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Want to talk about your issues? My issues? Everyone's issues? Call my cell at 805-470-0983

Hi, I'm James Papp, downtown business owner and 3-time chair of SLO City's Cultural Heritage Committee—recently fired by the City Council for my "style of communication," that is, communicating that developers and the city need to follow the law. And Council probably didn't like it that I led the successful campaign against their efforts to restrict artistic speech and editorialized against their proposal to build a parking structure to combat climate change (yes, really) and their decision to follow the Trump-Borenstein policy on masks (i.e., do nothing) when COVID hit.


The Democrats didn't endorse me because I wrote something nice about a local Republican once, but in politics you have to work with everyone to get stuff done. And people who think that, after 4 centuries of institutionalized racism we don't need to examine why Black lives particularly matter, are having an ing-bing over the fact I protest. They asked me to explain it to them, and I did.

You should be able to fight city hall—and win. But over the last five years, I've watched the Council stop listening to constituents and become increasingly beholden to big developers and senior bureaucrats. Our old leaders have shown they don't have the imagination or determination to conquer our new pandemic crises of COVID and the COVID economy—or our old endemic crises of affordable housing, policing, climate change, and preserving our natural and urban environments.

The Council's great at symbolism and kind of sucks at substance. We have a historic moment to create a better city. Let's not kumbaya it to death.

I've got decades of experience in getting initiatives done at the local, state, federal, and international level—from Open Society to Peace Corps/USAID, the University of California, and SLO's own parks and museums. That includes everything from working with the yak tityu tityu/Northern Chumash to save their historic aqueduct (that Council and developer wanted to backhoe), to working with that Republican (Debbie Arnold) to get a 41% increase for a local nonprofit. “Tireless,” “staunch,” and “does the heavy work,” community members have said of me. ("Adversarial" and "a cudgel," developers have whinged.) If you don't have idealism, what's the point? But if you don't have experience, bureaucrats and big business will eat you alive and you won't even know it.

For more bio … 

For (lots) more on the issues …


Hodinized! New Times, 9 July 2020

Op-Eds  Campaign speech tends to be shallow. For a deeper dive, sample my op-eds:

Why I Protest (CalCoast 8/20) • Tianna and Deanna (New Times letter 8/20) • Brilliant Buildings (Tribune 8/20) • Kumbayapolitik (Cal Coast 7/20) • Disagreement Outlaw (Tribune 7/2020) • This Way to the Apocalypse (Tribune 6/20) • Pandemic 3: Mandate Masks (Tribune 5/20) • Pandemic 2: Ignaz & Donald (Tribune 3/20) • Pandemic 1: SLO in the Time of Coronavirus (Tribune 3/20) • Big v. Smart Housing (New Times letter 3/20) • Booing Hate Speech (Tribune 12/19) • City Planning 2: Parking versus Everything (Tribune 11/19) • City Planning 1: Juggernauts of Nonsense (Tribune 10/19) • Post-People Monuments (Tribune 7/19) • Wall versus Park (Tribune 11/17) • In Defense of the History Center (Cal Coast 7/17) 

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