Opportunities in voting for Arroyo Grande’s City Council candidates

September 12, 2016
LeAnn Akins

LeAnn Akins


Voting is an economic decision because the act of voting can be directly tied to the idea of opportunity costs.

Every choice we make involves the idea of “opportunity cost.” Whether we choose one ice cream flavor over another, to spend time watching a movie or reading a book, or choose one candidate over another in an election, our decision leads to choosing one thing over the next best alternative. The cost involved is that once you make a choice, you give up the other choice.

Most people view opportunity cost as a negative concept because it relates to having limited resources. The bottom line is that scarcity exists and because it exists, we can’t have everything we want, and in some instances, not everything we need. As a result, scarcity dictates that we make a choice. Others may not view opportunity cost with a positive lens because they don’t like the idea of having to give up something in order to have something else.

In voting, it is difficult to find the perfect candidate (the idea of scarcity), so we vote for the next best option (opportunity cost). The field of candidates for Arroyo Grande’s City Council election is much deeper than it has been in the recent past; five people are running for two available council seats. How do you decide which candidate is the next best alternative based on the field of candidates?

AG City Council 6

One option is to look at past voting records. Those are easy to obtain by reading the minutes of prior council meetings posted on the Arroyo Grande City Council Agenda webpage.

Two of the candidates have voting records having held appointed council seats and an appointed supervisor seat in the past and currently.  Mrs. Barneich recently voted to approve a budget for the fiscal year of 2016-2017 which runs at a deficit. This budget overspends by $300,000.

I am running to ensure that Arroyo Grande adopts budget and spending practices that are fiscally responsible.

Another option is to look at items they support outside of their voting record.

For instance, three of the current council members, Mrs. Barneich being one, use the health insurance plan through the city.  The total cost involved in this is roughly $36,000 per year.

Given that city council members are not employees of the city, should the citizens of Arroyo Grande pay for city council members’ insurance benefits?  Even though the council members may not have voted for this benefit to be in place, they are supporting its existence by using this benefit. If elected, I will make a motion to eliminate city insurance as a benefit for city council members.

Additionally, the public can look at items that were not supported by current candidates in their prior positions on the council.  The San Luis Obispo South County Sanitation District, the spill in Dec. 2010, and the subsequent lawsuit would be one such example.

Neither Barneich, nor Caren Ray found reason to support viewpoints or findings of the issues at the plant, that a full forensic audit was needed, and that the lawsuit against the Water Board was a waste of time and taxpayer money.

Ms. Ray questioned the validity of the SLO County Grand Jury report and did not feel it was necessary to pursue additional and more rigorous investigations stating that all recommendations made by the Grand Jury were being addressed and that the issues were a matter of public perception.

Lack of asking tough questions and action assisted in the accumulation of a 1.9 million dollar fine, when we could have initially paid $400,000 for the spill. Elected officials are tasked with being good stewards of the taxpayer money. This lack of support of the Grand Jury report and the lack of recognition the lawsuit was detrimental to the ratepayers does not support solid examples of good stewardship.

Given your choice at the ballot box means that you give up another choice, it is important you know what choices you are giving up (good or bad) and determine the best candidate to represent you and the City of Arroyo Grande.

I respectfully ask for your vote in the Arroyo Grande City Council election.  If you would like to connect with me directly, please call me at 805-710-0406.

Lee D

At Otis- (couldn’t get the reply in the string)

It is a matter of public record that John Mack did not dodge the advice of the city attorney, he ignored it. A far worse act.

He avoided censure for one reason “On Oct. 20, the FPPC informed Tompkins that because Mack had divested himself of any ownership in the property, he did not have a conflict of interest ”

He divested 6 hours before his vote. He lived in that property then and continues to today.

Yes, he broke the spirit of the law and more important, he broke the trust of the citizens.

The fact that Mayor Hill and Tim Brown did not stand up for integrity, honesty, and transparency is a disaster for our city and is not something we can accept as the new normal. Apparently LeAnn thinks this is just fine and that is a problem. We don’t know where Ken Sage stands on this but since he is managed by Tim Brown, it is reasonable to assume he stands on the side of public deception. If LeAnn or Ken want our trust, then they need to show they can handle the hard calls and stand up against those they may often agree with. That is what a leader is. Right now, LeAnn is just another bully running with the pack.


Lee D,

Very simply there was no conflict with Mack and the project at Courtland and Grand. The general plan amendment only applied to the site. It had no effect one way or another on the value of the home that Mack lives in, whether he owned it or not.

Let it go.

Measure John Mack on his merit as a public servant. Does he represent you? Are you in support of the projects he opposes? Therein lies the power of your vote. Pick someone with similar values as your. Someone who would vote the way you would if you were in that seat.

These are all non-partisan positions on the city council.

Why is looking like its dividing the city into blue and red burbs?

justice counts

On the subject of Ken Sage that was brought up here.

What do we really know about him and his decision making, that might give us the knowledge to consider him for a seat on the City Council? Not what he tells us, but how he would represent the best interests of the citizens of Arroyo Grande.

Did he mention his position in our community, when he made a decision as a RG HOA ARC member to support a group that held an illegal meeting, held, with only ten hours notice, given earlier in the day by phone, (breaking State Law, Davis Stirling Act, Meeting Notification).

The decision made at that meeting, allowed a homeowner (no drawing in view) to build a non-permitted large concrete deck 18 X 27 in his front yard, on a non-permitted raised grade (about 13 feet high Est).

The raised grade removed the necessary interceptor drainage ditch (Exhibit A Drainage in the CC&R’s 2.8) along the property line (175 feet long) which is a severe detriment to the uphill contiguous neighbor, blocking the drainage in an easement by the lower lot.

The minutes written by Ken Sage did not reflect the meeting that was held (documented).

The minutes were released very late, 43 days later (why), an informal meeting was recognized and rebutted, (documented) by the contiguous neighbor and an attorney letter.

The bottom line is, Ken Sage and his wife Mary, left the ARC, as did the ARC Chairman after the minutes were released concerning this illegal meeting. But the damage was and is done.


LeAnn says: “I would not take the city insurance…” Last I checked a retired school teacher gets a taxpayer paid pension WITH health care benefits. What a hypocrite.


Mayor Hill acted in good faith in behalf of a citizen constituent who was a low bidder on the matter. That is what Mayors do and should do. The uproar by certain Council members was a further indictment of their tactic to isolate and put the Mayor down. That is one example of the issue for the citizens — the majority that cast their right in votes for Hill — that is a key point in this coming election.

Lee D

Mayor Hill acted on behalf of a single constituent who contributed to his campaign, was a primary organizer of his campaign, is part of his inner circle and now advises and directs in his current campaign.

He advocated exclusively for this person and against an alternate business which will have economic impacts to the entire city. He did this using the full weight of his title as noted in the opening sentence of his letter “I am writing you as mayor of Arroyo Grande.” He did this secretively without the publics knowledge.

This is cronyism and back room dealings at its worst and is the very thing that he accused the former Mayor.

The city will not tolerate this dishonesty in our public officials. We were fooled by an unvetted write in candidate and we will make it right. Anyone who supports this behavior is no better.


And your proof is???? …… waiting.


Let’s be honest. Most of us know each other, either in real life or on the pages of CCN and FB.

I don’t hide behind a pseudonym and I don’t opine under the guise of an internet sock puppet.

LeAnn Akins is the real deal in Arroyo Grande.

She got involved some time back because she cares about our community. She researches, she weighs sides and she speaks up when she believes she has pertinent input.

Who would find that sinister? Who considers that bad for our city?

She knew no one when she first stood up. She wasn’t connected to bigwigs, movers & shakers, “the friend of”, “the daughter of” anyone. She was then and is now an Arroyo Grande resident. Being concerned doesn’t mean not being proud – I think caring enough to be concerned exemplifies being proud of our town.

Folks can fault her for not already being an elected official (or merely appointed, as some running are) but have YOU ever put your hat into the election ring? Have YOU stepped up to the public microphone, as a resident, to question issues close to us all?

Have you sat through San District meetings, parsed their agendas, questioned their spending? Railed against the insane legal bills and contracted work? Have you educated yourself on AG’s fiscal responsibility vis-a-vis the Five Cities Fire Authority? AG’s unfunded retirement budget concern? The level and scope of water for us in Lopez Lake, now and in the future? The amazing amount of “non-employee” personal medical insurance city council members enjoy? That the city council *majority* voted for an UN-balanced budget this year?

LeAnn is going to be a council person who does not *just* read a staff report as her sole education on a city issue. This whole “because staff told us, it must be true” group-think serves no one but those that do not want us to think for ourselves.

Arroyo Grande deserves a person who cares about all of us, who questions and who isn’t about being an “insider”.

Thank you LeAnn.


A Dury, that’s a wonderful description of someone working hard. Unfortunately, the record is showing LeAnn would use that hard work to perpetuate a lack of transparency, undermine the spirit of laws, and step on the public trust and continue divisiveness. When she is ready to stand up for what is right even when it is against her allies, then she will be ready for the dais

Lee D

Setting aside the confusing introduction to arrive at a means to attack the others you disagree with, you seem to argue that history (experience) matters, but then does not because you deserve a chance to show your skills. This duality is confusing in that you have argued elsewhere that The challenger for mayor is not qualified because of lack of experience but at the same time argue that it is uncivil to point out the mayor’s questionable history.

Lacking any public service history and only recently returning to Arroyo Grande, some who are against Waller, have suggested he should get his feet wet with a small appointment, like traffic or parks commission. Shouldn’t this also apply to you?

Thankfully we do have your numerous writings to see the “opportunity” provided in your view of how local government should work. Without question, you are a supporter of Mayor Hill. You have attacked those who don’t follow the mayor’s agenda.

You have accused Barbara Harmon of deceiving voters because she did not fall in line with the Hill agenda. This perpetuates the “if you are not with me, then you are my enemy” approach that has been the foundation of Mayor Hill’s leadership style as well as that of his followers. This is the driving issue behind those who call for a return to civility, something you apparently agree with only when people agree with your position.

You have on numerous occasions defended and tried to reframe the mayors use of his title and associated weight to gain favor for his friend and political supporter and coordinator, Beatrice Spencer. This speaks to your view on transparency, and the trust that the public places in its public officials. To pretend , as you have, that this is anything else than the Mayor using his position (without any public knowledge) to persuade a government agency toward a particular business, owned by his supporter, contributor, and now campaign advisor is manipulative at best. The letter clearly advocates against one business and for his friends. There is no honesty or transparency here, and you have stood beside it, not called it out.

You have taken the position that a public official does not have to follow the spirit of a law and long as he can find a way around the letter of it. You have stood beside John Mack while he dodged direct advice from city attorneys and conspired to avoid the letter of the law when he had a conflict on a project. Because he was able to dodge a FPPC censure by quick claiming away his house 6 hours before a vote does not mean he upheld the public trust. Is that the standard you find acceptable and will show us?

Leadership in our small town is not about doing everything just this side of illegal to get your way. We are a town of many ideas, values, and priorities, all which have equal right to be heard and discussed. We don’t need more bullies.

There is more, but the point is clear, if this is the level of conduct you stand for, then perhaps some ethics training and an advisory committee, then we can talk about who should have insurance.


To allege the Mayor used his position to persuade a government agency is an untruth. Further, John Mack did not dodge advice from City attorneys and did not avoid the letter of the law. A FPPC censure never ensued because there was no conflict. In questioning Leeann’s ethics, Lee D should question his own.



Please see the following sections of a letter the Mayor penned and then sent to the FTC attached here. It is hard to imagine how you or any unbiased observer not see this as a clear cut issue of using his position as Mayor to persuade and influence a government institution contrary to your claim.

Dear Chairwoman Ramirez, Commissioners and Staff, .

RECEIVED . .APR 14 2016


I am writing as Mayor of the City_ of Arroyo Grande, California (population 17,000), to express my concern regarding the effect of the Albertson’s-Von’s grocery store merger and associated divestiture on our community.

The Albertson’s store in Arroyo Grande was divested in favor of a Von’s location in our adjacent City of Grover Beach. The Albertson’s store in Arroyo Grande (Haggen’s Location #2152 at 1132 West Branc)1 Street), along with many others, was sold to a new operator, Haggen’s, who almost immediately went bankrupt and closed the store, leaving our city with no comprehensive traditional grocery store. The Von’s location in Grover Beach is now overstressed and there is a lack of options or competition in our area. Our residents have been greatly inconvenienced by the closing, which has resulted in our area being labeled a “food desert”, and have expressed the desire for the Albertson’s/Haggen’s location to reopen with a locally owned and operated full service grocery store. ·

·A local independent grocer, Spencer’s Fresh Markets, who operate comprehensive traditional grocery stores in Santa Maria and Morro Bay, California, have been diligently working to acquire the Arroyo Grande location and were reported to be the bidder of record at the Haggen’s bankruptcy proceeding last November. Notwithstanding, this location was “tabled” at the bankruptcy auction due to “lease issues” with Haggen’s and the store location remains vacant. I understand Al_bertson’s has been reacquiring many of their former locations, which would seem to violate the spirit of divestiture as directed by your Commission. In this regard, Albertson’s is now rumored to be negotiating to reacquire the Arroyo Grande location, when Spencer’s Fresh Markets is a viable alternative to the anti-competitive situation that led your Commission to require the original divestiture.

I would greatly appreciate your attention to the issue with the former Albertson’s/Haggen’s location in Arroyo Grande and the possibility to restore competition and vital access for our residents to a full service traditional grocery store at the earliest.


Jim Hill, Mayor

City of Arroyo Grande

300 East Branch Street Arroyo Grande, CA 93420

He states “I am writing as Mayor of the City_ of Arroyo Grande, California” and then goes on to say among many other things the following “I understand Al_bertson’s has been reacquiring many of their former locations, which would seem to violate the spirit of divestiture as directed by your Commission. In this regard, Albertson’s is now rumored to be negotiating to reacquire the Arroyo Grande location, when Spencer’s Fresh Markets is a viable alternative to the anti-competitive situation that led your Commission to require the original divestiture”.

From my perspective it is clear. He attempted to use his position as Mayor to feather the bed of a political crony and supporter, ultimately the detriment of the City.



I would encourage you to watch the recorded tape of the November 10, 2015 City Council meeting. On that tape John Mack states that he had never received a notice from the City Attorney stating that he had a conflict of interest and should step down. The City Attorney only a few minutes later rebuked Mack’s claim that she had indeed spoken with John and notified him of his conflict and then subsequently emailed him twice to insure that he understood. It is very clear on the tape unless you believe John and think that the City attorney is lying.

The FPPC decision to not act was based on the fact that John Mack on the day he was to vote had quit claimed his house to a girlfriend. Their (FPPC) purview was not capable of establishing the intent or purpose of the quitclaim and so did not fine Mr. Mack. Maybe it was just an extraordinary coincidence of timing and voting all happening on the same day after all, when absent a quitclaim he was clearly not following our City attorneys direction.

From my perspective the issue is not really as much with Mack, as he can sleep in his own bed however he chooses to make it, but instead is with the Mayor for failing to have the courage and decency to call Mack’s actions for what they were. It is a let down to the City.


Oh “civility”,

It is SO easy to hide being a pseudonym AND a keyboard, here on the world wide web.

Once you can back your typed out thoughts as a real flesh & blood person, I look forward to sharing adult conversation. See you then!


Skip Reily: Aside from pointing out the truth, which is not a negative truth–it is just truth, I have not stated anything negative. I have not rendered judgement, I have not castigated, or put down, or slandered anyone. I stated facts about prior actions and made a statement that voters have a choice to make. I understand that the truth is not always a pleasant thing, but it is something that is not disputable.

1 John 3:18 Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.

It is unfortunate that you must judge me and call me negative for sharing what is true and indisputable. Again, you do not have to support my candidacy–that is your choice, and again, the point of my opinion piece.

Lee D

It is interesting you quote the bible then adopt moral relativism in the John Mack case.

Wrong is wrong, not only when it suits your narrative.


I agree wrong is wrong, what Ferrara did to the city was wrong, his developers friends stole from the city, what is “friends” who still work for the city are doing is wrong. Barenich Guthrie and Harmon are wrong and as you say wrong is wrong.

Josey Wales


Do not vote for Caren Ray, she is a Adam Hill clone.

Do not vote for Kristian Barniech, she is a Adam Hill Clone.

Do not vote for Richard Waller, he has no experience as a leader. None.

Do not vote to re-elect Adam Hill, he is a clown. A total clown.

We have better choices than the above, thank God.

Just saying,



In response to Skip: One option is to look at past voting records when a person is choosing who to vote for and you are correct, I do not have one. However, that does not negate my ability to make good decisions and create a solid record. I didn’t have a successful business until I built one and I was not a successul teacher until I went and dedicated my entire being to that endeavor. One could say that you need to have the opportunity to prove yourself, so you can prove yourself. So, I am asking for that opportunity. It is your personal choice whether you give me the opportunity to do so.

I did not make a statement that my voting record would be superior, but I can tell you that I would have handled each example above very differently; I would not take the city insurance and if seated, I will work to take that option off the table. I can also tell you that I would not have deemed the issues at the San District issues of public perception. I would also have not voted in favor of a budget that was not balanced.

You can believe me or not–that is your choice. The only way I can convince you truly is to be seated and do what I say will do–that is factual, just as my examples are in my opinion piece. I, like any other canidate in this year’s election can ask for support—this was one avenue for me to do that. If you do not want to give me your support then don’t—again, your choice, and the point of my opinion. With every choice we make, we choose to give up something. Whether you want to acknowledge it or not, my campaign is being run on issues people have discussed with me in their living rooms and at their kitchen tables and that is the direction I tend to continue.

Skip Riley

I recommend you read monson’s post on logical fallacies posted under the Otis Page editorial. When you are done with that, take a look at this sentence of yours,

“One option is to look at past voting records”

How is yours? Oh, you don’t have one, and yet you are convinced that your voting record would have been superior?

Convince us.



You aren’t by any chance a member of that group running on the issue of civility, are you?

Skip Riley

Of course, because the only people who advocate civility are those who advocate civility? You have committed another logical fallacy similar to the ones expressed by Mr. Munson under the Otis Page editorial. This one is labeled as;

“tar somebody with the same brush”

that is to believe wrongly that someone or something has the same bad qualities as someone or something that is similar (usually passive)

Ya’ll need to brush up on the science of rhetoric.

back to something I said elsewhere, Happy contented people don’t go negative, unhappy people do. So when these kinds of posts and editorials are made, they say much more about the poster and or writer than they do about the subject of the post or editorial.


“Happy contented people don’t go negative, unhappy people do……… they say much more about the poster and or writer than they do about the subject of the post or editorial”, I’d have to disagree in your blanket statement and think it can not always apply to every editorial. Given the enormous amount of damage Ferrara and his gang did to the city of Arroyo Grande when one talks about it being a bit negative is inevitable but it does not mean the person making the comment is, as you put it “unhappy”

Skip Riley

Please list and document all of the “enormous amount of damage Ferrara and his gang did to the City of Arroyo Grande.


City Hall property swap for one, Sanitation District for two, Steve Adams for three, Tim Carmel for four, John Wallace for Five, Nick Tompkins for six… how many do you need?