Leftover shoe goo, yes, but who’s goo is it?

April 1, 2016

AG City Council 6


This letter is in response to Bob Cuddy’s March 24 opinion piece entitled “Leftover shoo goo.” While Mr. Cuddy has correctly identified there are issues presenting themselves within the City of Arroyo Grande and its city council, he has misidentified the reasons behind the issues.

Cuddy points only to two people, Mayor Jim Hill and Council Member Tim Brown and castigates them while doing so.

What people should know about Mayor Hill and Council Member Brown:

  1. They are concerned about their city.
  2. They invest in people, not in tactics which divide or limit a growth mind-set.
  3. They respect people because they take time to listen.
  4. They ask questions that should be asked of staff because they expect excellence and transparency.
Robert Cuddy

Robert Cuddy

Mayor Hill and Council Member Brown have worked tirelessly over the last year in asking tough questions of the South Sanitation District Board of Directors. They have worked to rectify the sanitation district dysfunction which has plagued the district for years.

The release of the long over-due independent audit completed by Carl Knudson in January 2016, revealed what was assumed regarding mismanagement and malfeasance over the course of two decades. Without their participation, and those of concerned and vocal community members, this audit would not have been completed, nor steps taken to remedy the past practices of the sanitation district.

Even Director Matt Guerrero spoke about the 180 degree turnaround at the plant. Mayor Hill and Council Member Brown have insisted on transparency in the books and the daily operations of the plant.

Mayor Hill and Council Member Brown asked important questions around who is responsible for setting a city council agenda. These questions have been raised because items Mayor Hill requested be added to the agenda were left off the agenda. Two examples of this include the Brisco exit closure and the performance review of Dianne Thompson, our City Manager.

Both items were later discussed during special meetings, costing the taxpayers of Arroyo Grande money. Money, consequently we do not have.

LeAnn Akins

LeAnn Akins

Public notices are required for any sort of public hearing. Questions were also raised about the notifications regarding the Brisco closure in particular. The question I have for Mr. Cuddy and others reading this is, what is wrong with civic leaders asking questions about processes and procedures, when the goal behind the question is to have the best outcome for the community?

Should our elected officials turn a blind eye when processes and procedures meant to protect and inform the public are being circumvented, ignored, or at best loosely followed?

Mayor Hill and Council Member Brown have also asked tough questions regarding the budget of the City of Arroyo Grande.

What people may not realize is that while we are meeting our expenses, we are doing so because we are dipping into our reserves. At one point, our reserves will run out; we cannot sustain our expenses with our current revenue or by using our reserves. Both Mayor Hill and Council Member Brown have requested that reason prevail and for the city and council to work together to find areas which need to be cut back.

Other members of the staff and council avoid this issue and ignore the reality of our budgetary gaps. I will remind readers that not many citizens were (or are) aware of the $17 million unfunded Pers liability as well as zero capital improvement funds set aside for the upkeep and maintenance of city owned properties and equipment until Mayor Hill was seated in November 2014.

Maybe readers are equally unaware of the fact that Director of Public Works Jeff English and his team at the city have created a detailed accounting of capital improvements needed within the city (this accounting is still in process). What is important to know is there is no money set aside for these improvements—this is goo left from many prior city councils and does not belong on the doorstep of Mayor Hill as a problem he created; it is one he inherited.

Aside from attempting to set the record straight and share examples of why Mayor Hill and Council Member Brown are examples of positive local leadership, I want to take an opportunity to state that we in Arroyo Grande have an opportunity to move forward—from November 2014 to today (and beyond). Are we going to continue to live in the past, or are we going to make a conscious choice to embrace and recognize positive changes that are present and that are still possible?

Our city has an opportunity to make needed changes in several areas and continue to embrace tradition that fosters community and Arroyo Grande as a small town. I hope as a community, we choose not to miss the opportunity. We have many challenges to face and we to face them together.

Finally, I would ask all readers to understand that while Mayor Hill has made changes which are positive, he has been able to accomplish these because others have backed his efforts. It takes more than one person to make a positive impact. Also know that when passing judgements about decisions made at the council level—it takes three votes for anything to move forward. Jim Hill 2

For any positive or negative action taken by the council, it is not an action taken by an individual, but by a group.

I would also comment on the idea of getting involved with the local political scene in Arroyo Grande is important for all residents to do, whether it is involvement by staying informed, by attending meetings, or by looking for opportunities to serve. We need people to share their time, knowledge, skills, and talents with our community in order to continue to grow and succeed as a city.

While members of our community have been ridiculed for their opinions, ideas, and participation, it is an important aspect of our democratic roots and one which we should take very seriously. People need to participate and rather than paying attention to voices that chide and attempt to derail public participation, we should all learn from the people who are getting involved in positive ways in our community.

Our community leaders need us to get involved and stay involved. Our community needs you to get involved and stay involved as well. If you want to get involved, but aren’t quite sure how, find me Facebook—I am sure we can find a way for you to get involved!

Look for opportunities to meet your neighbors and Mayor Hill at several events in the coming months.



  1. Ron says:

    I already know the “thumbs down” icon is going to get worn out with this take, but I actually LIKE Cuddy’s New Times columns.

    His bashing of his former employer, The Trib, in those columns, is great!

    For a choice example, I offer this link:


    … where Bob writes:

    “During the time I worked (at the Trib), the trembling, don’t-rock-the boat editor had turned the newsroom into a dreary, fallow pasture hoof-to-hoof in sacred cows: bovines with names like Blakeslee, Tourism, Wineries, Business in General (there may not be much school news, but there will always be a ‘Biz Buzz’), the Medical Profession, the Media, and the big milk cow, Status Quo.

    I’m hoping that will change, at least on the editorial pages (there is no hope for anything hard-hitting on The Tribune’s news pages under current management; buy me a drink and I’ll elaborate).

    That… is… beautiful!

    Oh, and, Bob? You have a deal! Stop by ol’ SewerWatch, click on my email link, and shoot me an email. Dude, beers are on me! I’d LOVE to hear you “elaborate” on that subject.

    By the way, now I’m curious. Is this a form of cognitive dissonance for CCN, and its readers?:

    CCN (and its readers), hates the Trib AND Bob Cuddy, and Cuddy now (post-Trib) writes things like, “there is no hope for anything hard-hitting on The Tribune’s news pages under current management.”

    So, now I’m confused. Does CCN (and its readers), hate Bob Cuddy because he writes things like this:

    “Adams’ enemies rode this rancid horse all the way to the ousting of Ferrara and the resignation of Adams.

    In this they were abetted by SLO County’s threadbare version of Fox News: Cal Coast News—and I apologize to Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity, and their fellow ideologues for the comparison.

    It depresses me to mention this so-called ‘news’ outfit, because CCN pants for the attention.

    … OR, do they love him, because he writes things like this:

    “During the time I worked (at the Trib), the trembling, don’t-rock-the boat editor had turned the newsroom into a dreary, fallow pasture…”


    (0) 28 Total Votes - 14 up - 14 down
  2. FreeAGCouncil.com says:

    Wha wha wha.
    The Tony Gang cries.
    Let us not forget the AGCouncil who could not discipline their own City Manager, after using the City Hall as a sobering Center.

    Oh yes: and best of all Councilwoman HARMON with her assinine assault on a citizen volunteer to hash out personal issues in PUBLIC.

    For this, the goo is on the incumbents who need to retire and move on.
    The record of the old guard is one of tar and feathers left on their boots as they go kicking and screaming claiming their transparency and innocence.

    (15) 29 Total Votes - 22 up - 7 down
    • horse_soldier says:

      Interesting isn’t it, that the newest Councilmember has aligned herself with those who are responsible for much of the mess in Arroyo Grande?

      (10) 16 Total Votes - 13 up - 3 down
      • kayaknut says:

        Most of us know voting for Ms. Harmon wasn’t so much because we thought she was going to be better, it was more of a “NO” vote for one of Tony’s cronies, Costello. We may of had hope she would actually support the voters but we have learned that is not the case. At this point we are just waiting for the next election to get rid of Guthrie and Barneich and then Harmon’s votes will be meaningless.

        (6) 12 Total Votes - 9 up - 3 down
        • surferdude says:

          NEVER, NEVER, FORGET Councilmember HARMON’s insistence to bring a PUBLIC PERSECUTION of a citizen (which would have not even occurred for an employee or an elected official) and then do a 180 degree turnaround from her comments (along with Barneich & Guthrie) to say he’s OK now, we just wanted to throw slings and arrows to him.

          SHAME on them and I will ALWAYS bring this to the VOTER’s ATTENTION!!

          (8) 12 Total Votes - 10 up - 2 down
    • surferdude says:

      So… will the more experienced members of the City Council be able to agenize the goals for the City Manger yet? This is not a closed session item folks.

      (8) 8 Total Votes - 8 up - 0 down
  3. Julie says:

    Cuddy’s piece refers to and relies on a letter sent by the city’s insurance company to the Mayor suggesting criticism of staff in public constitutes a “hostile work environment.” Using the California Public Records Act, I have obtained two letters, the first was sent by an Assistant Executive Officer of that insurance company. A subsequent letter from the Executive Chief Officer of that same insurance company back peddles from that position and apologizes, saying “I am truly sorry that this may have been misconstrued…”
    The ECO reiterates their offer of assistance to the city by facilitating a workshop in the future.

    IMO, this matter never would have reared its head if City Manager, Dianne Thompson, had adhered to the letter of her contract where it expressly sates “The City and Manager SHALL (emphasis mine) also meet within forty-five (45) days following the start date of Manager to establish agreed upon performance goals for the first year of employment, and SHALL thereafter meet annually in July to review the Manager’s performance and update goals, subject to a process, form, criteria and format mutually agreed upon by City and Manager.”

    This critical meeting, early on, did not take place and set the tone for the city manager to establish different priorities than those of the council.

    The recent series of Closed Session Performance Review’s over the last month hopefully will have been successful in setting the priorities as seen by the council, not just those of its manager and staff.

    Cuddy’s wife is on staff of the AG City, he has a conflict in this regard and his letter peppered with stale and misinformation should be ignored.

    (22) 44 Total Votes - 33 up - 11 down
  4. HarryMalone says:

    And never has been.

    (3) 5 Total Votes - 4 up - 1 down
  5. LeAnn says:

    I just wanted to clarify why I chose to write a response at all. It was not to call out Mr. Cuddy. It was to inform people and invite people to join others in Arroyo Grande who are working to ensure transparency in local government. Together we can make a difference in our community. Together we can make our community stronger. I hope everyone has a great weekend.

    Look for press releases on an effort to assist a resident of Arroyo Grande to keep her home from going into foreclosure. There is a benefit sale scheduled to take place on the 9th and 10th of April. More information to come. If you have items to donate, time to donate, or money to donate, please connect with me on Facebook.

    (16) 36 Total Votes - 26 up - 10 down
  6. Otis says:

    I do not know Cuddy. I measure him by his past grossly unfair critique of the AG City Council published in the New Times. Cuddy appears to prove the theorem that error propounds error. His critique – namely that of Mayor Hill and distinguished Council member Brown – is warped with inaccuracies and bias. Tacker’s and Adkin’s rebuttals in CCN are classic and serve the facts on the matter.

    (23) 47 Total Votes - 35 up - 12 down
  7. Slosum says:

    Good response… but none necessary. Cuddy needs to be ignored. He’s a nasty old has- been who never was… and still isn’t.

    (45) 69 Total Votes - 57 up - 12 down

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