis Obispo Councilman John Ashbaugh’s public tirade that included violating open meeting laws, San Luis Obispo City staff announced plans to discuss the violations at the Nov. 10 council meeting.
Following months of lobbying by several developers and San Luis Obispo County Supervisor Adam Hill to override of the airport land use commission, Councilman Dan Carpenter wanted clarification of the issue in open session before making his decision. Ashbaugh then violated the Ralph M. Brown Act by chastising Carpenter for not asking the city attorney questions in a previous closed session meeting.
The Ralph M. Brown Act was enacted in 1953 to insure that deliberations by government officials be conducted openly while permitting public participation. Closed session meetings are only permitted in order to privately discuss threats of legal action, employee discipline, and salary or payment negotiations. It is a violation of the law to discuss closed session negotiations outside of closed session.
Nevertheless, Ashbaugh chastised Carpenter for not having addressed his concerns in an earlier closed session meeting, violating the confidentiality of the closed session.
Ashbaugh’s violation of the Ralph M. Brown Act:
Ashbaugh was pushing for an override of the airport land use commission that would allow for high-density residential development on the south side of town. One of the projects in the area is developer Gary Grossman’s bid to build high-density housing on the property he has in escrow with rancher Ernie Dalido. Grossman has donated large sums of money to supervisors lobbing for the override and several city council members who recently voted in favor of the change.
Both the airport commission and the aeronautical division of CalTrans have hinted at suing the city over the proposed developments because of safety issues. Carpenter questioned how a vote to override the commission could legally impact the city at the public meeting.
Amid Ashbaugh’s tirade, Councilwoman Carlyn Christianson attempted to calm him down, Ashbaugh responded by screaming at Christianson.
Ashbaugh’s outburst at Christianson:
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