Sanitation district joins Arroyo Grande in misconduct investigation

March 2, 2017

AG Mayor Jim Hill

By KAREN VELIE

The South San Luis Obispo County Sanitation District voted 2-0 on Wednesday to pay half the cost for an investigation into allegations of misconduct raised by a resident of Arroyo Grande against Mayor Jim Hill.

Earlier this year, Patty Welsh accused Hill of violating the Ralph M. Brown Act. During an Arroyo Grande City Council meeting, Welsh said Hill shared his email password with his wife and distributed an employment contract that had yet to be approved by the sanitation district board.

Hill has publicly refuted the allegations and characterized them as a political attack.

Shortly after the district attorney’s office lodged conflict of interest charges against former sanitation district administrator John Wallace, two former supporters of Wallace asked the Arroyo Grande City Council to investigate Walsh’s allegations. Hill had strongly advocated for an investigation into Wallace.

The Arroyo Grande City Council then voted 4-0 in February to allocate $15,000 for an investigation into Hill’s purported Brown Act violations and to ask the sanitation district to pick up 50 percent of the cost, $7,500.

On Wednesday, Hill recused himself from the sanitation district meeting while the two remaining members discussed the Arroyo Grande Council’s request.

During the sanitation district meeting, several public speakers voiced concerns over the firm that recommended the investigation because it is also slated to conduct the investigation. The firm of Liebert Cassidy Whitmore is in expected to perform the investigation.

Mary Lucey

Former sanitation district board member Mary Lucey said she supported an investigation into Hill. Lucy then questioned the cost of the Wallace investigation and the findings of criminal wrongdoing against Wallace.

While most public speakers supported Hill, several requested the sanitation district agree to help fund the investigations in order to clear Hill’s name.

John Shoals, the sanitation district board chair, said the board needs to protect and support whistleblowers and that Hill deserved to have his name cleared.

“If we have to go through this to clear his name, we have to get to the bottom of this,” Shoals said.

Karen White, the Oceano Community Services District representative to the sanitation district, said that she was dismayed over the amount of discord surrounding the district.

“I support an investigation,” White said. “And maybe, just maybe, this will be the last time it is needed.”







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22 Comments

  1. StakeHolder says:

    IF YOU ARE READING THIS, YOU HAVE THE SERVICE PROVIDED OF FREE NEWS. PLEASE CONSIDER A MAKING A DONATION TO CAL COAST NEWS. CONSIDER IT A SUBSCRIPTION FEE.

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    (0) 2 Total Votes - 1 up - 1 down
  2. Snoid says:

    There is a similar story in the Tribune which also says Wallace is in part funding the investigation into Hill. Anybody have any evidence of this? That alone would pretty much tell us the outcome.Surely many of you recall the period in which Hill was on the SSLOCSD board and did his best to fix the problems only to be shut out by the other “pals” who took Wallace’s defense. This is not the first attempt to discredit Hill. I dont know what was posted and when, however it was not uncommon for the agenda to be late or posted somewhere else besides the OCSD. Just depended on how bad the Ferrara and Nichole’s hoped to discourage attendance.

    (22) 36 Total Votes - 29 up - 7 down
    • Otis says:

      No evidence at this point Snoid, nevertheless, the complaint by Welch, joined by Lucey and Guerrero, does appear be a tactic to disparage and intimidate with an objective of undermining Hill’s testimony on the Wallace matter. Guerrero’s “finger prints” seem to be on Welch’s complaint. His comment to the Council on January 24 and Lucey’s to the Sanitation Board on March 1 supports this speculation.

      Hill as of this writing has never seen an exact specification of the allegations against him. I have in fact been denied seeing the allegations. He is now guilty until he can establish his innocence. Hill has been disparaged – without the opportunity to clear his name until the investigation is complete. Will this be used by Wallace to discredit Hill?

      The District Attorney should be involved in the investigation considering the possible tactic to undermine the character of the witness as alluded to in the Tribune.

      (16) 34 Total Votes - 25 up - 9 down

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