Arroyo Grande City Council may ask Ed Arnold to resign

The Arroyo Grande City Council will at its next meeting consider sending a letter to Councilman Ed Arnold — who faces felony charges including allegations involving child pornography — asking for his resignation.

Arroyo Grande Mayor Tony Ferrara said Tuesday night the “extremely serious” charges facing Arnold have become a drain on city resources and distracted staff from focusing on day-to-day business.

Ferrara and Councilmen Jim Guthrie, Joe Costello and Chuck Fellows agreed to discuss the letter at the council’s April 27 meeting. They will also receive an outline of the process of how to recall a council member and the process for filling a council vacancy, should that occur.

“He can no longer effectively serve the city of Arroyo Grande,” Ferrara said. “The situation remains a personal matter, but because he holds public office, the city has become the focus of attention.”

Arnold, who faces five felony charges in addition to two new charges included in paperwork filed by prosecutors late Friday, did not attend Tuesday’s meeting.

He is expected to attend a pre-preliminary court hearing today to hear the new charges that involve allegations of child pornography.

Arnold has served on the council since 2004. He was re-elected in 2008 to serve a four-year term that ends in 2012.

Only one person commented to the council about its consensus Tuesday.

“I think it’s best for the city,” Arroyo Grande resident Patty Welsh said.

Before the meeting, Arroyo Grande resident Tim Moore said he’d reserve judgment until more information about the allegations is revealed.

“He is innocent until proven guilty, but if the new allegations are true, that’s bad,” he said.

In January, Arnold pleaded not guilty to five felony charges, including assault with a deadly weapon and domestic violence, for his alleged role in the Dec. 15 attack on a woman who had been living with him and his wife at their Arroyo Grande home.

In addition, prosecutors filed paperwork to bring two new charges against Arnold: possession of child pornography and using a minor for pornographic images, both felonies.

Judge Barry T. LaBarbera could decide at a hearing today whether to grant the motion.

The council doesn’t have the authority to remove Arnold unless he is recalled, misses all regular meetings within a 60-day period — which started with Tuesday night’s meeting — or resigns, according to city officials.

Arnold, 45, hasn’t spoken publicly about allegations of burglary and that he attacked the 28-year-old woman with a metal club.

According to court documents, Arnold, the woman and Arnold’s wife were involved in a love triangle. The alleged victim said in court documents that Arnold blamed her for the breakup of his marriage.

Arnold said in a statement in January that he won’t let his private life affect his ability to serve Arroyo Grande professionally and honestly.

In his statement, Arnold said it has been distressing to have embarrassing, distorted and false accusations made about his “marriage and its dissolution aired in a public way.”