Opinion Piece By Donna Westfall – September 25, 2018 – It’s bad enough taxes continue to go up, but it’s worse when some slick people think up reasons to convince the unsuspecting voters that they will be supporting a good cause in order to raise taxes. We’re talking about Measure F.
In my opinion, such is the case with the .25% sales tax voted in four years ago and has another three years to run before ending. Three of the current members are running for re-election, Sebina Renner, Steven Westbrook and Doug Wakefield.
$54,000 a month is generated from that .25% cent. The unsuspecting voters thought that money would be set aside so that the fairgrounds could continue to operate past the seven year mark because the State bailed on almost $200,000 a year. Instead, unsuspecting voters thought that money would be plowed back into the fairgrounds.
According to LAURA JO WELTER, reporter for the Triplicate, published on Feb. 2, 2015,
“Measure F provisions give Del Norte County voters a say in where the money goes, whether the dollars are from the sales tax or the state.”
I don’t think so. It appears to me that neither the 41st District Fairgrounds Board, nor the .25% sales tax board care to keep the public informed.
An elected board sits in the same room and conducts a joint meeting with the 41st District Fairgrounds Board appointed by Gov. Brown. Many of those board members have been sitting there for decades. The joint meetings are not video taped. 72 hour public notice is supposed to be given for the .25% sales tax board. This is not being done. Financials are supposed to be on a website. This is not being done. It’s apparently impossible to get copies of the minutes from previous meetings. I’ve tried. Not happening. Now get this: Kevin Hartwick is a CPA. He’s been on the board over 20 years. All the board members are his friends and cronies. On both boards. Is he the puppetmaster?
When the 2017-2018 Grand Jury report came out wondering what happened to the $921,000, there was no response. There’s still no response. I’ve requested documents under the Public Records Act from CEO, Kim Floyd, .25% sales tax board member, Sebina Renner and Kalia Mitchell at the California Dept of Food and Agriculture. Linda Sutter in the presence of Wes Nunn requested docs and one sitting supervisor has as well. No word back from Floyd or Renner.
Are you starting to regret voting in Measure F yet? Wait, there’s more.
Undaunted, I sent this email to Kalia Mitchell on September 10th:
After reading the Del Norte County 2017/2018 Grand Jury report, I’m requesting information on how almost $1 million can be unaccounted for when the voters approved a 1/4 cent sales tax to help fund the Del Norte County Fairgrounds.
That same day, Ms. Mitchell responded with this:
Your PRA request has been received and assigned Project ID: 9823.
California Department of Food and Agriculture
1220 N Street, 3rd Floor
Sacramento, California 95818
 654-1293 fax
Now, Linda Sutter is running for the .25% sales tax board. She’s the only one asking questions. According to Sutter on September 25, 2018:
“On December 21, 2017 a generous Christmas gift was decided by the 41st fair district. Director Darin Bradbury and Director Bob Cochran voted to pay CEO Kimberly Floyd $6416.00 monthly to operate the Fairgrounds. This is money that comes from the .25% sales tax.
That was one of the things that was discovered today while paging through several documents. The second thing I noticed is the binder that was presented to the public on September 4th, 2018 was completely different today.
There were several missing documents out of the binder that was originally presented, probably advisement under their attorney Bob Black or Martha Rice. The Accounting practices, policies and procedures completely removed. The MOU between the 41st district and parks and recreation fair special district was signed 9/26/2016 whereas on September 4th it was blank.
There are 3 bank accounts. Tri-Counties, Coast Central, and US bank. There are several people from both the 41st District group and the special district group who has access to the accounts at Coast Central. Since there is a lot of transferring of funds, wink wink then it is more than likely pretty easy to get mixed up in your accounting. In the March 23 2017 meeting minutes :
After receiving the latest financial from CFSA, it appears that we are in the hole at the end of February. $30,000.00 from the roof project and asphalt bid wasn’t carried over from last year so the budget wasn’t completely correct. The request is to ask for $100,000.00 to be transferred from the district account (special district) to the 41st district account.
Additionally, CFSA insurance was taken out in one lump sum not over a period of months. This also resulted in a shortage of funds.
Let me get this straight. Nobody is keeping accurate accounting of thousands of dollars, they are winging it kind of like when you try to remember how much you used on your debit card. NOW THAT’S PROFESSIONALISM AT IT’S FINEST.
The minutes go onto state Director Westbrook asked if the 45,000 allocation was in the budget and the answer is yes. Director Wakefield pointed out some errors (REALLY?) IN THE budget and suggested that they needed to be changed before we look at the whole picture. It goes on and on. But wait there is a financial committee, I have no idea yet who is on it..could be taylor, westbrook, holt, but not for sure.
Let’s talk about the meetings they are having. Under California Government Code, 11122.5( c )(6) and the opinion of the California Attorney General , if a majority of members of the full board are present at a Committee meeting, members who are not members of the Committee that is meeting may attend that meeting only as observers. The Board members who are not committee members may not sit at the dais with the committee, and may not participate in the meeting by making statements or asking questions.
January 26,2016 meeting minutes Resolution 2016-01 Martha Rice, ESQ. advises 41st DAA and special District conduct their meetings jointly, there would be one agenda but have separate lines for each district. However, the Special district is suppose to give a 72 hour notice, with it’s separate agenda items created by the chair of the special district. This is not followed at all and is in violation of the Brown Act and is punishable if the District Attorney so pursues the matter. With $921,920.00 unaccounted for and the lack of minutes that explain where the money went, it is a possibility that the DA would want to look into this matter.
Finally the 41st DAA and Special district responded to the Grand Jury questions. In my opinion the response was ambiguous, vague, lacking in any true response. The money is gone, and this apathetic public will simply allow it.”