Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Parking Permit Ad Hoc Committee Meeting

At the 1.16.24 Council meeting, we discussed the potential of a parking permit program in Stranahan and nearby neighborhoods.  At that meeting, the Council directed staff to come back with an agenda item to form an ad hoc Committee to discuss the issue.  At the 2.20.24 meeting, the Council designated myself, and Councilmember Tillman to form this ad hoc Committee.  

The ad hoc Committee is holding its first meeting  in the Stranahan Park on Monday, April 29 at 4pm.  For anyone interested please show up and we can discuss the issue and ideas for potential solutions.

Monday, April 22, 2024

On Negotiations with the CBCA

After Vice Mayor Trupiano cancelled her membership to the CBCA last week based on a pattern of behavior by certain CBCA members, there was renewed discussion regarding the negotiations between the City and the CBCA regarding a new Master Use Agreement (MUA).  After discussion with some members, it appears as though the leadership of the CBCA never shared the status or progress of negotiations, and instead characterized the conclusion of our discussions as the City rejecting their offers.  As this is not a fair characterization of events, in the interest of transparency I thought it useful to share the timeline of events:

3.7.23 – MUA between City and CBCA terminated effective 7.1.23.  Prior agreement can be found here:  https://drive.google.com/file/d/1P2k4G4hIIfl_wExiiyZcxFSuDZpeO521/view?usp=sharing

City establishes Ad hoc Committee to renegotiate MUA.  My summary here:  https://www.jeffwanforclaytoncitycouncil.net/2023/03/my-3723-meeting-summary.html

3.15.23 – First meeting held with CBCA and Ad Hoc Committee.  My summary of the meeting here:  https://www.jeffwanforclaytoncitycouncil.net/2023/03/update-on-ongoing-discussions-with-cbca.html

May-23  CBCA cancels BBQ and Brew festival, citing uncertainty over fees, even though the fee waiver was still effective at the time.  I shared my thoughts here:  https://www.jeffwanforclaytoncitycouncil.net/2023/05/thoughts-on-bbq-and-brews-cancellation.html

July-23 – In a phone call with the President of the CBCA, I propose a revenue sharing agreement in exchange for a waiver of fees and part of a new MUA.   I wrote about it here:  https://www.jeffwanforclaytoncitycouncil.net/2023/07/common-ground-and-winwin-for-special.html

8.30.23  – In a phone call with the President of the CBCA, the revenue sharing proposal is rejected with no counter proposal offered.  I was told I would hear back about alternatives after the Sept 7 CBCA Board meeting.

9.27.23 – I host a town hall meeting at Hoyer Hall and take any and all questions.  Some are regarding negotiations with CBCA.  I indicate that I have been trying for months to meet with CBCA leadership and after proposing several dates I am told it may be “a while” due to medical reasons.  I write about the event here:  https://www.jeffwanforclaytoncitycouncil.net/2023/09/townhall-92723-summary.html

10.11.23 – CBCA sends invitation to meet.  After aligning schedules, we set meeting for 10.20.23.

10.20.23 CBCA leadership and the Ad Hoc Committee meets.  All information and correspondence regarding these meetings and associated negotiations can be found here:  https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1o3L9gPKuidvwJE3nLqJH2m03yjw1Y-eR?usp=drive_link

In summary, in exchange for a waiver of Special Event fees, CBCA proposed a 5% revenue share, with an annual cap of $25,000.  CBCA was also interested in designated specific capital projects that the revenue share would be attributable to and that the organization could get recognition for.  The proposal suggested starting at a date certain in the future, with some contributions made to the City in the interim.

In response, the Ad Hoc Committee made a counter proposal actually reducing the % of revenue share to 4%, and also argued against the cap.  The current discounted Special Events Fee would be approximately $7K/day.  The Committee stated that at a 4% revenue share, CBCA events would need to generate $700K in gross revenue to yield a $28K City share.  $700K gross revenue is greater than what past events have generated, so under the proposed revenue share the CBCA would pay less than the current fee schedule calls for.  In addition, each event has historically required several days of preparation both before hand for setup, and afterwards for takedown.  As such, it is almost certain that the Special Event Fees for Art & Wine and Oktoberfest combined under the new Master Fee Schedule will exceed $28,000.

For the city, a major purpose of the proposed revenue sharing agreement was precisely to align the interests of the CBCA and the City.  In practice this would mean the City would share in the favorable or unfavorable results of events.  Larger events that generate greater revenue for the CBCA would yield greater revenue for the City.  Smaller events that didn't generate significant revenue would pay much lower fees, a .  A cap is contrary to this purpose - especially a cap set at ostensibly a similar amount that would be paid without a revenue sharing agreement.

The Ad Hoc Committee invited further discussion but none was offered by CBCA leadership and the City did not hear back after that.

1.12.24 – President of the CBCA sends communication to its members, not to the City or its Ad Hoc Committee, that the prior proposal was their last, best, and final offer and would not seek further negotiations.

I continue to hold out hope that the City and the CBCA can come to terms that is mutually beneficial for each, and especially the residents of Clayton.



Friday, April 19, 2024

My 4.16.24 Meeting Summary

Earlier this week the Council met to discuss one significant item:

The Council appointed Frank Gavidia to the Community Financial Sustainability Committee (CFSC).  We also renewed the term for the two existing members, Howard Kaplan and Hank Stratford.  Both existing members were appointed previously but due to lack of quorum the Committee could not meet.  Between the three, there is a Certified Financial Analyst (CFA), a Certified Financial Planner (CFP), and a Certified Public Accountant (CPA).  

During the interview process with the Budget and Audit Committee, Frank was asked why he was stepping up to serve now.  He mentioned that even though he felt he was treated unfairly while serving on the Planning Commission based on politics, the fact was that this committee was needed to help build trust within the community and he could be effective in that role.  And since no one qualified had stepped up to serve, he believed that his knowledge and experience would be a benefit to the City overall.

The mission of the Committee is to act in an advisory capacity to the City Manager and City Council to make recommendations on the annual budget and other financial matters related to the City.  It is the goal of the Committee to increase engagement in the community regarding City financial matters.  The Committee has wide latitude on how they wish to direct their inquiry and activity.  They are charged with identifying areas to evaluate for financial savings and/or revenue generation.

As the idea of the CFSC was originally brought forward by Councilmember Cloven, it was odd to see him engage in what could only be described as mansplaining while he berated Vice Mayor Trupiano over the candidate's perceived political views.  The members of the CFSC are a group of people who have stepped up and offered to serve for the benefit of the City and I look forward to seeing the work that they produce.  

The Council voted 4-0-1 to appoint the new member and renew the existing members.  After introducing the idea, stressing the importance of the work, and trying to get the CFSC off the ground, Councilmember Cloven abstained.

At the end of the meeting during Council Reports, Vice Mayor Trupiano reported out some troubling information.  She has been working at securing sponsorships for City Sponsored Special Events, and has been having a very successful year.  Unfortunately, she was informed by some sponsors that members of the CBCA have been contacting them and challenging their support of City events.  This is actively working against the interests of the City.  

While Vice Mayor Trupiano has been working diligently to secure sponsorships benefiting the City and it is incredibly disappointing to learn that there are those trying to undermine that good work. She announced that until that organization can be more focused on supporting the businesses in this community, which is why it was started, rather than pushing their own agenda, she can no longer in good faith be a part of it and promptly cancelled her membership to the CBCA.

Saturday, April 13, 2024

On Accusations of Meddling and Overreach

Earlier this week the editor of the Pioneer acquired emails sent by staff prior to their departure through what she claims was a Public Records Act (PRA) request.  In sharing the emails, she included commentary continuing to blame me for "meddling and overreach".  The editor claims this was quoted from our City Manager himself, however the word "meddling" does not appear in the email.  In her zest it appears she embellished the claim as is her pattern.  Here is the email that she shared:

Vague accusations of meddling and overreach without evidence is easy and has become the common refrain from detractors. This has been the case on multiple occasions - an vague assertion that something nefarious is happening without evidence - surprising from an editor of a newspaper.  

A little background on what appears to be the issue. At our 10.3.23 meeting, the Council rejected a proposal to spend $400K on a piecemeal approach to various landscaping issues, and instead directed staff to come back with a holistic view of what the City's needs were to we can make more informed decisions. Our City Manager welcomed the idea.

Approximately 5 months passed before we saw anything from that direction. City staff also neglected to perform a mid year budget review during this time as well. When the Council received this holistic analysis there was little in terms of detail regarding the forecast and more discussion about what services levels could be cut and what taxes could be raised.

I asked to see the supporting documents - after 5 months of effort there should be some support. It is unfortunate but true that policy analysis requires detailed review. Unfortunately this legitimate request was denied. When asking questions and simple straightforward requests are denied, it raises my concern, as it should with everyone.

Looking through details is how it was discovered that the City executed a non-cancellable $30K contract (the limit of signing authority) right before staff resigned. Or how it was discovered that there were tens of thousands of dollars set aside in the budget for promotions and new positions that had not been approved.

If that is the example of meddling and overreach, I stand by my request. It is my right as a Councilmember and as a citizen to see and ask questions about how my government is operating. It is how we as Councilmembers remain informed and make better decisions. 

After involving the City Attorney on my legitimate request, I finally received the files. After 5 months of time, I would charitably characterize the level of analysis as light.  Here are the series of related  communications:

I've saved them for viewing if anyone is interested. The files may need to be saved off to be viewed properly.  I've saved the actual files as well as the associated emails in my request here: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1BVo5Xatb9S8X7CRQHpBllUqE2kqELWRm?usp=drive_link

Upcoming Meeting 4.16.24

At our next meeting we will be discussing one significant item:

- We will consider the recommendation from the Budget & Audit Committee to appoint a new applicant to the Community Financial Sustainability Committee, and renew the terms of the existing members.

If you have any thoughts or questions on the above, please let me know.