Allegations of misconduct ignite Arroyo Grande Council

February 12, 2017
Arroyo Grande Councilwoman Caren Ray

Arroyo Grande Councilwoman Caren Ray

By KAREN VELIE

The Arroyo Grande City Council will consider hiring an outside investigator to look into allegations of misconduct brought by a member of the public against Mayor Jim Hill. Three members of the bitterly divided council opposed Hill’s November reelection.

During a Jan. 24 board meeting, Arroyo Grande resident Patty Welsh claimed that Mayor Hill had shared his email password with his wife and distributed an employment contract that had yet to be approved by the South San Luis Obispo County Sanitation District Board. Welsh is a controversial figure who has disrupted city meetings in the past.

On two recent occasions, attendees at city meetings, who did not agree with Welsh, accused her of assault. In both cases, the incidents were reported to the police.

Welsh’s evidence that Hill shared confidential records is an email Hill sent her on April 6 with an unsigned contract for sanitation district Administrator Gerhardt Hubner. Welsh claims the contract was confidential at the time Hill sent it to her, and that his sharing of the contract is a violation the Brown Act.

The Brown Act exempts agencies from discussing several issues in open session, such as litigation, employee reviews and real estate and labor negotiations. However, proposed management contracts and other agency business are not exempted.

Mayor Jim Hill

Mayor Jim Hill

On Feb. 1, Welsh repeated her allegations at a sanitation district board meeting where she handed in a copy of the April 2016 email string showing Hill shared the contract with her on April 6.

And while Welsh claims the email string is proof of wrongdoing, the unsigned contract was available to the public on April 3, when it was published in an agenda packet.

In addition, while the Arroyo Grande City Council will be voting on whether or not to spend up to $15,000 looking into Welsh’s allegations, it may not be under the council’s purview. Even though the three member sanitation district board is comprised of one representative each from the Grover Beach City Council, the Arroyo Grande City Council and the Oceano Community Services District, the city of Arroyo Grande has no jurisdiction over sanitation district matters.

Nevertheless, Mary Lucey and Matt Guerrero, who during their respective tenures represented the Oceano Community Services District, encouraged the city to look into Welsh’s allegations. Arroyo Grande City Councilwomen Caren Ray then asked city staff to look into the Welsh’s allegations.  In the November election, Ray, Lucey and Guerrero openly supported Hill’s opponent Richard Waller.

On Tuesday at 4 p.m., the Arroyo Grande City Council will hold a special meeting to discuss the alleged Brown Act violations. At 6 p.m., the council will consider spending $15,000 on an investigation into Welsh’s allegations of Brown Act violations at the sanitation district.

The company under consideration for the $15,000 contract, Liebert Cassidy Whitmore, was asked by the city to determine if the allegations should be independently investigated. After reviewing the tape of the Jan. 24 meeting, Liebert Cassidy Whitmore said Welsh’s allegations “warrant an independent investigation.”


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Jorge Estrada

I think they all need to exchange Valentine cards and make up. My bet is on Hill because of his well forged history.


Pelican1

He’s probably already “slipped” her a card.


kayaknut

We all know the previous regime would have just had a “tea party” and then covered everything up, again. I for one am glad Adams and Ferrara are gone, the biggest problem, many are still there, including McClish and now Ray.


surferdude

This is a Caren Ray stunt.


AGDUDE

Hello Hello … I told You Ray is a Wack Job … Remember that the Running Hairs ??? When will you People Learn???


discloser

It might be more appropriate to spend that $15,000 investigating Ms. Welsh’s drug deals during council meetings and council meeting physical assaults of those who disagree with her. This alliance reflects very poorly on Matt Guerrero and Caren Ray, although it mirrors their approach to those with whom they disagree and their own cavalier approach to sobriety.


ODX

At this point I am just thankful Ray isn’t on the County Board of Sups any more gunning to take out those that didn’t agree with her liberal pals in Sacramento.


fhill123

Liebert et al seems to have a conflict of interest.


Julie

fhill123,

I was thinking the same thing. Why would the firm who recommended an independent investigation be the one to get the contract for said investigation? Furthermore, LCW is the same firm that is on retainer at the sanitation district — and has been in since May. Seems like whoever performs this investigation (even though there shouldn’t be one, since the document was public record before it was sent to Welsh) should be new and neutral.


Arroyo Grande is overstepping their bounds.


My two cents.


Pelican1

This is your brain (Mayor Hill)…this is your brain on drugs (Ms. Ray). Any questions?


rukidding

Podunk, Podunk and Podunk.

When are the hardworking taxpayers going to address some of the actions of our local politicians who waste more time fighting among themselves, glorifying themselves for personal gain, wasting tax money accusing others and defending themselves while we pick up the tab. And during these fiasco’s they demand that they all get higher pay and benefits for working so hard and the fear that they may leave. Well please leave and let’s move on and let’s get representatives and management who are qualified to represent us.


WorkingClass

Looks just like a Witch Hunt to me. Ever since their good ol’ buddy Tony was run out of office, those who were granted favors from Tony just can not accept the new leadership.


I am embarrassed and disappointed in the behavior of some of these adults. I agree, let’s move on and let our representatives represent us, the voter (not them, the sore losers)


Julie

The Mayor laid it all out there in his opinion piece last week.


https://calcoastnews.com/2017/01/mayor-jim-hill-responds-allegations/


Otis

Julie is right — this matter is also now in the hands of the District Attorney.


Rich in MB

The Loses just won’t accept the will of the Voters….


Where have we heard this before….


Mitch C

Jim Hill, the antidote for good staff morale and efficient operations.