Friday, January 06, 2012

Mixed Bag with Turko's Coverage on the Encinitas Community Park


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.

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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:
http://www.theleucadiablog.com/2010/10/hall-park-construction-now-behind.html
http://encinitastaxpayers.org/blog/index.php/2010/07/17/curious-hall-park-detail?blog=3

Those are the city's time lines. They are a little behind schedule I would say.


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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.


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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.


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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.

16 comments:

  1. Yup, we don't have the money.oat of the delays, that cost big $$$, was stocks led. Bond payment cost=$.5 a year. Stocks and the boys did not want to do an EIR. Citizens sued to have it done. Delay~2 years of payments and legal fees. Hold the finished EIR for 18 months to not release it before elections. More money wasted. Pay $25,000 Of our money for a lobbyist to push through the regional sports park through coastal when it was not what the majority wanted and the Planning Commission rejected. Citizens sued the city over coastal commission decision. (citizens did not pay a lobbyist $25k)
    City tries to make a quick, quiet General Plan change to raise height restrictions to 90 feet last summer and still sends out the lie that the Planning Commission approved the HALL EIR.
    And, Turko states that the citizens voted to have a regional sports park. That is not true.
    The only polling of citizen taxpayers done by the city clearly showed we wanted a community park.
    Who caused most of the delays? NIMBYs, NO.
    Stocks and the boys are the reason that so much money has been wasted and we do not have a community park now, or a regional sports park, called a 'community' park.

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  2. Thank you for keeping the paper trail, we are lucky to such invovled citizens. Turko is an act, he could find his way out of a one way maze.

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  3. Wow, I need better glasses, I meant he could NOT find his way out of a one way maze

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  4. Make your screen bigger. Thats what I do..... the old eyes aint what they once was.....

    Apple products are great for that function. Thats why we old folks like them sooooo much!

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  5. Jerome is a criminal and the voters of Encinitas are as stupid as dirt. Thats why this is happening.

    If the electorate had any intelligence the scum would not be in office.

    The opposition has no real clue how to expose or educate the masses. Hence we will go down as turning into more of Oceanside style of town and less like Solana Beach and Del Mar.

    Jerome Stocks is purely equated to the Oceanside style of town.

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  6. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  7. More Stocks unpleasant realities:

    http://thecoastnews.com/2012/01/residents-council-put-their-backs-into-it/comment-page-1/#comment-11344

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  8. What is so very wrong is that Stocks is blaming the County for holding up the Hall Park development. That is not true. The holdup is that the County does not want to modify the toxic contamination cleanup plan that is required, as the city is requesting. Stocks is trying to get the county to modify required toxic cleanup plan for a less expensive toxic cleanup plan. I have fear that Stocks would do all he could to get his way, but to knowingly put citizens at risk from toxic waste soil by trying get the county to limit the cleanup is intolerable. Stocks fought the community to even do an EIR on the greenhouse land. Citizens had to sue in order to get the city to do that, and won.
    Last year, Stocks scrapped the city’s I-5 Transportation Compliance study because he felt that the removal of 9000 trucks of identified contaminated soil was not an issue. Citizens threatened to sue to protect themselves, so rather that acknowledging the situation, Stocks said, “No good deed goes unpunished” and eliminated the compliance process work completely.
    There have been too many examples of greenhouse land being developed with as little as possible mitigation of contaminated soil.
    And this is not just NIMBY children who could be effected, Turko.

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  9. I don't think we should waste money on a park. We can make much more money through taxes by building zero lot line "homes", townhomes and a tacky retail center like the Forum!

    Obviously, we should not build a park. Let's turn it into a mini Carmel Valley!

    If that's what the NIMBYs and the apologists want, then they should just come out an say it. All they do is complain and offer no solutions of their own.

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  10. Unknown,

    Good thinking!

    Check out "Beacons" behind Mozy and La Especial. They put ten giant houses on one acre so you can reach out your window and shake your neighbor's hand.

    What's the Hall Park, 44 acres or so? You could put 440 giant houses there! Imagine the tax revenue to pay for more fire department mansions and early retirement pensions.

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  11. Better yet. Double the density, throw in the state's high density bonus laws and wham.... some 3 story cardiff reef condos that are sure to help out with hiring more staff and allowing Jerome Stocks to raise their pensions again!

    The union has a friend with Jerome Stocks..... I bet they are pushing him to raise the pension again.

    Jerome is the type of politician that makes you sick when you think of Republican Politicians. Ick.

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  12. Don't forget the pending liquidation sale of the Pacific View School site - the list of developers who are "interested" was published, but never made this blog. I suspect you'll find some political contributors among them to the $tock$ campaigns of the past and most certainly in 2012. Here come the jam-packed 3 story condos to the historic old town section - goodbye community character and public good.

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  13. Unknown,

    That is not true. You have a good way to create ill will toward those people willing to stand up.

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  14. What does that mean? I read it 4 times and still don't understand what your talking about?

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  15. I thought Turko's "coverage" was shaky, as before. He didn't really press Stocks when he questioned him.

    We DO need a sunshine ordinance. Such an ordinance could REQUIRE progress reports to be posted on the City's website, as suggested.

    Also, at last week's Council Meeting, a closed session was held, IMMEDIATELY before the regularly scheduled Council Meeting. There is NO REASON, other than only being required to give 24 hour notice, that such a closed session is now NOT considered to be part of the regular Council Meeting, which gets 3 day, or 72 hour notice.

    Also, our city attorney, Glenn Sabine, REPORTED OUT OF THE CLOSED SESSION INTO THE REGULAR COUNCIL MEETING. The Brown Act anticipates that closed sessions will typically be considered part of regular council meetings, and that they WILL ALSO get 72 HOUR NOTICE. Why can't our City Attorney simply give 3 days notice for closed sessions? Why does he feel entitled to "special treatment," disingenuously claiming that every single closed session is a separate "stand alone special meeting?"

    Other special meetings are routinely given 3 days notice, although only 24 notice is required for special meetings of Council, according to the Brown Act. Only closed session special meetings get the limited 24 hour notice. This is unfair to the general public and violates the public trust which Council holds.

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  16. Lynn,

    You'll love this. Three weeks before they held the "special" meeting and gave 24 hours notice to the public, our attorney was told by the city that they would be holding the special meeting on the 11th.

    Why tell us that? Because we had grounds to go back the judge, for the city AGAIN dragging its feet and delaying, and my attorney made it clear it was time to for the city to stop jerking us around.

    So, they knew weeks in advance. THey also put it on the "regular" wednesday council meeting slot. They could have had a special meeting anywhere in those weeks between. They also could have given notice to the public, before the last minute.

    The new city manager is calling those shots. Send him an email asking him why.

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