CARD continues to run aquatic center committee behind closed doors

1 Aug

I attended a 3pm Chico Recreation District meeting at California Park Pavilion Thursday to find out that a committee selected at a  closed meeting had interviewed consultants to do a “feasibility study” on behalf of the proposed aquatic center. Their findings – nobody would do it for the $30,000 offered, so they had to up the ante to $50,000.

What this “feasibility study” will include is a guess because they won’t include me in the meetings where they actually discuss it. When I asked staffer Rob Hinderer why I wasn’t noticed for the interviews he replied,

Juanita, good morning!

 There was no AFAC Meeting. There were interviews with the RFP respondents. An interview panel was formed. They were the only persons present at the interviews other than myself and CARD GM, Ann Willmann.

 When the RFP decision is made, I will send out invites to all AFAC members, yourself included, to share the outcome of the RFP.

 Thank you,

 Rob

The last AFAC meeting I was noticed about started late because many of the members didn’t show up. When the meeting started, there was confusion – several of the members wanted to talk about the deplorable condition of Sharpiro and Pleasant Valley pools, and when they would be repaired. They were told those options would be included in the “feasibility study”, but of course, we haven’t seen the study.  The conversation was all over the place, I had to leave about 40 minutes into the meeting. They were supposed to discuss the Request for Proposals that had been sent out to consultants, but Rob Hinderer was still trying to pull the meeting together when I left. 

This 3pm Wednesday  meeting was called to discuss the annual budget. The AFAC matter was part of it because they had to agree on how much to budget for this “feasibility study.” The three consultants who showed up to be interviewed said they couldn’t do a good study for less than $50,000. An ad-hoc committee had talked about $75,000, but agreed on $60,000,  because they wanted to be sure they would have plenty of money to cover it, without having to ask for budget allocations. I don’t think that was the right tack – now they will not have to discuss cost overruns before the public, they just have the money there in a pot to spend it. Oh well. 

That’s why they had this meeting at 3pm on a Thursday at the Cal Park clubhouse, Lakeside Pavillion, instead of at a regularly scheduled meeting at the CARD center. Board president Jan Sneed has taken CARD behind closed doors because she knows they’re playing fast and loose with taxpayer money. 

Sneed tried to act the fiscal conservative. When a board member moved to approve the $75,000 expenditure, she held out for $60,000, just to show us what a penny pincher she is.

Well, she’s skeletized CARD with layoffs because they can’t afford to pay benefits for their workers. New CARD director Ann Willman, an ex-CARD employee who left a couple of years ago to take the helm at Feather River Rec in O’ville, is back in Chico at just over $100,000, according to the Enterprise Record. Her replacement in Oroville gets $70,000, and refused the benefits package because she said her husband already has one on his job. I think they were offering her a $5,000 benefits package. Willman’s predecessor Steve Visconti and most CARD management get packages that cost around  $25 – 30,000/year. 

I don’t know what Willman really makes because new state controller Betty Yee has taken down John Chiang’s  salary database. Now we have to believe what these public employees tell us, and well, you know they will lie to us.  They’re ashamed.

And I’m back on the same merry-go-round with Willmann that I rode with her predecessor Visconti. Here’s the last e-mail I received from outgoing Visconti:

From: svisconti@chicorec.com
To: juanita sumner
Subject: RE: intergovernmental committee
Date: Mon, 22 Jun 2015 16:17:41 +0000

Ms. Sumner, you are correct. The Intergovernmental meetings are generally on an as needed basis. The most recent meeting was with the City Manager to discuss a few issues related to the City budget and certain fees they collect that CARD has utilized in the past to construct new park improvements. I will notify our new General Manager Ann Willmann that you would like to be noticed on future Intergovernmental Meetings. She will be starting on July 6th.

 As far as meeting reports, I will notify Ms. Marciales as soon as she returns to the office the week of July 6th.

 Thank you for your inquiry.

 Steve Visconti

Interim General Manager

July 6 came and went, I got no response from either Willman or Marciales. Jennifer Marciales seems to think she’s paid to do her fingernails.  So, when I went to the meeting Thursday, I was surprised when a human potato walked up to greet me in my chair – “Are you Juanita?” It was Willmann, who had put on a bigger rearend since I had seen her last. I know the Oroville job was rough – Feather River Rec has been in financial arrears for some time, and then there was the incident involving a teenage boy, a camera, and a girl’s toilet. That didn’t play well for Willman, I’m guessing she ran back to Chico crying for Mama.

I repeated my request to Willmann and she gave me her business card, telling me to e-mail her. By law, she’s supposed to have these reports on hand for anybody who requests them, but I played along because the room was full of unfriendly people by that time. I e-mailed her promptly the next morning. 

From: juanita sumner
Sent: Friday, July 31, 2015 5:26 AM
To: Ann Willmann <annw@chicorec.com>
Cc: Jennifer Marciales <jmarciales@chicorec.com>
Subject: RE: intergovernmental committee

 Hi Ms. Willmann,

 I’m glad you gave me your e-mail – as you know, most card e-mail address are first initial, last name. I see where that would be confusing to people trying to get ahold of you.

 As I asked Mr. Visconti below, I’d like to get the report of the last Intergovernmental meeting, which Mr. Visconti had told me Ms. Marciales would contact me about.

 I’d also like to get on the notice list for the Intergovernmental meetings, as I had asked.

 Thanks for your anticipated cooperation, Juanita Sumner

And here’s what I got back – sounds like the same bullshit runaround to me.

From: annw@chicorec.com
To: juanita sumner
CC: jmarciales@chicorec.com; 
Subject: RE: intergovernmental committee
Date: Fri, 31 Jul 2015 16:50:13 +0000

Dear Juanita, thank you for your email. I will follow up on your requests and also ensure you are on the requested notification lists. Have a lovely weekend. Ann

In my past experience, this is a brush off, and I won’t hear from this woman again unless I put a hornet up her ass. We’ll see. 

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2 Responses to “CARD continues to run aquatic center committee behind closed doors”

  1. bob August 1, 2015 at 11:12 am #

    These people are out of control. Isn’t all this just more examples of violations of the Brown Act?

    It seems that this is what are corrupt government entities do best in this town.

    Why don’t we read anything about this in the Wretched or Snooze and Review?

    If these papers aren’t going to report any of this they should have an RSS feed to your blog so their readers can know about this stuff.

    • Juanita Sumner August 1, 2015 at 12:01 pm #

      Laura Urseny covers the meetings, and her stories are worth reading, but she leaves a lot of stuff out.

      I think somebody is homing in on the Brown Act violation, we’ll see what happens.

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