Should Arroyo Grande be buying the council clothing?

March 12, 2019

Mayor Caren Ray Russom


I have never been much of a fashionista, but when I like someone’s outfit, I say so. At the last San Luis Obispo County Sanitation District board meeting, I saw that Arroyo Grande Mayor Caren Ray Russom had a new jacket on. It was tasteful, it fit her nicely; navy blue, with the city emblem on one lapel and her name “Caren Ray Russom Mayor” embroidered on the other.

So I called the city clerk and I asked, “where did the mayor get her jacket, how much did it cost and who paid for it?”

I got a quick response from the deputy city clerk saying, “The City Manager offered to purchase each Council Member a City jacket since they represent the City at various functions. They were ordered from The Top Shop in Arroyo Grande. The Mayor’s jacket was $40, and all the others were $50 each. Councilmember Storton offered to pay for his jacket and has done so.”

Keith Storton is a retired police officer, he clearly knows what public funds should and shouldn’t be used for.

I then asked if the city had a policy that allows the purchase of clothing for the council, and the answer was, “We do not have such a policy.”

Perhaps City Manager Bergman personally paid for these jackets? That would have been nice but, it appears from the correspondence that city funds were used.

In Arroyo Grande 11 staffers were laid off or forced into early retirement last year. The city is considering laying off four additional full time employees and/or closing the recreation department in order to fully staff the fire department, it is facing millions in expenses associated with the Brisco Road interchange, it is looking at water rate increases that include contributing to Central Coast Blue and rate increases are on the horizon for the wastewater plant improvements and eventual relocation.

It seems to me city officials should purchase their own clothing and if they’re going to “represent the city”, they can wear a name tag and one of those cute pins they all have.


Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Hell no why should the citizens pay for their clothes? The next thing you know these air head socialist will expect you to pay their rent.

OMG Smiley!…….I needed a good laugh today……brilliant.

If the city manager is going to waster our money like this the council should be at least required to wear the jackets at any official function. Why didn’t they wear them last night at the city council meeting?

I lack confidence in Caren Ray Russom.

They should get a clothing allowance to keep them supplied with disposable adult diapers to be securely fastened upon their heads to cover their mouths at all city council meetings so as to completely staunch the flow of bs.

The title of this opinion piece is hilarious! “SHOULD” the City of AG buy the council clothing?”

Of course they should! Taxpayers have no say in what their masters purchase with the City’s money. People who don’t think elected officials have a right to skim hold a position that is based on several faulty assumptions which I shall name below:

1. Tax money is the people’s money. No, it is not. Tax monies belong to the city, state or federal government.

2. Elected leaders are accountable to the people. Utter Nonsense! Elected officials are beholden to their political donors, people who bribe them and people who can do them favors in the future, in exchange for favors done for the “donor” right now.

3. All people are created equal. Again, this sort of antiquated thinking is a huge source of problems and strife. People who hold office are more important than and are endowed with GREATER rights than those they rule over. Just as police are above the laws they enforce on us, elected officials are also above the standards of fairness that apply to all of us.

So, if we do away with the antiquated and wrong thinking, so that we properly realize that our money never did belong to us, elected leaders do not have any responsibility or incentive to represent the tax payors and that people are not equal at all….if we do all this then OF COURSE THE CITY COUNCIL SHOULD BUY CLOTHING FOR THE LEADERS! They should also buy them houses, pensions, medical care, sick leave, paid vacations and a wage in keeping with their special status.

Julie Tacker is SPOT ON. I was at a city council meeting not that long ago and Caren was driving a discussion about booting out some very long-time tenants out of a property supposedly owned by the City. She was waxing about how the rent should be brought up to market value because the City really needs to watch its budget. The tenants weren’t looking for a hand-out, but the current rent certainly matches where they are living. These people have been long-time tenants, have kept the property very clean, are raising their children in local schools – that all adds a lot of value. And yet Caren thinks it’s OKAY to have the City buy her clothing? I think Caren needs to stop trying in public to show she ‘cares’ about fiscal responsibility and start looking at how self serving she is. COME ON Caren. Step up and SHOW SOME LEADERSHIP.

“Rent should be brought up to market value because the City really needs to watch its budget.” I looked this up in the dictionary and found it under hypocrite. These politicians are the same ones who chastise private investors/developers for not providing below market value housing for workforce housing. I guess it’s ok for the Caren and friends to be concerned about their budget, need those jackets and other perks, while others keep getting their taxes raised and then pressured to lower their rental rates. It’s very clear that she doesn’t care about anyone but herself and fellow partners.

Seriously….. The fact that it’s even a topic of conversation says it all. Heck, pretty soon maybe it’ll get like Sacramento….clothing, car alloweance, per diem, trips…

Will it ever end for those you are ‘called to serve’?

This is a minor expense, and we should save our complaints for things that really matter.

It may be just one minor expense but several hundred or thousands of these minor expenses adds up quickly. Also, it shows us how our elected and leaders think, our money should really be spent wisely and currently they clearly don’t think so. Shame on the city manager.

slomark, that is precisely the problem in SLO politics. The “it’s not that much, why can’t we steal it?”, syndrome. Your lack of integrity is that of a local politician.

slomark, Ha! You must be Adam Hill!

Why shouldn’t it ALL matter slomark?

Things that really matter? If we can’t trust our mayor to make fiscally prudent decisions with forty bucks how can we trust her and her marauders with our entire city coffers? Good article Julie!