Enterprise Record running interference for Chico Area Rec District

14 Sep

I sent a letter to the editor of the Chico Enterprise Record Sunday, detailing the breach of promise described by Off The Wall Soccer in their dealings with CARD. My letters usually run within three days of sending. Instead, today, the ER published the following announcement about this week’s CARD board meeting.

CARD agenda filled with master plan, soccer, ideas

Staff Reports

CHICO >> An update on the projects on the table, as well as possibly competing with a local soccer business, and getting involved with a community- based recreation entity will be on the agenda for the Chico Area Recreation and Park District board.

The next board of directors meeting for the Chico Area Recreation and Park District will be 7 p.m. Thursday at the Chico Community Center, 545 Vallombrosa Ave.

General Manager Ann Willmann will be providing an update on the various projects that are in development or exist, as well as what’s happening with the CARD master plan. The board asked that the master plan be updated, and a $ 19,500 contract was awarded to Melton Design Group of Chico to provide those services.

At the last meeting, the board directed Willmann to meet with Off the Wall Soccer and others about the soccer program. Representatives from the indoor soccer business said in August that an old agreement with CARD not to compete over some soccer programs has been overlooked. The board asked to talk about that issue in September. The business maintains that competition from CARD is jeopardizing its financial stability.

At the August meeting, the board also heard from private organization Everybody Healthy Body representative Bill Brouhard who asked that a CARD representative participate in its meetings. The community group is evaluating local recreation assets and has been looking at developing a recreation complex or campus in Chico. CARD is interested in the concept because it has been talking about a proposed aquatic center.

Yeah, you see the Melon Head is going to get yet another very posh contract from CARD – $19,500 to update their General Plan? Why do they need Ann Willmann? 

Then that weak paragraph about OTWS.   She’s taking CARD’s perspective – she was there when OTWS presented the documentation of years of agreements, acknowledgements of agreements broken, and promises to keep their word in future. Over and over again. She heard the whole story, and this is what she prints. I say “she” because I know Urseny wrote the story, or at least provided the outline, but she’s embarrassed to put her name on it. I would be too.

And then they act as though “Every Body  Good Body” just rolled into town – surprise! They want to build an aquatic center too! Urseny doesn’t say anything about the inappropriate nature of their relationship with CARD or Chico Aquajets – Brad Geise, president of Aqua Jets and member of the old “aquatic facility advisory committee” is a board member of EBGB. Ann Willmann gave them cut rate pricing for their meeting(s?) at Cal Park Pavilion. Let’s stop being coy here folks, this is not being reported properly to the public, and the newspaper is going along with it.

We need this newspaper like a moose needs a hat rack.   Reporter Laura Urseny is in bed with CARD, they need to send somebody new into those meetings. But who? All of their reporters are horrible.  

What to read some journalism?  Here’s the letter I sent Sunday that hasn’t been run yet. 

I attended the August 18 CARD board meeting at which owners of Off The Wall Soccer reported CARD management has not honored a good faith agreement made with them in 2006 and is undermining their business with predatory pricing.   

 

OTWS opened in 2000, offering 7-a-side  soccer programs that were not offered through CARD.  In 2005, OTWS experienced dramatic decline in membership and found CARD had begun offering 7-a-side programs, at less than half the price.  OTWS owners felt it was inappropriate for a public agency subsidized with taxpayer money to undercut legitimate private businesses.  They approached CARD’s board, which instructed management to resolve the conflict. CARD management agreed to offer 7-a-side soccer only in the summer months 

 

OTWS owners report CARD has reneged on their agreement several times since 2006, and they’ve had to go back to management and the board repeatedly to get them to honor their word. 

 

At the August 18 meeting, long time board member Jan Sneed acknowledged “we agreed to this,” promising to “make it right”.  Nonetheless, staff again told OTWS they have scheduled competing programs that began this Fall. 

 

With six-figure salaries and nearly $2 million in pension deficit, the CARD price of $319 per team does not even begin to reflect overhead at CARD. Are they offering these programs below cost in an attempt to steal business?   They are using taxpayer dollars to compete unfairly with businesses all over town.  

 

Is this really an appropriate mission for a recreation district? 
Juanita Sumner
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