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Arroyo Grande mayor faces potential misconduct investigation

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On Feb. 14, the Arroyo Grande City Council will decide whether to launch an independent investigation into allegations of misconduct leveled at Mayor Jim Hill.

The vote comes after members of the public accused Hill of passing along confidential information and documents discussed in closed session meetings to unauthorized individuals in violation of the state's public meeting laws, known as the Brown Act.

At the council's Jan. 24 meeting, Arroyo Grande resident Patty Welsh indicated to the council that she believed Hill leaked an unsigned, unapproved employee contract to someone he shouldn't have and that she witnessed Hill leave a closed session meeting and discuss confidential matters in public. In addition, Welsh alleged that Hill gave his wife access to his city email account, which contained confidential information and documents.

"This is a breach of the public's trust and the trust of the board he is there to represent," Welsh said at the meeting.

Speaking to New Times, Welsh said she had long supported Hill and helped with the write-in campaign that swept him into office in 2014.

"I don't mean to bash [Hill], but I believe in transparent government," Welsh said.

At the Jan. 24 meeting, former South SLO County Sanitation District Board members Mary Lucey and Matthew Guerrero also called for the council to investigate the allegations.

"I think this should be taken seriously, and I think that action should be taken on it," Guerrero told the councilmembers. "I think the conduct should be denied or somebody should think about resigning."

Hill denied the allegations and told New Times that he wouldn't participate in the discussion about an investigation at the Feb. 14 meeting and.

"Those charges are baseless, so I have no concern about it," he said.

If the council approves opening an investigation, it will cost between $10,000 and $15,000, according to documents prepared by city staff.

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