[b]John Sterling, Art Montandon move on[/b] The rest of the story Catch up with five years’ worth of news BY SUN STAFF [b]Date: 03/31/2005[/b] The last time the Sun sat down with either former Santa Maria City Attorney Art Montandon or former Santa Maria Police Chief John Sterling, we had a tangled web on our hands. Suffice it to say that this web spanned two cities between 1996 and early 2004 and involved a purported videotape, a massage parlor, the District Attorney, alleged bribes, and other conspiracy theories. (To read the whole story, which ran on Jan. 29, 2004, visit www.santamariasun.com.) Santa Maria has picked up the pieces after both Sterling and Montandon retired from their positions-Sterling in mid 2003 and Montandon in late 2004.
Santa Maria Valley Chamber of Commerce hosts its 86th annual awards dinner Aug. 11, 2005 By Kent Miller/Business Editor James D. Glines, Arthur Montandon and Union Asphalt Inc. were honored Wednesday night at the Santa Maria Valley Chamber of Commerce’s 86th annual installation and awards dinner. About 330 people attended the dinner at the Santa Maria Elks Lodge, where Glines was named the chamber’s Citizen of the Year, Montandon received the Robert F. Grogan Award for Public Service and Union Asphalt was named Business of the Year.
State bar looks into complaint against D.A. By Quintin Cushner/Staff Writer The State Bar of California is investigating a complaint made by former Santa Maria City Attorney Art Montandon alleging that Santa Barbara County District Attorney Tom Sneddon and two other prosecutors obstructed justice in a 2003 prostitution case. Montandon Continue Reading
Montandon files claim against D.A. By Quintin Cushner/Staff Writer Recently departed Santa Maria City Attorney Art Montandon this week filed a claim against the Santa Barbara County District Attorney’s office, alleging mistreatment and requesting damages. The claim, filed Monday, alleges that District Attorney’s officials were “discriminatory, abusive, defamatory (and) negligent” Continue Reading
[b]Santa Maria city attorney closes out 19-year tenure[/b] By Quintin Cushner/Staff Writer To understand why Santa Maria officials value departing City Attorney Art Montandon, one need only look at his role in eliminating the olfactory nuisance that was the Williams Feed Lot. Until 1996, Williams Feed Lot and its thousands Continue Reading
City attorney fires back at D.A. By Quintin Cushner/Staff Writer The strife between Santa Maria’s city attorney and the Santa Barbara County District Attorney’s office continues. On Thursday, City Attorney Art Montandon issued a statement sharply criticizing the decision by the district attorney’s office on Wednesday to complain to the Continue Reading
Big Trouble in Little Santa Maria? BY SUN STAFF We looked it up. Right there in the dictionary. Scandal. To paraphrase Mr. Webster, its damage to reputation, public disgrace. Defamatory talk and malicious gossip. Its what happens when someones conduct brings shame or offense. If you havent noticed, thats whats going on in Santa Maria right now, and it involves everyone from the city council, to the city attorney, to former police chiefs from two different cities, to alleged prostitutes, to the district attorneys office. Scandal. We dont use that word lightly. Just about everyone involved will tell you that the other sidethose guystheyre the ones stirring up trouble, perpetuating the lies, fueling the fire of hate. Theyre the ones who may tarnish the good name of the city, and that of anyone who gets in their way. Or that theyre the ones who started it all in the first place. So who to believe? We decided that the only way to be fair would be to get all the facts we could, and then let everybody speak for themselves. In the following pages, we delve into past problems, present events, and the possible future of this troubled issue. Read it all; weve broken it up into three separate stories for you. And take your time. The gossip wont go away anytime soon. We just hope the truth will outlast it.
The past: Did history repeat itself? Central Coast residents pose parallels between one city attorney, two cities, and two dismissed police chiefs BY ANDREA ROOKS He was visible. He was popular in the community. He worked well alongside the police officers association. The police chief enjoyed success in the community he protected. And then he was gone. To the community, it appeared sudden. Seemingly with little explanation, the city manager placed the chief on paid administrative leave. The city council and city administration couldnt be as forthcoming as everyonethemselves includedwould have liked, but suffice it to say the chiefs leave was a personnel issue. Modest public outcry ensued. After the city council upheld the chiefs termination, he worked out a retirement settlement and left city employment. To Santa Marians, this sounds like a rough rundown of what happened to former Chief John Sterling last year. To Atascadero residents, its along the lines of what happened to former Chief Richard Bud McHale in 1996. Reading what went on in Santa Maria with Sterlingits a repeat of what happened here, said former Atascadero Mayor George Highland. The link, assert some in the community, is Santa Maria City Attorney Art Montandon, who was Atascaderos city attorney until he resigned in 1998. As Highland reflected back on what happened while he was mayor of Atascadero, he viewed McHales termination and subsequent retirement as largely the city attorneys doing. In retrospect, its my opinion that Montandon got the confidence of a city manager who wasnt sure of himself, and used that to attempt to get rid of anyone on staff who didnt agree with him, Highland said. He used the naiveté of the city council members to get an investigation of McHale the way he wanted it done. Montandon, on the other hand, explained that both terminations were justified and handled properlyat the will of the respective city managers, not due to his influence. ……
Jury reaches split verdict By Quintin Cushner/Staff Writer Jan 22 2004 A Superior Court jury Wednesday convicted two Santa Maria sisters of conspiring to commit prostitution at their massage parlor, but acquitted them on two other charges in the high-profile case of the People vs. April and Irene Cummings. After Continue Reading
District, City Attorney offices must share case evidence By Quintin Cushner/Staff Writer [color=red][b]Dec. 31, 2003 [/b][/color] The Santa Barbara County District Attorney’s office can’t forbid the Santa Maria City Attorney’s office from examining evidence in a prostitution case both agencies are investigating, a judge ruled Tuesday. The ruling, issued by Continue Reading
Sisters to stand trial on prostitution charges By Gina Tenorio — Staff Writer 7/30/03 Sisters April and Irene Cummings were ordered Tuesday to stand trial on charges that they engaged in acts of prostitution at their now-defunct Santa Maria massage parlor. At the end of a preliminary hearing, Judge Rick Continue Reading