Run them out of town

This is a major scandal. It’s old news by now, but back in 2007 when the city council agreed to transfer $55 million to Thomas Enterprises to help the company buy the rest of the railyard land, it apparently overpaid by several orders of magnitude because it didn’t take the time to get an appraisal done. Most of the money came from the transportation fund and thus couldn’t be used to get us out of the $50 million hole we’re in — though how it was able to be transferred to a real estate developer in that case is beyond me.

This whole mess stunk before, but this is an outrage. The Sac Rag does not do political endorsements, but let’s just say I personally hope the city council’s unemployment rate soon becomes 100%.

Author: CoolDMZ

"X-ray vision to see in between / Where's my kimono and my time machine?"

8 thoughts on “Run them out of town”

  1. There isn’t a recall for city council members, is there?

    BTW, I sat next to Steve Cohn in De Vere’s yesterday. I think he was with that city manager guy. Whoever the other guy was he was a total grey eminence. Didn’t utter more than a whisper the whole time. While Cohn oozed charisma. Politicians make good people watching.

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  2. Write your Congressman! Oh wait…
    Vote for someone else! Oh wait…

    Maybe the political system doesn’t protect the taxpayer after all? Nah- THAT couldn’t be it, could it?

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  3. Unemployment for councilors will be difficult to obtain when nobody runs against them. The last batch ran unopposed. (I know, I know, I should put up or shut up, but my job is such that I’d have to take an extended leave of absence were I to run, and I don’t have a nest egg to fall back on. Believe me, I’d do it if it were feasible.)

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  4. Keep in mind, in all this, that the “strong mayor” initiative is predicated around the idea that the current concil is not pro-development enough.

    And the way things are headed, the public will have even fewer possibilities for input:

    On Thursday the Sacramento Planning Commission will have a public hearing on a proposal (http://www.cityofsacramento.org/dsd/meetings/commissions/planning/2008/documents/DOC_letter.PDF) by the Development Oversight Commission (DOC), a City-appointed group comprised almost entirely of real estate developers, architects, and business consultants, to eliminate the City’s Design Review Commission and change the development approval process in the City so that City staff will make most planning and design decisions administratively, leaving no opportunity for public input.

    The reasons you should come to the hearing at City Hall on Thursday February 12th at 5:30pm to testify against this proposal:

    1. This attempt to reduce citizen and citizen-commission input and oversight of development in our community has undergone no public vetting from community groups that will be affected by such a fundamental shift in our City’s development.

    The proposal was developed and sent directly to the Mayor with no input from the Planning or Design Review Commissions. More importantly, the proposed ordinance was not brought to any neighborhood association or other community-based organization that normally comments on development in their communities.

    This is not the kind of transparency and open government practices that should be an essential part of such a fundamental change in our community’s development approval process.

    2. The proposal will greatly reduce opportunities for Community input

    The proposal will eliminate the City’s Design Review Commission and fold its responsibilities into the Planning Commission and shift “…the majority of decisions to the staff level..”. The movement of “…the majority of decisions to staff level…” will likely reduce community involvement from the development review process. Communities have a right to be able to comment on projects that will be built in their neighborhood.

    Even after moving most decisions to the staff level, by eliminating the Design Review Commission the public loses one of the two opportunities they have left to comment on development projects proposed in their neighborhood. The recommendation would squeeze all public input on a project into one meeting where every issue with design or planning will have to be settled. This will almost certainly create the types of extremely long meetings that discourage public involvement and will force complex decisions that have long-term impacts on communities into unreasonably short decision-making time frames.

    Reducing opportunities for citizens to be involved in projects in their neighborhoods decreases transparency, will cause more projects to be appealed to the City Council and will increase the likelihood of lawsuits to block projects. This will decrease the effectiveness of the development review process. Please come to the Planning Commission hearing and comment on this item and let the City know that you think the public should have a role in development decisions in our City. Please distribute this email to other residents who would come to testify in support of preserving the role of the citizen in our city’s development.

    The meeting is at the New City Hall, 915 I Street, 1st Floor- Council Chambers, February 12, 2009 at 5:30 P.M.

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  5. wburg wrote “Keep in mind, in all this, that the “strong mayor” initiative is predicated around the idea that the current concil is not pro-development enough.”

    Actually, the “strong mayor” initiative is predicated around the idea that the current council is accountable to no one, as they are the chosen few who dictate how we should live and how our money should be spent and what services we are allowed access to.

    At election time, it’s really hard to replace all of the councilpeople who have done wrong, particularly when it’s hard to get people to run against them (for a variety of reasons, including the Chicago-esqe ones). It is much easier to have the responsibilty of the government accountable to one person, who is easily replaced, who would need to justify their actions. It’s really hard to pin the actions of the council on any one member, which is something they count on so their unpopular votes can remain ambiguious. Like Councilmember Tretheway and Mayor Fargo claiming to be against large developments and being in favor of walkable neighborhoods, and then claiming that their fellow councilpeople forced the approval of the abomination that is Natomas Marketplace.

    When everyone is accountable, no one is accountable.

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  6. T Mc: Take your pick. Either being able to vote someone out of office counts as accountability or it doesn’t. The “strong mayor” initiative claims that being able to vote the mayor out of office is all the voice the public ever needs, now you claim that being able to vote out city council members doesn’t count as accountability.

    The proposed changes to city commissions would make sleazy stuff like cash gifts to developers even easier to pull off, because more development approval would be done entirely out of the public eye, and the smaller, hogtied Planning Commission that much easier to bully. Civic participation is what happens between elections, but developers would generally prefer that people not know about what they’re planning to do, or allow them any voice of opposition to any development project. And since developers run the DOC, that’s the crux of the changes they want to make.

    I’d like to hear more about these so-called “Chicago-esque” reasons, because I’m pretty sure you just pulled that completely out of thin air. Especially when the main objective of the “strong mayor” initiative seems to be creating a Chicago-esque mayor here in Sacramento.

    With Fargo and Tretheway, their rhetoric doesn’t match their action, because the system has so many loopholes that developers can sidestep anything resembling a community plan. If you’re going to seek out blame for abominations like Natomas Marketplace, it just seems like you might want to lay a little blame at the feet of the people who actually built the place.

    But in the case of Johnson, he has made it pretty clear that he is opposed to walkable neighborhoods (his use of car-centric Phoenix as a development model) and supportive of large developments (he is supported entirely by large developers) so I don’t see how someone who so openly admits they are a shill for big business constitutes an improvement.

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