Waller’s mayoral candidacy versus Mayor Hill

September 8, 2016
Mayor Jim Hill

Mayor Jim Hill


Retired school teacher Richard Waller is from a well known Arroyo Grande family with deep roots. His mother, now deceased, was active in the South County Historical Society and was a prominent voice in establishing the present agricultural policies of the City of Arroyo Grande, hence, the society’s support of Waller.

The society is made up with serious and good people who admired past Mayor Tony Ferrara and were very disappointed when he lost in a close and surprising election to write-in candidate Jim Hill.

Waller’s candidacy benefits from this backing. But he may also suffer its burden. Ferrara as Mayor did many positive things but he also had a record of substantial controversies, many being the result of scars accumulated after a 16-year tenure.

“The evil that men do lives after them; the good is oft interred with their bones,” William Shakespeare wrote. So be it with Ferrara.

It is a foreboding reality that the city is divided on the Ferrara matter because of the incident leading to his defeat, the “cover up” of the former city manager Steve Adams incident. If Waller prevails and is elected mayor he will have won under the cloud of political division that led to the write-in election of Jim Hill two years ago.

Both Waller and Hill are excellent individuals where the weight in this election favors Hill. Why?

It is a fact mayor candidate Richard Waller has no formal elected background in city politics. Where Jim Hill’s is extensive as proven by his outstanding initiative on the South San Luis Obispo County Sanitation District issue, his leadership in challenging the Brisco Interchange matter and his past experience as a member of the Oceano Community Services District Board. His two year experience as Mayor exemplifies why he deserves another two years given his willingness to serve.

Richard Waller

Because of his inexperience, it appears Waller’s main tactic is to criticize the performance of incumbent Mayor Jim Hill. In an article published Aug. 15, 2015 announcing Richard Waller’s candidacy for mayor of Arroyo Grande, “Waller said he’s running for mayor to bring back true transparency and civility in city government, while working to ensure the economic vitality of the city into the future.”

This opinion piece offers a critique of Waller’s candidacy considering Waller’s arguments on transparency, civility and ensuring economic vitality:


Given that Waller’s use of the word “transparency” means being “open and frank” as it pertains to disclosures by the City of Arroyo Grande or any council member, including the mayor, the following facts apply:

First of all, the city’s web site – that I believe was developed and sustained by Kelly Whitmore , the city clerk — is excellent. The web site provides substantial facts regarding the city’s administration, meeting agendas, minutes of meetings, video recordings of meeting, and detailed financial information all placed in current and historical contexts. No lack of transparency here.

Second, through the  city’s legal counsel, the AG City Council as a whole and individual council members closely abide by the Brown Act and other state administrative provisions. Again, there is no lack of transparency here.

The major exception – provided for in law – is the practice of closed sessions which typically apply to personal matters, legal matters, and union negotiations. Limited transparency limited by state law. See California Code 54957

The city’s business is transparent to its citizens. To construe that transparency does not prevail may be the complaint of certain citizens during public comment at city meetings following the Brown Act. This may occur where citizens making comments are limited to three minutes, a meeting procedure instituted by Ferrara.

The practice of three minutes is considered enough time to make one’s point with some exceptions based on the discretion of Mayor who presides over the meeting. Otherwise, some people tend to “bloviate” making their points.


Because of his obvious lack of political background as a candidate, Waller exercises “ad hominine” attacks criticizing Mayor Hill. This is a tactic that he ironically professes to reject. But, in a contradiction they are applied by him to bolster his candidacy.

Richard Waller’s statement posted on Facebook Aug. 22:

“Ad hominem (Latin for “to the man” or “to the person”[1]), short for argumentum ad hominem, is a logical fallacy in which an argument is rebutted by attacking the character, motive, or other attribute of the person making the argument, or persons associated with the argument, rather than attacking the substance of the argument itself” Attacks on the various persons running for City Council have already started. Each one of these attacks demonstrates clearly why I am running for Mayor. For that, I thank the attackers.

“They are demonstrating clearly the lack of civility that brought me to the race. My platform includes this position;  Ensure that all persons, including, city council, city staff and residents are respected.

“Reading the Ad Hominem attacks is like listening to the mean girls in ‘Romy and Michelle’s High School Reunion’, and we know how that turned out! Disagreeing with policy, or the ideas that a particular candidate has is a necessary part of our political system. Attacking an individual is a cancer that will destroy our democracy. My request to the attackers, to the commenter’s on the various online media, to those who appear at our City Council meetings, is to be civil (POLITE, COLD AND FORMAL), to avoid attacking any person, to respect all. Each ad hominem attack on any candidate is a strong statement for my candidacy.”

Again, this statement is a contradiction in Waller’s candidacy. While professing to be civil and advocating civility Waller attacks Hill based on allegations that appear to be politically contrived and unfounded.

Ensuring economic vitality

Even in good times there are economic swings of ups and downs. But in the present phase of the area’s economic vitality the city is subject to the drought implications of California’s flowering desert. Economic vitality is impacted by the present water drought.

The specific manifestation here is that while farmer’s wells go dry, resident lawns turn brown and drastic measures are made to conserve the drying puddle that serves Arroyo Grande at Lake Lopez, the consequences of a development moratorium, and its effects on retarding economic vitality, is both real and necessary. Otherwise this small Ship of State, the Arroyo Grande, will sail onto the rocks made obvious by the declining waters that sustain it. Economic Vitality bows to Mother Nature with the absence water.

In conclusion

Waller’s allegation asserting Hill is demoralizing the staff, concluding the staff has a morale problem, ignores the cause of the real problem. It was the new city manager that was the issue, Mayor Hill in fact responded to staff concerns to correct the recent city manager situation.

Waller’s allegations of transparency, civility and economic vitality issues miss the mark as stated above. Waller’s candidacy misses the points on the real problems facing the Arroyo Grande City Council including issues regarding water, excess development during the draught period, traffic and budgetary concerns because of union actions.

The political challenge facing the citizens of Arroyo Grande is to preserve the momentum of change and quest for good government as instituted in the last election. Hill should be reelected with the election of other candidates to the city council that will acknowledge Hill’s leadership such as council candidates John Mack and Leeann Akins. Without that the city faces continued controversy and a real demoralized staff. It is time to move on!


We have followed Mr. Hill since he was elected to the OCSD. We found there is drama wherever he goes. We will not be voting for him and suggest anyone who is interested in voting for him check with those who were on the OCSD board when he was there.


Respectfully regarding semonson’s comment: The author, while commenting on my Opinion. is interested “logical fallacies” he dismisses the fact that an opinion is a view somebody takes about an issue based on personal judgment, a belief or attitude about something that isn’t necessarily based on facts.

The author may disagree with my judgments but to attribute that view to be a logical fallacy may be considered a logical fallacy. I do.

This is not an issue of logic – it is one of a well founded political opinion. What are the facts? It is a fact there is a consensus that the members of the Historical Society favored Ferrara and back Waller today.

While the author states “Ferrara’s controversies have literally nothing to do with Waller’s campaign,” there is a consensus that Waller’s support is from Ferrara admirers who were surprised and upset over Hill’s write-in vote election. That there is a consensus that Waller would not be running except as encouraged by them and this factually includes a backing by specific members of the City Council that are opposed to Hill.

The issue of tradition as argued by the author ignores the reality that. Hill’s experience is substantial and Waller’s is not. Further, the issue of transparency is the fact the affairs of the city are transparent and to say they are not is not correct. Regarding personal attacks there is factual evidence that Waller has personally attacked Hill. He did so at the Forum and he has done so personally with others. I like Waller but I believe he is wrong in his assessment of Hill’s record.

Where the author claims my conclusion is logically irrelevant I say it is relevant in the context of my personal opinion and judgment having lived here and being involved in City matters over 25 years. In conclusion the author asks, “Will Waller be an acceptable mayor in the face of an incumbent mayor?”, I say based on experience the answer is no. I say on fairness given Hill’s record the answer is no. I say this affirming Waller is a very attractive future candidate, but not today

Finally I say I do not need a course in logic to form my political opinion. If that was a requirement Democrats would be barred from voting. The author may fairly disagree with me being a Waller supporter but using a “logical fallacy” argument defiles logic and the best tradition of politics where logic bows to common sense and power of political persuasion.


In response to Skip Riley’s reply to StakeHolder: (for some reason, hitting the reply button on specific posts isn’t working for me, so I apologize for being out of order!)

In this case, “Arroyo Grande area” does refer to Santa Maria, as no Waller has been born in Arroyo Grande. Mr. Waller’s parents moved from Santa Maria to Arroyo Grande with their 4 children in the early 60’s. They did farm AG and have history here, as stated, tho.

You wrote “I think it is important to know your facts before posting”………..I totally agree, and I would not assume that just because someone writes something and posts it, it is all fact. Have you fact checked his bio?

Now you can argue that just being enlisted could have put one’s “butt” on the line in the Vietnam era, and is commendable, but the phrasing “Vietnam Era” implies he did not see combat and his “butt” was never on the line.

You also wrote “Critical thinking and reasoning skills are handy things to have”, again I totally agree. It makes sense to question things and dig a little deeper, and not take things at face value. One can write and use wording to imply certain things, one can delete things they don’t want to come to light. I guess politics on all levels, has left me questioning anything I read about any politician, especially if self written.

Skip Riley

Denigrating the service of a Veteran, is low, even for Cal Coast posters.

Every Veteran knows that when you sign your enlistment papers, you “put your butt on the line”. Every non Veteran knows that too, which is why they didn’t.


After reading this article, I was especially interested in the discussion of logical fallacies. It struck me upon careful consideration that although the concept of fallacies has been used against Waller in this piece, this article is rife with them. To be clear, a fallacy is a statement that might seem reasonable upon first glance, but is actually flawed or dishonest when viewed with a more careful eye.

Let’s start at the beginning.

The author points out that a group that backs mayoral candidate Richard Waller, the South County Historical Society, also backed former mayor Tony Ferrara. Page goes on to loosely tie these two ideas together by explaining that Ferrara’s time as mayor was full of controversy, and attempts to link Waller’s candidacy with these controversies, simply because both Waller and Ferrara have support of the same group. This is a classic form of “non causa pro causa,” or more simply understood as the difference between correlation and causation. Ferrara’s controversies have literally nothing to do with Waller’s campaign, and yet they are unfairly and falsely connected in this article. The reader is meant to believe that because of the backing of the same group, Waller’s campaign must be full of controversy as well. This argument is logically fallacious, as correlation does not equal causation. The backing of SCHS does not equal a controversial campaign.

Next we find an “appeal to tradition”, the fallacious idea that a premise must be true because people have always followed or believed it. The author attempts to pit Waller’s relative inexperience against Hill’s admittedly long list of accomplishments. It is statistically true that incumbent politicians are more likely to be reelected, but it is fallacious to believe that just because someone is already in office, they must be the best bet going forward. As logical beings, we realize that the way we have always done things is not always the best way.

In Page’s discussion of the apparent rampant transparency in the city government, he jumps to a conclusion concerning why some citizens may accuse the government of not being transparent. “To construe that transparency does not prevail may be the complaint of certain citizens during public comment at city meetings following the Brown Act. This may occur where citizens making comments are limited to three minutes, a meeting procedure instituted by Ferrara.” This conclusion functions as a non sequitur. The author provided no evidence that the “three minute rule” was the cause of any dissent, moving from A to B and jumping to conclusion D without explaining the correlation between Waller’s push for transparency and a rule implemented by a former mayor the author has already regarded as having done “evil.” To string the two together is a red herring, a deliberate attempt to conclude an argument away from the real question, to a point bearing little correlation to the original argument.

The article is correct in identifying ad hominem as a a personal attack. However, the author attempts to make the argument that Waller’s rejection of personal attacks is ironic, by posting a Facebook post from Waller. The post is apparently meant to prove that Waller engages in ad hominem arguments himself, however no personal attacks are even made within the text that Waller posted, therefore eradicating any argument Page might have had. The author provides no proof or evidence that Waller made any personal attacks against Hill. In fact, Page falls into another logical fallacy in the first sentence of his argument concerning ad hominem. Post hoc ergo proper hoc translates to “after this, because of this.” Page asserts that because of Waller’s “obvious lack of political background, Waller exercises ad hominem attacks.” The conclusion of this argument does not logically follow it’s premise. There is no concrete evidence that those inexperienced in politics engage in personal attacks absolutely. Again, causation does not equal correlation.

The last fallacy committed in this article comes at the end, when the author comes to an irrelevant conclusion. Page states that “The political challenge facing the citizens of Arroyo Grande is to preserve the momentum of change and quest for good government as instituted in the last election,” and goes on to state this as reason why Hill should be reelected. His initial statement is something that every citizen of Arroyo Grande can agree on, however, the question this opinion piece is not “What political challenges does this city face?” It is, “Will Waller be an acceptable mayor in the face of an incumbent mayor?” This article wholly fails to unequivocally prove a point one way or the other. The entire conclusion fails to bring home any concrete point or evidence to the idea that Waller couldn’t function as Arroyo Grande’s mayor. The opinion’s final sentence serves no purpose to the author’s conclusion, and even left me feeling confused. If the author is attempting to convince us to reelect an incumbent mayor, what exactly are we supposed to be “moving on” from?


As we posted earlier. For the record. The South County Historical Society does not support or endorse any political candidates.

As a nonprofit 501(c)(3) corporation, the South County Historical Society

(SCHS) is prohibited from directly or indirectly supporting or opposing

candidates for public office. The SCHS will neither publish

nor distribute written statements nor make oral statements on

behalf of or in opposition to any candidate for public office.

Under the First Amendment, however, individuals who are

affiliated with the SCHS have the right to express their personal

positions concerning candidates for public office. Anything

that they may express concerning a candidate is their personal

position and not that of the SCHS. They may not state nor imply

that their support for or opposition to a candidate is the position

of the SCHS.

In addition, they may not express their

personal position at an SCHS event or in an SCHS publication.

The prohibition against political campaign activity by nonprofits

does not, however, apply to lobbying or legislative

activities. Consequently, the SCHS may express its support or

opposition to legislation, ordinances, propositions or other

matters that may relate to its public purpose or mission.

frank s

With respect to Lee’s comments in regards to Mayor Hill’s claim that a building moratorium would achieve a 10% savings here is what I found. I asked the AG Building Department and there have been 30 single family permits issued from January 1, 2015 to September 9th 2016 and Lee is correct there were 18 in 2015. Now there are approximately 6000 single family water connections which calculates .3%. (Less than 1%). The average water use for a family of 4 is 400 gallons per day. The industry average for a busy restaurant is 5800 gallons per day. Now as far as where I stand for mayor to be honest I’m still asking questions of both candidates, but I do know this, it is gong to take MUCH MORE than a building moratorium to solve our water issues. Mayor Hill may have been correct when he answered the question “what are the three biggest issues facing our city today?” #1…Water, #2…Water, #3…Water.” But the answer of a building moratorium fall enormously short. So what I’m looking for is someone with a comprehensive plan that will focus on multiple fronts. First the cash for grass program and the other 4 conservation programs need to be reinstated immediately. Second while commercial accounts have been asked to save unlike some other cities (Pismo to name one)we have not been mandated to replace our urinals with waterless urinals. We have not mandated low water use commercial dishwashers( by far the biggest use of water for a restaurant), we should also mandate low 1.6gpm spray nozzles for comercial dish sprayers. Third..If we were to incentivize both residential and commercial class one gray water systems we could use less water with 20,000 people (current general plan build out population)than we do with 17,800 people(our current population). Finally I’m looking for a candidate who is doing there homework and who is offering real solutions as opposed to throwing political footballs to appease a group of voters.


Respectfully Lee D your statement that mine is “disingenuous”, i.e: giving a false impression, should be weighed in the context of the false statements you have made.

Exercising what you call my “personal delusion “and “bias” I did not cite the word or concept of EXPERIENCE as a primary reason for Hill’s superiority over Waller.

I stated “It is a fact mayor candidate Richard Waller has no formal elected background in city politics. Where Jim Hill’s is extensive.” Waller lacks the background to be Mayor.

And because of Waller’s “inexperience, it appears Waller’s main tactic is to criticize the performance of incumbent Mayor Jim Hill.” This is a fact that is confirmed.

Further, in a prior post I stated “I told him I would not vote for him for the reason he has no political background — especially locally.” In other words, Waller had no experience, while as you, Lee D, confirms Hill certainly does have experience..

So the issue is in the context of how one uses the term experience. Waller has none.

Following your thesis, Lee D, I should “support Caren Ray and Kristen Barneich as they are the most experienced candidates in both races.” False. The reason one should consider not voting for either one is their experience. Their records are before you. And each one carries the scars of tenure.

In this same context there is Hill appointee John Mack. He has done a great job on the Planning Commission after being crucified on a charge of conflict of interest by the very Council majority that has harassed Jim Hill and Tim Brown this past year. He was found to have no conflict by the FPPC (the Fair Political Practices Commission).. Yes! Look at his experience too. He is highly respected!

On the issue of “appointments, Hill’s record is before you. Hill’s appointee Ken Sage’s experience is he has served competently on the Traffic Commission while Leeann Akins’ experience has been as a diligent citizen commentator and respected contributor for many years on city matters at Council meetings.

That is their experiences all before you, while Waller and you, Lee D, stand criticizing the experience of incumbent Mayor Jim Hill.

In that context citing “experience” you negatively and unfairly mischaraterize Jim Hill’s directly: “- An incomplete run as president of the Oceano Community Services District where he churned through general managers every 18 months. — advocated for selling Oceano’s state water — his inability to work with staff and others costs resources and money –. for offending staff and churning through managers – his shutting down the Brisco project to the benefit of the street he lives on — settling old scores and advocating for individual supporters — advocating to the FTC to the exclusive benefit of his friend and supporter Beatrice Spencer and Spencer’s market, against other players in the marketplace — getting Food For less, the very store that was supposed to go into the Courtland property years ago that John Mack and Beatrice Spenser helped kill — his votes for a development agreement on Courtland then after the developer meets the terms, votes against it.”

You,Lee D, are critical of all these experiential activities that Hill performed, especially when they occurred with the present Council that opposes him generally on a 3 to 2 basis. That doesn’t hold water any more than your moratorium argument does as you dismiss the severity of the water problem now – today while the pro growth advocates on the Council support building a 58 home high density development on East Cherry.

Despite all these points, stated in a negative and in an arguably unfounded and controversial context, you do throw Hill a bone: “To be sure, he has made an impact at the south county san district and he deserves congratulations.”

You continue by begging the question, “Should we go into all the discredited appointees he has made that have had to resign or the massive lack of transparency and collusion?” without naming names and incidents that you infer have occurred. This is a serious accusation that suggests you, Lee D, are exercising a political sham, a serious unfounded allegation.

And then you lament that during Hill’s two year term – where the Council majority has confirmed its support of development — not a single national commercial has come to Arroyo Grande, such as Pier 1, Pet Co, trader Joes, In and Out, Fig Mountain brewery, Smart and Final, etc . You are saying this is a negative while inferring Ray and Barneich should be praised. Given that your complaint is valid, what about the responsibility by Harmon, Barneich and Guthrie – the pro growth Council majority during the last two year term? Your lament, Lee D, is unfounded and ignores the responsibility of the Council majority!

If there is anything that is truly disingenuous it is the false impression you wish to convey with your Experience argument. All of the people running for Council may be judged on their experience. And the Mayor will be judged on his. And this is the net on all of this: But Waller cannot be judged on his experience because he has none.

Most respectfully, Lee D, I suggest your argument fails here for the same reason given in the Opinion. Your allegations specifically and in context appear to be “politically contrived and unfounded”. .

That is not being “disingenuous”, i.e: giving a false impression, Those are the objective facts that a majority of Arroyo Grande’s citizens will consider in the coming election.


This just confirms everything Lee D said.


StakeHolder, I am curious now to see the forms he filed. Are they available to see online or do I need to go to the city clerk and request them? I did try the FPPC.CA

site for the form 700, but I guess AG isn’t hooked up with them.


I might not have clear. When Mr. Waller filed to run for AG mayor, he deleted information off of his personal Facebook site that eluded that he had been away from the central coast for most of his adult life.

He seems to be running on a platform that he is a third generation local (which includes Santa Maria and Arroyo Grande), and boasts his experience and knowledge of the back roads of this area. That does not build confidence in me as a voter that he is knowledgeable enough to the policies and politics of AG.

My advice to Mr. Waller is to start at the beginning. Get appointed to a commission (maybe the historical committee) and at the same time, start attending city council meetings. Get to know ALL the members of the current council, share your visions with them.

When you graduated Chico State college, you did not go right into teaching in Nevada. You did a year of student teaching, to prepare you for the job ahead. Mayor of a city is not much different. Get prepared and then run for leadership.

Skip Riley

You did not read his bio? I think it is important to know your facts before posting.

You missed this, “The Waller family has lived and farmed in the Arroyo Grande area for 108 years, since his grandfather L.D. Waller came to the small village in 1908 to grow sweet pea” Note the words “Arroyo Grande area” Since words do generally have meanings, “Arroyo Grande area” would not refer to Santa Maria.

And, “He also earned a Secondary Social Studies and English Credential, and an Elementary Multiple Subject Credential from the University of Nevada, Reno.” If he had gotten his teaching credentials at Chico State, why did he say University of Nevada?


“Richard has worked as a Federal Wildland Fire Fighter and on a structure fire department.”

“he worked as Federal law enforcement officer for the US Forest Service.”

Doesn’t seem like college to teaching to me, does it to you? Based on his date of graduation from high school, and his military service he likely put his butt on the line for his country. Have you? Has Hill?

Critical thinking and reasoning skills are handy things to have.

Lee D

I have read with great interest this opinion and the writer’s subsequent response to Mr.Waller’s post. While Otis again attempts to further his personal delusion as the sage of Arroyo Grande, handing out advice and “thoughtful” analysis, we must all agree that he is a man on intelligence even if often biased. So for the article, and more so the writer, to have any integrity, a closer look to test the presentation is needed.

First off, experience is sighted as a primary reason for Hill’s superiority over Waller. Without question, Hill has a history in local governmental service that Waller does not.

At this point, we should all expect to soon see an opinion from Otis indicating his support for Caren Ray and Kristen Barneich as they are the most experienced candidates in both races. Not to worry, I will not be drying from asphyxiation from holding my breath on that one. More likely we will get an attack article that undermines his premise that divisiveness and negativity are inappropriate. One might want to argue that Mack is also experienced but his bumbling at the forum and the degree to which he is morally compromised makes him merely a footnote to the campaign and Hill’s poor judgement. I have challenged other “advocates” to be fair and balanced, the response is dead air and will likely be the same here.

So lets look at Hill’s superior experience. An incomplete run as president of the Oceano Community Services District where he churned through general managers every 18 months. A pattern he has now established in Arroyo Grande. His inability to work with staff and others costs resources and money and is not a positive point of experience. During his time in Oceano he adamantly advocated for selling Oceano’s state water allotment for the Price Canyon development. Saying that in five years we all would have more water than we need. Just for the record, five years have passed and we are not feeling it. Ultimately, in frustration, Mr. Hill quits mid term. No resignation, just an online news release. All this is not opinion; it is documented history. Yes, Otis, you are correct, experience does count.

But that was then, this in now. What have the past couple years looked like? To be sure, he has made an impact at the south county san district and he deserves congratulations. But, hey, I’m an Arroyo Grande resident, I care about my town. As noted above, Hill has stayed on course for offending staff and churning through managers. While Waller’s post sighted one instance, the public record shows a pattern and is easily reviewed to the dismay of any who would question the point.

While professing his difference from the former mayor, we have watched as Hill focused on settling old scores and advocating for individual supporters. He shuts down the Brisco project to the benefit of the street he lives on. He votes for a development agreement on Courtland then after the developer meets the terms, votes against it. He advocates to the FTC to the exclusive benefit of his friend and supporter Beatrice Spencer and Spencer’s market, and against other players in the marketplace. As a side note, now we get Food For less, the very store that was supposed to go into the Courtland property years ago that John Mack and Beatrice Spenser helped kill and who also argue that we should have more commercial on that property now. Today we see him pushing to take away tax paying landowners rights by advocating for residential building moratoriums but has failed to get the numbers right on water savings. For the record, if a moratorium was in place over the last year, it would have prevented the grand total of 18 homes. That is not the way to solve a water problem. Should we go into all the discredited appointees he has made that have had to resign or the massive lack of transparency and collusion?

But heck, some would say it is all for the better if he is helping the city. Well during his term not a single national commercial has come to Arroyo Grande and the one possible expectation is the replacement of a major grocery store with a discount market, in part because Mr. Hill advocated against the return of a quality chain the citizens wanted. Every other major commercial retailer, Pier 1, Pet Co, trader Joes, In and Out, Fig Mountain brewery, Smart and Final, etc, etc, all came from the previous era which included Ray and Barneich.

So on Mr. Page’s final point of civility and divisiveness, he confuses stating history with inappropriate attacks. It should be noted that while trying to make his case, Mr. Page also tries to continue the narrative of the Tony Ferrara history against the current mayor. The very example of divisiveness. You cannot have it both ways Mr. Page and the public knows that a campaign based upon fighting a legacy of a person who doesn’t even live in the county any more is a pretty week foundation.

While this is just the tip of the iceberg with Mr. Hill, I submit that if this brief look is not compelling, your presentation is disingenuous.


In response to Lee D:

Experience: It isn’t just that someone has experience, it is the level and type of experience that matters. Since Mayor Hill (he is our mayor and deserves to be addressed as such) has entered into his tenure in local politics, he has taken on tough issues when no one else would. He consistently takes one for the team, even when there is no team.

OCSD: Yes, there were staff turnovers while Mayor Hill was on OCSD. However, what you may not realize is that some of the turnover was a result of employees not upholding their due diligence and fiduciary duty to the ratepayers. Were you aware that employees stole money that ratepayers paid their bills with (many residents paid their bills in cash). Were you aware there was an issue with a Certificate of Deposit, which was not on the books, but at one point was signed over to an employee? Some of that turnover was necessary.

John Mack: Whether he is morally compromised in a matter of opinion. Remember the FPPC did not follow through with any actions towards the complaint filed by Nick Tompkins. Also remember, the council majority who went out of their way to publically flog Mr. Mack, ultimately voted against removal from his seat on the Planning Commission. With both inactions firmly in the public venue, it could be determined that there was no conflict of interest. If there had been, certainly both parties would have moved forward with disciplinary measures.

Brisco: Brisco Road offramps were closed when 70% of the public who responded to a major public outreach effort said they wanted the ramps closed so a viable solution to a very problematic traffic problem could be studied. Mayor Hill did not make this decision alone, remember, it takes three people on the council to move in favor or against any motion. Public opinion was overwhelming in favor of the closure. You can hardly point to the fact he made this decision alone or that it was made to purely benefit his street.

FTC letter: The letter was written to encourage movement towards a resolution to the issue of a very large vacant piece of property in AG, and the fact the city was losing a lot tax revenue. The letter did not ask the FTC to place Spencer’s in the space. The letter did not exclude other options for businesses to fill the space. The letter was an inquiry into the process and the status of the process. One other thing to keep in mind, the JIPA sent a second letter, that letter apologized for the first letter the city and the council received. There was no further investigation or actions taken by the JIPA. You can request a copy of this second letter through a public records request at City Hall.

National Chain Stores: For what it is worth, it is well documented that national chains do not generate the sustainable income and revenues locally owned businesses do, especially in smaller cities. It is known as the multiplier effect. There is information on this all over the web. National chains are not what sustains a self-sustaining business environment. While they add to the overall tax base, the money earned by these businesses do not remain in the community. I for one, want to see more locally owned businesses fostered in our city. That will truly help build revenues for the long term.

Accomplishments and Attempts at Change: South Sanitation District and the Knutson Report, identification of unfunded pers liability which prior councils and mayors avoided, calling out the fact that there was no capital improvement funding set aside to support and maintain our infrastructure and city services, advocating for a fully staffed and funded police department–we are down an entire shift of officers, this is not good for our officers or our community, advocating for a balanced budget–we currently do not have one and Mayor Hill is the only council member who voted in favor of a balanced budget for this fiscal year, and advocating for a more balanced approach to development–the moratorium was a discussion item–the council was not set to move forward with a vote for the moratorium—it was set to discuss it further–but, not surprising, the three members who consistently vote as a block, voted to stop that discussion–then Harmon and Guthrie attempt to back-peddle their vote in an op-ed piece published in the Tribune.

By writing this, I am framing the issues more fully—opinions are part of politics, but often times facts get buried—hopefully this response will bring some of the facts forward.


In response to LeAnn

Experience – He has been involved in politics for a relatively extended period. A failed run as a Libertarian candidate for congress in 2002 where he received a bit over 2% of the vote is the earliest experience of which I’m aware. He advocated some fairly extreme positions on US policy during that time and they are available on old youtube clips for review. His biggest disappointment as AG’s Mayor, is his inability to gain consensus and support on issues. Hill’s for the most part has had a preferential bias on isssues to appease a few of his campaign supporters instead of any effort to work with other council members to reach a consensus. This has stymied progress in a City that needs to move forward.

OCSD – The Mayors term at the OCSD was marked by upheaval and discord. Granted, it was not all his fault but quitting without any notice was a disrespectful move to the community no matter his excuse. I would encourage you to speak with some of the former employees at OCSD and the San District about his management style and effectiveness.

John Mack – JM stated at the Council meeting where consideration to have him removed from the Planning Commission was entertained, that he had never been told by the City Attorney that he had a conflict of interest and that he should step down. Immediately after he spoke and a short recess was called, the City Attorney then spoke. Not only did she say that she had spoken to John Mack and told him that he was conflicted, she had emailed him twice to confirm their verbal conversation. John Mack on the very day that he was to vote, quit claimed his house (the source of the conflict of interest) to his girlfriend. The FPPC then ruled when challenged by Tomkins that John Mack did not have a conflict at the time he voted as he did not own the house then even though he had owned it 6 hours earlier. That however LeAnn is not what was most bothersome. The greater concern was that even after it was clear that Mack had lied to the Council as proven by the City Attorney and acknowledged that he had quit claimed his house on the day of the vote, the Mayor soundly supported Mack along with others (you I believe) and actually was critical of those who had questioned Mack. I believe the Mayor said it was detrimental to those who volunteer their time for the City. That response is another example of how a lack of judgement and fair handedness by the Mayor has left Arroyo Grande to be trapped in a sea of rancor and discord.

Brisco – Much less to say on this issue, however I think it would be wise for you and for that matter anyone to ask the City Attorney if she has informed Mayor Hill of a potential conflict of interest since his house is on Rodeo Dr. It is very hard for me to believe that she hasn’t. I believe if your house or any property that you own is a part of a planned development affected by your vote or comments as a Mayor or council member, you must recuse yourself. Ultimately, any decision to step down is the individuals choice but in almost any jurisdiction, just the appearance of a conflict is reason enough to remove oneself from the process. Leadership

FTC Letter – Two issues. The FTC does not lease or negotiate to lease any space. The owner of the building does the leasing. If Mayor Hill wanted to help the Spencer’s to become a possible tenant he would have reached out to the owner of the building, not the FTC. When he reached out to the FTC it was to remind them that they (the FTC) had forced the sale of many units to Haggens to encourage competition. This was not a letter to inquire about status, it was an attempt to help a campaign supporter by trying to have the FTC block Albertsons. I’ve attached the quote from the Mayors letter to the FTC here; “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.” This quote LeAnn is incongruent with your statement. I would have enjoyed a local market but a whitewash by the Mayor when his letter saw the light of day by distorting its purpose is disingenuous at a minimum, again making it difficult for him to be an effective leader.

National Chain Stores – I agree

Accomplishments and attempts at change – This is the most difficult as I feel that many of the Mayors statements and focus are just only occasionally based in fact. I agree with him about water being the most important issue, but the method that he brought this forward was entirely politically driven and ultimately if acted on as he proposed will save almost nothing and only provide a political soundbite that the Hill campaign hopes will carry him on to another term. It is without clarity, has no meaningful methods of measurement tied to it for either closing off the tap or under what conditions would it would be reopened, it leaves the City staff entirely without input (although they actually have the most knowledge) and it casts even more doubt from business owners about the whims and direction from our current Mayor.


Given as stated by civility — “the City Attorney then spoke. Not only did she say that she had spoken to John Mack and told him that he was conflicted, she had emailed him twice to confirm their verbal conversation” — why did the FPPC declare Mack had no conflict a fact subsequently confirmed by the City Council?

It is appropriate to conclude that if the City Attorney did that the action was inappropriate in advising a Commission member.

In any event the legal advise was wrong, very wrong considering the fact the matter was being judged by the FPPC — and the city’s attorney knew that.

Could the answer be that the then City Manager instructed the legal answer to advise Mack so as to compromise his criticism of the NKT project?

The truth is suggested that Mack attempted to clear this up and the then city manager refused to see him. Something really is wrong here, for Mack is an outstanding citizen and a great contributor on the Planning Commission.

Lee D

While I stand by all my statements made and saw no reason to further engage, your and Otis’ representation of Mack compels me to respond.

The facts about Mack’s maneuvering on the planning commission have been correctly stated by others.

The concern is that Otis, and now you apparently have followed Tim Brown in abandoning his Religious beliefs to adopt a moral relativist position. A position that I do not agree with. To be clear, wrong is wrong.

If you steal and don’t get caught, you still are a thief.

If you manipulate the law to avoid the rule but compromise the spirit and intent, you have still done the wrong.

LeAnn if you are standing with Mayor Hill, Brown, and Mack, stating it is acceptable to play games to avoid the spirit and intent of a law and ignore the public trust placed in you, then I would say you are not fit to be on the city council.


I like Richard Waller and I believe he could be a valuable and worthy participant in the local political scene someday but not at the present time except that he proves his allegations against Hill.

My first meeting with Richard Waller was on August 30. Council member Jim Guthrie arranged the meeting. We met at Gena’s at 2:00pm for about an hour and fifteen minutes. After cordials we got into it. This is the net of our discussion:

Waller said Hill is not a leader and is causing problems with the staff. I stated that was not my perception — that the issue was the city manager and working with a three vote majority against him.

I told him I would not vote for him for two reasons:

One. He has no political background — especially locally, He countered saying he managed school kids. I disagreed.

Second point. Despite his publicized ethic of being civil, I said he has fired the gun at Hill by criticizing him. And there is no turning back. He had gone public.

I challenged Waller hard on this point, that his argument for civility is contradicted by his accusations against Hill as confirmed by his presentation at the forum: (See sharshofar’s below: “ I was at the forum tonight …. Waller was only interested in criticizing Mayor Hill.”)

I emphasized if he is to remain credible he must write a compelling piece that sustains his allegation’s against Hill — and if he doesn’t or if it is not compelling — he loses. That if he is right he should win.

Respectfully, I suggest his statement in the URL provided by Skip Riley is not compelling.