Wednesday, December 31, 2008

2008: End of Year Assessment

ABSTRACT: As a year end assessment, five themes are presented with examples for the purpose of illustrating the five themes, as follows:
o Mayoral Abuses of Power
o Four City Council Members who Act As Cabinet Members, as Opposed to Independently Elected Representatives
o Ineffectual City Administrator
o Misallocated Taxpayer Dollars
o Hypocritical and Inconsistent Enforcement
A COMMMENT is made with regard to Carmelites.

o Mayoral Abuses of Power
• Case of Carmelite Susan Page
Carmelite Susan Page, Mayor Sue McCloud’s neighbor, petitioned the City for removal of her Black Acacia tree due to private safety concerns. Throughout the process, as mayor, Sue McCloud interfered with the process, instigated and/or oversaw the removal of Susan Page’s application to the Forest and Beach Commission several times over months, attempted to prejudice her appeal of the Forest and Beach Commission’s unanimous decision to approve the removal of the Black Acacia tree by highlighting sections on documents which were later copied for City Council Members as part of the City Council Agenda Packet, voided a permit with conditions agreed to by Susan Page and voted by the City Council at the City Council meeting upholding the decision of the Forest and Beach Commission and substituted other language for the conditions voted upon by the City Council.

• Carmel Fire Department Consolidation with the Monterey and Pacific Grove Fire Departments
Mayor Sue McCloud continues to “over control” governmental processes as per 2005 Civil Grand Jury Report Finding; Sue McCloud instigated and/or oversaw the city’s withdrawal from consolidation negotiations in January 2008 for no articulated purpose at the time and disallowed the placement of the consolidation issue on City Council agendas for public hearings for an entire year in order to educate the public and receive input from Carmelites. Only lately has the Public Safety Director finally communicated to Carmelites the options for the future management of the Carmel Fire Department. To wit, it appears the City of Monterey City Manager and Fire Chief are better representing the public safety interests of Carmelites than Mayor Sue McCloud.

• Installation of Speed Hump without Notification of Dolores Street Residents and Public Hearing
Only after Dolores Street residents hired an attorney who threatened the City with a lawsuit alleging misappropriation of funds due to the expenditure of taxpayer dollars for materials and labor without a public hearing and vote of the City Council did the “City” remove the speed hump in March 2008.

o Four City Council Members who Act As Cabinet Members, as Opposed to Independently Elected Representatives
In 2008, the City Council voted unanimously approximately 89% of the time. Mayor Sue McCloud’s “team” concept has had the intended effect of discouraging honest and open discussion and debate about the issues confronting the City of Carmel-by-the-Sea, i.e., Carmel Fire Department consolidation, deposition of the Flanders Mansion property and Scout House, et cetera.

o Ineffectual City Administrator
Again in 2008, City Administrator Rich Guillen displayed a lack of initiative, i.e., waiting for City Council “policy direction;” allowed public assets to remain inaccessible and closed to the public, i.e., Scout House, Flanders Mansion; formulated a budget without adequate funding for essential departments, i.e., Department of Public Works, Forest, Parks and Beach Department.

The City Administrator has failed to fully inform Carmelites at City Council meetings under Announcements from City Administrator, i.e., failure to timely inform Carmelites prior to withdrawing from fire department consolidation negotiations, failure to inform Carmelites about the City’s intentions with regard to the selling or leasing of the Flanders Mansion property, et cetera.

The City Administrator has failed to hire a Community Planning and Building Director and a Public Works Director, after many years without Directors for these two essential departments.

The City Administrator has overseen the understaffing and underfunding of essential departments to the extent that these departments are not functioning as effective departments, i.e., Department of Public Works, particularly with regard to the habitual underfunding of streets maintenance and improvements as per the recommendations of Nichols Consulting Engineers; Forest, Parks and Beach Department, particularly with regard to the lack of maintenance in Mission Trail Nature Preserve, the City’s largest park and the lack of a coherent reforestation program citywide. Furthermore, the understaffing and underfunding of departments has resulted in an overreliance on consultants and a failure to hire full time city employees with a long-term allegiance to the city.

o Misallocated Taxpayer Dollars
Underfunded Departments
• Forest, Parks & Beach Department:
For Fiscal Year 2008/09, $ 499,778 budgeted for the Forest, Parks and Beach Department relative to a total Fiscal Year 2008/09 Budget of $ 14,294,494 (or less than 3% of the total budget). The underfunding and understaffing of Forest, Parks and Beach Department has resulted in the City not implementing significant provisions of the Local Coastal Program and not maintaining all city parks to the same standard of maintenance.

• Department of Public Works
For Fiscal Year 2008/09, $ 1,333,668 budgeted for the Department of Public Works relative to a total Fiscal Year 2008/09 Budget of $ 14,294,494 (or less than 9% of the total budget). The underfunding of Public Works has resulted in the City not meeting the minimum recommendations of consultant Nichols Consulting Engineers for annual street maintenance, et cetera.

• Community Planning and Building Department
The understaffing of the Community Planning and Building Department with competent planners has resulted in the City having to expend taxpayer dollars for consultants to accomplish the General Plan Update, General Plan Housing Element, et cetera, which could be better accomplished by full-time city employees.

Overfunding of SCC & Marketing and Economic Revitalization
For Fiscal Year 2007-08, the City’s subsidy to Sunset Cultural Center, Inc., to manage the city-owned Sunset Center, was $750,000. For Fiscal Year 2008/09, the subsidy is $713,000 and projected to be $680,000 for Fiscal Year 2009-10, according to the City’s Triennial Budget. Compared to other entertainment venues in Carmel-by-the-Sea, Sunset Cultural Center, Inc. receives a disproportionate amount of city revenues.

For Fiscal Year 2008/09 $ 339,030 budgeted for Marketing and Economic Revitalization without tangible evidence the intended purpose of promoting “travel and tourism related businesses” is being realized.

o Hypocritical and Inconsistent Enforcement
• Numerous Lights in the Ocean Av. Medians vs. One Light in the Public Right-of-Way in front of a Residence
Case in Point: A Carmel homeowner was made to remove one light which was in the public right-of-way directly in front of his residential lot per Municipal Code, as follows:
15.36.070 Lighting Requirements B. Residential Buildings/Zones.
3. No exterior lighting is permitted upon City property and may not be directed toward City property.
However, the City of Carmel-by-the-Sea installed numerous lights of the same type as the homeowner in the Ocean Avenue medians without a public hearing and in violation of the Municipal Code, as follows:
15.36.070 Lighting Requirements.
A. Commercial Buildings/Zones.
1. All light fixtures shall not be directed toward the public right-of-way.

City filed a lawsuit against a citizen for allegedly illegally pruning Coast Live Oaks in the public right-of-way vs. City inaction with regard to the tree topping of a Cypress in the public right-of-way in front of a residence by an unlicensed tree pruner and without a permit.
Case in Point: A Carmel homeowner hired a “tree pruner” unlicensed in the City of Carmel-by-the-Sea to top a Cypress tree which is located in the public right-of-way in front of the homeowner’s residence, without a City permit per Municipal Code Section 12.28.060 Permit for Cutting Trees and Shrubs on Public Property. No action was taken against the homeowner.
In contrast, the City filed a lawsuit against a homeowner for hiring a tree service to prune trees in the public right-of-way across the street from the homeowner’s residence. The lawsuit was eventually settled for over $30,000.00.

• An informed citizenry guided by high ethical and performance standards would not tolerate mayoral abuses of power, four City Council Members acting as Cabinet Members, an ineffectual city administrator, misallocated taxpayer dollars or hypocritical and inconsistent enforcement. That Carmelites have tolerated and at times rationalized and/or accommodated to such unethical and poor performance standards is an indictment of us!


Anonymous said...

Studies and reports by consultants are routinely shelved to gather dust when they disagree with the preconceived ideas of the mayor and some city council members. Money is routinely spent on consultants who are then ignored. Money that could be used to mitigate any of the many problems that have resulted from the mismanagement of Carmel.

Anonymous said...

2 of the 4 city council members seem to be fellow travelers with the mayor but the newest members seem more independent, more apt to think for themselves, less apt to worry about payback from Sue McCloud for not going along with her every whim.

Anonymous said...

Here, here. I could not agree more with these comments.

Anonymous said...

In defense of carmel residents, they just do not know any of the things detailed in this post because the local media does not tell them about it. The years of media making our government accountable to Americans is long gone. It is beyond sad for carmel that most carmel residents have no idea what is really going on in this small microworld of carmel-by-the-sea and the people who know are too busy making excuses to keep the perferential treatment they get from playing along with the mayor and her cronies.

Anonymous said...

Happy New Year. Keep up the work of exposing the secret dealings of the mayor and city. Lord knows, no one else is doing it. Cheers!

Anonymous said...

Mayor McCloud has consistently undermined the Local Coastal Plan whenever she could. Further, she does not like Carmel's forest (something she has stated publicly) and is starving the Forest and Beach Department so trees on city property cannot be replaced when they fall or are taken down. It is also impossible to ensure private property owners don't violate the laws governing trees for the same reason

Anonymous said...

The fact that the mayor failed to prevail in the city council over her neibhor, the Forest and Beach Department and the Forest and Beach Commission seems to show that she sometimes doesn't get her way. Hopefully it is an indication that the mayor will get what she wants rubber stamped less often now. Perhaps it was a bit of payback from city councilors for McCloud,s trying to run roughshod over them.

Anonymous said...

The city administrator is an asset only to Mayor Sue McCloud because of his subservience. This is the only reason that such an ineffective person would be kept on. Guillen is "running" one of the smallest cities in the area but is by far the most highly paid of the regions city managers. McCloud is always crying about how poor the city is but pays this most incompetent uncreative of men, who Seaside and Monterey wouldn't hire as a city manager, more than other cities pay their much better city managers. If he had been an independent self starter, he'd never have been hired by McCloud.

Anonymous said...

Rich Guillen is an embarrassment.

Anonymous said...

Sue McCloud should apologize to everyone about everything!