Watsonville

Where has that fire truck been all these years?

By Emilio, on Nov 19, 2011

Published in The Register-Pajaronian

The Register-Pajaronian’s Nov. 12 story regarding the Santa Cruz County Grand Jury’s 2011 final report being online touched on the surface of what actually occurred.

Almost four years ago, on April 20, 2008, the city issued a $225,000 check to Fire Tucks Plus (a fire truck dealer in Rancho Cucamonga) for a fire truck described as in “excellent condition” to our City Council at the time. 

On Nov. 30, 2010, almost three years after the city issued the check, I wrote an email to City Manager Carlos Palacios asking where the truck was located and when we could anticipate delivery. You know, thinking, “Wow, almost three years now and no fire truck?”

On Dec. 1 Chief Bisbee responded with an email. He wrote: “1. Fire Trucks Plus, Rancho Cucamonga. 2. No hard delivery date yet, but refurbishment is well under way.”

I don’t know what compelled me to call Fire Trucks Plus, other than maybe investigative instinct, but whatever the reason, I did. I spoke with owner Paul Batista. I asked Mr. Batista how long before the refurbishments were completed. Mr. Batista said the fire truck was in Pasadena and not at his facility. What? Refurbishments are not “well under way” as Bisbee stated? Nope, but Mr. Batista explained, the Pasadena Fire Department was doing a lot of work to the truck and Watsonville was going to get a great deal.

“Did you cash our $225,000 check?” I asked. Yes, he did, a few weeks after receiving it. “But, how could you sell something you didn’t own?” I asked. Basically, he said, it involved a three-way deal and gave me the cell number to the city of Pasadena Fire Battalion Chief Scott Dandridge for further explanation.

CITY COUNCIL NOTES, RUMORS, THE HEEBEEGEEBEES or BOO!

By Emilio, on Oct 31, 2011

During this past Tuesday’s city council meeting, two Watsonville High students got the giggles and so did I when Council Member Lowell Hurst in his loud “give me attention” type ex-school teacher’s voice said something like “Trees Breath”. When they started to laugh and repeated “trees breath?” I started to laugh too and now we couldn’t stop laughing unless we didn’t stare at each other. Continually Mr. Hurst hits comical “homeruns” with some of his statements and quotes.

FLUORIDATION BIDS or PULL A LITTLE STRING

By Emilio, on Oct 20, 2011

The bids to fluoridate Watsonville are in and they are over approximately 1.5 million dollars more than anticipated when last submitted back in 2002. Imagine that: a 9 year-old handwritten estimate not holding up? Thus, it seems that unless the California Dental Association (CDA) is willing to fork out the additional million plus big bucks, fluoridation may be a no-go!

 

The bids submitted, according to our city manager, are as follows:

Mountain Cascade          $2,797,000.00

Preston Pipelines             $2,945,996.00

Anderson Pacific              $2,998,602.00

Don Chapin                      $3,124,500.00

Block Construction                  $3,474,300.00

 

Karma? To no avail, I have been asking Mayor Daniel Dodge to place the fluoridation matter back on the Agenda considering the continual questions of fluoride’s possible detrimental effects to the poor by by Andrew Young and most recently LULAC (League of United Latino American Citizens).

 

But, maybe, Mayor Dodge is just following the instructions of his crony Assembly Member Luis Alejo who received thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from affiliates of the CDA.

STRAWBERRY SHORT-CAKE and a FIRE TRUCK FOR CHRISTMAS?

By Emilio, on Oct 14, 2011


Have Watsonville’s Strawberry Festivals been profitable for the past three years? According to documents provided by the city it seems that in 2009 our city didn’t issue a Form 1099 to two Bandas after paying one $6,000 and the other $4,000 cash money for each of them to perform for one hour. One hour? You would think that the city made a mistake forgetting to issue 1099s for the ten grand, but, in 2010 the city did it again. They paid another Banda $6,000 cash money to perform for one hour, and again it seems the city failed to issue a Form1099.

 

We do know that this year we had $18,650.00 cash money floating around to pay bands and for other miscellaneous items related to this year’s festival which came from the city’s “Petty Cash” fund. It leaves one to wonder how much “Petty Cash” was used to operate the two previous festivals and from what account these monies actually came from.

 

I asked for the city’s Petty Cash policy and was provided with one page from the city’s Rules and Regulations. It seems that the rule’s basic intent is to reimburse city employees for their out of pocket expenses. Any amount exceeding $100 has to be approved by the city manager. Nothing was provided that is indicative that City Manager Palacios approved any of the checks issued for Petty Cash at any time. This year, in a one month period from July to August, the city issued four “Petty Cash” checks totaling $22,590.10. “Changer Order” was signed on the back of three of the checks. I don’t know an employee by the name of “Change Order”, but then what do I know? The $18,650.00 check was issued by city employees Marissa Duran and Patricia Rodriguez on July 27th and cashed by Ms. Duran on August 2nd four days prior to the festival. Who had possession of the $18,650.00 cash money for four days and where was it kept?

 

“SHUT UP! SHUT UP!” REVISITED

By Emilio, on Oct 7, 2011

Rumor has it that ex-City Council Member/Mayor “I jus wanna say ”Antonio Rivas may be considering running for County Supervisor when Ellen Pierre retires. It seems that he is calling around fishing for information and support. Was George Ow Lobbyist Elias Alonzo stood up by Rivas at the Green Valley Grill last week? Heard that Alonzo ended up at the bar waiting for Rivas. Wonder who paid for that bar bill? George Ow?

Some of you may remember “El Senor Rivas” (as he addressed himself in his cell phone answering message as a council member) resorted to name calling; he called me a “Coward” when I wouldn’t entertain city staff chastising me because I questioned their compensation. And, some of you may recall when he screamed “Shut up….Shut up!” to constituents during a city council meeting who were displeased with fluoridation. Not only has ex-Mayor Antonio Rivas resorted to unprofessional and conduct unbecoming, he may have firsthand knowledge of what really constitutes a “Coward”.

Back when I was first elected, “El Senor Rivas” called me asking to meet with me. He wanted to be Mayor again and said that if I voted for him, in return, he would vote City Council Member Dale Skillicorn for Mayor Pro-Tem. Wonder how many council members he called? Did he violate the Brown Act?

But, newly elected City Council Member Luis Alejo also had an eye on the Mayor’s seat because as we now know, he was planning to run for Assembly. After being elected Mayor and rambling on for what seemed eternity, Rivas was going to cowardly renege on the deal and vote Alejo as Mayor Pro Tem. But, City Council Member Kimberly Petersen decided it was time to “cross the isle” and voted Skillicorn for Mayor Pro-Tem and Rivas had little choice but to follow along.  After that city council meeting Ms. Petersen received calls at her home from upset Alejo supporters, one of which may have been from now Mayor Daniel Dodge, chastising her for  voting for Skillicorn. The incident may have been one of the reasons she decided not to run again.

Thoughts on things that make you say ‘Ow’

By Emilio, on Sep 19, 2011

This is one of Steve Bankhead’s “Historic” Op-Ed’s. Mr. Bankhead was kind enough to give the Fishing Report permission to reprint a Register-Pajaronian Opinion of March 11, 2011.

Thoughts on things that make you say ‘Ow’

Friday, Mar 11th, 2011
BY: STEVE BANKHEAD

 In his March 8 letter to the editor, Elias Alonzo complained of a “duo of City Council members in alignment with an aging old guard and elitist attempt to prevent the development of a 2,000-job business park.”

That would be the proposed Manabe-Ow project. It’s unfortunate that in his haste, Mr. Alonzo neglected to mention the fact he’s a longtime lobbyist for Ow family developments.

Mr. Alonzo’s letter concluded by saying Watsonville will survive the “onslaught” of these two council members and their arthritic allies, saying progress will be made “one funeral at a time.”

That created the disturbing image of a political clique checking obituaries for names of the community’s old guard, eagerly awaiting the day that enough will be gone to leave them free to have their way with the city.

I doubt there are plans for them to speed the dying process. Come to think of it, though, their fluoridation of our water might increase the incidence of osteoporosis. A flurry of broken hips among us old coots might help fast track the new guard’s agenda.

The “duo” alluded to in the Alonzo letter are council members Nancy Bilicich and Emilio Martinez. They’re the same unruly scamps who refused to march in step with other council members on fluoridation. As for his accusation of them attempting to prevent  job development, apparently haste can also cause a person to confuse facts. I doubt anybody wants to prevent this project, except possibly Wetlands Watch or the Sierra Club, due to its location in a slough area. If any developer can conjure jobs from the site, more strength to them.

NEWS FLASH RUMOR & CITY COUNCIL NOTES

By Emilio, on Sep 14, 2011

Rumor has it that Zuniga’s Restaurant at the Airport is closing. Let’s hope it re-opens soon. Maybe the city can find a way to make it profitable.

_________________________________________________

The City Council meeting last night turned out to be a “love fest” as Assembly Member Luis Aljeo noted. He was using his cell phone most of the time he was there visiting. I had to agree as we all voted unanimously on the same Plan to Redistrict after I motioned and council member Manuel Bersamin seconded. Some council members chided that it was rare to see Bersamin and I agree on something. We did have a spat a few minutes before when he continued to lecture and criticize both Council Member Nancy Bilicich I for comments we made; he has a tendency to respond to almost anything we say in a degrading and lecturing tone. So I called him out on it and maybe he will cease that type of conduct but if not, we will continue to spar.

Lowell Hurst seemed to spend an eternity telling everybody what he had done since the last time the city council met, prompting Council Member Oscar Rios to say, when Lowell finally took a breath “There is life after retirement” drawing some chuckles. I think Lowell is already campaigning, but at least he didn’t bore us with a Will Rogers quote again. 

Second Street Resident and anti-Fluoride Crusader Nick Bulaich showed up, as he always does, and continues to pound the question to Manuel Bersamin who headed the Fluoride Ad-Hoc Committee to identify which hydrofluoric acid prevents toot-decay. Bulaich called Manuel a “Mintiroso” which translates to “liar”. Manuel didn’t respond much, but afterward Oscar Rios said that he grew up in San Francisco, where they fluoridate their water and it tastes good. And, that he had somebody ask him to bring him some water from S.F. because of the good taste. I wondered if he knew that fluoride does not have a taste.

DUPLICITOUS TACTICS BY SELECTED MAYOR DANIEL DODGE & A $10,641.52 TELEPHONE BILL?

By Emilio, on Sep 13, 2011

 

Did you read today in the Register-Pajaronian that Mayor Dodge submitted an 11th hour city Redistricting Plan? The city shelled out around $30,000 to an attorney, appointed a Redistricting Committee to conduct due diligence and provide a recommendation based on their findings, but they don’t get to see Mayor Daniel Dodge’s plan? Mayor Daniel Dodge responded that there is no “hidden agenda”. Circumventing the Redistricting Committee questions Mayor Dodge’s statement, but doesn’t it make the Redistricting Committee process look like a sham and mockery?

 

Hidden Agenda or not, Mayor Dodge it also seems has legally theorized that he and City Manager Carlos Palacios are the only ones that have the authority to decide which matters to place on the Agenda for city council meetings. He wrote me a lengthy memo stating his position. I responded that we need a legal opinion from City Attorney Alan Smith of the intent and purpose of the City Charter which clearly states that the Mayor’s position is “symbolic” and that the mayor does not have veto power. Also, voter approval is required before making any amendments to the City Charter. City Attorney Smith wrote, in essence, that he would not provide a legal “opinion” but rather an observation.  How do you define “Hidden Agenda”?

KUDOS TO THE WATONVILLE POLICE DEPARTMENT & CHIEF SOLANO

By Emilio, on Sep 9, 2011

 

If I was a parolee living in Watsonville and keeping up with local periodicals, I would consider taking an extended vacation. It seems that the Watsonville Police Department is taking an aggressive approach to checking up on people who are on parole especially those with gang ties. Almost on a daily basis, our police department’s gang task force is making arrests.

STRAWBERRY COLORED MONEY or HOW DO YOU SPELL IRS?

By Emilio, on Sep 7, 2011

Have our Strawberry Festivals been generating additional income to our city’s coffers or has it been operating in the Red and a financial liability? This question has become additionally prevalent when records provided by the city verified that the city used approximately $19,000 in “Petty Cash” to operate this year’s Strawberry Festival, and that after the Festival the City Council was asked to approve this this expenditure without any explanation. Sounds like Grand Jury fodder to me.

 

At our previous city council meeting I inquired about 4 checks totaling over $20,000 for “Petty Cash”.  I received a response from our Finance Director explaining that $10,450.00 of it was to pay 3 bands that performed at this year’s Strawberry Festival. Banda Autentica de Jerez was paid with 70 one-hundred dollar bills, Los Grandes de Tijuana was paid with 30 one-hundred dollar bills, and Mariachi Salinas de Martin Alcantar was paid with 4 one-hundred dollar bills and one fifty dollar bill.

 

The response prompted these additional questions to City Manager Carlos Palacios:

·         Why couldn’t these bands accept checks?

 

·         Other bands played at the Strawberry Festival. Were they also paid with cash money?

 

 

·         The check, #182454, in the amount of $18,650 for the bands, Sodas, Parking and Sales was issued on July 27th, which is 10 days prior to the festival. When was the check cashed and who had the care, custody and control of the cash for the days preceding payment?

·         Who handed out the 104 One-Hundred Dollar Bills and the one Fifty Dollar Bill to the Bands, on what date and to which individuals (names)?

 

·          When was it agreed with the Bands that they would be paid with cash money?

 

 

Can you imagine how maybe conversations went when 104 one-hundred dollar bills were being handed out?

Recent comments