February 22, 2016
CV LINK UPDATE
Many of you have encouraged my efforts to expose facts that shed light on the larger, more comprehensive aspects of the CV Link. Your encouragement has often been in the face of negative newspaper reports and sometimes harsh criticism. We would not be this far along in understanding the details without that support and reassurance, which I deeply appreciate.
The entire Rancho Mirage city council has been 100% dedicated to discovering and publishing the fiscal and other facts of the CV Link; the route through our city, what it will ultimately cost; the annual operations and maintenance expenses to the city if it is built. We have also tried to expose the intended drain of Measure A and other public funds should be spent in the Coachella Valley rather than on a project very few will ever use.
Most difficult for me and my family to take are the threats, nasty innuendo, and general hostility coming from CVAG allies via letters to the editor, Facebook diatribe, the Friends of CV Link, and others. Your encouragement is very reassuring.
DISTRICT ATTORNEY REJECTS BOGUS CHARGES AGAINST HOBART
From the beginning I assumed my messages to the public and city council members across the valley would likely stimulate someone to file charges with the District Attorney's office. When such charges were in fact filed I was not informed. However, when their investigation concluded, I was told their findings.
A few members of CVAG's Executive Committee, comprised of one mayor from each city and five members of the County Board of Supervisors, publicly challenged whether my efforts to inform the public and members of city councils across the valley with my occasional "CV Link Update," constituted a violation of the Brown Act.
Troublemakers well know that by publicly making a charge against someone or simply asking a pointed question plants seeds of doubt in the minds of some. I did not know someone had actually filed such charges against me with the District Attorney, and only learned about it when I received a letter from the District Attorney's office exonerating me of the charge. In pertinent part this is what the Deputy District Attorney concluded:
"Based upon our review of the complaint, we have concluded that the information provided via the CV Link Update does not constitute a violation of the Brown Act.... Based upon our understanding of the facts, the purpose of the CV Link Update is merely to provide information, and not to reach a consensus amongst council members, and thus the Brown Act has not been violated."
The Deputy District Attorney's letter to me went on to conclude, "... and therefore we are pleased to conclude that there is no Brown Act violation in this instance."
CVAG ILLEGALLY WITHHOLDS RECORDS FROM RANCHO MIRAGE
The only way available for me to learn the facts behind the CV Link project is by using the Public Records Act (PRA). I give CVAG a written request describing the various documents requested. CVAG is obliged by California law to quickly provide the requesting party with the data sought, unless it is withheld under a specified claim of privilege.
In early January 2016, I learned that the president of the Friends of CV Link had filed a PRA request in July 2015, asking to be sent the email addresses of the thousands of people on the two CVAG email databases he referenced. He requested that those databases be emailed directly to Friends of CV Link. CVAG complied precisely providing the Friends of CV Link their email lists.
The Friends of CV Link is the bicycle club that writes pro CV Link letters to the editors, criticizes me and Rancho Mirage all over social media, and loudly champions virtually everything that CVAG does. Their campaign committee is now using those email addresses to influence the vote we have scheduled in Rancho Mirage.
Considering that email addresses are private records that most people do not expect to be shared with anyone without their consent, it was surprising that CVAG would expose those people to the whims and political positions of any group.
Once I learned CVAG actually gave these email databases to their political ally, I responded by sending CVAG a Public Records Act request, seeking the exact same documents the Friends' president had asked of CVAG.
Without informing me, CVAG leadership made the decision to send me some of the documents called for in my PRA request, except they withheld the email lists. By not informing me they had withheld the email lists, they were in violation of Government Codes section 6253(d) which could subject them to legal action.
Under Government Code section 6253(d) CVAG was required to provide the requesting party with "the names and titles or positions of each person responsible for the denial." While I have no doubt that person was Mr. Kirk, the law still requires them to inform me of the persons responsible for the decision to withhold.
So much for a fair contest and for transparency in government.
IT IS STILL THE UNANSWERED QUESTION: HOW WILL $1.6 MILLION IN OPERATIONS AND MAINTENANCE COSTS BE MET?
Since last April I have questioned the ability of the eight cities to meet the operations and maintenance costs of the CV Link during its projected 75-years of "life." However you divide $1.6 million in the first full year of use, (and I assure you this is an under-stated estimate) between eight cities and the county, few can afford draining their General Funds to meet such costs.
CVAG tells the cities they can reduce that figure by invading regional Measure A funds by $600,000 each year. Forgetting legality issues and the immorality of invading our roadway repair fund to help build and maintain the CV Link, it still leaves the eight cities and the county with an average bill of $111,100 in the first year. Since there are a number of cities that could not meet that obligation, and others which have higher priorities in mind for their funds, the actual cost to the paying cities would be considerably higher than the $111,100 figure.
Other than to invade Measure A funds and TUMF funds, CVAG has no idea how the operations and maintenance (O&M) costs will be handled. They still list using the bed taxes from cities, but only the most avid council member would consider voting to drain their bed tax income for this project.
Friends of CV Link, a spokesperson for CVAG, has a new president who was quoted in a recent Desert Sun article: "There are many options beyond cities' coffers, including corporate sponsorships." During the past four years of CV Link hype you would think at least one of those corporations would have been identified. Nor will it happen, and certainly not to the extent of having a meaningful impact. We are talking about a 75-year commitment!
In that article, the new president concluded, "The Friends of CV Link ... are not trying to solve the issue of funding; that's for the governments to solve ..." And that is exactly what CVAG is telling the cities: We have no financial solution to the O&M costs. That is YOUR problem! You solve it.
The cities were never asked if they wanted this project. CVAG refuses to put it to a vote among the city councils or residents. The bottom line is, CVAG, which has wrestled with this immense funding issue for four years still has no proposal, much less a solution to the O&M burden. Any city accepting this situation deserves what it will get somewhere down the line.
It is time to get real. No experienced businessman or woman would even consider entering into a construction project without having created an O&M plan for whatever they are building.
Untrained public employees, with little or no experience in the real business world, have nothing to lose financially in case of a fiasco. These are the people making all of the decisions. How confident should we be about tying up our cities for 75-years of debt knowing that the CVAG leader, Tom Kirk, arrived at CVAG after getting his on-the-job-training by spending 7-years as Executive Director of the Salton Sea Authority before coming to CVAG? How much confidence does that generate?
Should you wish to contact me, please address your emails to GDanaHobart@aol.com
Mayor, Rancho Mirage
Please feel free to share this message with your friends and neighbors.