[Ed Note: Linda Ruffing is Fort Bragg City Manager. Jennifer Owen is Fort Bragg’s “Community Development Director.” Dave Turner is Mayor of Fort Bragg. Realtor Scott Dietz is a Fort Bragg City Councilman. Carine is the family that owned the Old Coast Hotel and sold it to the City of Fort Bragg for way under market value plus a substantial tax credit via an over-appraised market value appraisal. Gary and Lynelle Johnson are members of the Mendocino Coast Hospitality Center board of directors.]
This was a DONE DEAL from the beginning and now it seems dirty politics have come in to play. Regarding purchase of The Old Coast Hotel:
November 12, 2014 — Jennifer Owen emails Linda Ruffing telling her Mendocino Coast Hospitality Center (Anna Shaw and perhaps Gary and Lynelle Johnson and perhaps another board member) would like to meet with her and Council ASAP so they can lock in negotiations and have reasonable assurance they will have the City’s support of the location.
November 13, 2014 — Linda Ruffing emails Dave Turner and Scott Deitz asking them to give her a time and date when they can meet regarding the purchase of The Old Coast Hotel by Mendocino Coast Hospitality Center.
November 13, 2014 — Dave Turner emails Linda Ruffing saying Tuesday at 10:00 a.m. works for him and he believes it works for Deitz as well.
November 13, 2014 — Linda Ruffing emails Scott Deitz asking if Tuesday, November 18, 2014 at 10:00 a.m. works for him to meet with Mendocino Coast Hospitality Center, Turner and herself.
November 24, 2014 — Linda Ruffing emails Jennifer Owen and Marie Jones telling them Turner has given 100% support of it.
December 1, 2014 — Jennifer Owen emails Linda Ruffing saying this is amazing the Carine’s have accepted The Old Coast Hotel deal. Looks like CDBG will require a new public hearing and resolution with the new specific address. Once the New Hope Project (Hospitality Center at Old Coast Hotel) resolution as well as supplemental activities resolution are adopted we can finally get a grant agreement.
December 1, 2014 — Linda Ruffing emails Jennifer Owen saying that’s good news but it worries her about the 30 day escrow period and asks how soon they can get the CDBG approval. Then asks: if they have commissioned an appraisal.
December 1, 2014 — Jennifer Owen emails Linda Ruffing saying the timeline is tight but they won’t enter escrow until special conditions are cleared then there aren’t many steps to close escrow. The seller (Carine) wants an appraisal to maximize their donation (we just need an amount greater than the Mendocino Coast Hospitality Center cash price. I’m a little concerned about the March 15th exercise date since that will require that we have the grant agreement by late January but I’m reasonably sure the Carine’s will work with us if we are slightly delayed.
December 31, 2014 — Many letters are written in support of The Old Coast Hotel deal. (By the way the public has not been notified about this yet). A legal announcement comes out in the Advocate News stating the location as 101 South Franklin St. (not the real location of 101 North Franklin St.)
January 8, 2015 — An article in the Advocate News comes out telling of the probable purchase of The Old Coast Hotel. (This is the first the public is aware of it) Letter’s dated December 31, 2014 are on the City’s website from as far away as Arcata and Yuba City, again dated in December while the community was not aware of the purchase.
January 12, 2015 — City Council meeting regarding the deal. Christina Affinito (owner of the Affinito buildling which formerly held Fort Bragg’s Social Services offices) told the Council that the old social service building was not looked at by Mendocino Coast Hospitality Center. It had been stated that in fact it had been looked at when it had not. Scott Deitz commented that he voted yes because more letters were submitted in favor of the location and a few more speakers were in favor of the location. (Keep in mind, the public had only known about this for four days and most the letters in support were written in December well before the public knew about it. I for one find that a little strange).
January 26, 2015 — The Council was given a petition with over 1,200 signatures opposed to the location. They refused to listen, even though Deitz had voted because of a handful of letters written well before the public was notified. These 1,200 signatures were obtained in 10 days and not even taken into consideration. After this, an additional 469 signatures were turned over to the Council making the total number opposed to over 1,600. Still no one listened.
February 9, 2015 — Council meeting was moved to Old Recreation Center because of power outage. Hammerstrom was angry because public comment was made before he wanted it to happen so said he was ill and excused himself from the meeting.
May 26, 2015 — Dave Turner served with Recall papers.
The rest should be reasonably fresh in people’s minds. The recall papers were filed and returned by the City because the wording wasn’t correct in their opinion. A second recall petition was written and the signatures needed were collected and the paperwork approved. A lawsuit was filed and an initiative was being written so the recall was temporarily called off until the other issues were settled. The petition for the initiative as turned in to the Clerk and according to them was one-fourth of a person short so it was rounded up to a whole person making the petition short by 1 person.
On July 27, 2015 Charles Brandenburg informed the City that the needed signatures would once more be gathered and the petition resubmitted. (Keep the date of July 27, 2015 in mind for later in this timeline)
At the August 24, 2015 City Council meeting. Scott Menzies [proprietor of the Perfect Circle Tai Chi studio] is the first to use the word bigotry.
November 9, 2015 — City announced more than enough signatures on the petition for the initiative. Agreed to put it on the June ballot.
November 23, 2015 — City Council has on the agenda an argument against the initiative written by the so called Go Fort Bragg group (a local spin off of the Dave Turner I Love Fort Bragg group). After a lot of questions from Mike Cimolino and lots of back and forth talk it was brought to the attention of the Council (by accident) that in fact the wording had not been submitted to the Clerk nor did it have any signatures on it. What then was it doing on the agenda? Lindy Peters asked that question and didn’t get an answer and did not pursue it. As I understand it the City Manager does in fact have the power to put something on the agenda. My question is; The people in favor of the initiative had to write their argument in favor of and get the correct signatures and turn it in to the Clerk. Why were the rules not the same with the group against the initiative?
At the same November 23, 2015 meeting Annie Liner informed the Council that the Children’s Fund would be affected by the initiative because they are located in the Central Business District.
This brings us to today with these questions: Why did Lindy Peters and Dave Turner go to the Veterans meeting and ask the Veterans to vote no on the initiative knowing full well the Vets are served not in but out of the Central Business District? Also knowing full well how all of us feel about our Vets and want to do as much as possible for them. This was a low blow to the Vets in the opinion of many and thankfully one spoke up and told the two that the Veteran’s were not a political organization and that was the end of Turner and Peters presentation.
Now back to the date of July 27, 2015 when Charles Brandenburg told the City Council that a new petition would be started and the proper number of signatures gathered for the initiative would be turned in to the Clerk. Why would any organization knowing this choose to be located in the heart of the Central Business District? Could it be because the organization is one that serves children? Could it be because it is an organization that is near and dear to many of us? Yes, of course that is why. This would really raise hell with the initiative wouldn’t it? If passed they would have to move? No, in fact they can stay right there in that spot or move and expand all they want. Don’t be fooled for a moment. They are not a Social Service organization they are in fact a Charity.