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Morro Bay council looks to remove planning commissioner after outburst

Heated exchange at Morro Bay council meeting leads to calls for resignation

Outspoken Morro Bay Planning Commissioner Richard Sadowski was asked to voluntarily resign by Councilman Robert “Red” Davis and City Manager Martin Lomeli after he criticized the council at a September meeting. Watch Sadowski's comments and the he
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Outspoken Morro Bay Planning Commissioner Richard Sadowski was asked to voluntarily resign by Councilman Robert “Red” Davis and City Manager Martin Lomeli after he criticized the council at a September meeting. Watch Sadowski's comments and the he

Morro Bay Planning Commissioner Richard Sadowski’s days as a city official may be numbered after the City Council agreed Tuesday to discuss removing him in two weeks.

Sadowski has been a vocal critic of the direction of the city’s Water Reclamation Facility Project as a member of the city Planning Commission and the project’s Citizen Advisory Committee. He was told to step down from the podium at a heated Sept. 26 meeting for what the city manager later called “disruptive” behavior.

During public comment, Sadowski alleged that the council wasn’t interested in listening to residents’ concerns about the project. Video of the incident shows that Sadowski was cut off before his three minutes to speak was up.

On Tuesday, Mayor Jamie Irons proposed to agendize a discussion to remove Sadowski, but first polled the support of the other council members. Councilman John Headding and Councilwoman Marlys McPherson said they would support a discussion.

Following the contentious Sept. 26 meeting, Sadowski met separately with Councilman Robert “Red” Davis and former interim City Manager Martin Lomeli (newly hired City Manager Scott Collins was appointed Tuesday). Sadowski says both Davis and Lomeli asked him to voluntarily resign over his behavior at the meeting. He said no.

Richard E.T. Sadowski
Morro Bay Planning Commisioner Richard Sadowski could be removed from his two advisory body seats by the City Council after an incident during public comment at a recent meeting. Joe Johnston jjohnston@thetribunenews.com

Davis declined to comment on what he called a “private conversation,” but he told the audience at Tuesday’s meeting that he did not ask for Sadowski’s resignation. Lomeli, however, told The Tribune that he suggested Sadowski consider resigning because of his behavior — not because of his criticism — when he met Sadowski at Sadowski’s request.

Video of the Sept. 26 exchange appears to show Sadowski’s buzzer going off at about 2 minutes and 11 seconds, and Irons interrupts Sadowski. Sadowski argues back, the crowd erupts, and Sadowski tries to call a point of order before stepping down when the police chief interjects at roughly 3 minutes.

Asked whether there have been any complaints made to the city about Sadowski, Lomeli said he was told that people were deterred from speaking and left the meeting because of the commissioner and the uproar that followed his comments.

I’m not surprised that they would quietly try to get me to voluntarily resign, and if I didn’t go quietly, then they would go about it this way.

Morro Bay Planning Commissioner Richard Sadowski

Lomeli said Sadowski violated rules stated in the meeting agenda: “Any disruptive activities that substantially interfere with the ability of the City Council to carry out its meeting will not be permitted and offenders will be requested to leave the meeting.”

“I’ve never seen a planning commissioner purposely disregard the policies of the city in this manner,” Lomeli said.

Sadowski on Wednesday said he wants to stay on. While he called Davis’ comments at Tuesday’s meeting “untruthful,” he said he fully expected the council to initiate his removal.

“I’m not surprised that they would quietly try to get me to voluntarily resign, and if I didn’t go quietly, then they would go about it this way,” he said.

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