What’s going to happen now that the council tabled (until March 27) the mayor’s proposal to kill the Fox Canyon park and creek restoration?

The owner of the land for the park also appeared at last week’s hearing and declared himself a willing seller. The argument has always been over the price. When the city processed the permits to put a road right through his multi-family zoned land, the owner understandably felt the value was higher than before.

It didn’t help that the city submitted and the state grant budget includes $800,000 for acquisition for this same property. The City Council approved $475,000. When the owner wouldn’t accept that figure, the city issued another appraisal informing him that it was now only worth $52,000. Talk about hardball.

Reality is somewhere in-between.

I’m hoping that the mayor’s office uses the time between now and the March 27th hearing to have good faith negotiations and be able to report back that they have agreed to a price and the park can move forward.

This Just In: The Union-Tribune ran an editorial today, “Fox Canyon Flubs” asking for answers to questions long asked by Friends of Fox Canyon Neighborhood Park:

Who authored and who authorized the misappropriation? Who authored and authorized false information in a state grant application? Why were hundreds of thousands of dollars spent on a park site that the city never owned? Why did the Real Estate Assets Department spend years saying city ownership was imminent?

Hopefully this will help to get to the bottom of things.

One problem though is they imply that the transfer of gas tax fund to replace misspent road funds has already taken place. But this was listed as part of the action that was tabled by the council last Tuesday. Do they know something the public doesn’t? Is this something that the “strong mayor” has the power to do behind closed doors?

The battle over what the mayor can and can’t do with public funds is playing out today with ITEM 202 on the 2 p.m. agenda. Donna Frye is pushing for the mayor to have to come back and do his business in public, while other members of the council seem content to let the mayor have more power behind the scenes than even the city manager had. That doesn’t make sense given our recent financial screw-ups, human nature and the lack of real accountability in our political systems around here. Why doesn’t this council believe in checks and balances?

They do business in their council chambers below a huge city seal that states: Semper Vigilans

In other words their jobs are to be Always Vigilant.

They should vote that way!

Send your public comment to do the public’s business in public here.

CAROLYN CHASE

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