Pay-off for a Biased Report?

 

††††††† At the May 22, 2008 meeting the city held to have the writer of the financial report about Proposition E explain his report, Parks Pemberton asked if the consultant (Economic and Planning Systems) had been guaranteed at least $100,000 worth of contracts in the future in exchange for doing this report. The consultant denied this. He insisted his company had no contract with the city and would have to bid like anyone else on any future work. (The cityís work order shows the Prop E report was to cost $30,000. (The City Manager now says the city actually paid only $17,000.))

 

††††††† This appeared on the council agenda on 6/10/08:

Redevelopment Agency Consent Calendar:

5. A. RESOLUTION OF THE REDEVELOPMENT AGENCY OF THE CITY OF CHULA VISTA WAIVING THE FORMAL CONSULTANT SELECTION PROCESS AND APPROVING AN AGREEMENT WITH ECONOMIC AND PLANNING SYSTEMS, INC. FOR FINANCIAL FEASIBILITY ANALYSIS FOR PROJECTS IN THE MERGED BAYFRONT/TOWN CENTRE I PROJECT AREA

 

B. RESOLUTION OF THE REDEVELOPMENT AGENCY OF THE CITY OF CHULA VISTA WAIVING THE FORMAL CONSULTANT SELECTION PROCESS AND APPROVING AN AGREEMENT WITH ECONOMIC AND PLANNING SYSTEMS, INC. FOR FINANCIAL FEASIBILITY ANALYSIS FOR PROJECTS IN THE MERGED PROJECT AREA

 

Staff is proposing an agreement with Economic and Planning Systems, Inc. for ongoing professional services on an as needed basis for the Redevelopment Agency for consultation on financing strategies and fiscal and economic consulting services related to new development within the Bayfront Master Plan area that includes the development proposal by Gaylord Entertainment for a hotel and convention center. Services for

Economic and Planning Systems, Inc. will include analysis of other development proposals throughout the Agency project areas. (Finance Director)

 

Staff recommendation: Agency adopt the resolutions.

(Eric Crockett said A was for $65,000 and B $40,000. Total $105,000.)

 

One would think before this appeared on the agenda staff had checked with EPS to make sure they were willing to do these two projects. Why didnít consultant admit this? Did Mr. Garcia actually at least call several companies before choosing EPS?

 

Three members of the public objected to this. One a Dr. of Economics with 30 years of college teaching experience challenged the competence of the consultant. The other two brought up the consultantís response to the question asked at the May meeting and the unfairness of no-bid contracts in general.

Councilman Ramirez also objected, because he too has become suspicious of all the no bid contracts being granted by the city and the perception of favoritism this produces. (Councilman Castaneda had to recuse himself from A because of where he lives.)

 

Staff vigorously defended the need for continuing with this consultant who has been used since 2005 in the negotiations with Gaylord. The mayor also kept trying to justify it. The Finance Director stated the consultantís contract had expired in December, and this was just an extension. This was an odd statement since the comments of other staff indicated an on-going part in current negotiations. Eric Crockett pointed out that Laurie Madigan had chosen this consultant when she worked for the city. (This in itself should be a red flag.) Three of the council voted to pass A, because it was presented as being necessary to continue negotiations with Gaylord. No explanation was given as to why if contract expired in December this was not brought to council then as an extension or how city has been managing for six months without EPS.

 

The City Manager suggested since there was no rush with B the normal process for choosing consultants should be followed. (The mayor did try to justify giving the contract to EPS, but had no support from the rest of council.) Considering that Eric Crockett stated that there were four other consultants who were already pre-approved for projects this should not take long. Councilman Castaneda made a point of saying he would not vote for B and insisting that not only this contract be handle in the normal way, but definite policies should be established to make sure the entire council approves future projects. (Councilman Ramirez had to recuse himself from B, because his business is in this redevelopment zone.)

 

At this meeting three people spoke during public comments about the dirty politics and character assassination that occurred during the election campaigns for the June 3 election. Janice Jentz made a passionate speech in defense of her fatherís character, which she does not want on YouTube, but it is on the cityís 6/10/08 website. Theresa Acerro spoke about how much more important it is for people to organize now that they have been denied a chance to vote on an important land use decision.

Parks Pemberton spoke about how much he respects and admires Earl as we all do. No matter how horribly he was attacked during this campaign Earl would not stoop to their level or allow any of those who worked with him to do so. He feels this is just the start and the campaign against the Elected City Attorney Initiative, which will be on the ballot in November, will be just as dirty or worse. The powers that be simply do not want the people to have a voice. We need to be vigilant to find out just what all the fuss about E was about and be prepared to fight it by organizing opposition, since we wonít get to vote on it.

 

The last item on the agenda was approving the 2008-2009 budget. (The entire discussion as well as RDA and Capital budgets can be seen at the cityís website by clicking on item 6 on the agenda.)

Substantial cuts have been made, because projected income is over 20 million dollars less than past years. The economic situation is grim. So far early retirements and attrition have allowed the city to do very few layoffs. Mostly the dispatchers whose jobs were contracted out to San Diego were the only ones who were laid off. The hiring freeze will be continued for another year. The smaller staff will affect services. The hours of the libraries will remain cut. Attempts were made to cut recreation programs with lowest attendance, but some were cut.