Arroyo Grande manager’s resignation text revealed

May 4, 2020


Typing eight words, two periods and hitting the send button was all it took for the city of Arroyo Grande’s top executive to resign in the midst of a pandemic and global economic downturn.

A records request for Arroyo Grande City Manager Jim Bergman’s resignation letter has revealed Bergman resigned on Thursday by way of the following text message sent to city officials:

“I resign. I will not be coming back.”

Bergman, who has not spoken publicly about his decision to leave his post as city manager, was reportedly clashing with Arroyo Grande Mayor Caren Ray Russom. Sources say Bergman and Ray Russom were at odds over who would hold the responsibility for delivering coronavirus updates to the council and the public.

At last week’s council meeting, Councilwoman Lan George asked Bergman a question about the city’s response to the coronavirus. While Bergman was attempting to answer George’s question, Ray Russom interrupted him, saying she would answer all questions about the virus.

Several of Ray Russom’s fellow council members also voiced disapproval of Ray Russom for not getting council approval before she signed Assemblyman Jordan Cunningham’s letter to the governor on behalf of the city. A few years ago, the city passed a policy requiring council members to obtain council approval before signing any documents as a city representative.

On Sunday, Ray Russom addressed Bergman’s departure in a video she posted on Facebook.

“This was an individual decision made by Mr. Bergman in his own best interests, and I can’t speak to why he made that decision. That’s for him to share with you at a time of his choosing,” Ray Russom said.

But, Ray Russom denied allegations that any fraud or malfeasance could have factored into Bergman’s decision.

“I really just want to put the rumor mill to rest. There is nothing terrible that has gone on here. There is no fraud, no malfeasance, nothing that Mr. Bergman had done that caused the city council to take any action,” Ray Russom said.

Ray Russom also used the Facebook video to tell members of the public to temper their rhetoric amid the pandemic. The public should be grateful for, and compassionate to, public servants and should be thanking them, rather than blaming them, she said.

Bergman had replaced former city manger Dianne Thompson, whom the council voted to terminate in 2016.

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Anybody who pours gasoline with the terse text “I resign. I will not be coming back.” and then throws a lit match on it by hitting the “SEND” button?

That’s a person with the upper hand. Especially in this tiny little community where WHO you know is more important than HOW you do your job and everybody knows everybody.

Bergman wouldn’t burn a bridge that wasn’t easy to sacrifice – he’s not stupid.

Caren done effed up, big time and this move shows that Bergman has the upper hand and called Caren’s bluff, OK Corral-style and smack in the middle of the town square for all to witness.

::cue the soundtrack::


AGrat, not that hard to understand. When your boss, in this case Mayor Ray, comes to you and says something like you need to resign immediately or I’ll start the process to have you fired, which will follow you onto your next job and since I was able to pick the person I wanted for my empty council seat instead of letting the voters choose, I have the votes needed to get it done, you submit your resignation. Even if you say my contract says i must give you 45 days, Mayor Ray could have said never mind that, I am on control of the council and the city and I won’t hold you to that clause. I’ll even post a video saying you did nothing wrong and that there was no malfeasance or financial issues, I just need to you to leave so I can continue my plan to bring back my old bosses style of government now. I already have your replacement picked and just need to fool the residents into thinking this is an open selection process using their money for the company I want to pretend to look for the most experienced candidate and in the end hire the person I have already licked at a salary and benefits that is higher than what you were making never-minding that the city has several financial mountains to climb. I can use this Covid-19 issue as my excuse. Mayor Ray’s final statement “Just pack up and leave now if you know whats good for you”.


I don’t know. It’s Caren Ray’s influence that got him the job as city manager and his prior job as county building director. Since you know so much, what turned this sweetheart relationship sour? Also, if he really didn’t want to go, he could have held his ground and collected the 6 months severance for termination without cause. All I’m saying is there’s more to the story, and I’d prefer to see some facts. If only there were some news agency that had the time and inclination to request all the emails and texts between the mayor and city manager over the last month or so.


I and other don’t know that much, the lack of transparency from Mayor Ray and the city is the main cause of it, and hiding behind “It’s a personnel issue” is wrong when it involves city funds, the residents should know so we can make well informed decisions. It’s a toss up, hold your ground and possibly collect some severance, though he may still get some, or have a “FIRED” follow you to your next job, may not be an issue if you are retiring but Jim may not be so he may have decided it was best to have a “RESIGN” instead on his resume. Can’t any one make a FOIA request, don’t think it has to be a news agency but given the way some entities drag their feet to respond to a FOIA requests it would be better if they information was freely released and not in the form a one sided videos.


If he finally quit the pay to play or go along to get along game, Ray would have had him out of there fast so she could hire someone more expensive and up her cut.


Section 18.E of Bergman’s contract (see link below) requires that he give 45 days’ notice to resign. This allows time to choose an interim manager and figure out the recruitment process. Resigning effective immediately is not the move someone who purports to love their city does. Something clearly happened, and the public is entitled to know.


IF ONLY the voters would tune out all the other noise and see how greedy and self-serving Caren is. But will they remember come election time? Caren is counting on all the voters having short-term memory. Please prove her wrong.


Let’s break it down, shall we:

The public learns there will be a closed session meeting about the AG City GM.

The meeting happens and we learn that Bergman is gone.

Shit-talking starts on social media.

We start hearing Caren Ray is the reason he’s gone.

Shit-talking picks up momentum on social media.

Bergman has a “no disparaging comments” clause in his contract.

Bergman posts a video saying he’s live, local and not going away from the area.

Caren posts a video asking the public to not disparage anyone.

I think Caren has already cost the city so much, with her bad decisions and complete lack of fiscal/business knowledge, and now she has cost us a shit-ton of pay to a guy who quit because of her and who is now angling to get MORE money with this “no disparaging comments” content that Caren can’t contain.

I have everything crossed that Caren will text her resignation as well but she has proven she’s a ladder-rung political climber for her own best interests and NOT an “all in this together” leader qualified to helm the city of AG.

AND! She keeps going rogue with her unilateral, non-council-agreed-upon decisions to represent the city in an official capacity. The very thing she EXCORIATED Mayor Hill for and even forced the city to officially change.

She’s got to go. BOUNCE. Kick rocks. Pound sand. Hit the road, Jack. The city is already going to feel the pain of her term for years to come and long after she has used us all up to polish her resume.


The only question is when will Mayor Ray announce her tax and fee increases or the threat of cutting services, police and such? We know that’s coming before any real cutting of expenses, such as salaries of the top people or the raise the council just voted themselves, must be nice to be able to vote yourself a raise.


These small time politicians are just like the politicians in Washington DC. Their agenda always lines their own pocket before anyone else. I know of a low level politician who has no problem violating building codes and permit process on his own property but, look out if you’re his neighbor because he also has no problem calling code enforcement on you! We need people of integrity with unbiased morals not self serving scum taking advantage of hard-working taxpayers.

Jorge Estrada

Yes Karen, ok Karen, whatever Karen, if you feel that strongly Karen, your choice Karen, your so considerate Karen, term up, goodbye Karen.


I assume (and hope) that you are referring to A.G. Mayor Caren Ray, not CCN’s Karen Velie.


Hi Jorge. It’s Caren sir. ;o)

Jorge Estrada

Ya, I screwed up and should have spelled Karen with C. I’m amazed how and where they get these bathroom? photos, remember, like the Pulitzer Prize winning stoop photo of Adam Hill.


Holy cow that woman is TOXIC. AG should be called Apatía Grande (great apathy), because without it, horrible people like Caren Ray would never be placed in any position of responsibility.

I mean if the mayor of Chicago can threaten the citizens for having the audacity to keep their Constitutional Rights, there’s room for devolving in Caren’s regard.

Also, her name is Caren. LoL. She *is* totally a “Karen.”