OP/ED: Manzanita Citizen’s Petition Not Worthy Of Discussion

EDITOR’S NOTE: Manzanita continues contentious conversations about new City Hall.
By Randy Kugler
Manzanita Mayor Scott’s promise of a discussion at the September Manzanita Council meeting of the 260 citizen signature petition on our new City Hall was instead passed off to Council President Kozlowski for a one sided rebuttal. No discussion by Council and no discussion or questions allowed by citizens. The City’s approved procedures establishing the Council’s conduct of the public’s business is the latest casualty on the march forward to building our new City Hall.

Councilor Kozlowski: “We have performed our due diligence including preliminary budget development; when we compare apples to apples for new versus renovation, they are actually pretty close. The proposed savings suggested in the petition did not actually include the tenant improvements needed to complete the building, site work or the soft costs.” The revelation that the City has developed a “preliminary budget” for their new construction and that it was used to compare costs and allow Council Kozlowski to make her conclusions prompted me to make a public records request from the City to see this new information and ask some follow up questions. A copy of the documents in question can be found at https://tinyurl.com/6bmppkem
When I asked when the “preliminary budget” was completed and compared to the petition rebuild costs, the answer was “There was no comparison of this budget to the rebuild option.”

When I asked when the “preliminary budget” was submitted to the Mayor and Council for their review the answer was “ The draft preliminary budgets were not presented to the full City Council.”

In a subsequent follow up with the City Manager, I confirmed that both estimated seismic upgrade and tenant improvement costs produced by a consultant to the City who had previously inspected the School were indeed included in the estimated rebuild petition budget cost.

Starting this latest campaign to complete our City Hall project with this performance should trouble citizens that value transparency in how their elected officials communicate important policy decisions to their constituents. Claims of comparisons that were not made with omitted facts and relying on a document that some Councilors apparently had no knowledge of makes one wonder who is in charge of our Council.

It’s World Series time for this project and it appears that the City has lost the rules book, the Mayor has placed himself on the injured reserve list and is looking down the bench for help wherever he can find it to secure the win.