Mendo Island Journal — Timely. Useful. Sometimes Cranky.

Hey Tommy Wayne Kramer: Get Down and Smell the Real City Hall Incompetence…

In James Houle on December 4, 2012 at 8:55 am

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From JAMES HOULE
Redwood Valley

TWK’s hilarious yet painful year-end review of City Council follies doesn’t mention their persistent quest to subsidize profitable big-box enterprises at the expense of existing stores and local shop keepers. When Judy Pruden and the Planning Commission listened to the people in the street and would not approve the Walmart Super Store earlier this year, the City Council did not have the cojones or more properly the fegato to override the Commission’s advice. Yet, the City Council still hopes to pay $6.2 million from tax anticipation bonds for road access and a high capacity round-about to funnel shoppers over from Highway 101 and into the planned CostCo Big Box. The RDA funds they once set aside for this have been denied by the State Department of Finance (most recently in their very terse Oct. 11, 2012 letter) but somehow Mayor Landis, City Manager Jane Chambers and her staff still hold out hope that they can sneak this past while the Sacramento bureaucracy is looking some other way.

Walmart had also wanted the City to pay for this self-same roundabout but were turned down by Ms. Pruden. Now, if somehow CostCo gets the City to buy this heavy duty private enterprise driveway, guess who will be first in line to reapply for their “Superstore”? It has already been well researched that the community needs no more supermarkets (most recently by Walmart’s own planner), nor out-of-state behemoths selling us clothing, appliances and liquor. If these guys want to steal customers from our local businesses, shouldn’t they at least pay for their own right-of-way?

The original Redevelopment Act was intended to provide funding for low and moderate income housing projects that private banks would not finance and to cure urban blight. The City Council still thinks the Big Box is a cure for urban blight. To their credit, the City has built some needed low income housing, but we are still saddled with over $8 million in high interest rate bonds intended to finance infrastructure for corporate projects. The same Council Members who still sit on their high dais at Town Hall approved these bonds early in 2010. The State warned us in the spring of 2011 and has told us again unequivocally on January 31, 2012 not to spend any more of our future tax funds for charity projects to subsidize the likes of Walmart and CostCo.

Come on, Tommy Wayne, those mishaps with the water pumps, the Xmas lights, soluble glue for sidewalk tiles, downtown facade beautification, a curbside dining venue, and that inane City slogan are just the smallest rotten potatoes still moldering down at City Hall. The smell downtown may be far out, but its really nearby!
~~

  1. If it smells bad it is rotten. I am suddenly tired of hearing how the economy sucks. Who’s economy sucks? The really wealthy’s economy has never been better. It is the rest of us who suck. No people in the streets, no justice, more looting, more degradation, more simmering anger that will cause unintended consequences. We are being set up to beat up on each other folks. It is a choice.

    ybera

  2. It is hard to decide if I should dignify the writer with a response to his largely misguided criticisms of the city council, but I will set the record straight with just one correction. Since when did business take on building infrastructure, such as roads? Hasn’t that always been one of the roles of government? The federal government built and maintains (mostly) the federal highway system. The State government is in charge of state highways. Local governments are in charge of local roads. Maybe that system isn’t ideal, but if Mr. Houle doesn’t like it, don’t blame the Ukiah City Council. The use of bond funds or any other loan we might acquire to facilitate build-out of the Airport Business Park is the proper role of government. However, in this case, it really should not be the City that improves a freeway off-ramp. It ought to be Caltrans. But they will not have the funds to do such a project in the foreseeable future. So if we want to see that area developed fully (rather than the Masonite property—e.g., sprawl), then the City must do it. By doing so, we are not subsidizing any particular corporation.

  3. An interesting juxtaposition of articles and comments. The decentralized community owned energy cooperative in England juxtaposed to a car-centric business park build-out in Ukiah, highlights the sad truth that in America we are handcuffed by plans and ideas that SHOULD be abandoned for non-auto community design and renewable energy system creation, but are NOT being abandoned because our elected officials and most of the voters think we must continue business-as-usual even if that usual business is a total waste of time and money. So I suppose we will have to wait for gas to top 8 dollars a gallon and for the economy to entirely implode before we the people and the people we elect wake up to the new reality engulfing us. By then, of course, we will be working in the midst of multiple crises instead of taking pre-emptive action NOW! And that’s the way it is when the truth is withheld from most of the people.

    • The bus speakers droned on, “For security reasons Homeland Security has provided a secure enclosure for the driver. Please do not disturb the driver.” The rest of us pounded on the bullet proof cage as the driver, locked in seizure mode, accelerated toward the edge of the towering cliff.

  4. Can’t “disagree” with any of the comments. Each has a point “well taken”, but the sharpest point of all, and the one that remains the unstated essence of our problem, is the one that must puncture a very large balloon called “usury” – the borrowing of money i.e. the creation of chits of exchange and the payment of interest thereon. Everything anyone does, privately or publicly, must be rationalized as dividend producing for the bank conglomerates that assemble portfolios for private capital. Entire nations are judged in terms of ratings awarded by bond rating companies like Moody’s, Standard & Poors, et al. As though the credit market could be judge and executioner of entire communities in their evolution through history. And so the toll gate keeper, the holder of deeds and promissory notes, must be paid. And so all arguments here are lost in a very soupy fog (sorry for mixed metaphors, from points to fog). Lissen up, Savings Bank of Mendocino County. The bell tolls for thee! (oh gosh, a 3rd metaphor, but worth the quoting of John Donne’s great poem about death)

    • Beautiful Albert!! Leaving Savings Bank this month for good. Credit Union now. BTW, these are the same ratings agencies that committed deliberate fraud by overrating junk mortgage backed securities at the behest of Goldman and plunged the world into today’s financial crisis. There I go again, our financial crisis, their big score. A securities swindle that is STILL going on to fleece the pension funds and municipal accounts. A swindle, simple in conception, but many orders of magnitude larger than any previous con. It is burying countless generations in untold suffering.

      ybera

    • Nice to be reminded that Deuteronomy, Ezekiel, Leviticus, Psalms & the 12th century Catholic church make it difficult to be a lender-at-interest.There’s lots of evasive commentary on the point–probably funded by Jim DeMint’s Heritage Foundation.

  5. I cannot presume to testify to the vacuous incompetence of City Council members as effectively as our former mayor and current second term council member Mari Rodin has done today. She is quite incapable of seeing the consequences of using our tax revenues solely to enhance private gain, in fact she asks if this isn’t really our role on the City Council: “If we want to see that area (Airport Shopping Center) developed fully, then the city must do it”. This access road and highway run-around are only intended to herd more customers into the great maw of the Big Box and away from all the other stores we already have back in downtown Ukiah, an area she is perfectly willing to abandon. One can only ask Ms Rodin: Who do you think you are working for on the City Council?

  6. If Cal Trans doesn’t have the money and If the City’s ‘budget crisis’ last spring was real, there is no money for this project. You don’t buy a Cadillac when an old Ford will do. You don’t pay for a huge new highway interchange when your streets are turning into gravel for lack of paving. (Or are our city roads part of a new ‘permeable paving concept’?) Who determined that “build out” of the Airport Business Park is necessary? Can anyone provide evidence that Costco will go away, out of the City and into the County, if this highway re-construction does not take place? Just give us the facts. 1. Is the City in good financial standing, now and for the next 3 years? 2. Will Costco move to the County if we don’t provide this new interchange?

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