Heidi Harmon’s embarrassing politics

February 23, 2019

Mayor Heidi Harmon

OPINION by T. KEITH GURNEE

Just three months into her second term as mayor of San Luis Obispo, Heidi Harmon is getting stranger by the minute. Her announced boycott of Amazon is her newest example of “speaking without knowing” and her politics of “look at me!”

In doing so, Harmon has placed a major local employer that contributes millions of dollars to our local economy squarely in her crosshairs, including the Whole Foods Market on Los Osos Valley Road which is affiliated with Amazon.

Harmon’s statement that Amazon is “destroying our downtowns” reveals her utter lack of understanding of the real threats to our downtown: stratospheric rents, the reduction of downtown public parking, overbuilding beyond its infrastructure capacity, and rampant panhandling. When I ran for mayor last November, I was stunned at how many people I heard from who once enjoyed our downtown and who no longer do.

In cuddling up to New York’s avowed socialist Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio Cortez in her battle with Amazon is Harmon’s latest grasp at attention-getting and publicity seeking which she thrives upon. Here are some other examples:

1. Harmon recently drew attention to herself in the press for dropping “f-bombs” at a function for Sen. Bernie Sanders that she attended in Vermont in Dec. 2018. Why would she attract public attention to her use of profanity? As someone who holds herself up as a symbol of civility, do f-bombs really align with civility?

2. Harmon has criticized placing a statue honoring President Teddy Roosevelt in Mitchell Park where he addressed San Luis Obispo residents back in the early 1900s on his way to meet John Muir in Yosemite to establish the National Park System. Her complaints against erecting “monuments to white men” reveals interesting dichotomies:

  • Perhaps lost on Heidi, Teddy Roosevelt was one of the drivers of the original “Progressive Era” in the early 1900s and was responsible for establishing the first Progressive Party in 1912. Teddy was the original Progressive, not one of the false “New Progressives” of today.
  • Harmon’s dismissal of erecting monuments to “white men” would forever preclude her beloved Socialist Bernie Sanders from ever having a statue honoring him.
  • Harmon’s anti-“white men” comment has brought her racism and “misandry”– her apparent hatred of men– to the fore.

3. The revelations published in Cal Coast News that Harmon has strong ties with marijuana mogul Helios Dayspring and SLO County Progressive co-leader Nick Andre (who apparently is part of Dayspring’s operation) are alarming. Harmon has been part of creating the criteria and point system to evaluate marijuana licensing applications, criteria that has been engineered to favor Dayspring.

Then in what could be an FPPC violation, Harmon failed to disclose the campaign fundraiser hosted by Dayspring for her and other candidates back in October 2018 that should have been included in her campaign-finance statements. Why is she trying to hide that connection?

4. Then out comes Councilwoman Debbie Peterson’s recent resignation from the Grover Beach City Council due to allegations of corruption and “pay-to-play” insider games associated with marijuana businesses in that community. It’s Grover Beach’s marijuana criteria that are now being emulated in the criteria being developed by the city of San Luis Obispo. Shouldn’t we be much more careful to ensure that we don’t import corruption into San Luis Obispo? Or is it already here?

5. Harmon’s willingness to let development projects cut down hundreds of mature trees on Los Osos Valley Road that once served as habitat for Herons and Monarch Butterflies shows how little she supports environmental protection and how little she understands the relationship between protecting the carbon sequestration provided by such vegetation in fighting climate change.

6. Could it be that her Amazon comments may have alienated her greatest defender and promoter– the San Luis Obispo Tribune? In its recently published editorial titled “What are you thinking, Madam Mayor?,” the Tribune took her to task saying “this time you’re asking for too much.”

Harmon’s comments that Amazon “is destroying communities” belies the fact that it is Harmon and her sidekicks who are destroying this community and our neighborhoods. Ugly, under-parked development projects, increasing traffic, enacting experimental policies without thinking through their consequences, and misguided proposals like the Anholm Bikeway are starting to overwhelm our community.

Heidi, if you want to see who the real destroyer of this community is, just take a look in the mirror. You’ll see that the blush has begun to come off your rose.

When I was on the SLO City Council from 1971 to 1977, we had city leaders who truly cared about this community, it’s charm, its heritage, and its character. I was privileged to serve with former Mayor Ken Schwartz and Councilmembers like Myron Graham, Emmons Blake, and Steve Pettersen who were truly dedicated to the betterment of our community. Since then, up until a few years ago, that same standard of care held true with such elected city representatives as Peg Pinard, Allen Settle, Penny Rappa, John Ewan, Dodie Williams, David Romero, Christine Mulholland, Kathy Smith, Dan Carpenter, and Jerry Reiss to mention but a few. They were all “keepers of the flame” of this community.

But after the last two mayors we’ve had, it’s all different now. We now have a mayor who has proven to be a public embarrassment to this community and a City Council that is devoid of balanced points of view. While I regretted my loss to Harmon’s well-oiled machine in Nov. 2018, I feel far worse for our community than I do for myself.

While I expect to be accused of “sour grapes” in writing this piece, so be it. I’ve totally accepted my defeat, and while I will never run for elective office again, I “ain’t” going away anytime soon. I only hope that someone will emerge to pick up the torch and take our town back from the narcissistic “look at me” politics of Heidi Harmon.


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nazbol gang

Agreed. Harmon is all smoke n mirrors. In my opinion fake progressivism is worse than having some dumb republican. I voted for Gurney but it was more out of distaste for Harmon than finding any merit in Gurney’s liberal centrism.


Wildrnes

Ouch! This is a new low. TKG sounds hurt after suffering a mayoral loss to Harmon. Suddenly TKG is a monarch loving, Amazon supporting, anti-cannabis conservative trash talking Harmon at every angle. TKG, enough of this high school gossip stuff. Grow a pair and move on.


smiley

The ignorant elected an ignoramus, happens all the time.


shelworth

I stopped going downtown because I got tired of searching for parking, being accosted by the beggars and the drunk college kids, Etc. I realize all the Bars bring the city much money, but it’s just not worth it to me. We switched to the Embarcadero in Morro Bay, much nicer for families.


MarkJames

While Heidi wants everyone to boycott Amazon, she admits she is ignorant of the tax issue. Instead of attempting to boycott online sales from one of the few online companies with a shop in SLO, why not push for state legislation that requires all online retailers to pay sales tax on both direct and marketplace sales, currently tax is only paid on direct sales in California. Eight states require sales tax on both types of sales.


SLO needs an informed mayor who cares more for the public than promoting herself.

As for a boycott of Amazon driving people to shop in downtown SLO, it will not work. I used to shop and eat in downtown SLO at least twice a week. It is now maybe twice a year. The cost of the meters, the lack of parking and the high prices, no thank you!


nazbol gang

We have enough taxes thank you very much


hotdog

Right on Keith.

Though I disagree with your assessment of AOC (what a breath of fresh air she and our other real progressives in Congress are) I agree that our phony p mayor is a huge disappointment. Our town in suffering irreversible losses due to the arrogant stampede of the CC, led by this deceitful mayor.

I can’t figure what the voting public was thinking when they rejected three totally competent and caring candidates for the self serving anti democratic forces they chose.

It is obvious that the major causes of climate change are human activities, caused by too many humans.

The grotesque pandering to developers and allowances for rampant growth that this City Council (by unanimous votes most of the time) gleefully allows only exacerbates the problem. Yet they claim a dedication to this worthy cause; hypocrites, all of them.


George Garrigues

This guy lost me when he wrote “avowed socialist” in regard to a Congresswoman who is not a socialist, more simply a progressive Democrat. The writer of the above piece shows his ignorance when he talks in such terms, even though his main point (above the local effect of the mayor’s statements) is very strong.


slomark

Really? A wealth tax is not socialist? Since you probably don’t know what that means, it’s not a tax on income, but a confiscation of a percentage of your net worth, calculated every year. And that’s a net worth generally built by income, which has already been taxed.


Silcad

Heidi Harmon has an agenda: she wants to save the world. While that may be a noble cause, that is not what she was elected to do. We expect her to solve the myriad of problems in San Luis Obispo. Parking, traffic and affordable housing are three she should consider. I no longer venture downtown because of the parking situation. That is the real problem there, not Amazon. If she wants to save the world, she should run for some higher office.


RalphKane

Downtown isn’t your only constituent, Harmon! Get out and see the rest of town, where people are running small businesses in industrial parks and their garages, doing e-commerce, and yes, selling on Amazon and other internet venues.