Civility, transparency, or hypocrisy?

August 9, 2019

OPINION by T. KEITH GURNEE

San Luis Obispo’s city government has to feel that it’s under siege these days. Recent revelations by CCN about the city’s police chief losing her firearm, her day-long scramble to find it, breaking into a house where it wasn’t, tearing that family that lived in the house apart, and the apparent ongoing cover-up of this matter is a flat-out public embarrassment.

Chief Deanna Cantrell

Add to that the as yet unresolved scandal over a city building inspector who was filmed in a bar cold-cocking a woman, only to be placed on paid administrative leave back in May is yet another embarrassment. Does paying someone who would do that to a woman his full salary not to work for the last four months make any sense? It looks like the city is buying time, hoping that the controversy will die down enough for him to come back to his job. What’s that about?

Mind you that this mayor and City Council have claimed to be the champions of “civility” and “transparency”, but how do these two episodes equate with those principles?

Civility

Remember when the City Council adopted the highly touted “Civility Resolution” with great fanfare? The mayor brings it up at the beginning of every City Council meeting in her plea to people to be civil with each other.

Is it “civil” not to act to discipline if not terminate a city employee who would do that to a woman? Is it “civil” to keep paying him not to work indefinitely? After all, it’s doubtful that the film clip of that city employee knocking out that young lady for no apparent reason will win the city any awards as its “civility” training film.

Transparency

As CCN continues to peel back the layers of the onion in the police chief controversy, the city seems blithely ignorant of the old adage “if you find yourself in a hole, quit digging.” Every day the obfuscation and the cover-up seem to get worse.

I’ve met Police Chief Deanna Cantrell and she impressed me. Unfortunately, she made a bad mistake. Had she have been completely truthful in her apology will, all could have been forgiven. But the conflicting timelines, the mistaken raid on the wrong house without a search warrant, and doubling down on prosecuting its occupants while tearing their family apart has gone way too far.

With City Attorney Christine Dietrick stonewalling CCN’s Public Records Act requests, the cover-up appears to be in full bloom.

That the four women on our City Council, some of whom marched to protest taking children away from their parents at the border, would tolerate this defies understanding.

Meanwhile, this does not come at a good time for the rank and file of law enforcement personnel who protect and serve us. Across our nation, our police are under fire, and the disrespect being shown to police officers is off the charts. Just look at New York City where officers are being doused with water while their mayor does nothing about it.

Our police deserve our respect and support. But episodes like San Luis Obispo is experiencing right now only serve to erode that much-needed support when they needed the most

We need to know the truth

Were it not for CCN, we wouldn’t know what we know now. We deserve the truth and the whole truth about these troubling issues, but we’re just not getting it from City Hall. It’s time that the city come clean.

The public responses to CCN’s articles on the police chief controversy reveal a deep resentment and distrust of how the city is handling this issue. In fact, some commenters were proposing to attend the next City Council meetings to demand answers. And what does the city do? Cancel the first City Council meeting and most other public meetings for the first two weeks of August. Is that just a coincidence or more stonewalling?

There is ample evidence that “civility” and “transparency” are now missing in action in today’s City Hall. There is another term that is far more accurate to describe the situation. It’s called hypocrisy and it’s becoming the tragic legacy of today’s city government.

Just nine short years ago, San Luis Obispo was named “The happiest city in North America.” Who would dare call our city that today?


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Paso_citizen

Perfect article showing what officials say and what officials do are two completely separate things.

And the city of SLO wants everyone to believe what they say, not what they do.


As I have stated earlier, the residents of SLO should be extremely ‘proud’ of their elected and appointed officials. This is what you get when you elect those with a good ‘story’, but are severely lacking on real, measurable actions.


The city obviously wants this whole thing to just blow over and fade away – and it may very happen; like so many other things in the past.. Or it may be that enough voters will finally realize that this is not what they want or deserve from their elected and appointed officials. Time will tell.


I am a tax-paying resident of Paso Robles, so what SLO does only concerns and impacts me if Paso Robles (and probably other cities) adopts many of the same tactics of deceit, lack of truthfulness and civility and cover up. Unfortunately, Paso Robles already has a demonstrated record of this exact way of doing the business of governing a city.


It is shameful that this is how city governments operate. But they do it simply because they know they can. Yes; the ‘heat’ may be on for a while; but they have seen too many times that

things do blow over or fade away with no consequences and their ‘beautiful life’ at the expense of their citizens will continue. They will continue to enjoy un-justified salary, benefits, and retirement

packages; while weaving a fanciful story about civility and transparency.


But wouldn’t you or I do the same thing if given the opportunity? They are not stupid, they are just taking advantage of a very ingrained system. And enough voters would rather hear stories than see true actions.


IronHub

I was pretty much with you, Paso_citizen, until I got to your very last paragraph. Therein lies the reason this kind of crap continues: You write “But wouldn’t you or I do the same thing if given the opportunity?” Not to get too sanctimonious, amigo, but no, I wouldn’t do the same thing if given the opportunity. And neither would anyone else who knows right v. wrong and has a bit of conscience. We, the voters, bear the ultimate responsibility for the proliferation of corruption.


Paso_citizen

Touche! My last paragraph was intended to be a little factious. But I have to wonder about your comment “And neither would anyone else who knows right v. wrong and has a bit of conscience”


Are you saying that only crooks, cheats, and liars run for office and get elected? Or do very well-meaning people run for an office, get elected, and see how the system runs from the inside and oftentimes have a change of heart and realize that ‘in order to get along – one has to go along’. A system of higher than average salaries, great benefits, fantastic retirement packages (if you stay a city or county employee for 20 years or so). Is it not very, very tempting to be exposed to this type of system and just accept it as it is.


I would venture to say that in their earlier careers; all those officials mentioned in this article felt very good, had a high level of morality,civility, common-sense, civic duty,etc. etc. But somewhere along the line each and everyone seen that being an elected official has such outstanding benefits and somehow ‘morphed’ into what they are today. They were exposed to people already in their mid to later years in similar positions, seen how the system put in place by the same people that are benefitting most from that system really works and made a conscious decision to ‘go-along’ rather that upset the apple cart. Do not kill the golden goose, so to speak.

They realized that by ‘playing’ the game – lots of ‘wordy’ promises, short on real actions. Observing closely how other public employees conducted themselves in order to remain a public employee – realizing that as they get to 10, 15 years or more, they have too much to lose by really doing what needs to be done and see that the better course of action is to ‘stonewall’ ;make more promises they have no intention of keeping; pass the buck, blame someone else or all of those other CYA things that get the spotlight off of them and allow them to ‘enjoy’ the last few years of’ ‘public’ service and retire ‘set for life’.


I totally agree with you that” We, the voters, bear the ultimate responsibility for the proliferation of corruption.” But, it is my belief that we, the voters don’t really give a

damn and that the vast majority of officials know that very well. How long has it been since a CIvics class was part of a high school education? We, for the most part, get carried away with great promises only to find that reality really sucks. This is not political party dependent – both do it quite well. And will continue to do it. The system serves those who designed the system.


panflash

A big “thank you” to both Ironhub and Paso_citizen, for your very well-reasoned dialogue about this issue. You’ve both made very clear points. In your respective observations you’ve both hit nails solidly on the head.


Ironhub’s “right v. wrong” and voters bearing ultimate responsibility both are excellent points. And Paso_citizen’s observation about how public officials are co-opted into the “go-along” mentality is, unfortunately, all too true in current establishment operation.


Although you laid it out in give-and-take fashion, you both are correct in your own ways and have identified very serious problems in contemporary society and governance.


Thank you for expressing your thoughts, and for doing so in such civilized and respectful fashion. If we are to successfully discuss and address the many social issues we are facing as a nation, this is a good way to do it.


Daniel Blackburn

A common theme among editors when I was a young reporter was that tax dollars are different from private dollars, the former having been entrusted by taxpayers to individuals in government. When this trust is violated it becomes a matter of public concern. Too many people in public positions view tax dollars as their own plunder. “Co-opted?” Not unless larceny is already embedded in one’s character.


obispan

Would be nice if there was a way to connect. I have a big 50mile/yr full size-truck for dump runs and own every tool known to man from end wrenches to a gas-powered 14″ concrete saw.


panflash

Huh?


Daniel Blackburn

Is this an effort to help? If so call me at 805-423-1203


Rambunctious

SLO is progressive….it must be progressive to kick down doors without a warrant and take children away from innocent parents to justify your gross ignorance of the constitution and lay your weapon on the floor of a gender neutral bathroom in a fast food joint when you pee….Oooookay!