OBVIOUS BIAS ON ORCEM– AN OPEN LETTER TO THE CITY ATTORNEY


Ed. Note: The following email was sent to City Attorney Claudia Quintana and members of city council etc. by Vallejo resident John Osborne

Mare Island Straits Economic Development Committee Cure and Correct

Hello Ms. Quintana (Claudia)

Since our last conversation I have given a great deal of thought to the upcoming Special Meeting of the City Council, to the remedies for the probable Brown Act violation, and the implications of related information that continues to surface in the news and from community activists searching for information on the Mare Island Straits Economic Development Committee. I am pleased that you share my concern over the appearance of a possible Brown Act violation related to the activities of the MISEDC.  My initial suggestion that this committee be brought to light, authorized and the work shared was intended as a step towards trying to restore public trust in our City Council as well as collegial trust with those Council members who had no knowledge of this committee.

In light of information that has recently surfaced I remain more than ever concerned about bias of the MISEDC Council members towards the VMT/ORCEM project, but also bias against the Propel Vallejo preferred scenario that now looks to be far more significant than just a possible Brown Act violation. Vice Mayor Malgapo and the MISEDC used this committee to justify a resumption of federal maintenance dredging to the Army Corps of Engineers and appear to be working on a port scenario at direct odds with the city’s General Plan update.  From his statements in a recent Times Herald article, any thought that Mr. Malgapo still has an open mind on these issues no longer looks credible.  The level of staff involvement with a committee that had no formal sanction requires a detailed explanation and accounting, as does the lack of communication from staff and those Council members to the General Plan Working Group regarding obvious conflicts between the Propel Vallejo process and the goals of the MISEDC.

These issues would not be addressed by the Brown Act cure that you have suggested.  However, it appears from an April 30, 2014 MISEDC agenda – attached here in case you have not seen it – that the Mayor was briefed about the MISEDC from its inception, and was aware of its initial goal regarding dredging.  Given the subsequent talk he gave on May 20, 2015 at a MISEDC meeting, there is the appearance of serial meetings by a Council quorum to further the MISEDC goal as it applies to dredging.  I know that you were present at a recent City Council meeting when Mayor Davis stated with certainty that the MISEDC was about dredging, further indicating his familiarity with the committee and its goals.

If you intend to implement a cure for this particular, likely Brown violation it should certainly be to undo the one official action taken as a result of that violation: the November 17, 2014 City letter requesting a Section 216 Initial Appraisal from the Army Corps of Engineers to study the resumption of maintenance dredging operations.  That formal request demonstrably resulted from the extensive work of the MISEDC without the knowledge of three Council members, but with the likely knowledge of four.

The authorization for writing this letter appeared as the tenth and last item on a City Council special meeting’s consent agenda and on page 375 of a 377 page staff report.  That request letter should be withdrawn along with any commitments that resulted from it because informed official consent was never given.  The relevant information and its possible implications were intentionally withheld from some on the Council, while a quorum knew of the extensive research and lobbying already done in the City’s name.  Rescinding that action and withdrawing the request to consider maintenance dredging would be an appropriate cure for what is certainly a Brown Act violation.

It is difficult to see how a vote to legitimize the MISEDC at this point could resolve the questions raised by the release of documents related to the committee.  Mr. Malgapo would obviously be biased in voting to authorize his own committee, as would a majority of the City Council. If the four who knew about the MISEDC were required to recuse, the committee will certainly be disclaimed.  If it does gets authorized on a four to three vote, how is that going to look?  Even if it were to be authorized now, that would not address the fact that our City staff has been working on detailed projects for a committee with no formal approval, to advance a set of goals that conflict directly with the Propel Vallejo preferred scenario.

These are issues that need to be addressed and are not likely to be satisfied at a public hearing limited to the question of possible Brown Act violations. It now has become obvious that the MISEDC members and City staff very deliberately tried to work around their fellow Council members, the public and the Brown Act. Related information continues to surface and your suggested solution now appears inadequate to address all the questions raised by what we now already know about the activities of this ad hoc committee.

One cannot help but question the impact of the MISEDC on numerous votes of the Council, for example the Council Goals where the MISEDC goals were inserted without acknowledgement or discussion; the extension of the City Manager’s contract when three City Council members were unaware of his role enabling the MISEDC; the recommendation to hire additional staff for the City Manager’s office when it was not known how staff time was being diverted to this unauthorized committee; the hire of the current Community & Economic Development Director who heads the Propel Vallejo citizen’s initiative for the General Plan Update, while also being a member of the MISEDC working towards an altogether different plan. One has to wonder at the departure of the previous Community & Economic Development Director as we now know he questioned the MISEDC around the time of his departure.

Clear evidence may yet emerge of the extent of the Mayor’s knowledge of the MISEDC activity which would confirm a Brown Act violation and the appropriate cure.  Trying to resolve the situation before all of the facts are known might look like an attempt to cover things up at a time when transparency and trust are at issue in the minds of the public.

I know that you share these concerns and that you will try to address them in an appropriate manner.

Thank you for your consideration,

Donald E. Osborne

P.S. – Stephen Hallett has posted nearly 250 items received in response to Freedom of Information requests regarding the MISEDC. On the chance you may not have seen all of these postings, I include a link to them here. All of these items have a direct bearing on what we will consider Tuesday evening: https://drive.google.com/folderview?id=0B7FJgfdDxemvWVliaUpvRUUyT28&usp=sharing

 

Note: All opinions expressed in this editorial are those of the writer and not necessarily those of the Vallejo Independent Bulletin.

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'OBVIOUS BIAS ON ORCEM– AN OPEN LETTER TO THE CITY ATTORNEY' have 12 comments

  1. silasbarnabe

    January 4, 2016 @ 10:39 am silasbarnabe

    Great work Mr. Osbourne,
    Not to mention in the emails Mr. Hallett extricated from the City we have Vice Mayor Malguapo directing City staff as the “Chair of this Commitee”. Something stinks here and I do believe we will be digging up jumper poo for years to come.

    Reply

  2. January 4, 2016 @ 12:25 pm Port Parrot

    From: Daniel Keen
    Sent: Wednesday, January 14, 2015 1:30 AM
    To: Kathleen Diohep; Craig Whittom; Mark Sawicki
    Subject: RE: Next steps RE: Mare Island Straits Economic Development Committee Est. 4/30/14
    Kathleen – 
     
    Yes, that works. 
     
    From: Kathleen Diohep  
    Sent: Tuesday, January 13, 2015 8:32 PM 
    To: Craig Whittom; Mark Sawicki 
    Cc: Daniel Keen 
    Subject: RE: Next steps RE: Mare Island Straits Economic Development Committee Est. 4/30/14 

    All 
     
    I did not see a follow up on this, but here is my recommendation.   
     
    When I spoke with the Corps last year, they wanted to work with staff not the Council/Congressman’s office – but that is 
    who their primary contact has been. 
     
    My thought is I reply to this email and say that Erin Hanford and myself will be attending the meeting.  I think that the 
    request for PW staff is regarding marina dredging, but the federal channel will not handle that.   I saw myself or Erin as 
    being the city’s point for the Corps.  
     
    Let me know if that works. 
     
    Kathleen  
     
    Kathleen Diohep 
    Economic Development Manager 
    City of Vallejo | Economic Development Division 
    (707) 553‐7283 |  Kathleen.Diohep@cityofvallejo.net  

     
    Note – this is my NEW email address.  Please update your address book.  Thank you! 
     
    From: Craig Whittom  
    Sent: Sunday, January 11, 2015 8:10 AM 
    To: Mark Sawicki 
    Cc: Kathleen Diohep; Daniel Keen 
    Subject: Next steps RE: Mare Island Straits Economic Development Com

    Reply

  3. January 4, 2016 @ 12:29 pm Port parrot

    JANUARY 3, 2016 @ 4:26 PM PORT PARROT

    Kathleen Diohep
    From:Jess Malgapo
    Sent: Tuesday, September 15, 2015 1:28 PM
    To:jcmalgapo@aol.com; pippindew8@hotmail.com; dr.rozzana@comcast.net;
    tom.bartee@asm.ca.gov; mel.orpilla@mail.house.gov; btsmith@solanocounty.com;
    mlwilson@solanocounty.com; tom.sheaff@lennar.com;
    sdileo@mareislanddrydock.com; csnyder@mareislanddrydock.com; steve@orcem.com;
    bfettig@vortex-sfb.com; mfettig@vallejomarineterminal.com; mfettig@vortex-sfb.com;
    aintintoli@yahoo.com; phil.dupuis@kiewit.com; Andrea Ouse; Kathleen Diohep; Erin
    Hanford; ers_inc@msn.com
    Subject: MISEDC Meeting Tentatively Scheduled for September 16th is CANCELLED plus Admin
    announcements…
    Dear MISEDC Committee Members:
    1. Please read the entire email. Thank you very much.
    2. Our meeting tentatively scheduled for September 16, 2015 is cancelled due to a light agenda.
    3. Our NEXT MEETING will be on October 21, 2015. We meet on the 3rd Wednesday of the month, every other month.
    4. We will be DARK in December of 2015. I will publish a 2016 schedule after I consult with Ms. Andrea Ouse and Kathleen Diohep.
    5. I do wish to share with you a summary reminder of what we have done thus far in our efforts to obtain dredging funds and the most recent developments.
    As you know we have taken the following steps:
    a. Pursue dredging funds via the traditional US Army Corps of Engineers Acquisition Process – which started with the Section 216 study… Status: USACE has for action.
    b. Tiger Grant Application – which will be led by the City Economic Development Team (Andrea, Kathleen, Mark) has the support of Mr. Dan Keen. Status: To be submitted early 2016. Deadline is May 2016.
    and we are adding another angle in our search for funding (see below).
    c. Include the dredging of Mare Island Straits” on the list of Solano County “FEDERAL PROJECTS. Following my meetings with MTC Commissioner and Supervisor Jim Spering and Mr. Daryl Halls, Executive Director of the Solano Transportation Authority and Dan Keen (separate meeting)… the City has submitted a revised list of city priority FEDERAL Projects to STA. The STA list now includes dredging of Mare Island Straits as a top priority for Vallejo / Solano County. In addition, Dan Keen is working on a letter to STA asking that the STA Washington DC lobbyist begin to actively lobby for dredging funds.
    6. You will recall that we have two goals; one is to search for dredging funds but our second goal is to explore how Mare Island Straits could be transformed into an economic driver for the City of Vallejo and Solano County.

    In this regard, let us congratulate our committee members, “Vallejo Marine Terminal / ORCEM” as they reached a key milestone with their project. Their EIR was released very recently on September 3, 2015. This document took many months to complete. The 45 day public comment period is now underway. Here’s the link to the EIR. Let us all wish them all the best and a successful public review.

    Reply

    • January 4, 2016 @ 7:37 pm wharf rat

      This link shows the STA Board who Im sure knew nothing about any of this unsanctioned committee ? ”plausable deniability” kinda goes out the window when the STA Board is exposed . Did they vote on any of this or were STA staff driving the train ? see ths Board and make your own mind up .
      http://www.sta.ca.gov/Content/10012/STABoard.html

      Osby Davis, Mayor, City of Vallejo Vallejo:Jesse Malgapo Solano County:Erin Hannigan
      All the smiling faces : will they pay for the lobbyist hired to facilitate the VMT Orcem project ? I think Osby was the chair while most of the MISEDC secret meetings were held and STA aproved their lobbyist in DC to lobby on their behalf to aquire Tiger grants while our streets crumble away and potholes proliferate . Aint access to government a great thing !.

      Reply

  4. January 4, 2016 @ 1:00 pm Port Parrot

    The first post is the document 1-14-15 Internal on staff role.pdf in which the City Manager, Dan Keen, is addressing concerns by Sawecki and Whittom that Staff resources are being used without having received direction from Council. In this email, Kathleen is asking the CM for guidance as to who is the point of contact between the City/committee and the Army Corps. The answer she received is that Staff is the point of contact.

    I can also point you to a document where the CM discusses informing the Council of the commttee’s work and the commitment the CM made to the Councilman to lend City staff to support the committee’s work. That begs the question of how any council member can feign surprise that they didn’t know about a committee that has been meeting in the open, attended by Federal, State and regional representatives and discussed at several Economic Development Forums.

    The second email is the document Malgapo15-15.pdf in which the Councilman praises Orcem/VMT on the draft EIR. Three things strike me about these emails: 1) The Councilman continues to drive the meetings and is acting as the primary point of contact, while directing staff as to what work they should be doing. In more then one email, Kathleen repeatedly as for direct on how to respond to the Councilman’s demands on the resources of the Economic Development Department. 2) That the City has a Grant Writing Consultant (Dan Armenta) who received direction to start the “section 216” appraisal process with the Army Corps (Section 216 Initial Appraisal.pdf). 3) All of the correspondence between the Council members and the committee are being conducted using personal email addresses and not City email addresses.

    Reply

    • January 4, 2016 @ 1:08 pm silasbarnabe

      @Port

      You can start with showing emails where council members that claim they were in the dark were copied in said emails.

      Reply

      • January 5, 2016 @ 9:46 am Ben

        Take the time to actually read all of the many e-mails in that package that totals over 1,000 pages. You will not find a private or a city email address present for any council member OTHER than Malgapo, Dew-Costa, and Verder-Allega. Whether any of those email was reaching the Solano Transit Authority reps, Davis and Malgapo, we don’t know because the email from the STA have neither been requested nor produced.
        I never knew before that the shadow is John Riley. He runs quite a good shadow government. Wonder if sunlight will cause a bad witch melt down?

        Reply

      • January 8, 2016 @ 9:02 pm Paula

        I have read every email I could open and I can tell you there are no emails to McConnell, Sampayan, or Meissner from this committee or about this committee. I believe them when they say they were not aware of this committee at all until Stephen Hallett sent the public records request for the committee’s records, and he only knew to ask for them because Steve Bryan, Orcem America President, talked about it at a public meeting about his cement plant. Clearly, Bryan thought he was dealing with a legitimate committee or he wouldn’t have blithely disclosed it to the general public. I think, too, that some of the electeds and possibly their reps thought they were dealing with a legitimate committee that had the backing and support of the council. One of the agenda emails even said they had the full support of the council, although that clearly wasn’t true since it was said at a time when half of the council didn’t know the committee existed.

        If you want to see some political gravitas in action, go to the city council’s webpage and open the video of the January 5 Brown Act hearing. Go to 3:47 and watch Robert McConnell. It was beautiful. What the video doesn’t show is that he got a standing ovation, which is no mean feat after over 4 hours of hearing.

        And if you want to reward that leadership, go to the January 12 council meeting and ask that he be voted into the vice mayor’s position. This is only right because 1) he has the most seniority of any council member who has not already been vice mayor and in fact he should have been vice mayor this last year for that very reason since he has more seniority than Malgapo, and 2) he deserves the position, and 3) WE THE PEOPLE OF VALLEJO deserve to have him there. Rumor has it that Osby is pushing for Rozanna, which is complete crap. She was the least professional person on the dais — or the whole council chamber for that matter, and that’s saying a lot because Ah Baloney Jon, Messano, and Sam were all there too. Tuesday, January 12, 7 p.m. Fill out a speaker card. Give it to the city clerk at the end of the dais. And tell them what you think.

        Reply

        • January 9, 2016 @ 10:42 am Ben

          Intersting date and time approach since I was with the real Paula at that time and date in the local movie theater watching the movie. My how the false poster has to hide behind the skirts of a woman he hates.

          Reply

          • January 12, 2016 @ 6:01 pm Paula

            Ben, i don’t know who you are or what Paula you think I’m hiding behind, but I’ve been Paula since the day after the day I was born.

  5. January 4, 2016 @ 4:28 pm wharf rat

    To qualify for a permit to dredge a project must have permitting approved by local government and consequently by many other regulating agencys such as seen within the DMMO office literature via this link .
    To spend this huge amount of money on a dredging permit, studies and engineering without some semblence of aproval by the City of Vallejo not to mention the plethora of other regulatory agencys seems like an IQ issue or in fact some form of approval of the project was issued by the City to justify this huge expenditure . Has a ghost permit been issued or some other type of approval guarantee such as to qualify this huge investiment for a dredging permit when the DEIR is not even certified let alone a conditional use permit issued by the City of Vallejo ?. Has this project been approved behind closed doors ? that would explain many things and many behaviours , as seen by this document the dredging of the straits as proposed by VMT is to be far beyond what the MISEDC was seeking the ACOE to perform via secret meetings and extensive lobbying for a major dredging of the MIS navigation channel at Government expence . The totality of the two projects is huge ! as is the expence, is this why they were using seemingly contrived reports of maritime industry activities and projections to meet the economic benefit requirements of the Army Core of Engineers to fund the dredging . Did Malgapo do a wink and a nod re the maritime commerce reports to be submitted to the ACOE ? the emails suggest a certain ”zeal” for good numbers to be submitted , did the MISDEC cook the books or suggest others do ? we now see there are two dredging projects in the works , combined to be of a major scale that certianly would require extensive environmental review if not a revised DEIR or an independant CEQA process . Were Council members knowingly participating in a picemealing process in violation of CEQA law , concealing the magnitude of the VMT/ Orcem impacts from their constituents and others , was Dan Keen- in the shadows , while a large group was conspiring to fleece the taxpayers to line certain pockets all while at the expence of the residents of South Vallejo and folks City wide . The proposed level of Federal agency involvement of the combined projects would require a Federal EIS under NEPA law and with that a requirement for an environmental justice review (EJ) was this the reason for the secrecy ? certianly the negative environmental impacts on South Vallejo would be best avoided to ensure any permiting process sailed through , was concealment considered ? . Was an (EJ) review a project killer ? ”only the shadow knows”.

    DMMO – Vallejo Marine Terminal

    Reply


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