Award leads to dispute between former Paso Robles councilman and city's Chamber of Commerce CEO

A dispute has broken out between former Paso Robles City Councilman Gary Nemeth and the city’s Chamber of Commerce CEO Mike Gibson.

The quarrel is centered on an award that the chamber is to give to Nemeth, naming him Roblan of the Month for March to honor his volunteer work.

On Tuesday, the issue came down to one man’s word against the other.

Nemeth said that Gibson called him Tuesday to say that the organization is rescinding its honor because of recent comments Nemeth made publicly criticizing the Paso Robles City Council and City Manager Jim App.

Nemeth has written several opinion pieces outlining his disapproval of the way Paso Robles has handled the area’s gang troubles and budget cuts to police and fire departments.

“I had a message, and I listened to it. And it was, ‘You’re not going to be the Roblan of the Month for March, and you’re a little too controversial,’ ” Nemeth said of the call.

But Gibson denied making any phone call Tuesday. Rather, he called Nemeth earlier this month; he couldn’t recall the exact date.

Nemeth’s award has simply been delayed, Gibson said, because of the packed schedule at the upcoming mixer where the award was to be given. A beautification award to another recipient may also be delayed, Gibson added.

“We’ve got no ax to grind with Gary,” Gibson said. “It’s just deferring it because of the event’s scale.”

But Nemeth said that Tuesday’s call was the only message he had received from Gibson. He also said he deleted Gibson’s voicemail and recent call log from his cellphone while routinely clearing out the phone’s memory.

Gibson and Nemeth ran against one another in the city’s 2010 mayoral election.

On Tuesday, Nemeth said he hasn’t decided whether he will run for the mayor seat again this November, while Gibson said he doesn’t plan to run again.