OPINION by JULIE TACKER
As the cost of the investigation into Arroyo Grande Mayor Hill continues to climb, it occurs to me that the outcomes should have been analyzed in the beginning — before incurring such costs.
Before taking the step to investigate, the Arroyo Grande City Council and South San Luis Obispo County Sanitation District Board members should have asked, what if all the accusations were found to be true? What would the penalty or punishment be for each one? Is there anything to be gained from investigating?
Here we are nearing the end of the process and we are learning there is very little the city council or the sanitation district can do.
As the highfalutin attorneys from Fresno and the legal counsel from the respective agencies raked in excess of $50,000 to ultimately advise the members that the only things they can legally do is:
1. Ask the mayor to take some Brown Act and ethics training; both are legally required trainings annually anyway.
2. Request the mayor step down from the sanitation district board, but the government code that dictates who presides on behalf of the city requires the mayor represent the city.
3. Recommend censure, which merely means to “condemn sternly;” to do so would be no surprise, since the politicians often oppose the mayor’s transparent approach.
4. Implement new policies; a make work project for the attorneys.
To spend more than $50,000 to ask, request, condemn sternly and/or make more work for attorneys is outrageous!
There are legal reason Hill can’t be forced to do anything. Reasons deep-rooted in our government systems; the law doesn’t want a majority of a council or board to control how a minority member serves his or her constituents.
From this, it is evident that Mayor Hill did nothing wrong in the first place. He has not only the right, but a duty, to speak out and be involved without the oversight of his peers on the city council or sanitation district board. Mayors and council members are independently elected. Elected officials are expected to act independently.
The sanitation district will entertain the recommendations of the city council at its meeting at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 20 at the Arroyo Grande City Council Chambers. The public is invited to attend and encouraged to let your feelings be known.
My message has been and continues to be: Get out of the litigation business.