Emilio Martinez

CITY COUNCIL NOTES

By Emilio, on Apr 25, 2012

Lalala..I Can’t Hear You…Lalala…Who Cares What You Have To Say?

It was about as ugly as it can get at a city council meeting last night and although the issue at hand was about a community garden, the meat of the matter was the conduct of some of our city council members who treated attending members of the public in a condescending manner. It was obvious that they could care less what the residents of Sea View Ranch had to say and it was also obvious how four city council members were going to vote.  

Council Member Lowell Hurst, who in my opinion likes to hear himself talk, seemed at times incoherent and infuriated people with his lecture. I once had a teacher like Hurst. He only listened to himself and thought we were impressed with his wit when we actually agonized attending his forty five minute class. I remember thinking that he probably recorded himself asleep at night so he could hear himself snore he liked hearing himself so much.

Mayor Eduardo Montesino’s comments ended with an incensed Sea View Ranch resident shouting that Montesino was just a bus driver who was losing his home to foreclosure, indicating our mayor had no business being a mayor. This prompted City Manager Carlos Palacios wanting to call the police according to a city council member. Yea, Carlos, shut them up like you attempted and still attempt to do with me. Talk about a “Malicious Bully”, except city manager Palacios seems to lack fortitude.

I went down to talk to the upset people attempting to calm them down and one lady said, “This city is corrupt”. Another talked about a recall.

Recall? Well, three of the four city council members who voted for the garden last night, Lowell Hurst, Oscar Rios, and Felipe Hernandez were appointed by the city council instead of being elected. Do you see the obvious? It is election year and maybe the public is riled enough this time to do something about it other than just sit at home and gripe….but then what do I know? 

Luis and Martinelli

By Emilio, on Apr 6, 2012

On Thursday, Assembly Member Luis Alejo had a Business Tour of four companys in Watsonville.  One of them was with Martinelli’s Juice Company. Alejo is shown here with John Martinelli and around a group of eleven people. I think thats Supervior Greg Caput with the dark hat way in the back. Alejo is the kinda short guy dressed in dark clothing with some kind of plastic hat on his head on the right.  This is the same Mr. Martinelli who attempted to explain at a city council meeting that the fluoridation of the city’s wells would create a problem that could lead to having to close a portion of his business…..Mayor Alejo shut off his microphone. . Yea man, shut up…jobs?…you know nothing about jobs…I know something about jobs! As some of you may recall Alejo was the leading force in wanting to have Watsonville’s water fluoridiated and also having our downtown park named after Dolores Hurerta.  

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I don’t know how it was that Mr. Martinelli decided it was ok to allow Alejo to visit his faciltiy….but maybe they had a telephone conversation and it went something like this: 

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“Hello John…”

“Who is this?”

“It’s me Assembly Member Luis Alejo.”

“Alejo???…You have the gall to call me after how you embarrassed me at the city council meeting? You do remember that don’t you?”

“I called to apologize. Look man, I’m sorry…but you know what? I knew there was no way Watsonville was going to get fluoridated. It was impossible…I knew the money 

3applewasn’t going to be there…but it was politics. I had to convince the Latino voters that I cared about their children’s teeth. Come on man, let’s do lunch. My treat, ok? I’ll pick you up in my new SUV and we’ll go to Jaliscos. Have you seen my new ride? Dude its sweet.”

“Yea I heard about your new car. Read about it on the L.A. Times. I read that ‘Newly elected Assemblyman Luis Alejo (D- Salinas) is taking delivery of a 2011 Ford Escape Hybrid, worth $37,269.’ And that, ’The most expensive new car was purchased for Alejo’. Hey, let me ask you, are you D-Salinas or D-Watsonville because the Santa Cruz Sentinel can’t seem to make up its mind.”car

“Well it depends where I’m trying to convince people that I’m trying to create jobs…politics…you know how that works. I wrote a book about jobs the last time I ran for the Assembly. Did you know that? Check out the title. Man, its sooo cool…just as misleading as fluoridating Watsonville. Where in my book cover does it say I will create jobs? Nowhere, that’s right! All I say is that jobs will solve problems. No Duh, Huh? What, am I stoopid? Besides I had City Attorney Alan Smith help me write the book and the cover…man, that dude is the master of creating new vocabulary! Have you ever heard of an Occupied Vacancy? I bet not. Here, I was the mayor of Watsonville who had as much chance of creating jobs as a chicken laying a goose egg and I am going to say I can create jobs now? Hey, I’m sorry…..here I have been flapping my trompas and I haven’t let you even say a word…so, do you have a question?”6

“Well yes. . On page 10 of your book you wrote that your dad lost your house because he couldn’t pay the taxes and you co-signed on the deed to help him. But, records show that you purchased the home with your dad and that both of you lost it to foreclosure. Is that true? And did you take a second for $20,000 just before the house foreclosed?”

“You know what Mr. Juice Guy, are you trying to disenfranchise me? Because if you are… you just keep one thing in mind, ok? I own Watsonbell! Turning off your microphone is nothing compared to what I can do to your puny little company!”

“Martinelli’s is known world-wide! You don’t intimidate me!”

“I gotta go. This conversation is over. I’m going home…wherever that is… D-Salinas or D-Watsonbell.

In the background…Elias Alonzo? “Horale!”   

PLEADINGS, MAIL, & CALENDAR FROM THE IVORY TOWER

By Emilio, on Apr 2, 2012

1It seems that City Manager Carlos Palacios is reaching out to the firefighters, and other employees regarding his compensation and any other issues and concerns that they may have. He wanting a peace pipe smoke-out type of a sit down may be indicative that there is trouble a-brewing in city hall. And the trouble as in most cases when there is a “family” squabble, it’s usually about Mr. Green or lack thereof.

In a March 26th email to city employees, Palacios referenced the staff as “family” and that, “Recently, a question has been raised about my compensation.  Here are the facts.” He went on to summarize, “In summary, my salary has been reduced by 10%, I contribute an additional 1% towards PERS, and I have voluntarily given up raises of 7% that were included in my contract.”

Granted, Palacios gave up 10% of his pay, but according to his Calendar for fiscal years 2010 and 2011 he rarely worked on Fridays and when he did, it was to attend some type of meetings out of the office. And, almost 5 times per week he blacked out (with a magic marker) time spent on personal or private matters.2

Using the 40 hour work-week formula (52 weeks x 40hrs = 2,080 hrs.), if Palacios earns $200,000.00 (which is about right) per year, his hourly rate is around $96.15. If he doesn’t work on Fridays, which equates to 416 hours annually, he is receiving $39,998.40 for days not worked which is $1.60 shy of $40,000.00. A 10% cut in his pay equates to around $20,000. So, doesn’t it seem he received a $19,998.40 raise instead of a reduction in his salary while working a 4 day work week? How many other members of his staff are working a 4 day work week whose salary was reduced by 10%?

Performance Based Compensation?

Yes, City Manager Palacios also gave up 7% in raises, but does he really expect a raise while the city maintains an unemployment rate hovering at 27% and that we have been leading the county with the highest unemployment rate for most of his tenure? Should a balanced budget alone be the determining factor in his performance evaluation?

What about the creation of jobs? Manabe-Ow? That project isn’t expected to create the promised 2,000 jobs until 20 years from now. We may not even be able to hang anybody in effigy if that plan takes a dump because none of us will be around by then. What about a Wallmart or Costco you ask?

According to the state’s Unemployment Development Department, Watsonville has 6,700 unemployed people in our city which is double the amount of any other municipality in the county. A Costco employs around 200 people per store….do the math…we will need at least 30 type Costcos to get these people employed if the plan is to quickly produce jobs. What about withholding information from your boss or misrepresenting the facts? Is that acceptable performance? When asked about the missing fire truck, the city council was told the truck was being refurbished when in fact the city didn’t even own it.

What about spending over 1.2 million dollars in legal fees alone attempting to build housing near the airport? We not only had to compensate our city attorney and the law firm hired to assist him, but we also had to pay the pilot’s attorneys too after the city lost the appeal.

Is having $18,000 in petty cash floating around for a festival, standard operating, policy, and procedure? How many cities in California do you know that have this much petty cash to pay for the entertainment at their festivals? Ok, you got me there….maybe the city of Bell.

If I wanted a sit down peace pipe smoking session with some irritable adversaries who are questioning my annual compensation, I might consider coming bearing gifts. How about a car or several of them? Palacios and around 8 other city staffers receive car allowances that are costing tax payers around $40,000.00 per year.

I would also consider lifting the Temporary Directive aimed at the firefighters which entails “Member Speech, Expression and Social Networking.” It seems the Ivory Tower does not want the public to know about their (fire fighters) complaints and concerns. This situation may end up in court too.

An open discussion in a Peace, Love, and Macramé type meeting cannot include a muzzle to be used selectively, facts should not be distorted to conceal one’s performance, and transparency should not be treated like a red headed step child; Fire Truck # 4471.

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More Ghost Writers In The Sky?

By netboots, on Mar 29, 2012

Mr. Steve Bankhead was kind enough to allow the Fishing Report to reprint his Op-Ed that was published today in the Register-Parjaronian. Here it is: 
More Ghost Writers In The Sky?
       
A finely written and detailed Mar. 24 guest column by Stella Romo disputed statements by Councilman Emilio Martinez in his Mar. 1 column "Lack of transparency root cause of city's problems."  One part of his piece questioned the relationship between Romo Properties and the Watsonville Redevelopment Agency, while other parts reflected on RDA dealings with the Manabe-Ow project, Evergreen Apartments, and other matters.
     
The resulting Mar. 27 response by Martinez to Romo motivated a reexamination of the issue, and the first thing that struck me was the fact that over three weeks had elapsed between the Martinez piece and the Romo rebuttal.  However, the Romo attempt at discrediting Martinez came within 48 hours of Councilman Bersamin voting to fill his own vacancy...an action for which Martinez still has a legal challenge resulting from Assemblyman Luis Alejo's exercising that highly questionable "right" in 2010.
   
 I'll overlook the fact that in this city begging for new businesses and jobs, our council majority passed over applicant Marty Corley, whose position as manager of the large local business and employer Couch Distributing provides him both badly needed fiscal experience and connections to potential new businesses.  I'll also overlook they instead selected Felipe Hernandez, whose past record of being a Watsonville Brown Beret co-founder, UFW political coordinator, and SEIU organizer doesn't exactly make him a business magnet.
   
 Instead, I'll focus on the timing of the Romo piece and on past opinion columns similarly attacking Martinez on various issues.  There was the Nov. 20, 2009 column by former Mayor Antonio Rivas, criticizing Martinez' opinion that poor city economic performance could be improved by returning to citywide elections for mayor.  Rivas' column proudly listing the city's many achievements under the current system was very detailed, and written in an impeccable style never witnessed in his spoken comments or emails I've received from him.
     
Then there was the Mar. 13, 2011 column by then-Mayor Daniel Dodge, disputing an earlier piece by Martinez comparing the relative staffing and budgets of Watsonville and Pasadena.  Dodge's finely written piece was filled with incredible details of the two city's financial structures, like "City manager/human resources:  Watsonville has 6.25 staff and a budget of $1 million, compared to Pasadena with 33.6 staff and a budget of $6 million.  Watsonville's per capita cost is $20, versus $40 for Pasadena."
   
Finally, I'll overlook the clever statistical maneuver of factoring city population into the comparison, providing the appearance of Watsonville residents getting staff at half the price of Pasadena, despite simply figuring the cost per staff member results in much more similar costs  of around $170,000 per worker.  It still remains somewhere between difficult and impossible to believe Dodge was able to include such minute budgetary details without assistance from the city manager or other members of staff. 
     
I'm afraid this raises the possibility of staff time by the city manager and/or others being anonymously expended to assist in attacks on a political opponent.  That might be nothing more than paranoid imaginings, but to quote Henry Kissinger:  "Even a paranoid can have enemies." 
     
In hopes of dispelling such misgivings, I request City Manager Carlos Palacios issue a statement swearing that no such anonymous assistance by him or other city staff has ever been provided in attempts to silent a critic. 

Fire Shocker, Mule & “Shut Up…Shut Up!” Revisited

By netboots, on Mar 22, 2012

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Seems that the 1999 KME is back in the yard for more work-the aerial ladder truck may now be having problems with its platform which stabilizes the truck. In around 20 days it will be 4 years since we issued a $225,000 check for the truck and 10 months since it was driven in, well may be towed in, to town just before the 4th of July Parade. Since then, sparks seem to be flying and possibly the city wants to shut those up who are voicing safety concerns including the Watsonville Fishing Report. Take a look at the following portion of the “Temporary Directive” issued to the Watsonville Fire Department on Wednesday.

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After reading the document I felt it necessary to write to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) for clarification as the Directive, in my opinion, seemed too broad. But, then what do I know? This reminded me of former City Council Member and Supervisor candidate Antonio Rivas who screamed at members of the public at a city council meeting to “Shut up!...shut up!” because they voiced their concerns regarding fluoridation. I know…I am just beating that rented mule into the ground.

Pre-Congratulations to Felipe Hernandez?

I am of the opinion that Planning Commissioner Felipe Hernandez will be selected to the city council maybe before you read this. Mr. Hernandez did not list his occupation in his letter to the city council asking for their support, but I sure hope that he has some experience managing a business or budget because come this July the city will need all the help it can get. Hey, but at least he is willing to put his hat into the wringer…I mean ringer.

NATIONAL SUNSHINE WEEK IN WATSONVILLE OR STICK IT WHERE THE SUN DOESN’T SHINE?

By Emilio, on Mar 16, 2012

 “Sunshine Week is a national initiative to promote a dialogue about the importance of open government and freedom of information. Participants include news media, civic groups, libraries, nonprofits, schools and others interested in the public's right to know.”

The following was provided by a reader who wishes to remain anonyms, probably for fear of retaliation with which I can relate. The person wrote that this best describes Watsonville today. I know who this reminds of:

Dictatorship: (authoritarianism, fascism, repression, oppression, tyranny, despotism) A government controlled by one person, or a small group of people. In this form of government the power rests entirely on the person or group of people, and can be obtained by force or by inheritance. The dictator(s) may also take away much of its peoples' freedom. In contemporary usage, dictatorship refers to an autocratic form of absolute rule by leadership unrestricted by law, constitutions or other social and political factors within the state.

For some scholars, a dictatorship is a form of government that has the power to govern without consent of those being governed (similar to authoritarianism), while totalitarianism describes a state that regulates nearly every aspect of public and private behavior of the people. In other words, dictatorship concerns the source of the governing power (where the power comes from) and totalitarianism concerns the scope of the governing power (what is the government).

Negative selection (politics)is a political process that occurs especially in rigid hierarchies notably dictatorships, but also to lesser degrees in such settings as corporations or electoral politics.

The person on the top of the hierarchy, wishing to remain in power forever, chooses his associates with the prime criterion of incompetence –they must not be competent enough to remove him from power. Since subordinates often mimic their leader, these associates do the same with those below them in the hierarchy, and the hierarchy is progressively filled with more and more incompetent people.

If the dictator sees that he is threatened nonetheless, he will remove those that threaten him from their positions – "purge" the hierarchy. Emptied positions in the hierarchy are normally filled with people from below – those who were less competent than their previous masters. So, over the course of time, the hierarchy becomes less and less effective. Once the dictator dies — or is removed by some external influence — what remains is a grossly ineffective hierarchy.”

Sentinel’s Editorial Regarding Sunshine Week 

I was somewhat astounded with the Sentinel’s quote, “But our belief that the public has a right to know how its money is being spent is why the Sentinel for the past three years has been publishing salary databases on public employees.

Yes, the Sentinel did do that, but what they didn’t report was Watsonville’s Deputy City Manager Mario Maldonado’s salary in their article back in February (02/13/2012) when they headlined: “Watsonville’s payroll drops: Fewer employees work fewer hours to save city 3.2 million” by reporter Donna Jones. Although Maldonado was quoted in the article, his name didn’t even appear on the list of Watsonville employees with their earnings in the same story.Why?

MEADOWS MANOR MYSTERY TOUR or Every Picture Tells a Story?

By Emilio, on Mar 13, 2012

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Medows Manor Mobile Home Park residents on Blanca Lane wanted to know one thing, did the owner of the park have the proper permits to add 14 new additional units. The residents have been complaining that their mobile home park was in dire need of road repairs, and that it has poor drainage, sewage backups, poor lighting, and electrical problems. So why was the owner being allowed to add new units without first assuring them that these issues would be first addressed, they were asking.

Assistant City Manager Marcela Tavantiz has been of the opinion since before 2008 that there was little the city could do because the state has jurisdiction over the mobile home park. Her position is partially factual. Both she and the state were of the opinion that a 30-40 year old permit issued by the County of Santa Cruz back in the 70’s was still in effect and that the new owner of the mobile home park, Kenneth Waterhouse, could now add 14 mobile homes.  

It took me, an elected official, around 7 months and around 150 pages of emails, mostly between me and Assistant City Manager Tavantiz, to determine that the city allowed the mobile home property owner to hook up to our city’s sewer system without a Permit and without paying the $156,283.98 in permit fees.  And that the city did not and still has not issued a Stop Work Order to the construction crew even after determining these facts.

Although, after my continual experience with the lack of transparency in our city government, I did not anticipate a 7 month journey which included countless of hours writing and answering emails, making numerous long distance telephone calls to the State of California’s Department of Housing and Community Development, and conducting research, all while Assistant City Manager Marcel Travantiz withheld some documents and provided me with misleading information.  

It was Déjà vu all over again-the nightmare of the missing 1999 KME fire truck fiasco.

Being a trained investigator, what caught my attention was a blatant red flag: that being that Assistant City Manager Tavantiz first attempted to mislead me that a “Stop Work Order” (a city used document) was issued when she supposedly determined that the work crew hired to build the pad for the mobile homes at Meadows Manor had hooked up to our sewer line without a permit. After several emails asking Ms. Tavantiz for a copy of the “Stop Work Order” that the city supposedly issued, Ms. Tavantiz finally admitted that a “verbal” Work Stop Order was issued. A “verbal” Work Stop Order is both non applicable and/or non-existent. And, why would Ms. Tavantiz attempt to mislead me? I mean, we are dealing with around $157,000.00 here, right?

So, I began asking questions, you know, Due Diligence, and found out that a lawsuit was filed in 2001 at the Santa Cruz Superior Court (and resolved in 2008) by Meadows Manor Mobile Home Park owner Kenneth Waterhouse against the state’s Department of Housing and Community Development.  It seems that Waterhouse sued the state to obtain a permit to install the 14 mobile homes. Apparently the 30-40 year old permit issued to the original owner may not have been transferable so Waterhouse sued the state to obtain a permit. This contradicted Assistant City Manager Tavantiz’s opinion that the 30 plus year permit was still valid.  

It seems that an Agreement was reached between Waterhouse and the State before a trial was held which included requirements by both parties.

Would you believe that Assistant City Manager Marcela Tavantiz was not aware of the lawsuit? She gets paid over $165,000 per year and I get paid not even 5% of her wages and she can’t find this document which I Googled? 

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Would you also believe that Assistant City Manager Marcela Tavantiz was not aware of the Agreement made between the state’s HCD and Waterhouse? Yet, she claimed to have a relationship with both Kenneth Waterhouse and his attorney David Spangengerg? Well how about this letter from the state’s attorney to Spangenberg outlining the Agreement? After sending her a copy of this document, Assistant City Manager Tavantiz wrote me an email stating that she was also not aware this document existed.  

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You see that last name on this page? “Dan Fitzgerald”, the “NAO Manager”? He was an employee of the state’s Department of Housing and Community Development at the time this Agreement was written on August 1, 2008. Today, Mr. Fitzgerald works for Kenneth Waterhouse, the Meadows Manor Mobile Home Park owner, as a “Consultant”. Imagine that. Fitzgerald, who may have a conflict of interest, is in charge of constructing the pad for the 14 units at Meadows Manor.  According to an email from Tavantiz, Fitzgerald does not have a Contractor’s License. Then why didn’t the city take exception to Fitzgerald being in charge of hooking up to our city’s sewer line?  

Then, after my continual dog style sniffing, the state’s HCD Field Inspector, Chris Anderson, seemed to throw Assistant City Manager Tavantiz under the bus. He wrote the following email:

CASINO TO OPEN IN WATSONVILLE?

By netboots, on Mar 9, 2012

A Fictitious Business Name Statement was recorded in the Register-Pajaronian on March 8th for Tres Lounge and Casino. And, it seems that it will soon be operating at 184 Main St.

Now, why didn’t they open the casino at the Gottschalks building downtown? They could have had a restaurant upstairs and gambling downstairs and it could be like the Garden City Casino in San Jose.

Mutiny  AT THE FIRE STATION?

A city employee speaking with the condition of anonymity said that after the 1999 KME aerial ladder fire truck was attempted to be put into service last week (once again) that the ladder got stuck after it was raised and would not come down, and that upon either headlights turning off or on, the power steering quit operating at the rear section of the aerial where the second driver is located.

The city issued a $225,000 check for the fire truck back in April 2008 after receiving a federal grant, but did not purchase the fire truck until December 2010 after I initiated an investigation seeking its whereabouts. This April will be 4 years since the city issued the check to Fire Trucks Plus but the truck has yet to be put into service without concern that it can operate within its expected performance.

The source reported that a heated exchange between some fire fighters and Fire Chief Marc Bisbee erupted after Bisbee demanded that they drive the fire truck. A few weeks ago fire fighter and union representative Corey Shafer wrote a memo to Bisbee asking for assurances that the 1999 KME was safe to operate. He requested an independent inspection of the fire truck. As of today it does not seem that Bisbee responded to Shafer’s request.

I wrote several emails to both City Manager Carlos Palacios and City Attorney Alan Smith. I asked about the city’s liability exposure if the aerial ladder truck failed during a response and a member of the public was seriously injured especially now that it is apparent that the aerial has experienced a multitude of mechanical problems. Also, compounding the issue is that a city mechanic has been doing some of the work on the aerial. I am surprised, well maybe not, that City Attorney Alan Smith has not rendered an opinion and/or responded.

I also asked how much this fire truck has cost the city after all the repairs…..you guessed right…no answer from our city manager. 

Former Watsonville Police Chief Terry Medina Wants To Enhance The Bar Experience in Watsonville?

By Emilio, on Jan 24, 2012

I was almost shocked to read in the Santa Cruz Sentinel (January 17th) that former Chief of Police Terry Medina had been hired as a consultant by the owners of Cilantros to assist them with continual problems that have included fights in the bar area of the restaurant. Cilantros, which was cited by the state’s Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) for furnishing alcohol to a minor (possibly back around October) was fined and their liquor license suspended for 10 days. The enforced suspension was to begin in early January 2012 which was about the time that Cilantros claimed they were closed for “remodeling”. Wonder if the “remodeling” idea was Medina’s to cover up the ABC’s decision.   

I was almost shocked because as a police chief Medina seemed to go out of his way to assure businesses selling alcohol that violated the rules of the road were dealt with suspensions and/or revocation of their Use Permits issued by the city. Well, not Jalisco’s which claimed they had an abundant amount of breakage as an excuse after a garage full of their beer and liquor was found in a home and it was being sold to minors.

I recall while as a Planning Commissioner back around 5 years ago when Medina demanded that Popo’s Use Permit be suspended for one year  after alleged gang members got into a fight in the restaurant, along with numerous other problems. The planning commission was led to believe by then Development Director John Doughty, without Medina’s objection, that Popo’s was selling distilled spirits (tequila) at the restaurant which only had a beer and wine license. The Planning Commission instead voted to suspend the license for 6 months to the chagrin of Medina after the owners pleaded that their business could not survive without serving beer.  It didn’t.   

Later, unfortunately, I found out that the state’s Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) had conducted an investigation and determined that the lone bottle of tequila found at Popo’s was a gift to the cook. The ABC reported that the bottle was found closed and sealed in the cooler of the restaurant after the cook put it there upon receiving it. I also found out that this information was public and available to the city before the planning commission meeting. You can still drive by that vacant restaurant today, another possible testament to selective code enforcement.   

Most recently, the Villager, the last standing bar in Watsonville, was targeted by our city because of stabbings and other unbecoming conduct in the bar. The proprietors of the Villager were served with a notice that the Planning Commission would be holding a public hearing whereupon they were going to consider suspension and/or revocation of their Use Permits or reduction of their business hours.

The Villager’s owners were concerned that this action could be financially detrimental and end up with the closure of their business. In preparation for the Planning Commission meeting of December 12, 2011 the Villager owners made a public records request from City Clerk Beatriz Flores on December 6th for Calls for Service from 4 other establishments that sell alcohol to substantiate their argument that they were being selectively targeted. One of them was for Cilantros. Guess whose records were not provided to the Planning Commission at the meeting? Why did you guess Cilantros? Do you think former Chief of Police Terry Medina had anything to do with it?

According to the Sentinel’s article, which seemed more of a promotion for Medina’s new business, Medina wants to “enhance the bar experience” at Cilantros. Cilantros gets to keep their hours of operation with a new bar experience with the assistance from the former booze fighting chief of police while the Villager is sanctioned by the Planning Commission which rendered their decision knowing full well they were lacking Calls for Service records for Cilantros? Why didn’t the Planning Commission demand the records before they made their decision?

We have a struggling business in a still struggling economy and the end result could be that the Villager closes its doors leaving more people unemployed, and we do it with underhanded tactics?

This is not about a bar or a restaurant, but rather how our city has been conducting business and its obvious not well considering our high unemployment rates for the past 15 years, questionable loans to selected people in the community that have resulted in little if any jobs, and the disappearance of a fire truck for almost 3 years.

The allegation that Watsonville’s economic problems are the result of deep rooted cronyism and corruption is crumbling because it’s beginning to seem that the allegation is factual.

RDA-Redevelopment Dead on Arrival?

By Emilio, on Jan 12, 2012

This past Tuesday’s city council meeting (Dec. 10th) seemed more like a variety TV show with melodramatic slides and sounds to expound on the success of our Redevelopment Agency (RDA) which is on the endangered species list of taxpayer’s dollars funded programs.

 I had to bite my lip when interim Housing and Economic Redevelopment Director Jan Davidson (a double dipper earning both a salary and pension from the city) said she was not going to list accomplishments by our RDA in her presentation, and then did just that, well sort of. 

 Some accomplishments Ms. Davidson noted which did not include dates when these projects were completed were Cabrillo College (1997), the Mello Center (1992), Soccer Central (1997), and the Civic Plaza Building (2003) which was the last major project completed with RDA money almost 9 years ago.

 What was not included in the presentation as RDA accomplishment at the city council meeting was that we gave Romo Properties (Ms. Stella Romo) a $400,000.00 low interest loan in 2010 for “tenant improvements” for her new building on Second St. across the street from the Civic Plaza. The city sold her the lot for that structure for $25,000 four years earlier on October 2006. And, according to public records, a few months ago this past September, the City of Watsonville may have provided Ms. Romo another loan for this property in the amount of $3,200.00 from federal funds. The reason given to the city council for the $400,000.00 loan was that upon completion of the interior of the building Whole Foods would move in, and with it, 40-50 new jobs would be created. I called Whole Foods corporate headquarters in Texas and a representative said maybe a few jobs were added but it was mostly a lateral move of existing employees. Additionally, $35,165.00 of RDA funds was used for “Jalisco’s Parking Lot”. Jalisco’s is a Romo owned restaurant.

 Another RDA accomplishment not mentioned is the million dollar loan given to a large corporation to purchase some property in Watsonville in 2009. The property in question belonged to the City of Watsonville which owned the land underneath the Evergreen Apartments. The buyers could not afford to purchase the city owned land, or at least that is what the city council was led to believe, so they were given a million dollar loan by our Redevelopment Agency to buy it. The buyers then paid the city the million dollars for the property with the Redevelopment Agency million dollar loan. Basically, what seems to have happened is that one million dollars from our Redevelopment Agency was transferred to the city’s General Fund account in the process of the “sale” of the city owned property so the city could balance its budget which was around a million short at the time.

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