Protect SLO, oust Heidi Harmon and Carlyn Christensen

October 13, 2018

James Duenow


San Luis Obispo needs a new mayor and city council. In the 50 plus years that I have lived and practiced law in SLO, this is the most important election I can remember.

Our city now is run by the city staff which basically gives orders to the city council, rather than the other way around, as it should be. For this reason we have a city staff that is much larger than it needs to be and outrageously overpaid.

For example, the city manager is paid $250,000 per year plus generous benefits. Many local corporate presidents get by on half of that.

The city of Chico is comparable in size and features to SLO and has a college. Chico has 40 more employees than the city of SLO but their salary budget is 25 million less.

Our city is facing an unfunded pension liability of 35 to 50 million, depending upon who you talk to here. They are doing little to nothing about this and it could drive the city to bankruptcy.

To deal with these problems we need to elect an experienced adult for mayor. I have listened to the candidates and urge you to vote for Keith Gurnee for mayor, and James Lopes and Sarah Flickenger for city council.

Take a look around and see what this council and mayor have allowed to happen in our sweet town. We need people on the council who will be advocates for our unique, precious city; people who will fight the state to protect our city from high-rise development that destroys our views and change the very unique quality of life here.

The current council tells us, “get used to it,” quoting Carlyn Christensen.

I say it is time to elect a council who will take their direction from the residents of our neighborhoods.

Keith Gurnee lives here and understands how to meet the challenges of careful growth and climate change. James Lopes has been a planner for the county and Sarah Flickenger is an articulate, committed cyclist and mother who wants a quality of life for her children that we have enjoyed up until now.

Please, vote to protect this place that we all love.

Jim Duenow, a Democrat, has lived in San Luis Obispo County for 50 years. He is a civil trial lawyer, now semi-retired, who has served on multiple San Luis Obispo City commissions and committees.

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I never thought I would agree with Jim Duenow, but even even a broken clock is right twice a day. We need to oust the current clowns on the city council. They are a disgrace.

The City does have too many staff people, but electing a Mayor who wants to send heads rolling would create chaos (assuming he could get at least a majority of the Council on board). Cutting the fat will need to be done gradually and thoughtfully.

As to staff “running” the City, a Council accepts the recommendations of its staff because staff are technical experts. Again, Mayors and Council Members dead set on defying staff for the sake of proving their independence are begging for dysfunction.

End the reign of corruption, vote Gurnee.

Staff may be knowledgeable but are by no means are they technical experts. That is why they have study after study because most of the time they have no idea of what’s on the table. Unfortunately staffs have their own agenda and that is what they push onto the councils. It may be time to send some heads rolling. In most cases the wakes up the dead heads and things may get in order.

No need to “send heads rolling.” For starters, how about a real hiring freeze, a new lower benefit pension tier for any hires in the future (in spite of a freeze some will be hired), significantly reduced salaries and benefits for top management positions on contracts, and reduction or elimination of non-critical programs. Focus on core city services of utilities, street maintenance police, and fire. Do realistic multi-year budget plans based on no new taxes.

A little chaos may be needed, just a different type. The current chaos is partially what has gotten the pension disaster to where it is now. Someone willing to get the staff size, salaries and benefits to where they should, right away, be might be needed, otherwise bankruptcy might be the only option.


I CANNOT support Heidi Harmon or Carlyn Christianson!

As Mr. Duenow states, we MUST get rid of both Harmon and Christianson, as they lack the vision and maturity to lead our city government in San Luis Obispo.  Both of these corrupt whacky progressives embrace big government, attack the private sector and use government as a club against working families.

It is well past time that we return SLO city government to the people, and it begins by firing both Harmon and Christianson.  The sanctimonious SLO Progressives control the 5 member SLO City Council, and they have corruptly voted to approve unwise development, while relieving these same developers from their obligation to approve our infrastructure.  The result?  A SLO city with terrible traffic, ruined mountain views, and a city pension crisis pushing bankruptcy and high taxes upon all taxpayers.

Please vote on Tuesday, November 6th for Keith Gurnee and James Lopes.

Dump Harmon & Christianson.

Oh yeah, that pension issue.

Another democrat rebelling against the so called progressives. They have pushed too far and sensible people are moving away from them locally and nationally, but not yet on the state level.

Gurnee is by no means a Democrat. He’s conservative, and he’s pro-development so long as it isn’t taking place in his proverbial back yard. It’s so transparent.

Last time people had grown tired of Jan Marx and her involvement with crimes like DalidioGate so they “voted for anyone but Marx” and Harmon won the election by something like 60 votes. What we didn’t know is that Harmon is totally incompetent. She clearly has no idea how to be the Mayor of SLO. She needs to go.

I’m sorry, Mr. Duenow, but your comparison to Chico is ridiculous. According to Zillow, the median price of a house in Chico is $322,700 compared to $704,700 in San Luis Obispo. Have you ever lived in Chico. Sure, there’s a college, but little else, and temperatures soar in the summer. You want good people in SLO city jobs? Then you need to pay them.  

Good people in government jobs. Now that’s an oxymoron

What ever happen to SLO being such a great place to live that a person would be willing to earn a little less to work here? If we really are such a great place why should the taxpayers have to pay such outrageous salaries??

Missing the point, vote Gurnee.

Since when do have “good people” working for this city? That would be a huge difference.

Only correction: make that public pension fund deficit $153+ MILLION. All told the city is technically insolvent. Most of these city employees retire at six figures for life courtesy of California taxpayers. Getting a city pension is better than winning the Publisher’s Clearinghouse Sweepstakes – that only pays $2000 a week for life.

Amen! Could not have said it any better. Some of these cities are like country clubs for their staff. As stated in the article SLO and other cities are really ran by the staff. You have people who are elected and in no way qualified to make decisions that are best for it’s citizen but more for their special interest and whatever their staffs put in front of them. Most only stay around for 4-8 years and then are replaced while staff is still in place. Many times the staff reports are not even read but just voted on per the recommendation of staff. Should staff’s really make recommendations or just provide the information. Most businesse’s that are in a deficit, unfunded pensions, have to make tough decisions by cutting overhead. Private business doesn’t have the option to raise their prices, fees and/or tax increases like the government does. The first thing they will do is cut police and fire because the taxpayer will give into that. The cuts need to start at the top and work down until there is a balance. The only way that there will ever be a chance of this happening will come in November when people can elect people who care about people and not special interests and themselves.