ABSTRACT: A List of “Poor Governance” examples over the last eight years under the mayorship of Sue McCloud is presented; the List is organized with concrete examples arranged in categories. Categories include “Closed Government,” Centralized Government in Mayor and City Administrator, Lack of Timely Public Hearings on Important Public Issues, Closed and Inaccessible Public Buildings & Underutilized Public Assets, Lack of Investment in Critical Infrastructure and Natural Resources/Unimplemented Consultants’ Studies Recommendations, Failure to Timely Fund and Implement General Plan/Coastal Land Use Plan Policies, Imprudent City Finance Policy Involving Reserve Funds & Deferred Maintenance and Abysmal Stewardship of Natural Resources. The List is intended to empower those Carmelites considering running for elective office in the City of Carmel-by-the-Sea in 2010, especially Carmelites willing to articulate a new vision and direction for Carmel-by-the-Sea; a vision about “open government,” investment in infrastructure and natural resources and making our government accountable to Carmelites.
City of Carmel-by-the-Sea “Poor Governance” List
• Per the 2005 Monterey County Civil Grand Jury Final Report on Open Government, the mayor continues to “over-control” the City; as Finding 7 stated, “Over-control of this process by mayors is not in the public interest.”
• Per the 2005 Monterey County Civil Grand Jury Final Report on Open Government, too often public comment queries are not followed up in a routine, clear and regular manner.
• As the Grand Jury Report stated, “Whether or not the public interest is being subverted through any covert process may be immaterial if the public has the perception their interests are not represented and outcomes are predetermined.” Yet still today, the City has failed to recognize and acknowledge “public perception” and therefore has not done anything to address this significant issue.
• Use of Ad Hoc Committees, which are not subject to the Ralph M. Brown Act (Open Meetings Law), to prevent public input into the decision-making process regarding the installation of Sunset Cultural Center, Inc. (SCC) as the non-profit organization to manage the City-owned Sunset Center.
Centralized Government in Mayor and City Administrator:
• Failure of the City to hire a Community Planning and Building Director and Public Works Director has resulted in ineffective and incompetent micromanagement of these departments by the City Administrator and Mayor.
• Failure to use the City’s Local Coastal Program (LCP) as an effective management tool; instead, the City’s LCP is too often exploited as a campaign prop for reelection purposes.
• Overreliance on consultants with no “institutional memory;” under reliance on city employees with “institutional memory.” For example, a staff of full-time city planners could revise and update the City’s General Plan as required more effectively, efficiently and in a less costly manner than consultants.
• City employees with the requisite experience and knowledge fail to respond directly to queries via email; instead, too often the City Administrator intervenes and is unresponsive.
• Overemphasis and overfunding for “economic revitalization,” including marketing and tourist promotion, and Sunset Cultural Center, Inc. (SCC).
• Pursuit of myopic, personal agendas at the expense of what is in the best interests of Carmelites and the City of Carmel-by-the-Sea, as “primarily, a residential City.”
Lack of Timely Public Hearings on Important Public Issues:
• 2007 Citygate Associates Fire Department Consolidation Feasibility Analysis for the Cities of Monterey and Pacific Grove and Carmel; the City has yet to place this critical public safety issue on a City Agenda for a public hearing.
• 2007 Richard McCann’s Forest Theatre, Forest Theater Foundation Pre-Design Study; after completion of the Study, the City delayed a year prior to scheduling a public hearing on a City Council agenda and has yet to communicate to Carmelites a timetable for public hearings regarding the Schematic Design, even though $65,000 has been budgeted for the Schematic Design in Fiscal Year 2008/09.
• Status of the Flanders Mansion, a National Register of Historic Places resource: the City has yet to place Flanders Mansion on a City Agenda since contracting with Denise Duffy & Associates to revise the Environmental Impact Report, funding an Economic Feasibility Study and expending taxpayer dollars for ongoing attorney fees.
Closed and Inaccessible Public Buildings & Underutilized Public Assets:
• Scout House: Formerly a Community Center, the City closed the Scout House years ago and has failed to fund and implement a plan to re-open the Scout House to new and historic users.
• Public Works Building: The City closed the Public Works Building to the public years ago, but maintains offices for the City Forester, et cetera, and has failed to fund and implement a plan to re-open the building to the public.
• Flanders Mansion: After violating State and Municipal laws, contracting with Denise Duffy & Associates to revise the Environmental Impact Report, funding an Economic Feasibility Study and expending taxpayer dollars for ongoing attorney fees, the City has yet to place the Flanders Mansion on a City Agenda for a public hearing.
• Rio Park: The intentions of the City with regard to Rio Park are unknown; it continues to be an underutilized City park.
• Harrison Memorial Library: The City has yet to restore operating hours on Sundays.
Lack of Investment in Critical Infrastructure & Natural Resources/Unimplemented Consultants’ Studies Recommendations:
• 2007 Pavement Management and Truck Impact Fee Study
NICHOLS CONSULTING ENGINEERS, CHTD.:
Unimplemented recommendation for increasing funding for Carmel-by-the-Sea’s streets to at least $660,000/year.
Failure to use the Study to systematically prioritize streets projects based on PCI (pavement condition index) values.
• Barrie D. Coate and Associates’ 2007 Arboricultural Analysis and Advisory Services for the City of Carmel’s Forest:
Failure to establish, fund and implement a long-term program for Carmel’s forest, including an inventory and evaluation of the current forest and, most importantly, an “ongoing, long-term commitment by the city to fund each part of the program.”
Failure to Timely Fund and Implement General Plan/Coastal Land Use Plan Policies:
• Even though the City’s Local Coastal Program (LCP) was certified in 2004 and states that the City must “provide restroom facilities consistent with the volume of people who use the beach and Beach Bluff Pathway,” the City Council only recently approved “design plans only” for a second permanent restroom facility at Scenic Road and Santa Lucia Avenue at the September 9, 2008 City Council meeting.
Imprudent City Finance Policy Involving Reserve Funds & Deferred Maintenance:
•With each successive year, the City has added taxpayer dollars to Reserve Funds while deferred maintenance continues to grow with each successive year. For informational purposes, the City’s estimated 7/1/08 Total Reserve Balance is $10,344,540, of which $5,703,694 (or 55% of the total Reserve Balance) represent reserves NOT based on the Municipal Code, City policy, or trust agreement provisions. Furthermore, while the convention is reserve funds to annual budget of about 15%, the City of Carmel-by-the-Sea has a total reserve balance to total budget of 74% (Fiscal Year 2007/08).
Abysmal Stewardship of Natural Resources:
• Failure to adequately fund the Forest, Parks and Beach Department; including failure to fully fund and implement the Goals, Objectives and Policies of the City’s General Plan/Coastal Land Use Plan, ex. Del Mar and North Dunes Master Plan, Mission Trail Nature Preserve Master Plan, Shoreline Management Plan, et cetera.