Editorial: Ed Arnold must respond to concerns

Arroyo Grande officials may be on the verge of asking for the resignation of Councilman Ed Arnold, who now faces child pornography charges in addition to the assault and domestic violence allegations filed earlier.

On Tuesday night, Mayor Tony Ferrara requested that the entire council consider sending a letter to Arnold, asking him to step down. The council agreed — with Arnold absent — to take up the issue at its next meeting.

Ideally, Arnold would act in the best interests of the city and resign of his own accord. That would spare the city a lot of turmoil, but unfortunately, that’s not going to happen.

On Wednesday, Arnold’s attorney said his client would not resign, and he condemned the council’s action, describing it as “a political lynching of the worst kind.”

That’s courthouse rhetoric. No one in the city is proclaiming Arnold guilty; if anything, city officials have been scrupulous in giving him the benefit of the doubt. Otherwise, they would have demanded that he step down in January, when the initial charges were filed. Also, officials have been careful to focus on how the situation is affecting the city, rather than condemning Arnold’s alleged actions.

At Tuesday’s meeting, Mayor Ferrara said the situation has become a drain on city resources and is distracting staff from day-to-day business. He also stated that Arnold “can no longer effectively serve the city.”

Too bad Arnold wasn’t present at the meeting so he could respond to those allegations. If the councilman truly believes he can continue to effectively serve the citizens of Arroyo Grande, then we strongly urge him to answer the mayor’s claims directly, rather than through his attorney.

In the meantime, we believe the City Council has ample cause to move forward with a request for Arnold’s resignation, and we urge council members to take that step.

If Arnold turns that down — as he’s indicated he will — it will be up to the voters of Arroyo Grande to determine whether a recall is in order.