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Toni Shroyer Support Surges in Supervisor Race as an Embarrassed Arnold Hands Novato Taxpayers an Unexpected Unfunded $2,000,000 Bill for SMART Train Station
The final week of campaigning filled with Toni Shroyer’s “Judy, we know why” and Arnold’s “Toni Shroyer Got it Wrong” cannot hide the very basic and substantive differences between the two candidates. An aged and apparently not very healthy Arnold is fighting to convince voters that she has singularly created significant legislation. The facts don’t support this – not even close.
Voter complacency is Arnold’s best friend. Toni Shroyer has energized many voters who are tired of being constantly besieged to pay “just a little bit more” taxes and fees. They are successfully resisting the Arnold-backed tax measures as evidenced by their recent overwhelming rejection of Arnold’s bogus tax Measure E flood control money-grab attempt. It lost by a two thirds margin despite Arnold and her coterie of special interest schemers outspending the local Measure E opposition ten to one in their failed campaign.
Sage political observers recognize Arnold’s mediocre record as one of merely going along with the Southern Marin Supervisors’ wishes and “not rocking the boat”. In return, she has been repaid with enormous donations to her campaign treasury by out-of-district special interests, labor unions, developers, public employee unions, and anonymous political action committees. The hundreds of thousands of dollars donated by these pay-to-play groups dwarf the campaign treasury of the local street fighter Toni Shroyer who was only 215 votes shy of victory over Arnold the last time they met.
Toni Shroyer scares Arnold. Shroyer has established a strong voter base by being actively involved in her community and constantly walking her District personally listening to the concerns her soon-to-be constituents. The active easy-to-meet down-to-earth Shroyer contrasts with Arnold who has perfected the politician’s disconcerting “crocodile smile”.
Both are competitive, but for very different reasons. Toni Shroyer is unchained to special and vested interest donations through her refusal to accept them. Toni Shroyer remains true to herself, being unencumbered by political favors and choosing instead the Novato community’s criteria of transparency and unquestionable ethics. She is by far Novato’s best advocate.
Toni Shroyer’s campaign, emphasizing vigorous and transparent representation of Novato’s interests in the County Supervisors Chambers, has propelled her to the forefront in her race against the increasingly defensive incumbent Arnold. Most Novato voters are concluding that after 12 years of poor performance in office, the soon to be 78 year old Arnold should be retired.
It is time for a change because tired and old approaches to today’s new challenges have not been working. The happily married Toni Shroyer at 50 years old with two children more accurately represents today’s Novato residents’ expectations and concerns, and even more importantly, she has the energy, drive, and intelligence to put Novato’s interests far ahead of outside special interest.
Arnold is Novato’s and Marin County’s representative to the SMART rail transit Board. As such she should be looking out for Novato’s best interests. But that’s not happening. Recently, she once again failed to do just that, silently standing by as SMART slammed Novato taxpayers with a totally unexpected $2,000,000 bill for a part of a system-wide train control system.
Arnold just disappeared, leaving a defenseless City of Novato holding the bag. Now Novato must come up with the money this year. The Hill Recreation Area playing fields and bocce ball courts project is potentially on the chopping block thanks to Arnold’s negligence and indifference.
In May 2017, the Novato City Council controversially approved $3.1 million of funding for a downtown platform and switching equipment despite a City Staff recommendation against it. The City Staff was right.
As a condition of being allowed to connect to the SMART commuter rail system, Novato was required to build and hand over ownership of the platform and rail-switching to SMART who did not and would not commit to providing any level of service to the new station. Eyebrows were raised over the “no obligation” contract with SMART to provide any rail service at that location at all.
The Athas-Fryday-Lucan vote majority on Novato’s City Council pushed to capitulate completely to all of SMART’s demands. Councilmembers Pat Eklund and Pam Drew withheld their support preferring to negotiate rather than quickly capitulate. Eklund and Drew were right.
An already financially stressed City of Novato struggling with a structural deficit had to borrow money to build the platform. Additionally, millions more will be required to provide parking and to restore the old crumbling railway station building. The project has become a money rabbit hole.
Arnold, as Novato’s representative and a member of the SMART Board, quickly took credit for arranging for Novato’s “gift station” while conveniently failing to mention SMART’s refusal to commit to any level of service to downtown Novato. If limited service is eventually authorized by SMART, it can easily be retracted by SMART if deemed necessary in the best interests of “priority commuter service” requirements. SMART’s charter is as a “commuter rail line” first, not an excursion railway to downtown Novato.
Under Arnold’s so-called “leadership” Novato now faces a $2,000,000 bill to cover its portion of a Federal “positive train control” collision avoidance system. The bill should not have arrived as a surprise since SMART adopted this technology in 2016. Arnold should have known that a $2 million invoice was coming due representing a 40% increase in Phase 1 and 2 project costs. Once again, the City of Novato will have to borrow money, then turn around and give it to SMART. The city of Novato can no longer afford Judy Arnold.
Toni Shroyer who works as a very successful real estate agent and who is responsible for generating her own income to pay her bills like the rest of us, contrasts markedly with Arnold who has always worked within the government sector funded by an ever-increasing stream of taxpayer money. Toni Shroyer understands the financial challenges Novato families face each month and the consequences of those challenges if they are not met. Arnold clearly does not.
Now the City of Novato is casting about for funds to pay SMART’s bill. One option is to seize Measure F funds designated for the Hill Recreation Area playing fields and bocce ball courts project and pay (give) it to SMART. Instead of the promised $2.3 million two artificial turf playing fields whose cost can be repaid by rental fees, the City could unfortunately “borrow” the Measure F money indefinitely, thereby delaying or killing the very popular and long-promised community project.
Measure F funds were never intended to be given away as a “gift” to SMART, but the working City Council majority of Athas, Lucan and Fryday are joined at the hip to the downtown business interests of the Novato Chamber of Commerce whose main interest is their members’ financial success, even though paid for by the entire Novato Community.
Arnold apparently considers the $2 million shortage as collateral damage to Novato and that residents will just have to deal with it. The non-response by an above-it-all Arnold to the difficult situation in which Novato finds itself is conclusive proof of why Arnold should go away.
Novato cannot afford Arnold’s passive “let’s see if there is grant money available” approach to financial dilemmas. It apparently worked once for her when in 1993 she defaulted on her home loan on 32 Erica Court only seven months after purchase. The same year Arnold served six months’ probation after pleading no contest to a petty theft charge filed by the District Attorney. Later, her daughter purchased a home on Ridge road in which Arnold resided, subsequently deeding it over to Arnold under undisclosed monetary arrangements. Financial disarray seems to be a core Arnold characteristic.
Novato is a great place to live because people responsibly meet their obligations financially and otherwise. Toni Shroyer brings no ethical baggage questions with her candidacy as does Arnold. Representing Novato must be transparent and unencumbered by pay-to-play financial donations. Shroyer has always earned her own money, enabling the independence that frees her to act in the best interest of the Novato community as a whole rather than being tied to those of the money-grubbing special interests with their huge campaign donations.
Toni Shroyer was born and raised in Marin as a minister’s daughter under very humble circumstances. She raised chickens and sold their eggs to earn money. She worked at a Jack-in-the-Box and Perry’s Deli to earn money to buy new clothes. She supported the Caesar Chavez movement and worked alongside farm workers in strawberry fields. She leafleted downtown San Rafael in support of their cause.
She was President of her high school class, ran track, and played soccer. When she became a high school freshman she owned only two pairs of pants. By cleaning homes, she was able to buy more clothes. She was popular with her classmates who elected her Homecoming Queen. In college, Shroyer paid her own tuition at UCLA from her own hard-earned money.
Toni Shroyer understands that an Indian Valley 4-H Club, Pennies for Police Dogs, School Fuel, gang graffiti abatement, Junior Horseman’s group, etc. however small are of tremendous importance to the quality of life to Novato and its children. It’s time to move past the entrenched distant professional politician Arnold to a true Novato representative born and raised in Marin who has always earned her own money and appreciates how hard that is to do.
Toni Shroyer is a tough cookie – make no mistake about it. She has experienced the hard knocks of life growing up underfunded but deeply loved like so many Novato families.
Novato needs Toni Shroyer as its District Supervisor. Return Novato to its rightful place in the County Supervisors Chambers as independently and honestly represented by a person who has spent her entire life in Marin and especially understands the unique Novato community. Toni has the drive, positive energy and ethics to get the job done for Novato residents.
It’s time to change from the old and to move forward with a fresh new perspective on today’s challenges. Don’t let this opportunity go by – every single vote will make a difference. Get out and vote to elect Toni Shroyer as District 5 Supervisor. It’s your chance to make a positive difference.
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The all-important middle class has been slowly abandoning Novato as well as other parts of California. Candidate Toni Shroyer, candidate for Marin County District 5 Supervisor (Novato) has made this issue a major plank in her campaign platform. This immensely important economic shift has dramatic implications for the financial stability of the cities in Marin County.
The cost of living in Marin is and has been increasing faster than its residents’ incomes. Its financially squeezed middle class is steadily leaving. Particularly in Novato and San Rafael, it is transitioning into a bifurcated economy dominated by a low-income sector and a high-income sector. Marin’s changing economic profile indicates a shrinking middle class who currently pays and/or generates most of the local tax funds to pay soaring State public employee pension obligations as city services are cut.
Yet, in a recent District 5 Novato candidates Marin IJ front page article featuring Toni Shroyer and Arnold by Richard Halstead, the lead political reporter for the Marin IJ, this significant development received no mention. Why? Has the Marin IJ’s cozy relationship with the county propaganda machine become so strong it has co-opted the IJ’s editorial and news rooms? Is not a disagreement over a key policy between a cautioning challenger Shroyer versus a tax-happy incumbent Arnold worth a mention?
Richard Halstead’s presentation of the head-to-head interview between challenger Toni Shroyer and incumbent Judy Arnold affirms the partisan situation. Halstead is perceived by many neutral observers as leaning heavily towards Marin’s political establishment’s existing policy and as dismissive towards those with a differing opinion.
Biased journalistic opinion posing as “news reporting” is endemic in today’s print and broadcast media. Marin County is not immune to this infection of its once even-handed reportorial style. One person’s bias is perceived by someone else as insight. Fair enough, but the absence of an equal opportunity for rebuttal of contentious statements converts bias into slanted advocacy – especially when the gatekeeper for access to the platform for public rebuttal is prejudiced.
Apparently, the candidacy of Toni Shroyer is to be subtly and intentionally undermined by the Marin IJ. This goes with its history of perfunctorily endorsing incumbent politicians. The IJ knows how mediocre Arnold’s performance in office has been. Her record speaks for itself.
The IJ’s temerity towards change is understandable when you are the only county-wide print media in the market. Why rock the boat? This flat-earth approach to fresh new ideas is confirmed by its love affair with political incumbents.
The lead reporter who is covering the District 5 Supervisors race for the Marin IJ is Richard Halstead who is very skilled at making a silk purse out of a sow’s ear – especially when he likes the sow. The present case in point being his attempt to subtlety remake the very remedial incumbent Judy Arnold into something more than that.
Halstead writes as if he has taken a seat on the Arnold campaign team’s back bench, deflecting legitimate criticism of Arnold’s supporting of a potentially unpopular State initiative by saying she tried “to distance” herself from the unpopular Plan Bay Area. Rather than stand up and say her constituents have serious doubts concerning this plan, Arnold ducked the responsibility of speaking up publicly about their concerns and acquiescently faded into the background. That’s not representation. It’s abdication of responsibility.
Next, Halstead minimizes Shroyer’s multi-year efforts to make it easier to add second units to existing housing by discounting her successful efforts stating “…which the county supervisors are already doing”. Yes, the supervisors are doing it because responsible people like candidate Toni Shroyer spoke up and forced them to do something by publicly calling them out for not making it happen. The passive Arnold was not at all a leader on the issue. Toni Shroyer was.
Also, on Halstead’s journalistic chopping block was Toni Shroyer’s suggestion that non-partisan citizen’s review committees could be used to assess and advise “…the County on cost cutting…”, pensions and environmental issues. Arnold’s response implied that such subjects were too complex for people not paid by the County. That’s ridiculous. Not only does Arnold insult her constituencies’ intelligence, she denies the reality that existing citizens’ groups such as the County Grand Jury have been functioning very effectively doing just that. Her self-aggrandizing bureaucratic arrogance verifies just how out of touch she is with the sophistication of her constituency.
You can see where this is going. Bit by bit Halstead frames each contemporary issue from the perspective that Arnold, for the past four years, has done an excellent job presiding over the interests of Novato’s middle-class residents. If a shrinking middle class is Arnold’s goal, then she has been successful.
The predetermined format for Halstead’s article is to state Toni Shroyer’s campaign initiatives and then have Arnold confirm there is no problem. There is no space allotted for a rebuttal by Toni Shroyer.
The dead giveaway for Halstead’s prejudicial approach is his statement at the beginning of a paragraph that “Shroyer’s primary line of attack hasn’t changed much from four years ago.” Really? If Arnold has disappointingly done nothing for four years then Toni Shroyer’s approach is spot on. Any pretense of neutrality on the part of Halstead vaporized immediately.
Curiously, Arnold’s campaign donations, the majority of which are from out-of-district, are understated by Halstead at $133,000. The actual amount reported by Arnold on the County web site is an embarrassingly rich more than $300,000 as of today. Much of that $300,000 plus kitty is out-of-district pay-to-play money from special interests such as building contractors, developers, anonymous political action committees, etc. Where is her support from Novato residents who are not property investors, contractors, etc.?
Toni Shroyer campaign funding at $40,000 reflects the fact that she is free of special interest donations and the implied committed favors to those donors. Halstead implies this is a bad thing and implicitly criticizes Toni Shroyer for putting her money where her mouth is and supporting her campaign with her own money. Halstead later implies that Arnold’s special interest donations are a good thing. Good for whom? Certainly not Novato, the very district she supposedly represents. Follow the money. It’s Southern Marin money.
Arnold and her big Southern Marin money obligations are more influenced by San Rafael than Novato. Toni Shroyer, with a perspective more in tune with Novato families and their values, reflects their honest openly down-to-earth grass roots approach to solving problems. In contrast, Arnold is comfortable with constantly raising taxes and the papering over of serious issues while kicking the financial can down the road despite the future consequences on such issues as the looming increases in pension obligations.
The bottom line of Halstead’s piece is that he personally thinks Arnold is a better supervisor than Toni Shroyer would be. His opinion comes through as not-so-subtle bias in the article. This is understandable, as Halstead is dependent upon being in the good graces of Supervisor Arnold to provide pre-packaged information for his work as a Marin IJ “reporter”. One hand washes the other.
Receiving no mention in the front-page article was Arnold’s catastrophic mis-judgement of Novato’s voters on the failed Measure E. She arranged for $30,000 of pay-to-play donations from her personal cadre of building contractors and consultants in her failed attempt to place another unnecessary tax on her already overburdened constituents.
The opposition with only $3,000 to back them, won with a two-thirds majority victory. Arnold and her “big shot” buddies were stunned. Novato voters were much smarter than Arnold realized once voters had facts rather than advocated propaganda posing as “information”. Toni Shroyer campaigned against the tax.
Novato’s voters will once again reject Arnold and her money-grubbing consorts who think their interests are more important than Novato’s interests. Voters know that energetic and hardworking Toni Shroyer is much more representative of Novato residents than the distant and manipulated Arnold.
Toni Shroyer will do a far better job of representing Novato residents with her energy, intelligence, and fresh ideas. She is the grass roots candidate of Novato’s hardworking middle-income residents who feel their interests are increasingly ignored while those of special interest groups are maximized. Now is the time for positive change.
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It’s time for some “fact slinging”.
Incumbent Judy Arnold has been set back on her heels while attempting to defend her recent lackluster term in office as the District 5 Supervisor representing Novato. The notoriously thin-skinned Arnold has resorted to publicly calling her opponent a “liar” whenever she struggles to provide a believable explanation for her somnolent four years as the “asleep at the wheel Supervisor”. For Arnold it is now damage control time.
Her behavior is playground level at best. It also provides some insight into the mind of Supervisor Arnold who frequently uses “it’s a lie” as a disingenuous attempt to divert accountability from herself. Astonishingly, she accuses the tenaciously truthful Toni Shroyer of “mud-slinging”, something that is a repetitive building block of a typical Arnold re-election campaign.
The inquisitive, active challenger Shroyer now has the wind at her back while Arnold is desperately bailing out dirty water to keep her campaign from sinking further.
Particularly damaging to Arnold’s image is that as a Commissioner of the Marin Housing Authority living conditions at the affordable housing complex Golden Gate Village were allowed to deteriorate and become rat infested. Shroyer outed Arnold as a “sitting slumlord” on the Board of Commissioners whose responsibility is the proper maintenance of low income housing. Arnold had no defense for her poor performance.
By selling her vote while serving on the Board of Supervisors, early and often to special interests, they in turn have provided more than enough “tied” donations to her political campaigns that she has previously crushed opponents simply by outspending them. She buys votes using incessant expensive media campaigns attempting to drown out the voice of her opponent. Hardly the basis for a robust democracy.
With Shroyer’s candidacy, Arnold is in a jam. The automatic incumbent endorsement by the only county-wide newspaper, the Marin IJ, previously wrapped her in a cocoon of authenticity as the preferable representative for Novato – end of story. Mildly interested busy voters tend to go with the flow of Marin IJ preferred candidates, unaware of the political connections and paybacks going on behind closed doors. For the sake of all Novato residents, this has got to stop.
The Internet and social media have changed the political paradigm. The daily newspaper is still somewhat important but also rather sluggish compared with the instant visibility on the free and easily accessible Internet. The same analogy may be used for Arnold as a Supervisor. The much older Arnold at 78 years is sluggish when compared with the much younger and more active Shroyer. Shroyer represents the future. Arnold, the past.
See for yourself. Download the Excel file version, then thoroughly Google the backgrounds of those posing as “retired”, or employed by a government agency or non-profit who receives funding from the County, or is a developer, contractor, or other special interest that benefits by receiving County funding or pre-selection for self-serving and financially enriching project contracts. Indeed, it is almost amusing just how far donors will go to disguise their true identity. Why are they trying to hide?
Where donations come from is very telling. If there are a lot of out-of-district donations it easily translates into buying influence and favors. The amount of Arnold’s out-of-district donations is stunningly large.
Arnold’s current campaign for re-election for a fourth term began as her campaigns typically begin. First she accuses her opponent (whoever that is at the time) of “dirty tricks”. Then, she generously applies those same dirty tricks in her own campaign against her opponent. Arnold’s last campaign featured some hideous and cruel last-minute mailings and a repugnant video disparaging Shroyer and her family that went beyond the limits of common decency. Abundant glossy mailers and expensive framed billboard-like political posters cannot cover up this dark side of Arnold.
Arnold’s political and personal history is checkered with poor choices and arrogant behavior. Arnold attempts to dismiss her previous legal problems with the ludicrous exculpatory comment “all of those problems are in the past.” Perhaps, but the past also provides clues to the present and the future.
1992 – Arnold was involved in several civil, criminal and eviction cases “during the past two decades” according to Marin IJ reporter Bob Rogers who referenced the court cases during Arnold’s 2006 District 5 Supervisor campaign against Pat Eklund.
1993 – Arnold became known as the “shoplifting supervisor” for a criminal event at Longs Drugstore in Novato. The District Attorney filed a petty theft complaint against Arnold. After serving six months’ probation and attending a “self-awareness” class the charge was dismissed. The conviction is referenced by Marin IJ reporter Bob Rogers in the article cited above.
2010 – Arnold was involved in an incident of contemptous behavior at Novato’s 50th Birthday party at City Hall. When she and her husband attempted to enter through a back door, Arnold’s husband arrogantly threatened to have an event volunteer arrested for simply doing his job. This incident was reported by Marin IJ reporter Gary Klien February 1, 2010.
2014 – A last minute hit-piece video issued by an Arnold campaign supporter attacking Shroyer and her family with untruths and harmful statements about her children. Strong circumstantial evidence indicates potential involvement of Arnold’s son Gray Ainsworth in Burbank, California, who then worked for a company capable of making a video of this type (see below). The video’s footnotes use high-end professional media industry notations (see below). The IP address for the video is in Burbank.
There have been other troublesome incidents such as a 10:30 AM auto accident on 17 Apr 2017 where with Arnold behind the wheel of her BMW, she struck a parked Lexus inside the lot of Novato Toyota. She then left the scene of the accident and drove over to nearby Matt & Jeff’s Carwash in Novato. A quick look on Google Earth indicates something had to be seriously amiss to drive far enough off the road to hit a car parked inside a dealer’s lot and not on the street. No indication of mechanical failure in the accident report.
Time and a history of bad behavior has finally caught up with Arnold. There are too many flies around the County honeypot of cash that Arnold self-servingly dips into to reward her “paying” supporters.
Stop Arnold’s sale of Novato’s vote on the Board of Supervisors to the highest bidders.
Elect grassroots candidate Toni Shroyer who has the energy, drive, and personal integrity to represent the entire community of Novato – not the pay-to-play special interests with their self-serving agendas.
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4 - Novato City Hall Incident
Toni Shroyer’s campaign is being enthusiastically embraced by large numbers of Novato residents who feel abandoned by Novato’s current District 5 twelve-year incumbent Judy Arnold whose political ties have, to the detriment of Novato, become overly cozy with the special interests of the three southern Marin supervisors.
During Board of Supervisor deliberations, Novato’s residents’ political interests are taken for granted as being identical to those of southern Marin. Novato is definitely different from other parts of Marin County and deserves a distinct voice during deliberations. This has not happened for 10 years with the passive, acquiescent Arnold.
Candidate Shroyer again faces a tough battle and looks to overcome a close 255 vote deficit from the end of the 2014 District 5 campaign that saw Arnold barely hanging on to a win.
Many district voters are hoping for a fresh new approach to the substantial financial issues facing Novato residents who have grown weary of Arnold and the rest of the current County Board of Supervisors whose “kick the can down the road” financial practices are negatively affecting Novato’s quality of life. Once again, Novato’s residents are facing a tsunami of new regressive tax proposals, increased tolls, and fees that continue to drain residents’ checking accounts. It never seems to stop.
New taxes and government spending are increasing faster than the taxpayer’s income, sadly eroding quality of life here in Novato. Residents are understandably concerned and defensive as governmental agencies appear to consider them an ATM machine for the agencies’ incessant demands for ever-increasing amounts of money despite the fact tax collections are outpacing wage increases.
UCLA graduate Shroyer recognizes the current and future consequences to Novato residents and their children, who are and will continue to be saddled with paying for today’s unsound financial choices if something doesn’t soon change. These unnecessary and continually increasing financial demands make it almost impossible for you, your children and your aging parents to live in the community in which they grew up or want to retire. Novato is becoming less affordable for all of us.
Shroyer, a very successful real estate agent, meets daily with stressed Novato residents facing a major economic decision as they contemplate purchasing another home in Novato or having to sell and move away.
The myth of contented families living in Novato is shattered. Shroyer witnesses families sadly selling their homes and leaving Novato because they can no longer afford to live here. Shroyer’s work places her on the ground where the rubber meets the road when those decisions are made. Increasingly, that road leads out of Novato and California. Arnold has neglected to recognize this problem and has failed do anything about it. In fact, she has only contributed to making the problem worse by promoting numerous new unnecessary taxes on us all.
Shroyer has the natural ability to easily meet and quickly establish a meaningful relationship with people she has never met before. This contrasts with Arnold who has always worked as an insider political staffer relating to people primarily in groups on a political basis trading favors rather than developing meaningful relationships with engaged individual members of the community at large.
Shroyer, the effervescent, enthusiastic, and always-in-motion working mom with two young children, more accurately reflects the typical Novato household. Arnold will be 78 in July and decades past having to deal with the challenges of raising children and ensuring the best for them.
Arnold’s elitist approach is validated by her having few friends in the very neighborhood in which she lives. For years she refused to contribute her small share of the annual neighborhood private road maintenance fee, making her unpopular with the overwhelming majority of her neighbors. Nor has she participated in her own neighborhood annual meetings, clean-ups or socials. Only after being publicly outed during her last campaign did she finally agree to begin paying her fair share of the maintenance cost for the road she uses every day. She is an outsider even in her own neighborhood.
Contrast that with the grounded and locally popular Shroyer, who takes care of her mother living in an adjoining area of their home. Shroyer is reminded daily of the concerns and challenges Novato’s senior citizens face, and consequently she is a strong advocate of in-law units. And, rather than talk endlessly about how to provide these units, in true Shroyer fashion, she just did it. Her mother is happy and so is Toni and her family. Shroyer knows how to get the important things done.
Some might ask why Shroyer hasn’t acquired her political experience by first running for a seat on the Novato City Council. The fact is she would like to do just and has the broad and enthusiastic support of the community, but she lives in an unincorporated area of Novato, making her ineligible to serve on the City Council.
However, this has not deterred Toni from gaining extensive experience at the City and State level. For three years she put pressure on the State and the City of Novato to clean up the criminal mess at the huge non-profit Wyndover Apartments complex on Diablo Ave. After three years of effort she forced the much-needed changes providing Novato residents with a very positive outcome. We have Shroyer to thank for that.
Using her own money, Shroyer singlehandedly purchased copies of Novato police activity logs and reports that substantiated her charges of extremely high levels of criminal activity on the non-profit owned Wyndover property. When the police documents became public knowledge, the Novato Police department was forced to publicly admit there was a major crime problem there.
The Novato City Staff, under the iron-fisted dictatorial rule of City Manager Michael Frank starting in 2009 continued to deny a serious problem existed. The City Council feigned interest but did nothing despite repeated appeals by Shroyer at City Council meetings. Keep in mind that a majority of the Council had/has close political ties to Arnold, who played a part enabling the Wyndover Apartment complex to be built. Arnold loyalist on the City Council did not want to allow support for a possible future Arnold opponent such as Shroyer who has a history of a successful public interest projects.
Consequently, in 2011 Shroyer publicly called out the sitting Novato City Council and City Manager Frank for their lack of accountability in a searing article she wrote which was printed in the Novato Advance.
Shroyer is for safe low-income housing and affordable housing, but against crime wherever it is, especially when that crime affects the children of residents living in low income and/or affordable housing.
Fairfield Wyndover LP, owners of Wyndover Apartments, operates as a non-profit business. As such it does not pay any property or school taxes. The only tax Wyndover’s owners pay is to the Novato Sanitary District ($19,538/year in 2017) representing 95% of their tax liability. Novato’s taxpayers subsidize all other City service Wyndover uses. The Wyndover Apartment complex was built using State of California bonds issued in 2004 by the California Statewide Communities Development Authority (CSCDA) specifically for building high density housing for low-income residents.
Undeterred by the Novato’s City government’s lack of action, a determined Shroyer went to the CSCDA State Housing Authority with the facts – the Novato police records. The State Housing Authority readily agreed there was a major crime problem and threated Wyndover’s owners with loss of their operating permit as a non-profit business and loss of related tax breaks.
The chastened non-profit absentee owners in San Diego grudgingly agreed to implement a “best practices” program that with coordination and support by the Novato Police Department saw criminal activity plummet. Life at Wyndover became more normal. Shroyer’s concerns and her healthy energetic action resulted in a very positive outcome for all of Novato and in particular the fearful residents living inside the Wyndover complex. Novato wants and needs more of Shroyer’s positive energy and drive.
As expected in the world of politics, the very people politically aligned with Judy Arnold who studiously ignored the seriousness of the situation at Wyndover, immediately began giving each other credit for the positive change for which they did little, if anything. No official or public mention of Shroyer’s primary and fundamental role in the reversal of the Wyndover situation was allowed by the local political establishment. They publicly misrepresented how things were done and who did them, shamelessly taking credit for Shroyer’s tireless work and success on behalf of all Novato residents.
Shroyer provided the irrefutable evidence – the police logs (and her receipts for purchase) that cracked the code of silence of the entrenched political establishment determined to protect its reputation at the expense of the law-abiding residents living in fear inside the Wyndover Apartment complex.
Shroyer proved she could deliver despite the calculated indifference and adversarial attitude maintained by Arnold’s political interests and that of Arnold cohorts on the Novato City Council who did not want Shroyer’s success to be publicly recognized.
Despite the Novato Police Department’s slow initial response to the Wyndover Apartments situation, Shroyer continued to work successfully for donations to fund the Novato Police Department’s canine patrol which was facing possible extinction because the City cut back the program’s funding. The canine unit is a critical part of the police department as it greatly reduces an officer’s exposure to harm in many dangerous situations. The full staffing of the canine patrol was high on Shroyer’s priority list, but not in City Manager Frank’s budget. An adequately manned and equipped police force is an essential part of that on-going effort.
Shroyer has studiously avoided the negative campaign tactics so characteristic of Arnold and Arnold’s close inner circle of ethically challenged supporters, who were very much in evidence at the end of the previous campaign. Arnold supporters publicly attacked, on a personal level, Shroyer’s family with totally manufactured derogatory statements regarding her, her husband and small children. Attacks on a candidate’s family and especially their innocent children are universally condemned as unethical and unacceptable at all levels of the political spectrum.
For four years, Arnold remained silent and deliberately failed to publicly denounce this despicable last-minute pro-Arnold campaign video featuring Arnold’s supporters (including her personal political acolyte, the then recently resigned Novato City Manager Michael Frank) and its maliciously false footnotes. In many voters’ eyes this deafening silence summed up Arnold’s lack of ethics and compassion. Is this what we want for Novato? I don’t think so.
Shroyer has proven she can get positive change accomplished at the local and State level. Additionally, she does not accept campaign donations from any special interest groups and the attached strings that come with them. This contrasts markedly with Arnold who openly accepts big money donations from in-district and out-of-district special interest groups expecting a pay back.
Shroyer is Novato. She’s friendly, effective, energetic and accessible. She’s intelligent and recognizes that good government and common sense can go hand in hand. Some would have us believe that good government is like rocket science and that extensive experience in rocket science is required. Absolutely not. In fact, quite the opposite is typically true.
Effective government is using common sense to meet the needs of the community within an always-limited budget, and to do the best that can be prudently and responsibly done. In Novato this is most successfully accomplished by someone who is constantly on the ground walking among Novato’s residents going about their daily lives – not cloistered in wood paneled chambers like Arnold, with two personal staff aides at her beck and call.
Novato desperately needs to send a new representative to the Board of Supervisors, free of the tentacles of donated campaign funds by vested and special interest groups working against the best interests of Novato. Steadfastly, Shroyer refuses to accept money from such groups. She depends upon small donations. Arnold, on the other hand, accepts large special interest donations to an embarrassing extent. It’s no secret that special and vested interest groups donate money with the expectation of getting something in return.
Frequently, Arnold is faced with conflicts of interest between those of her special interest donors and those in the best interest of Novato residents. Guess who wins. Shroyer avoids this situation by refusing any special interest donations and remaining free of any implied obligations. She is free to do what is best for Novato.
Toni Shroyer is a disrupter to the insulated sanctuary of the political establishment and its co-dependent pay-to-play special interests. With Shroyer as the District 5 Supervisor, Novato’s unique interests will actually be represented for the first time in a long while. As the second largest city in the county with its own distinct aspirations and expectations, Novato will assuredly, with Toni Shroyer as District 5 Supervisor, once again take its seat the Board of Supervisor’s table where Novato’s interests will no longer be suppressed because of a submissive representative whose primary motivation is trading favors for personal gain.
For 12 long years Judy Arnold has (under)represented Novato during which time the tax burden on families has steadily increased and the proportion of middle-income families has steadily decreased. Now is the time to make a critical and much-needed change by introducing to the Board of Supervisors fresh pro-Novato ideas mixed with common sense from the working family’s perspective.
Big money donors should no longer be allowed to control what happens in Novato. The present situation sorely needs to be turned around. Toni Shroyer is exactly the person we need to make this happen for Novato.
Toni Shroyer for Supervisor!
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Novato’s struggling District 5 Supervisor is up for re-election and is desperately trying to evade charges by her astute challenger Toni Shroyer that Arnold has shirked her duty to assertively speak up for Novato’s residents.
Under Arnold, Novato families have suffered from new taxes that are expanding at twice the rate of the increases in their paycheck. Novato residents are losing ground financially.
For them, the pain is real. Supervisor Arnold has significantly contributed to Novato residents falling behind or being barely able to keep up and maintain their existing lifestyle. She has folded and failed Novato.
Arnold has consistently endorsed every tax increase proposed. She has backed all City, County and State tax and fee hikes by either complicit silence or open endorsement as she did with the unpopular and massively defeated bogus “flood control tax” Measure E that would have double-taxed Novato homeowners.
During the time that Arnold has been District 5 Supervisor, the average household income in Novato has declined. At the same time, the City of San Rafael’s average income has increased.
Adding to Arnold’s ever deepening political troubles are accusations that she, by not condemning a vicious and offensive last-minute hit piece video during her last election, essentially endorsed it. It is a hateful, factually untrue, and defamatory YouTube video attacking Shroyer’s family, including her young children.
The last-minute attack video that surfaced at the end of her last re-election campaign has become a defining moment in the public’s perception of Arnold’s lack of character. Even today, if you enter “Toni Shroyer” on Google, this despicable video is at the top of the search results.
Intriguingly, this attack video features Arnold’s close political ally, the controversial ex-Novato City Manager Michael Frank, who abruptly resigned when faced with public revelations of over his questionable below-the-surface political schemes in Novato.
Arnold could and should have quickly condemned such cruel campaign trash that publicly hurt Shroyer’s innocent children. But she did not. A prompt public denunciation of such campaign manure could have been viewed as a positive for her in the closing days of her campaign. Instead, Arnold chose to say nothing. For almost four years Arnold has remained silent, undeniably implying a personal approval of such abhorrent campaign tactics.
Arnold’s lack of empathy for the damage this type ofvideo could do to Shroyer’s young children is unforgivable. As long as the outrageous and false video remained at the top of the search engine list and was to Arnold’s perceived political benefit, she took no action to denounce it despite its continuing damage to Shroyer’s innocent children.
The video’s footnotes directly assault Toni Shroyer’s family alluding to a completely fallacious allegation among other total falsehoods that “A psych evaluation of Shroyer made during daughter’s adoption process reveals clinical depression and antidepressant use dating back to 1992 (California State Adoption Records)”.
None of this ever happened and Shroyer’s children are biologically her own and not adopted, but even if they were, what kind of sick person publishes this garbage which has the consequence of hurting children who now ask if they were adopted. Arnold approves of this?
The footnotes also attack Shroyer, a minister’s daughter, as being racist and also ridiculously accuses her of attacking the elderly. Toni Shroyer’s family is racially mixed, and she cares for her elderly mother almost all day every day while she works.
Michael Frank is Arnold’s prized political tool. The then recently resigned out-of-work Frank was taken care of by Arnold who saw to his appointment as Executive Director of the County’s Marin General Services Authority with its plush salary. Frank returned the favor by issuing a public declaration during Arnold’s re-election campaign that was incorporated in the last-minute attack video featuring his pretentious well-orchestrated faux-surprise regarding a Shroyer mailer.
Like Arnold, Michael Frank has never condemned the use of his comments and images in this vicious video.
Arnold barely came out ahead (by only 251 votes) in her last campaign against Shroyer. Many voters in Novato are now increasingly aware of Shroyer’s fresh perspective, healthy energy, honesty, and being someone who reflects the values of the Novato community, and who will stand up and forcefully represent Novato’s best interest while confronting Marin County’s deep state “business as usual to our financial benefit” re-election machine.
Shroyer has fresh ideas while Arnold contentedly takes credit for doing nothing but kicking the can of financial accountability down the road. Arnold’s only “solution” has been to again and again raise taxes on Novato’s monetary punching bag, i.e. its middle and below middle class families.
Arnold promotes the myth of happy middle class family living in Novato. The reality is that Novato’s middle class families are increasingly financially stressed as tax/fee increases rise twice as fast as family income.
Firm evidence of Arnold’s estrangement from the community she is supposed to represent was the recent resounding defeat of the proposed Measure E parcel tax increase that she enthusiastically supported. It lost by a margin of 2 to 1 proving just how out of touch Arnold is with the day to day reality of living in Novato.
Arnold appears stale and cynical compared with the more dynamic and up beat Shroyer.
Arnold has all the campaign money she can spend, abundantly supplied by out-of-district organizations that benefit from her financial largess as a pay-back “can be bought” County Supervisor.
Arnold is apparently so flush with out-of-district campaign cash she has wood-framed her large and professionally erected campaign posters. Really? Framed campaign signs in Novato? Who is she kidding?
It’s time for fresh new ideas and true representation for Novato in the County Supervisors Chamber. Arnold is barely hanging on and appears tired when new energy is required. Shroyer, with her young family, more accurately reflects today ‘s Novato families and their concerns.
Shroyer is continually pro-actively involved in her community. She is on foot in the neighborhoods ringing doorbells directly making her case to voters and asking for their feedback. Arnold’s professionally staged “community engagement” events, out of district campaign foot soldiers, and slavish political appointee supporters are not Shroyer’s style.
When was the last time Judy Arnold attended a high school baseball game? Who is more in tune with life in Novato? That’s easy to answer. It’s Toni Shroyer.
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The Coalition of Sensible Taxpayers invites you to a public debate featuring the candidates running for Marin County District Attorney in the June 5th primary election. This is an important vote, as the DA — who leads the County’s staff of criminal prosecutors – has historically been reelected for multiple terms.
All three candidates — AJ Brady, Lori Frugoli and Anna Pletcher – have committed to participate in the debate, which will be held at
San Rafael City Council Chamber Room
1400 Fifth Avenue
San Rafael, Ca. 94901
Thursday, May 3, 2018 from 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm.
Doors open 6:30PM
Expertly moderated by the Executive Director of the State Bar of California, Ms Leah T. Wilson, this should be an especially informative forum.
We invite the public to submit written questions in advance or at the debate. All questions will be held in complete confidence and provided to the moderator, who will select which to ask.
This is a free public debate but seats are limited.
Some event day tickets will be available, but…
To ensure admission, we encourage reserving a ticket.
For advance tickets, or to submit questions, please contact email@example.com
The Marin DA candidate forum is sponsored by The Coalition of Sensible Taxpayers, as part of our commitment to hosting public educational and informational events.
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Is Novato going bankrupt?
In the short term, no. In the long term, probably yes.
Why? Because the California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS) is sucking money out of local city treasuries to keep afloat a $360 billion pension system that is underfunded by $150 billion.
Furthermore, CalPERS is generally recognized by arms-length non-political assessors as being not well or responsibly managed. Others in the financial community who have a money-making vested interest in the fund continuing as their cash cow, hype it to an unaware public as a “global leader in the investment industry”.
Rather than an evenhanded focus on maximizing the pension fund’s rate of return, the fund’s management uses a portion of those employee pension benefit assets as a political tool for self-appointed politically correct “shareholder activism”, secure with the knowledge that they have the state’s cities taxpayers there to bail them out when their pet political investment strategy becomes an embarrassing failure – which it has.
CalPERS unabashedly plays politics, with no respect for the taxpayers whose city tax money is used to fund CalPERS, despite the fact those taxpayers may disagree with CalPERS political bias and machinations. Unashamedly, it frequently acts as a political tool for progressive social engineering interest groups. A financially conservative or prudent investment approach is not in its lexicon.
California cities are rapidly reaching that point where CalPERS’ continually increasing demands levied against
those cities is resulting in insufficient funds remaining in city treasuries to adequately perform basic city functions. City roads continue to deteriorate, computer systems are no longer updated, infrastructure maintenance is continually deferred, and so on.
Are we doomed? The unfortunate news is “yes” unless the City of Novato declares bankruptcy or begins printing money. The good news is even the Titanic sank slowly.
But there is some optimism in that the City of Novato’s Citizens Finance Advisory/Oversight Committee, with the support of Novato’s new Finance Manager Tony Clark, is doing a yeoman’s job of maintaining order on the decks despite Novato’s ever-increasing glide angle into bankruptcy. Nonetheless, The City is running out of fingers with which to plug leaks in the failing financial dike.
Unlike many in City Hall who strive to maintain a contrived sense of self-importance when interacting with residents, Clark is relaxed and answers directly, and most importantly, he answers the question asked. Imagine that. Too often, guarded obtuse answers are the norm in most senior City management dialogues with residents.
No doubt Tony Clark’s breadth and depth of experience acquired while developing a diversified portfolio that includes both private and public financial positions has much to do with his easy manner. He is financially bi-lingual as his financial reference framework includes both the private and government sectors.
Upon graduation from Cal State Long Beach with a BS in Finance & International Business, Clark took an initial post as a commercial financial analyst in the private sector with Manufacturers Bank in Los Angeles. Next, followed two years as a staff auditor for the City of Long Beach.
Then, Clark returned to the private sector as a senior auditor with Sovereign Bank followed by a stint as internal audit specialist with the creative electronics company Plantronics in Santa Cruz, California. Next, came nine years as a senior accountant for the County of Santa Cruz.
Clark came to the City of Novato with a private-public sector blend of experience increasingly rare in public finance circles. It enables him to confidently exchange views and seamlessly converse with residents voluntarily serving on city appointed committees or ad hoc civic groups while avoiding the suffocating interest-killing bureaucratic argot behind which many city financial denizens hide.
Novato’s Citizens Finance Advisory Committee is tasked with providing to the City Council “regular feedback, insight and recommendations” regarding the City’s financial condition. It also acts as the official Citizens Oversight Committee for tax ordinances such as Measure F & Measure C.
Keen financial insight and experience are an essential qualification to sit on the Committee. Novato is indeed fortunate to have seven members who gamely arrive at 7:30 AM once a month at City Hall to review the City’s financial health using reports provided by the City Finance Staff. Refreshments are not served. Everyone just gets down to business.
Committee members are well qualified and successful in their specific areas of financial expertise. They serve on the Committee because they care about Novato. If the City Council does not listen to the recommendations of the Committee, members leave. Recently, committee member Bob Ratto did just that when the City Council ignored the Committee’s (and City Staff’s) financial recommendation to NOT build a downtown train station and then give it SMART who would not guarantee any trains would ever stop there.
Committee sessions become intriguing when committee members question or seek clarification on submitted reports. Rarely, are voices raised. Rather, presumably innocent questions sail stiletto-like across the room aimed at illuminating a potential piece of financial or political pork. Or, when examining the rationale behind the classification of a seemingly innocuous allocation of funding.
The Committee constantly pushes City Staff to make reports brief, concise and comprehensible to a curious resident. Terminology is to be explained before use. It is easier said than done, but must be done.
The Wall Street Journal is the poster child for doing exactly this. It is the nation’s second largest newspaper built on promoting their readers’ understanding of financial information.
Members of the Committee bring a positive attitude toward understanding the financial challenges and issues the City’s Financial Group faces. The current Committee Chair is Tim O’Conner who brings a history of banking experience with JP Morgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Exchange Bank, Bank of Marin, etc. He is now a Procurement Manager with UC Berkeley.
David Bentley is the long serving Auditor-Controller for the North Marin Water District. He brings a critical attention to detail illuminating the consequences of seemingly minor but significant reporting errors or omissions.
Robert Scott is a retired Hewlett-Packard executive who adds the leavening of extensive experience in large private enterprise management.
Cris MacKenzie is currently a Regulatory Compliance and Privacy Officer with Kaiser Permanente. She serves as an officer with the Marin Community Clinics. Her corporate experience provides an extraordinarily useful perspective on employee retention issues.
Regina Bianucci Rus, CPA owns a small accounting firm located on Grant Avenue. Her small business perspective provides insight into potential unintended consequences of City
Caitrin Devine brings substantial experience in business administrative support. She has a Master’s degree in Public Administration and serves on the administrative team at Marin Breast Health.
Rafelina Maglio is VP Marketing Manager with the Bank of Marin. She has served as a Branch Manager and has been with the Bank for over 21 years.
It is refreshing to recognize that qualified individuals can address difficult financial issues with Senior City Staff managers and develop options to be considered by The City
Council. While there are other City-resident committee interfaces that do not work well, the Citizens Finance Committee is doing a stand-up job, and it and Tony Cark should be commended.
Novato residents deserve their high-quality input. Now it’s up to the City Council to do the right thing by heeding the Citizen’s Finance Committee’s advice.
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And why should the rest of Novato’s residents care?
Because, supposedly politically neutral groups serving the community at large have become infiltrated by community activists who proselytize their agenda under the guise of providing “neutral” information of interest to the neighborhood group.
The Hamilton Forum has apparently fallen prey to insider administrators’ political agendas as evidenced at the March 14th “informational” community meeting hosted by the purportedly neutral Forum. The publicized expectation was that County Supervisor Judy Arnold and Novato Mayor and Hamilton resident Josh Fryday would discuss the specifics of current City of Novato projects that are of direct interest to Hamilton residents. Nothing more, nothing less.
As was feared by many, it was instead a disappointingly political platform for Arnold to stumble through head-down while reading prepared notes in a self-glorifying political monologue portraying herself as a wonderful Supervisor. Uh, wait a minute. Wasn’t this supposed to be an informational meeting on topics affecting Hamilton residents?
Arnold launched into a dogged defense of Measure E that Novato voters soundly and overwhelmingly rejected, illustrating just how estranged she is from Novato residents. To her (self-)credit she has reliably delivered Novato’s Board of Supervisors vote on a platter to Southern Marin’s special interests who return the political favor by copiously funding her local campaigns with cash, providing free campaign signage, and operating her reelection campaign web site.
Fryday held up the meeting by turning up 10 minutes late (then boasted he lived only a few minutes away) offering a self-ingratiating excuse by blaming it on his children. This does not reflect well on Fryday who displayed a lack of respect for Hamilton area residents who went to the trouble to turn up on time.
In his opening remarks he irrelevantly condemned the “divisive” national political atmosphere and only moments later launched into a strange off-topic divisive diatribe blaming only President Donald Trump for the present national political climate. Did he not know the purpose of this meeting?
Fryday made it very clear he views local issues primarily through his own personal national political viewpoint, not necessarily that of Novato residents, the very constituency he supposedly represents. He never even bothered to mention the structural budget deficit facing the City of Novato.
Despite the looming deficit, he pushed through the hiring of an expensive Novato Sustainability Manager. Potentially adding more to the deficit would be a Fryday proposed new City of Novato funded project with Dominican College to subsidize ten Novato student internships at City Hall, and up to a $100,000 college scholarship for each participant. He ominously declared himself “excited” once again.
Fryday appeared unprepared to discuss the specifics related to imminent City proposed projects in his own Hamilton neighborhood. Fryday responded to residents’ questions by exclaiming how “exciting” and “how important the question is” then quickly deflecting the question over to City Manager Candelario to respond. Fryday again exposed himself as unaware and uninformed on local issues. In his attempts to gloss over specific project status questions, he made it painfully clear he wasn’t prepared.
City Manager Candelario’s responses were vague and of the non-sequitur “we are talking to them” nature. The interested Hamiltonians seeking specific information on imminent changes in their neighborhood left emptyhanded.
If the Hamilton Forum moderators are sincerely interested in rehabilitating their purportedly “neutral” political image they should quickly arrange an equivalent time and place for Arnold’s opponent, Supervisor candidate Toni Shroyer, to present her candidacy’s case to Hamilton residents. Allowing candidate-for-reelection Judy Arnold to use the venue as a personal political pulpit shredded any pretense of Hamilton Forum impartiality. The commentary could/should have been kept on-point by the discussion facilitator, but that didn’t happen. They wasted everyone’s time.
If candidate Shroyer is denied equal time and platform to counter Arnold’s political electioneering, the Hamilton Forum becomes outed as just another covert political media operative for political candidates sympathetic with its moderators’ preferences. So far, they appear to be little more than that.
Approximately 50% of the 30 attendees were the usual special interest acolytes of the local political machine whose political favors are funneled through Arnold’s office. To them, Arnold was preaching to the choir. The other half’s hopes were dashed on the rocks of Arnold’s political chest-beating and Fryday’s strangely irrelevant and divisive comments.
The Hamilton Forum is a private-member Yahoo group with approximately 725 subscribers. It was formed in 2002 to provide a platform for discussions between neighborhood residents concerning matters that “…might affect the value of our community or its quality of life.” Its site description clearly states, “The Community Forum is commercial free and politically neutral”.
The site features unidentified “moderators” who control what is posted by filtering submitted postings to assure there is “…respectful dialogue and thoughtful listening, including all reasonable viewpoints.” But is that really happening?
Long-time Hamilton community political activists and environmental militant Marla Fields who is Co-President of Sustainable Novato, along with Sustainable Novato Board Member Donn Davy, are among the controlling influencers behind the supposedly “politically neutral” site’s postings. The site’s tolerance for politically oriented comments increasingly reflects its moderators’ own political views, particularly when there is an election looming on the horizon.
When refuting or differing views are submitted for posting they are branded and blocked by unsympathetic moderators as being political. The group membership is kept in the dark regarding the nature and frequency of these denials of site access. The moderators’ actions and decisions remain unquestioned and hidden.
The supposedly non-political Hamilton Forum “informational” meeting was as many expected, just another disappointing political platform for Supervisor Judy Arnold and Novato Mayor Josh Fryday’s personal political aspirations, not those of the Hamilton community. Fields and Davy are strong supporters of Judy Arnold, and through the Hamilton Forum they have found another way to block opposing viewpoints while pushing their own limited agenda. Hamilton residents lose out.
The Forum would do well to call upon Heracles to “clean the Augean stable” by freeing the site from political activist influence by making it less biased and more about the Hamilton community’s interests at large. Its administrators should be identified by name and function, becoming accountable to Hamilton residents thus enabling open commentary not filtered by like-minded insider preferences of a few.
Hamilton residents deserve a higher quality of representation and explicit accountability from City Hall – they are not getting it.
Mayor Fryday, Councilmember Lucas and Councilmember Athas,
You voted for a process that is NOT transparent with regards to the Request For Proposals that are submitted to the City for the vacant parcels at Hamilton.
As it stands you have voted to have the proposals first reviewed in a CLOSED SESSION of the Council and only the proposals that you deem are “financially viable” will be brought forward to the public. By doing this in Closed Session, the public will not have access to what should be public information on nature and number of proposals submitted.
Additionally, the public will not know how the criteria for selection is being applied to these proposals in order to deem them viable. More importantly, the VOTE take by our Council representatives on these proposals will be kept secret by rules of the CLOSED SESSION.
If Council members have communication with developers who submit proposals, when will that information be available to the public, particularly if the proposals are reviewed in closed session and do not make it through to the public process?
This goes against the commitment to transparency that has been made by you as members of the Novato City Council. ALL of the proposal submitted should be open to the public at least in summary, without any sensitive financial information that would be pertinent to private negotiation.
For public record, I’m attaching the content of the March 10, 2018 Marin IJ Editorial which states that this is a step away from transparency. Please reconsider this process on the RFPs to provide transparency to the citizens of Novato on ALL the proposals submitted to the City of Novato for the vacant properties.
Marin IJ Editorial, March 10, 2018
HAMILTON PROPERTIES DESERVE A WIDE-OPEN PUBLIC PROCESS
Novato Councilwoman Pat Eklund isn’t known for being shy about expressing her opinion. On the city’s handling of the future of three city-owned parcels at Hamilton Field, we’re glad she spoke up.
Although winding up on the losing end of a 3-2 council vote, Eklund argued that the proposals the city receives for these sites be open to public review.
“I believe all proposals, not just the viable ones, should go to the public,” she said.
She’s right, but a majority of her colleagues opted for a process in which the council, meeting in private, would cull the proposals to two or three and then present those for public review.
Although City Hall’s been touting efforts to be more open and transparent, the idea of the council meeting behind closed doors to pre-screen proposals is neither. It just invites public suspicion about the process.
Councilman Eric Lucan said that the council handling that task is better than letting staff winnow the proposals, which was the original staff recommendation. “As elected council members we are elected to make those tough decisions and face the heat for those decisions, so I think the council should be the one determining whether or not it’s financially viable.”
The council-shaped process adopted on a 3-2 vote, with Mayor Josh Fryday and Councilwoman Denise Athas joining Lucan, is marginal improvement when it comes to an open and transparent process. Having a wide-open public process may be messier, but it avoids suspicion that council members are steering a predetermined process.
Given that this process involves public property and potentially large sources of city revenue from the sale or lease of the sites, Eklund was right when she said, “Let’s turn this process around and let’s make it work for everybody.”
Obviously, the council will have to meet in private when it gets into negotiating the nitty-gritty details, such as the ultimate price and payments for the properties. But the council’s decision to start the process with closed-door decisions gets the public process backward.
To its credit, the city has already held three public meetings on the issue of determining the future of the old commissary site and Christmas Tree Hill, the theater and community center property and the Bachelor Quarters and Officers Club sites.
Now is not the time to duck into a private session. City staff should take a hard look at the proposals and the developers’ track record and financial performance. Those factors are an important part of the decision-making process and staff should advise council members on those factors before finalists are chosen.
But the public deserves a chance to see and review all of the proposals, not just the ones the council has already blessed.
City Hall has promised to be more open and transparent, but this is a big step away from that pledge.