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Shouldering responsibility 

Did Paso Robles City Manager Ty Lewis manhandle losing City Council and mayoral candidate Michael Rivera at the City Homelessness Strategic Plan Working Group meeting on Nov. 6, as Rivera alleges? Rivera wasn't part of the committee, but he was asked by committee member Ron Cuff to attend in his stead. When Lewis learned of Cuff's request, he said that sending Rivera wouldn't be appropriate. Rivera came anyway.

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According to Rivera, in a letter to the city, "Mr. Ty Lewis came in and came directly at me aggressively with a big grin and said 'Mr. Rivera you didn't get the message and what are you doing here' or something to that effect. After a couple more verbal exchanges he then came toward me grabbed be (sic) by the shoulder he continued squeezing my shoulder very hard after which he let go and Slapped me very aggressively on the shoulder."

Did it happen like that? Crack investigators from the SLO County Sheriff's Office are on the case, but it sure makes you wish they'd, I don't know, record these meetings or something? I'm not sure the Sheriff's Office has a stellar track record of policing their own.

Oh, did I forget to mention that Lewis used to be the Paso police chief? I imagine if he needed to subdue a septuagenarian, he could do it, but I'd also guess a former law enforcement officer would know what constitutes assault and battery and avoid it. If Lewis had a history of using excessive force, wouldn't we know about it by now? Lewis also did a darn good job bringing the community together during the George Floyd protests and keeping things calm.

Then there's Rivera's track record.

Rivera was the secretary of the pro-eugenics group Californians for Population Stabilization, which the Southern Poverty Law Center labeled a hate group. That seems a tad unsavory.

Earlier this year, Rivera created a petition to remove Paso Robles Joint Unified School District trustee Joel Peterson from the board of directors because he was appointed under a state school code rather than elected, because he ran unopposed when no one else filed paperwork to run. Interestingly enough, after the untimely death of Paso Mayor Steve Martin, Rivera suggested that instead of holding a special election to replace Martin, the city should simply appoint him mayor.

"I believe I should be appointed mayor because I was the only one who ran against [Mayor Martin] in the last election," Rivera said during public comment at the Sept. 5 City Council meeting.

The council appointed John Hamon instead, whose seat is up for reelection in 2026.

Look, if Lewis did what Rivera claims, he may be guilty of using his "jiu jitsu" and "grappling moves" to subdue a 70-year-old man who's apparently hard of hearing with bad reading comprehension. If that's the case, he should step down.

That said, Rivera's hobby is being a thorn in the side of city government, which he'd really like to be in charge of. As he said in his 2022 mayoral candidate's statement, "Paso Roblans have been overlooked. We need to focus on our permanent residents and their needs. Crime, roads, water, and weed are now major concerns in our city as is increasing taxation."

Crime! Weed! Taxes! Rivera demands justice, people!

"I am a 70-year-old man and do not tolerate being physically abused by a much younger person like Mr. Lewis or anyone else for that matter," he said in his statement. "My shoulder still hurts but my physiological condition after this is worse."

Does he mean psychological? Probably. Well, you blew it, Paso. This dude could have been your mayor. Maybe you'll wake up before the next election. I can already see Mike's campaign sign: "Rivera 2026! My Shoulder Still Hurts!"

You know what else hurts? My future plans to ride my bike from San Luis Obispo to the beach on the Bob Jones Trail!

Look, I get that landowners along the proposed trail may not be interested in granting an easement so a bunch of fancy cyclists in neon tights can ride to Avila Beach along a paved path through the scenic SLO Creek corridor that will eventually bring "homeless encampments, garbage, fire danger, and noise and dust pollution," according to the lawsuit filed by Ray Bunnell, Robert Kruse, Edward Pollard, and James Warren who own land along the remaining 4.5-mile stretch. But dudes! The county has $18.25 million in state money to spend here! And they must spend it by 2025!

Bunnell and his cohorts' suit contends that the county plans to use eminent domain to seize their land, and they ain't having it, see? You gov'mint types keep yer cotton-picking hands of our properties! Actually, the county's general plan states eminent domain can't be used to seize a trail easement across private properties, so there's that assurance. So, what to do?

Don't panic quite yet, cycling enthusiasts and unhoused campers. The county has an overly complicated plan to keep and spend the money and if not solve the problem at least kick it down the bucolic path until they can somehow finish the trail that broke ground in 2017. I'd explain it to you, but it's too complicated.

Rest assured, it contains "the bookends alternative," and if that doesn't work, cyclists can ride on Highway 101's shoulder. Δ

The Shredder's brain hurts. Commiserate at [email protected].

Readers Poll

Should Arroyo Grande use eminent domain to repair the Traffic Way bridge? 

  • Yes! The bridge serves the public, and repairs are essential.
  • No—that's private property, and seizing it is government overreach.
  • Maybe, but there's much more the city should do first.
  • What's eminent domain?

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