Arroyo Grande city manager a bad fit

June 27, 2016
Julie Tacker

Julie Tacker


Arroyo Grande should say goodbye to Dianne Thompson as its city manager.

Over the course of her short tenure, she has been unapproachable and standoffish. Public records reflect Thompson was unwilling to meet with members of the public and even refused to meet with a planning commissioner.

Thompson repeatedly asked citizens to put their concerns  in writing before she would determine whether or not she would speak with them.

Only recently, she took a page out of Mayor Jim Hill’s playbook, where he has had some neighborhood “coffee with the mayor” chats. Thompson held a couple of “coffee with the city manager” where she’s met with a handful of residents and business owners to discuss their concerns about the city.

Early on, Thompson violated her contract by failing to have a goal setting session with her council by her 45th day on the job. An early goal setting session would have been helpful in setting the city’s priorities as the council (her boss) sees them.

When she was finally forced to have her contract required six-month review, in her eighth month of employment, she hired a facilitator to perform the review. This was the job of the council and it came at a cost of nearly $5,000 to the cash-strapped city. Later, when she decided to follow through on goal setting, she again hired a facilitator — to do her job. Final cost yet to be determined.

Thompson has been divisive, rather than placing matters of importance to Mayor Hill on the agenda, she sought a consensus of the council to give her direction.

The mayor has legislative authority to hold a special meeting to have an item heard. To force his hand, having to call a special meeting, is time consuming and as such is a costly maneuver for the city. Only once or twice did Mayor Hill exercise that ability, had Thompson simply put the items on the agenda, the items could have been thoroughly considered and not in haste.

Thompson did not take kindly to constructive criticism, when the mayor and Councilman Tim Brown (two of her bosses) challenged her in public on the Brisco Road closure, somehow the city’s insurance company’s assistant executive director wrote a scathing letter to the mayor suggesting he and Brown’s comments “…made in a public setting could lead to allegations of harassment and a hostile workplace at your city. We consider these practices, if continued, to be serious in nature and inconsistent with good governance.”

A second letter from the insurance company, this time from its chief executive officer, quickly back tracked from that statement.

The city has been suffering without tax revenue from the former Haggan grocery store. The building has been empty since mid-November. The mayor took a lot of grief for writing a letter to the Federal Trade Commission in February expressing his personal views about the vacancy.

It’s important to note that Hill’s views mirror those of the majority of the council; all are concerned about the lost revenues to the city.

Further investigation using the California Public Records Act, showed Thompson was untruthful in answering an Arroyo Grande citizen’s question about the grocery store vacancy.

“We have been doing outreach to property owners, the leasing company and potential tenants for the vacant Haggen’s site since last fall,” Thompson said.

Yet, Thompson’s emails and calendar don’t begin to reflect interest in the empty store issue until mid-April.

Arroyo Grande can do better. The council can make lemons into lemonade — move on, get down to the business of setting goals and buckle down to tackle the important issues such finances, water, sewer, fire and police protection, parking and traffic.




  1. Pelican1 says:

    The Kool-Aid is laced with hypocrisy.

    (2) 6 Total Votes - 4 up - 2 down
  2. AGDUDE says:

    Nannahh Nan AHH ..GOOD BYE!… oh yea! good bye!!!

    (2) 8 Total Votes - 5 up - 3 down
  3. kayaknut says:

    Also finally time to get rid of Teresa McClish.

    (4) 26 Total Votes - 15 up - 11 down
  4. SloHeadInTheSand says:

    Hire Steve Adams back…just don’t give him keys to city hall.

    (-5) 21 Total Votes - 8 up - 13 down
    • panflash says:

      Well, let’s not rush to pop any champagne corks just yet.

      Let’s keep in mind that Peckham and McKenney recommended her above all the other candidates for the job, and then the Council went ahead and hired her in the first place.

      Now, it’s time for somebody to step up and make damn sure that Arroyo Grande gets the competent qualified effective city manager that they deserve.

      (1) 11 Total Votes - 6 up - 5 down
      • kayaknut says:

        And here’s a new idea, have the starting salary much lower than the previous salary with raises as the person proves themselves by their quality of work.

        (9) 15 Total Votes - 12 up - 3 down
  5. T-Bone says:

    You should read the comments at the end of this article from when she announced that she was going to “resign” her position in Cotati. She was practically run out of town.

    (5) 15 Total Votes - 10 up - 5 down
  6. AGDUDE says:

    Your Kidding Right… Vote all the Joker’s out… You see there I was polite..

    (4) 20 Total Votes - 12 up - 8 down
  7. mej says:

    How much will it cost to buy her off/out?

    (17) 31 Total Votes - 24 up - 7 down
    • Julie says:

      Depending on whether or not the council can negotiate something else, the contract with Thompson calls for six month severance.
      Six months of butting heads is more costly than amicably parting ways.
      Additionally, there’s also a one time replacement provision in the contract with Peckham & McKinney (the recruiting firm) that will have them replace Thompson at no charge, but for their expenses.
      What the council needs to do in the future is have a probationary period with goal setting sessions and performance reviews that take place before the CM is eligible for a severance.

      (16) 44 Total Votes - 30 up - 14 down
      • kayaknut says:

        She didn’t meet the terms of her contact, fire her with cause, no severance

        (36) 52 Total Votes - 44 up - 8 down
      • mej says:

        Thanks Julie, for this article. Too many of our public officials are only in their jobs for the money. While we all expect to be compensated because we have to pay our bills, there is no room for anyone who does not have a passion for doing what is right and doing it in an ethical moral way.

        (7) 31 Total Votes - 19 up - 12 down
      • smile4thecamera says:

        The city didn’t doesn’t have a probationary period in the job description? Wow.

        (12) 16 Total Votes - 14 up - 2 down

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