Saturday, December 18, 2010

Christmas & New Year Break

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Blogging will resume Monday January 3, 2011.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Gibson Ranch

The editorial in the Sacramento Bee lamenting the decision by the County Board of Supervisors to turn over management of the shuttered Gibson Ranch to a group headed by a long time public servant and prominent philanthropist, whose history in the area is substantial, seems oddly inappropriate considering the park will now reopen with a very good chance it will be well-cared for and even enhanced.

An excerpt.

“It is hardly surprising that Sacramento County supervisors have agreed to pursue an ill-advised deal with developer Doug Ose over the future of Gibson Ranch. Supervisors have been making reckless financial decisions for years. On Tuesday, they added to their legacy.

“The deal negotiated between Ose and interim County Executive Steve Szalay would allow Ose to take over Gibson Ranch, a 345-acre public park, and operate it for 10 years as a profit-making entity. Ose would pay $1 a year to take over this historic ranch. The county, in turn, would commit $500,000 over five years to upgrade facilities in this privatized park that Ose would control.

“Szalay and Ose touted the deal as the best way to get Gibson Ranch reopened in a short period of time. They both claim it would save the county money in the long run, because the cost of mothballing Gibson Ranch is about $212,000 yearly.

“While those arguments have some merit, Szalay and supervisors who voted for the deal – Roberta MacGlashan, Susan Peters, Don Nottoli and Jimmie Yee – utterly ignored the potential risks to the county. In particular, the deal, as now written, allows Ose to invest whatever amount of money he wants in profit-making businesses – ranging from a pet motel to an RV park. If the county wanted to end the agreement before 10 years, it would have to repay Ose for his investment costs and percentage of lost revenue. That could add up to hundreds of thousands of dollars, and possibly more.”

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Homelessness & San Francisco, Part II

The sit-lie law was passed recently in San Francisco, and a column in the San Francisco Chronicle examines the response.

An excerpt.

“Nobody likes to lose an election, especially when you are convinced you will win. But now that the voters of San Francisco have spoken in favor of the sit/lie law, opponents have to make a decision.

“If they want to mutter and grouse about the election, that's fine. They've been muttering and grousing about other, similar issues they opposed - Care Not Cash, the Community Justice Center - for years.

“But if they follow through with threats to challenge sit/lie in the courts, we have to question their motives. They can't say that putting the financially strapped city through a costly lawsuit - which they would probably lose - is representing the will of the people. More than 105,000 voters supported sit/lie.

"That would be like giving the middle finger to the city," said Police Chief George Gascón, who supported the measure. "This is more of an ideological statement. It is not about winning in court, which is unlikely since it has been challenged and confirmed in our courts and in our circuit. It is more about continuing to fight."

“Opponents can say that the San Francisco version is citywide, not just confined to the business corridors as it is in Seattle. But this was a citywide vote, and the measure passed handily.

“It brings into question that age-old question: Who really speaks for the majority of residents? Sit/lie opponents were certain that they did, and that the proponents were just a few malcontents and big money developers.

"You'd hear that it was a couple of merchants in the Haight, or downtown interests," Gascón said. "That's bull crap."

“Clearly the tide has turned since a less restrictive sit/lie ballot measure failed in 1994. But the far-left advocates seem intent on ignoring the voice of the voters.

“Opposition leaders have claimed the sit/lie law violates the Fourth and Eighth Amendments. But the Fourth defines "unreasonable search and seizure," and the Eighth concerns "excessive bail, fines and cruel and unusual punishment."

“Those arguments may be tough to prove. A cornerstone of the measure is that a warning is required from the officer before someone sitting on the sidewalk can be cited. There won't be any unreasonable search or cruel and unusual punishment if the person simply gets up and moves.”

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Gibson Ranch, Part II

As reported by the Sacramento Bee, the county will move forward with the plan to turn over management of the park to a forprofit entity.

It is heartening to see innovation and creativity become part of the mix of local parks management.

An excerpt from the Bee article.

“Sacramento County supervisors voted Tuesday to move forward on a deal that would turn over Gibson Ranch to a private developer, rejecting the option of opening up the process for more proposals.

“The vote means former congressman and real-estate developer Doug Ose will take over the now-closed property near Elverta, unless the county and Ose can't agree on the particulars of a contract.

“Ose said he hopes to sign an agreement with the county by February and reopen Gibson Ranch by April 1. The county closed the park earlier this year because of budget problems.

“Supervisors endorsed the tentative agreement reached so far by Ose and interim County Executive Steve Szalay: Ose will lease the 345-acre historic property for $1 a year. In exchange, he must maintain the ranch, keep it open to the public and provide services.

“The county will pay $100,000 a year in deferred maintenance costs.

“Remaining to be decided: What penalties will Ose face if he fails to deliver and what kinds of services will be provided at the ranch. Szalay said the county could end the agreement at any time.

“Supervisors voted 4-1 to direct Szalay to bring back a final agreement, handing Supervisor Phil Serna his first defeat during his first meeting on the board. Serna, who replaced Supervisor Roger Dickinson, voted against the agreement, saying the county should reopen the process for more proposals.”

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Gibson Ranch

The proposal to open the Ranch to the public under a lease management agreement comes from a family with a long-established record of public service and philanthropy, is supported by many locally, and is congruent with standard lease management agreements involving some form of privatization, as we posted earlier here and here.

Given that, the opposition as stated in this Sacramento Bee editorial seems overwrought.

An excerpt.

“For Sacramento County supervisors, decision time could come today on what to do with Gibson Ranch regional park.

“Interim County Executive Steve Szalay's staff report, however, is so contradictory that the supervisors truly are on their own.

“The obvious action: Start over.

“That report notes that a selection advisory committee and county staff recommended rejection of the only proposal submitted, which came from developer and former congressman Doug Ose. Further, it acknowledges that since then "several new entities have approached Regional Parks and expressed interest in submitting a proposal for the operation of Gibson Ranch." So why not see what's out there, instead of proceeding with the only, still deeply flawed proposal that the county has received? This is a case where competition would be better than negotiating a sole-source contract.

“Yet the county executive now is recommending that supervisors "finalize negotiations" with "Gibson Ranch LP" – an entity proposed by Ose that does not yet exist and has no experience with park operations.

“This makes no sense whatsoever.”

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Surgery & Blogosphere Absence

Emergency surgery right after Thanksgiving, and the subsequent recuperation will keep me from the blogosphere for a few more days.

Enjoy your weekend.