Setting the record straight in Arroyo Grande

October 24, 2016
LeAnn Akins

LeAnn Akins


I am writing to help set the record straight about “the lack of civility” in the Arroyo Grande political landscape.

Mayor Jim Hill and various citizens have been accused of being uncivil to staff and members of the council during meetings and during public comment. These accusations have a shaky foundation built upon a letter from the JPIA, sent to the mayor, the AG City Council, and the city manager on Dec. 16, 2015.

“We have recently learned of and observed derogatory comments made by council members towards the city manager and members of staff. Our concern is that such comments made in a public setting could lead to allegations of harassment and a hostile workplace at your city…The Authority’s Healthy Member Protocol was developed to address such issues, and can assist in returning members to good governance.” The letter says.

Mayor Hill’s opponent Richard Waller alludes to this letter on his recent mailer and has often stated that Mayor Hill is uncivil in his communications with staff and points to this letter as proof. What he does not share with you however, is that the JPIA letter never outright stated that a hostile work environment existed or that any harassment had taken place.

Mr. Waller also conveniently fails to mention the JPIA sent a second letter dated Jan. 11, apologizing for the first letter being misconstrued.

“I recently learned that the December 16th, 2015 letter that our Assistant Executive Officer, Norman Lefmann, sent to you is circulating and becoming an issue of debate in your community. Our letter was sent to you to offer our assistance, as we have done many times in the past with other members of the California JPIA. I am truly sorry that this may have been misconstrued, and I am in the hopes that this will serve to further clarify the intent of the letter,” wrote JPIA Chief Executive Officer Jonathan Shull.

Keep in mind, the JPIA is an organization which helps its “members prevent losses that may cost the member agencies and their citizenry money.” They monitor council and staff effectiveness to ensure that our city is not involved in costly litigations or suits which are unnecessary. Also note that no action, aside from the two letters, was taken by the JPIA–also a fact Mr. Waller fails to mention.

Mr. Waller, and his mailer, intentionally misleads voters into believing that Mayor Hill specifically was accused of creating a hostile environment, when he was not.

So does incivility exist in Arroyo Grande politics? I would say that it does, but not for the reasons Mr. Waller and others in Arroyo Grande are stating.

I would ask you to look very closely at the source of the incivility. I would ask you to review city council meetings found on the city website and observe how council members interact and speak with each other. Observe council members using biting language and to whom it is directed. I would encourage you to continue to ask of the candidates running for city council, who has what to lose and what to gain in this election.

I would also ask you to consider if the issue of civility is the main issue facing Arroyo Grande, or if this issue was fabricated and is being used because a lack of knowledge and solutions related to true issues facing Arroyo Grande are present in certain campaigns.

Sometimes we have to peel back the surface noise and discover the reality. I would suggest the issue of civility is a prime example of that this election year in the City of Arroyo Grande.

LeAnn Akins is an Arroyo Grande resident and a candidate for the Arroyo Grande City Council.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Richard Waller obfuscates in his political flier. He promotes his version of civility while castigating Major Jim Hill. While Waller alleges that he is not a politician Waller certainly becomes one in criticizing Mayor Jim Hill. This denigration is an example of a typical way common in politics, to make false allegations, distorting the truth, with the intention to bolster a political advantage.

Waller claims to restore public trust, respect for public, the council and staff without specifying what the problems are or how he imagines how to resolve them. Most Council observers believe these problems do not exist, that Waller is exaggerating for political reasons. What is the evidence of this?

Waller resorts to making false claims – again, as politicians have a will to do — in making bogus statements and allusions about Hill’s record. That Hill is responsible for the turnover of 5 managers in 6 years in Oceano and left them nearly bankrupt, 2 city managers in Arroyo Grande, 2 district administrators in the Sanitation District and finally trying to fix Albertson’s in favor of one his supporters. None of these aspersions in terms of “whole cloth” are in any way factual or true. The claims Waller makes against Mayor Hill are misconstrued allegations representative of the worst political tactics used to confuse the truth

It is apparent Waller believes he can do this because of his professional experience of teaching grade school children while ignoring the fact he has no other real political experience. Waller also infers his expertise in proclaiming a 20-year plan for AG’s water needs while ignoring the political issue manifested in the immediate need and major political issue for a moratorium to conserve water now. Waller doesn’t understand that if he becomes mayor he will not be not be a dictator, he would be like Major Jim Hill today, a symbolic head yet only one member of a Council of five that collectively exercises the legal and administrative affairs of the city.

The false allegations undermine Waller’s fitness to become Mayor of Arroyo Grande. They are tactics that contradict Waller’s pleas for civility. One test of that fact is the assessment by his own family that disclaims his qualification to become mayor.

Citizens of Arroyo Grande will be best served by the reelection of Mayor Jim Hill and the elections of John Mack and Leann Akins who will vote for a moratorium NOW on development until the drought is ended and citizens can water their lawns again and make normal uses of water for bathing and washing. It is up to the citizens now to elect these outstanding citizens to the City Council.

Waller’s own family despises him. That should be enough to keep people away. Waller’s campaign is built on lies about our great Mayor Hill. Barneich, Ray and Waller are all in the pockets of big developers; come election day Arroyo Grande, do not vote these people in!

LeAnn, you are exactly right. I attended many of the meetings.

The incivility thing is pure fabrication mentioned to unseat one of the best Mayors we’ve ever had.

Same goes for the JPIA argument. Same goes for the FTC argument.

Do a little fact checking AG residents!

Has anything ever come of the hostile work environment claim?

Do we hear Albertson’s crying foul over the AG location?

NO! Why? Because those arguments have no merit. Research the ENTIRE issue you will see Waller and his supporters are creating controversy where none actually exists.

Civility and transparency ?


Here is a post from a local supporter of Mayor Hill specifically responding to the FTC letter:

One reason I support Mayor Hill is the fact that he has no hidden agenda, and deals with issues with an open mind and open ears. I have volunteered on his campaign because I appreciate his honesty and approach of emphasizing his strengths, rather than bashing his competitor. That being said, I received a mailer this weekend from Richard Waller for Arroyo Grande Mayor, and was very disappointed to see “UN-truth’s” printed on it. Bashing his competitor, and making a list of arguments of which he puts sole responsibility of actions at the OCSD and the City of Arroyo Grande on Mr. Hill’s shoulders! But, what got me most agitated was the allegation that it was Hill’s fault that Albertson’s did not return to the Arroyo Grande market location.

I encourage everyone to read the attached article from dated Nov. 13, 2015, which states that Spencer’s Market was the baseline bid for that location, and that Albertson’s did NOT bid to return to that location.

I am not sure how Mr. Waller thinks he can “Regain Community Trust” when he can not speak the truth.

One of the key phrases to acknowledge as truth is this: “Albertson’s did not bid to return to the old location in AG.” Again, groups are creating smoke and mirrors so the voters go to the polls thinking they have the full story, but have conveniently left out key details of facts that paint a full picture. Vote on facts and not on emotion–voting on emotion is easy. Voting on facts and with conviction is much more of a challenge, but that is what every voter, who lives in AG must do this election year.

Thank you LeAnn Akins for clearing the air with the facts. I am repulsed by Mr. Waller repeated false claims, and his lack of responsibility for them. There is no end to what Mr. Waller will claim as facts.

Mr. Waller posted a clip of a City Council meeting on his Facebook page to prove his case of uncivil behavior in the City Council. I failed to see the behavior in his post. I did go and watch the whole recording, and many others. I still failed to see the behavior from Mr. Hill, for which Mr. Waller has based his whole election platform on. After many attempts with Mr. Waller to derive a more in depth profile of his skills, and his ability to effectively deal with our issues in Arroyo Grande, water being at the top of the list, I disappointingly found Mr. Waller to be lacking in knowledge, and the ability to communicate with the residents. His repeated uncivil and condescending attitude in his responses to questions on his Facebook page, and his campaign filled with false personal attacks on others, instead of providing substance on himself, showed him as someone who could not lead Arroyo Grande. His repeated deletions of Facebook comments from residents, and blocking of residents from his facebook page, showed me he is unable to effectively communicate. Mr. Waller’s deletion of his own uncivil responses show his lack of transparency and accountability. Do I want to meet with Mr. Waller for coffee, no thank you. These facebook discussions were on many issues that residents have concerns about, and , and his responses should be public, for all residents to see. So why would I need to meet for coffee to have a one on one with Mr. Waller?

After watching hours of CC meetings, I have much more admiration for Mr. Hill, then I already had. What I saw was Mr. Hill addressing many taboo issues and the lack of accountability. Many residents are concerned, and have expressed this to Mr. Hill. Favoritism, projects being approved without adequate parking, the current status that it takes 3 City Council members to vote to have an item added to the agenda. And the responses Mr. Hill received from several City Council Members was insightful. Why don’t they feel these subjects are a priority to address. I would like to know. I can now clearly see how the division in our City Council is hurting the community. I applauded Mr. Hill for trying to address these issues since they have direct impacted the citizen of Arroyo Grande.

It is time to have a City Council that will address these issues, respect input from the residents, and truely listen to all the residents concerns. That is why I am supporting Mayor Hill, LeAnn Akins, and John Mack.

Leann Akins is so genuine. You know what you get. A woman who will do her homework and talk honestly and tell you when something is not possible.

As stated before….

We owe this one to John Mack for Harmon, Guthie and Barneich two-faced abuse.


It is really very simple:

Elect Jim Hill once again.

Throw out Kristian Barneich.

Do not allow Caren Ray to weasel into office again.

Get rid of the failed Barbara Harmon.


We deserve leadership, not political hacks who do the bidding of developers.

Oh ya, THROW OUT the despicable Adam Hill.

Just saying,


The five members of the City Council are not required to be chums. In fact, they do their best work when they have open targeted discussions about solutions to the problems we face.

There will always be some element of agreement and disagreement. It is a foolish candidate who spends all their time looking for misdeeds of their opponent without sharing the experience they bring to the position.

The “incivility” that two candidates keep talking about are unfounded. Unless they are referring to when the City Council refused to put a City Manager on administrative leave because then they were all too chummy.

I appreciate your comments.

Jim Hill is professional and civil in his duties.

there were accusations that I was uncivil when talking to Dave conglton regarding getting Brisco on the agenda. I challenge anyone to listen to that program and tell me what was not civil. If we cant ask difficult questions of staff or candidates or council members what’s the point?

Did anyone else attend the FCFA event last night?

Waller is an empty pair of Wranglers with a fishing vest.

He keeps playing that civility tune and it’s getting old, even to the ‘folks’ who want Hill out.

Do your homework Arroyo Grande, Waller is weak and unworthy y’all.

timB is a straight forward honest commentator — he is trustworthy. He reminds me of the virtues of thinking that are not evident in a Council troika that is in the pockets of a key developer in AG today.

Jim Hill’s problem is that he will not lie, a major character issue for true politicians as exemplified by Barneich, Ray, and Waller — who are bankrolled by key developers that have turned AG from being a quaint farming village to a tourist trap today today. I have seen it bfore in San Jose, Orange County, Thousand Oags and now in Arroyo Grande.

See what is proposed on East Cherry? Ugh!

The next time you find yourself having to listen to those who bad mouth Jim, simply pass this along….

LOL! So perfect, just added to my playlist! :)

Yes. Watch the videos from council meetings particularly the public comments and watch how uncivil these comments are to staff and council. All one needs to do is watch the 12/8/15 video under council communications to view Mayor Hill’s tirade against the city manager and staff publicly denouncing them. Because of these very statements, the CJPIA letter was sent. Worse, because the CJPIA letter questioned the Mayor’s behavior, his supporters accused the former city manager of initiating contact with the CJPIA to “tell” on the Mayor. They publically defamed her at council meetings and on radio. The Mayor’s supporters continued their incivility toward the city manager and staff by posting negative comments on a blog and creating 300 fliers claiming the city manager was undermining the Mayor. Seems like this episode is one of the ones Waller’s mailer is referring to.

Misleading the voters? Ms. Akins, in the June 2016 primary you voted on a democratic ballot and then in August registered as a republican? How is that not misleading the voters? How is that transparent? Seems a political move and not one based on a belief in republican values.

Dear Seecanyonrd,

I switched parties because any American can do that, I do not support what is happening in the Democratic Party overall and happen to align more in my overall beliefs, values, and thinking with a higher percentage of Republican candidates. Additionally, whether you need to know this or not, I have been supporting and voting for Republican candidates and I generally do not vote ticket or party line—I vote based on who will do the best job. A new concept, I know.

My change of party was not politically movitivated. I am not endorsed by the Repbulican Party–nor did I receive any funding from the Republican Party. If you have questions about my changing parties beyond this, please connect with me directly. My phone number is 805-710-0406.

Thank you.


Councilwoman Barbara Harmon was willing to crucify a Planning Commissioner at a City Council meeting by placing on the agenda his entire personal life.

Now let’s talk about “Civility”


His entire personal life was put on the agenda? Or was it a discussion about how on the day he was to vote as a planning commissioner on a development in his neighborhood he opposed, he deeded his house to his girlfriend? Then, claimed to the county assessor the deed change was do to divorce to avoid property reassessment?

Do you mean John Mack who was cited on 10/18/16 for driving on a suspended license and had his vehicle towed? Seems like Councilwomen Barbara Harmon was on to something – moral character and judgment to effectively serve the public matters. Vote for John Mack who thinks he is above the law or bends it to his benefit? No way.

Remember that meeting?

Three of the members “discussed and discussed” and then Harmon herself made the motion to retain Mack. I thought some of the Council people were going to have their heads fly off.

And those of us watching….

We wondered why they wasted so much time in their meeting to no avail.


Not buying those apples someone in SeeCyn was selling earlier?

You don’t believe Barneich listened to all the comments and only THEN made up her mind?

Me either.

We know we were fooled once by Barbara Harmon and voted for her, we also know that vote was more of a “anyone but Costello” vote, but we will not be fooled again should she run in two years. She needs to voted out.