Just In From Fort Bragg
by Judy Valadao, March 3, 2016
At the January 25th meeting the Council was asked to consider declaring a shelter crisis. Lindy Peters followed by asking that a discussion of declaring a Shelter Crisis be the focus of the next Public Safety Committee meeting. What a farce that meeting was. The discussion was not about a Shelter Crisis but instead about the Extreme Weather Shelter (EWS), which by the way are two separate subjects. The Grand Finale of the meeting was the Grand Tour of the Old Coast Hotel. Director Anna Shaw was nowhere in sight.
At the January 11th Council meeting Lindy Peters asked for an oral progress report from Hospitality Center because of the amount of money that had been handed over for the purchase of the Old Coast Hotel. He also asked if the Council could ask Anna Shaw and get a report from her during a council meeting.
As an act of fulfilling this request several Hospitality Center’s Board members came to the Feb. 8th Council meeting and did in fact give a report on the Extreme Weather Shelter. However, the extent of the report on the Old Coast Hotel was about the remodel and who got the contracts. I don’t think it’s stretching one’s imagination too far to say, I think what was expected was a report of services being offered within the walls of the Old Coast Hotel, not what they planned to do to the walls. Again, the Director Anna Shaw was nowhere in sight.
The Board Members of The Hospitality Center were asked if their meetings were open to the public and their answer was “Yes, they are.” A back and forth conversation between the board members and mayor Dave Turner pointed out that portions of the meetings could not be open to the public. A member of our community did in fact go to the Board meeting last week and got there at 9:00. By 9:10 she was asked to leave and was in fact in her car on her way home. The extent of her attending the meeting was a prayer and then she made a statement. That’s it.
According to the Bagley-Keene Open Meeting Act these meetings should in fact be open to the public if for no other reason than the amount of public funds they receive. That in fact makes this the rule. I would go a step farther and say if in fact The Board is discussing the clients of this organization perhaps they themselves are violating confidentiality laws. What would your reaction be if you showed up for meeting of the Hospital Board and 10 minutes into the meeting you were asked to leave because they were going to discuss the patients? It is my understanding that Boards are created to oversee the running of an organization as well as oversee the finances. This is public information, or should be. Case Managers, (qualified or not) physicians (licensed or not) and the director are the ones who discuss the clients care.
Isn’t it a bit odd how Anna Shaw attended every meeting and spoke at every meeting while she had her hand out for 1.2 million dollars? Once that money was securely placed into her hand she doesn’t even attend Council Meetings even when requested to do so, perhaps she wasn’t asked per Lindy’s request, I don’t know.
After two meetings with The Hospitality Center people we still have not been told what services are offered inside the Old Coast Hotel.
Remember one year ago when this project was made known to the public? Do you remember community members asking why they weren’t notified? The City’s answer was simple. "We didn’t have to notify you."
I heard those exact same words used on another project. Tess Albin-Smith was at the February 22nd City Council meeting to discuss the trees being removed at the northern most end of Harrison St. She said any safety issues had been resolved back in 2012 by trimming the trees and removing one. Now all of a sudden the chain saws have returned with no notice given. She asked Tom Varga why didn’t they just trim and top the trees because they serve as a windbreak on the block. Tom Varga replied you can’t top the trees because they will die. (Wrong answer, Tom) It just so happens Tess is a registered forester and has worked in the business for 32 years. Tess corrected the City-paid Varga by telling him you can top them, trim them and remove anything you want from them…they will still sprout. So Tess asked the City why the neighbors weren’t notified. There was a very familiar answer to that question: “We didn’t have to notify you.”
Tess also made the announcement that she will not be inviting teams to Fort Bragg in October for the huge soccer tournament as she has done in past years. The fields are such a mess with gopher holes the out of town teams complain about safety and rightfully so. Three years ago Tess spoke at a Council meeting about this very issue. So, while plans of artificial turf are being discussed for other fields and paid for by yet another grant the City will be missing 3 days of motels being filled and money being spent in local businesses. At least Tess was courteous enough to inform the City even if “she didn’t have to.”