Editorials

Resignation of Arroyo Grande city manager won’t settle much

There is no shortage of examples of sexual misbehavior by public servants: There was Bill Clinton’s infamous “I did not have sexual relations with that woman” pronouncement. (Turns out he was using a very strict definition of “sexual relations.”)

Then there was the former South Carolina governor (and current congressman) who claimed to be hiking the Appalachian Trail when he was actually off with his mistress in Argentina.

And closer to home, former Paso Robles police Chief Lisa Solomon was accused of sexual misconduct with one of her officers, yet she still managed to walk away with a $250,000 settlement from the city.

We could go on, but you get the picture, right?

Given this pattern of reprehensible behavior, many — if not most — of us are jaded and cynical and ready to think the worst when there’s even a whiff of scandal attached to a public official. Those who insist on some hard evidence before passing judgment — something more than rumors and anonymous sources and vague descriptions and fuzzy videos — are branded hopelessly naïve.

In this climate, did Arroyo Grande City Manager Steve Adams ever have a chance of surviving? Probably not, and he may be sparing himself and his family a lot of grief in deciding to resign.

Unlike many other local officials who left under far more damning circumstances — Solomon is, once again, a shining example — he does so without any severance package, though he will be compensated for any leave he’s accrued. To his credit, Adams also has offered to stay until his successor is hired, despite circumstances that must be painfully awkward.

Adams’ resignation, though, won’t settle anything. An independent investigation is still moving forward. While we were initially opposed to spending any more money on another investigation, given the level of distrust directed at Arroyo Grande City Hall, we now believe it’s for the best. Perhaps it will turn up some additional information, not just about the incident, but also about the way it was handled by city officials, including the Police Department, the mayor and City Council, as well as the role played by the Arroyo Grande Police Officers Association.

At the very least, we hope this unfortunate chain of events will lead to more clear-cut guidelines for the future — including a more specific code of conduct for the city manager and department heads — so no one else has to suffer through this again.

For now, we offer bouquets of sympathy to all the innocent parties hurt by this very public embarrassment; we’ll hold the brickbats in abeyance until we know more.

Thanks for years of service, Sjany

It’s scant acknowledgement for such a phenomenal service, but we can’t let the de Groot Nursing Home shut down without offering a giant bouquetof loving kindness to Sjany de Groot and her entire staff, past and present. For 35 years, Sjany, 86, has cared for medically fragile children — many near death — who were provided with a loving home for the time they had left, whether that was measured in hours, days or years.

We had hoped that a compromise could have been reached with licensing officials that would have allowed the de Groot home to continue to operate as a state-funded facility, but sadly, that didn’t happen.

The de Groot Nursing Home will be sorely missed, though Sjany — in her typical, selfless fashion — will continue to care for three children under her guardianship.

Atascadero council’s big blunder

We understand that cost estimates are exactly that — estimates — and on a major road project, an estimate can be off by a million or two. But we’re flabbergasted that the estimate for roadwork for the Atascadero Wal-Mart project has jumped to about $12 million from the $4.5 million cited two years ago.

The city has a litany of reasons for the $7.5 million increase. But we have little patience at this point, given that the City Council rejected pleas from several quarters — including The Tribune Editorial Board — that it require Wal-Mart to pay its fair share of all cost overruns. It failed to do so, and it now faces $6 million in road improvements that it can’t afford.

One councilman — Bob Kelley — is acknowledging that the city erred back in 2012, and Councilman Brian Sturtevant told a Tribune reporter that he wishes he had dug deeper at the time. But it’s a little late for that.

We’re just doing some back-of-the-napkin calculations here, but by our estimation, Kelley, Sturtevant and their colleagues on the 2012 council — Mayor Tom O’Malley, Roberta Fonzi and Jerry Clay — are in line for, oh, let’s say 4,589,392 brickbats — give or take.

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