Alleging corruption, Grover Beach Council member resigns

February 20, 2019

Debbie Peterson


Debbie Peterson resigned from the Grover Beach City Council at the end of Tuesdays board meeting because of allegations of corruption related to the local marijuana industry. [Cal Coast Times]

After 11 years on the council, Peterson said she could no longer be part of the city’s “pay-to-play insiders game.” Peterson voiced her concerns over allegations that some council members accepted bribes for their votes on cannabis retail store permits.

“I cannot betray the trust of those who elected me by looking the other way to avoid rocking the boat,” Peterson said. “Doing so, just to get along, is complicit and would make me as guilty as those who commit the evil, or those who choose to wear a blindfold. Every council member’s first duty is to the people, to take bold action when there is no other viable option.”

Peterson also discussed allegations of public corruption related to local government agencies.

In 2013, Peterson was able to procure the votes to hire Carl Knudson to investigate alleged criminal activity at the South San Luis Obispo County Sanitation District. At Tuesdays meeting, Peterson voiced concerns over the efforts of local officials to curb government corruption.

“The District Attorney relayed to me that there was much more there, but his team sought only the low-hanging fruit, charging the sewer district chief executive with multiple felony and misdemeanor conflicts of interest,” Peterson said.

In 2017, a group of citizens personally funded Knudson’s investigation into suspected malfeasance at the San Luis Obispo County Integrated Waste Management Authority. While the SLO County District Attorney’s Office has launched an investigation, Peterson is concerned over the thoroughness of the inquiry.

Peterson also voiced concerns regarding the Grover Beach City Council’s appointments of officials who have supported criminal behavior in the past to the current sewer district and waste management boards.

“I have finally conceded that I am beat, and to continue to serve within my own council would be commensurate to complicity,” Peterson said. “Only the intervention of higher authorities – governmental, legislative, law enforcement, the courts, and the fourth estate – can make the difference now.”


We need a citizens ballot Initiative that has severe penalties for corruption by elected and appointed officials. Also do away with this privacy bs that allows them to keep screwing us.

what the

What the?!? You mean it’s not just CCN? You mean they really are taking bribes and a council member testifies to it? Now what Dow? Are you going to start making arrests or are you on the take?


Thank you Dan Blackburn and Karen Velie for continuing to bring out the truth and support this community after what was done to you in court. We need to support investigative reporting. The Tribune and the New Times need to apologize to Dan and Karen and also the entire community for not only failing to provide the truth, but for attacking Dan and Karen for uncovering the truth. At what point will Matt Fountain apply for an award regarding the corruption and his hard work uncovering it.


Wake-up, San Luis Obispo… what have people been saying about these problems for years as indicated in the article, and there are more that have not surfaced and others being suppressed.

Who is the big guy in SLO (and he has some background on poor/bad decisions) that can bring some results to address and stop what these allegations imply… Yeah, investigate and prosecute with vigor where necessary; is that so hard to grasp. They are clearly there for the few that research instead of those reacting emotionally from arm chairs and doing minimal to resolve… Oh yeah, could that be you Mr. Dow!


The web of corruption is so deep, so wide, so pervasive, and so powerful that now only the intervention of outside authorities will be able to take it down.


As a community, we need to get the information out to as many people as possible. It is time to fight back.

Erik T

I heard that several people have been interviewed on camera for a documentary about the IWMA, the Tenborg vs CCN lawsuit and the lawyers involved. Anyone know anything?


Dan Dow, get the fuc* off the pot you dirty bastard.


Give up on Dan Dow, he is a lost cause. To get anywhere this will have to go above him, Dow will protect his group until the very end. Only when he is backed into a corner will he maybe start actually doing his job, but don’t count on it.


I think that you are correct. It appears that the DA is not up for the job. This is just too obvious to be looking the other way. Mr. Dow is part of the network and is a politician that wants to get re-elected like the rest of them. An outside agency will be required to get anything done. Unfortunately these campaign funding issues are monitored by the FPPC who recommends most violations to the DA. But maybe this will move up the ladder to the State Attorney General. What more needs to be done to get a Grand Jury seated that can address the criminal activities in SLO?

Kevin Rice

That’s incorrect. The FPPC doesn’t monitor a damn thing, and the DA has ZERO jurisdiction because campaign violations are administrative, not a crime. There are no teeth. Citizens must file complaints, and the FPPC is so backlogged they barely look at them if there’s less than a million dollars involved. Small city politicians get away with murder.


You are right, I was thinking of the Brown Act.


Keven, you are incorrect. Accepting bribes and illegal gifts are a crime and prosecutable by the DA and the FBI. Many politicians have been arrested for accepting bribes. Look it up and quit acting like such a damned know it all.

Kevin Rice

Smith, the FPPC is only concerned with campaign finance and does not refer anything to the DA. Campaign violations are not crimes. That is the only point I addressed. Bribery is an entirely different matter which I did not address.


I do not agree. There have been many fines by the FPPC on small city election issues. Also, candidates who purposely hide donors to cover up connections can face jail time and some have been convicted. A million dollar cost is not required.


2 things here and everyone is kind of correct. The financial reporting is a FPPC issue while the bribes would be a criminal act handled by local law enforcement and the DA.

Kevin Rice

Nancy, the largest city fine I’m aware of in SLO County was $1,101 in 2016. Supervisor Hill was fined $2,500 in 2014. No one goes to jail over campaign finance. Dollar amounts are very much considered, and the FPPC told me that personally, and it’s mentioned in their regs and administrative penalty proceedings. You just don’t get anything more than a hand slap for any of these campaign finance scams. It’s sad. And then the Tribune covers it up and makes excuses to boot.


If your refering to AG baccarra I wouldn’t hold my breath there either, he is too busy trying to fight the White House, and my guess is he is just as corrupt as these hicks here.

Some how the citizens need to blow this up so that it does get looked at.


Thank you Debbie! I believe the only way to clean this county up is through coming forward like you have.There are a group of elected officials who appear to be lining their pockets including Adam Hill, Jeff Lee and Heidi Harmon. They promote the election of a group of young and more interested in the limelight public officials like Mariam Shah who does what she is told.

Then you have the police departments more interested in revenue from pot then justice. Add in a district attorney who likes low hanging fruit and not rocking the boat and you have a recipe for corruption. It is going to take public outrage for change to occur.

Kevin Rice

Miriam is a wet rag. Barbara has been neck-deep in it for years. Lee and Shoals are outright dirty. City management and Counsel are complicit.


I think EVERY elected official should be drug-tested…. in SLO, the behavior demonstrated by some reflects impairment and I would not be surprised if some are found to be under the influence at meetings. It would explain a lot of things. And the corrupt, sleezy pot drecks giving “samples” to public officials could not be traced. We deserve to know why those elected act so strangely at times.


This is not about pot. This is about corrupt public officials tied to marijuana and government corruption such as the waste management group. This is about a group of public officials, a handful of local attorneys and government employees who make money off the corruption. We need to stand up for justice and if our local law enforcement and prosecutors are more worried about politics and the status quo then justice, we need to get outside agencies to take over. Hopefully someone out there has integrity.

nazbol gang

LOL I wouldn’t be against that. Though these people tend to prefer ego boosting drugs like coke, not drugs that make you slow like weed


A very courageous action that EVERYONE should be concerned with. Hopefully this will be the action that breaks open the swamp of SLO. Ms. Peterson should be commended for her actions although at the same time it’s very sad that she has lost and corruption prevails. Dan oh Dan, where are you? If this doesn’t generate any action then the citizens have lost and the corrupt have won.


Debbie, Hats to you for all you have done for your constituents. You have persevered for years, questioning and exposing a group of disgusting examples of so called business people, politicians and crooks we’ve ever had the displeasure of taking on. Their day will come, but until then know how much you have helped to expose the bed element in SLO county. Time to clear the mind of the BS, take a deep breath and move forward in your life. Thank You again for fighting the good fight.

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