EU posted a Turko clip about the Hall park. Turko still seems to think much of the decade long delay was because of the "NIMBY's". More like two years could be attributed to them, but close inspection makes it clear that the city was unable to build during that period with or without "NIMBYs". Turko didn't do much digging below the surface or really challenge Mayor Stocks, yet. Even so, it is becoming really tough for the Mayor to hide the real root of the problem to getting the park open. They were not able to save enough money!
But the City was able to give staff a 15% raise over the last 4 years, give staff a 35% pension increase, overpay millions for public works yard, overpay half a million for property on La Costa Avenue, overpay for the Birmingham fire station property, overpay millions for the Hall park itself, and throw away money at numerous non-competitive contracts.
The City was also able to borrow $20 million dollars to build the Hall park (and fire stations and PWY). They weren't able to hold on to enough money even after borrowing that much.
As a side note they borrowed the money WITHOUT a vote of the people. Turko got that wrong, but we informed him of this fact before he reported it incorrectly.
Turko wasn't interested in the financial and administrative history of the Hall park. We expect he will become more interested as more things come to light. This issue is another example of the city's secrecy being used to manipulate the public. Throughout the Hall park process the secrecy and clear violations of the California Public Records Act has allowed Mayor Stocks to deceive the public.
Look at the above budget adopted about the last time Turko covered the Hall park. Turko didn't ask the Mayor why the budget document showed that the city didn't plan on opening the park until beyond 2015 (they stripped out the operating expenses down to zero). Did the "NIMBY's" adopt the budget plan or the city council? The council officially planned on not opening the park until past 2015. They weren't telling their supporters this.
Don't forget that in about 2005 the city postured to sell part of the Hall park property to pay for the park development because they were strained at that point. They have been searching for money to build the park all along, even becoming so desperate as to be willing to scale back the park to get it open. Some dang NIMBYs pointed out that might violate some of the city's contracts. It seems the NIMBYs helped save the full Hall park.
[Note: that was not some minor looking into all our options event. They were going for it. A Sunshine Ordinance would help citizens clarify what is a genuine exploration of options and what is posturing to execute a predetermined plan. We need a sunshine ordinance in Encinitas.]
According to the Turko story, the City has about $9 million dollars for the park. According to leaks coming out all over city hall (PLEASE send an email for yourself to staff or the Mayor), the reason they have not gone out to bid is they can't figure out how to request a job they can afford to build with the $9million. Remember that Phase 1 has been expected to cost $20 million.
It is amazing that you can't just do all the infrastructure with that amount, but that is a big park with lots of infrastructure issues. Let's hope they don't throw away money just to get a shovel in the ground before the next election rather than value engineer the project. Remember they threw away half a million dollars just to get the library started before Dan Dalager's reelection? Let's avoid repeating that.
The city has been secretive about the details of the Hall park progress for years and violating the California Public Records Act's citizens' rights of access to keep it secret. The city wanted to keep the spin alive, so informative documentation is bad to give to the citizens. They might get confused.
When Turko really digs in he is going to figure this out. Let's hope he also addresses some of his other blabs.
Turko though the cost of the park went up recently. Many of us were TOLD the costs had dropped by Chris Hazeltine, not gone up (so the stories are inconsistent). He repeated this in the public record. If you look at the city's budget documents going back the last 5+ years and check out the capital improvement projects you can see what they were predicting for cost, and how much they had set aside for the park. They've not had the money and the few people who figured this out were told, don't worry about that and don't ask about our specific plan for financing the park, "just trust us".
I was in contact with many in the sports leagues (who's names are on Stocks, Dalager, and Gaspar mailers). They were willing to just trust them, at the time. Many have now figured it out. They city has a financial problem building the park. What they do now could be awkward, controversial, and/or very tax dollar inefficient.
They said they had enough money right before the last election, but they refused to provide ANY explanation or documentation for that cost estimate. They were asked repeatedly for explanation or documentation. We posted about some of that here: http://www.encinitastaxpayers.org/blog_2/?p=33. P and R Director Hazeltine to this day will not answer questions about how he came up with those numbers. Was it B.S. to run cover for Danny's reelection?
When should the city have gone out to bid? Certainly, long before the last election. Check out:
Those are the city's time lines. They are a little behind schedule I would say.
Gaspar believed the city had the money to build the park before she was elected. I've been hoping to follow up with her on this but she refused to meet or answer questions. It appeared at the time she either doesn't do her homework or was unable to interpret the city's financials. (I wanted to ask her about that before I started going public with that.) In our one meeting when she was a candidate, she was stumped when I asked her about the park's financing and appeared to have no real sense for the finances behind her number one project* in her campaign platform.
The Impact of Jerome's Response to Turko
Years later... now its the county's fault? Many people in the community saw Jerome avoid mentioning the financial issues that they now know to be a key obstacle to opening the park. That has made them more open to believing they were played all along.
One suggested solution to all this consternation is simple. How about if the city puts up progress reports online every couple months for big projects such as the Hall park. A lot of things in the city would not get manipulated for very long if things were in writing, with clear expectations for timetables and with supportable reasons given for not hitting those milestones.
More information for the public is good, right?
* a review of her campaigning makes it hard to conclude otherwise.