Debbie Arnold again says no to colleague's appointment

Denunciations from audience accompany vote against Bruce Gibson

bcuddy@thetribunenews.comJanuary 29, 2013 

For the fourth time in her three weeks on the job, new county Supervisor Debbie Arnold has voted against naming one of her colleagues to a position of influence on a governing board.

Arnold was on the short end of a 4-1 vote Tuesday in which her fellow supervisors voted to send Bruce Gibson to be the county’s representative to the California State Association of Counties (CSAC), where he has represented San Luis Obispo County for four years.

While her peers did not side with her, Arnold drew considerable support from members of the audience, more than a dozen of whom spent much of the morning drilling Gibson.

Their objections to the 2nd District supervisor are twofold.

First, they said his affair with his legislative aide, which Gibson made public in November, was morally and perhaps legally unacceptable, and made him unfit to be a supervisor.

One speaker, Bill Pelfrey of Atascadero, looked at Gibson and said, “You are despicable.”

The other argument against Gibson returning to CSAC was that he had supported Proposition 30 last year without a formal vote on the proposition before the Board of Supervisors.
Proposition 30 was the tax measure on the November ballot backed by Gov. Jerry Brown to generate new revenue for schools and other government services.

Several speakers said Gibson had voted according to his conscience and not the needs of the county.
Arnold said she didn’t know how the county voted, and it was good that people in the audience raised the question.

However, Gibson and Supervisor Adam Hill, citing election results available on the county clerk-recorder’s website, pointed out that the county’s residents voted 54 to 46 percent in support of the proposition.

Other county officials said Proposition 30 brought money into the county to pay for state prison realignment, under which the county absorbs responsibilities and costs for taking care of prisoners. State sheriffs and probation departments supported it, they said.

Supervisor Paul Teixeira, a former Lucia Mar Unified School District board member, added that local school districts also supported Proposition 30.

Gibson faced intense and sometimes virulent criticism because of his affair and the fact that his aide, Cherie Aispuro, still works in his office.

Although the County Counsel’s Office has said Gibson broke no laws, several speakers questioned that conclusion, as well as the impartiality and professionalism of the County Counsel and county Administrator’s Offices. They called for an outside investigation. Others urged Gibson to resign.

The board and other county officials did not reply to the complaints.

Earlier this month, Arnold also voted against Gibson being named vice chairman of the Board of Supervisors, and voted against Hill being named chairman of the San Luis Obispo Council of Governments and chairman of the county’s Air Pollution Control District board of directors.

As in the previous cases, Mike Brown of the Coalition of Labor, Agriculture, and Business led the criticism of Gibson. Others joined in, including regular critics of the board’s policies regarding the Los Osos sewer.

“Save us all the trouble and resign,” Julie Tacker of Los Osos said to Gibson.

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