THE GRAND JURY REPORT or THE SPARK THAT STARTED THE FIRE
Due to the amount of information needed to explain the purchase of the fire truck a series of 3-4 segments will be written. Thank You for your patience.
The Grand Jury’s Mr. Steve Johnson explained at yesterday’s (Wednesday June 29th) news conference that a news article prompted the Grand Jury to look into the City of Watsonville’s practices. That “article” was probably written by Mr. Steve Bankhead whose op-ed in the Register-Pajaronian questioned the approval by the Planning Commission to allow Jalisco’s restaurant to construct an outside patio where hazardous materials existed. The Planning Commission, which I was a member of at the time, was not advised by staff (John Doughty and Keith Boyle) of the hazardous materials while recommending the approval of the Special Use Permit to Stella Romo.
A SIMPLE QUESTION, A LIE, MORE LIES AND A TOWED FIRE TRUCK
On November 29, 2010 I wrote an email to City Manager Carlos Palacios asking for the status of the fire truck that we had “purchased” on April 20, 2008.
I wrote: “Basically what I want to know is where is the truck located and when can we anticipate delivery?”
On December 1st Chief Bisbee replied in an email:
1. Fire Trucks Plus, Rancho Cucamonga.
2. No hard delivery date yet, but refurbishment is well underway.
Both statements were lies.
The facts were that the fire truck was not undergoing “refurbishments” at Fire Trucks Plus in Rancho Cucamonga or any place else. The fire truck was sitting at a Pasadena fire station. And, Pasadena was still the owner of the fire truck although we had issued a check for $225,000 to Fire Trucks Plus on April 29, 2008.
Why Fire Chief Mark Bisbee would lie about the location of the fire truck and that it was undergoing refurbishments is a good question, but an additionally important question is how could Fire Trucks Plus, a fire truck dealership, sell a truck they didn’t even own? Is that legal?
When I received the email from Bisbee I called Fire Trucks Plus and spoke with owner Paul Batista. He verified that not only had he cashed the $225,000 check days after it was issued on April 29, 2008, but also that he did not have possession of the fire truck and that it was still in Pasadena. He referred me to Pasadena Battalion Chief Scott Dandridge for an explanation. I called Mr. Dandridge on his cell phone. He was at a rodeo convention in Las Vegas. I believe he was expecting my call because his immediate response was, “We do not have a contract with Watsonville to sell our truck”. He also stated that “refurbishments” had not been conducted and would not be conducted by the City of Pasadena, and that they still held the pink slip to the truck.
On December 8, 2010, eight working days after my initial inquiry of November 29th, we “purchased” the fire truck. We received DMV documents but with conflicting mileage statements, which I will write about at a later date. This past Tuesday, 3 years and 2 months later, the fire truck arrived, according to an anonymous source, on a tow truck after sitting overnight in Hollister. There is concern that the truck has transmission problems.
At a recent city council meeting newly appointed City Council Member Lowell Hurst stated “Trust but verify”. Trust was out of the question at that point. I hope that Mr. Hurst keeps his word when similar situations arise instead of resorting to Will Rogers quotes.
Mayor Daniel Dodge’s statements that a “political agenda by a few individuals” initiated a Grand Jury Investigation, and that the Grand Jury’s Report is “erroneous”, should concern every Watsonville resident regardless of their ethnicity.
When members of city staff lie to elected officials who are entrusted to render fiscal decisions based on their reports and “recommendations” appropriate action should be taken because it is a violation of the City Charter. Also, to blame “individuals” and accuse the Grand Jury of being erroneous while disregarding staff lying to elected officials is indicative of a corrupt mentality. City Manager Carlos Palacios is ultimately responsible for the continual cover-up tactics, lying, providing limited information, and attempting to shut those up who dare to question his performance or lack therefore.
Something Smells Real Fishy in Watsonville, and as you already know, it’s not the Watsonville Fishing Report!