The Coastal Post - September, 1996

News And Notes Of Novato

September, and school is back in session. Where did the summer go? As grandparents, Jack and I have a new experience of having a grandchild in Novato High School. John will be going as the second generation. Where did the years go?

Heated project in Novato

Recall the 60 million tax-free bonds the Buck Center staff requested the City Council provide creative financing for, to allow the Center to receive Certificates of Participation in the above amount in order to build Phase One? What no one realizes is this will be over a 30-year period with no vote from the Novato voters regarding the use of Certificates of Participation. The minute the Buck Center representatives sign over the financing and refinancing, acquisition and building of the Center, financing the project becomes a public one through the involvement of the City Council's resolution allowing the financing to be a reality. Measure D became an Ordinance in 1987, whereas any time Novato considers any project over a million dollars, it must go to the voters for their approval. Two of the original signers—Christine Knight and David Milano—do not wish to stand on that principle because they believe in the Buck Center project. Two other signers—Fred Raab and Betty Machado—stand by the principle no matter what project is involved.

September 10 will be the City Council meeting to determine if the City Council ignores the Ordinance and signs the resolution to become involved with the acquisition, construction and equipping a non-profit organization without the vote of the Novato citizens.

County Controller-Auditor Richard Arrow has warned the City Council that the investors could sue the City if the project defaults on the bonds. Thank goodness, Richard Arrow was trained for his elected county position by the late Michael Mitchell during his terms in office as Marin County Controller-Auditor. A man of principle.

Sidebar to Christine Knight's position: "Thank goodness she didn't sign the Constitution of the United States. She wouldn't have liked Betsy Ross' design of the flag and we would still be saluting the British version," so said a telephone caller during this mess.

There was never a public hearing on this matter. Yet City Manager Rod Wood outlined a whole schedule starting in May with the Buck Center staff. Yes, the Buck Center paid our staff to organize this whole affair. $25,000 was the price tag. Is that how we will be going in the future? Staff will wear two hats. One paid by the public, one paid by the private sector. No public employee should serve two masters!

This columnist on August 6 put together a public forum on Channel 23 from 8 pm to 10 pm. I paid the bill to Downtown Productions, Dean Hendrick, to operate the camera in the Council chambers. Shirley Graves located a keynote speaker, Rick Ashburn, from Orinda. He told us he would only take a "neutral position" and tells us about creative financing. He did just that. We allowed telephone calls in during the program plus audience participation.

What the City Manager failed to do by not having a public workshop on the schedule, we, the private sector, accomplished! The rest of the cities in Marin should have their City Council, Planning Commission meeting televised every time they meet. Novato with Chambers Cable company has a "gold mine" for the public to participate and be viewed on Channel 23. Plus we have access to the public use when not being used by City meetings. Same pricetag for cable TV.

Didn't realize there is so much to say on this subject. Novato certainly is getting a "black eye" in the county newspaper front page lead story! See you on September 10 when the City Council has a meeting to sign or not sign the resolution to bail out the Buck Center. Remember Orange Country.

Congratulations Steve and Christina Cordone for their August marriage at Our Lady of Loretto. Father Burns came out of retirement to preform the ceremony. It was "old home week" for the students and parents whose children attended the parochial school at Our Lady of Loretto. Paul and Laura Machado were there since they graduated from Our Lady in the eighth grade. Steve and Paul were in the same class along with John Clinton. Steve and Christina live in Tracy. They are purchasing their first home! Congratulations to Nancy and Randy Bechtel. Son Kevin and his wife have a new son, making first-time grandparents of the Bechtels!

I walk by night

Who will replace the late Dale Fleming on the Marin College Board? Eleven people applied. Lorraine Berry of Ross was furious over how mailed letters supporting candidates were handled by Board Chairman Phyllis Metcalf. Seems they were put in a dead letter file instead of into the trustee's packets when the Board interviewed the candidates for the first cut on Monday night, August 19.

Every candidate had a different time: Like 7:18 pm for my favorite candidate, Basia Crane, who did run in November, 1995. Supervisors John Kress and Hal Brown did submit letters for their favorite candidates. Phyllis Metcalf made a statement, "We followed the procedure for the application and our normal procedure of what is done with correspondence." That was a quote from a county paper.

Does that mean correspondence by normal procedure is not placed in the trustee's packet before the college board agenda item? If so, the procedure should be changed. If a citizen takes the time to write a letters, stamp it and mail it, then the Board should receive it in their packets! That's called communication with the public.

Final item

The Novato City Council met in closed session on Monday, August 19, at the Hill School community room at 9 am.

Item: Public Employee Performance Evaluation Pursuant to Government Code Section 54957.

Title: City Manager. This item took from 9 am 'til 11:40 am. Mayor Gray left for another meeting about one hour into the evaluation. He did return. How do I know? I sat in my car, read the paper and conversed with the seniors arriving for the Monday meeting. The sign finally came down. I attended the retreat but missed #1: Mission statement, values and goals. Process for accomplishment.

Last note: The City Manager received a raise! Despite two and a half hours of a closed session.