Jan 19 2012

OPINION: Former Swim Club Officers Correct Post Article

Residents assert Post’s pool facts are wrong –

The Piedmont Post’s January 11, 2012 article, “Rood’s tenure as final swim club president,” gets almost all key facts regarding the negotiations between the city and the swim club wrong.  From the beginning, the club agreed to pay all pool expenses, including major maintenance and capital improvements, as it had for 46 years.  In return, it simply asked that the terms of the existing lease be continued.

We have spent 40 years negotiating complex deals, both as an executive (Bill Drum) and as an attorney and mediator (Jon Sakol).  Neither Tim Rood nor anyone else negotiated anything in public.  That is different from keeping the people you represent apprised of the status of negotiations, which the club’s board had a fiduciary duty to do to its members, who were demanding to know what was going on.  Tim Rood’s August letter and the posting of each side’s proposals was available only to those members.  At the time, the only proposal the club had received from the city left all financial obligations blank, and the club had been told there were other things the city might want to talk about, but not what.  That was still the status at the beginning of October, when Jon Sakol began working on the negotiations for the club.

The only “ultimatum” the board gave the city was that it needed an answer by the end of December, so that it would have adequate time for a massive membership drive to restore its financial viability, if the lease were renewed, and the city would have adequate time for the transition, if it were not.  We twice extended that deadline because Jon Sakol believed that the City and the club had essentially reached an agreement.

In January, however, the new city attorney substantially rewrote the lease, imposing new financial obligations on the club: that the city would have the sole discretion to deny the club the use of the money the club had set aside for major maintenance and capital improvements it was contractually obligated to make and keep that money itself; that the city could unilaterally have any work preformed and send the club the bill; and that the club purchase haz mat insurance (which no other pool has and the city has not bought).  When the club did not agree to those terms (which were not in the rent-free lease the city gave the new arts center three months later), it was a member of the city council, at its February 7 meeting, who said “we’re out of time.”  (The only council member who sat down with the club to understand its financial projections supported the lease.)

Jon Sakol

Bill Drum

Editor’s Note(1): The opinions expressed above are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of the Piedmont Civic Association.

Editor’s Note (2):  No City Council public hearing was held on the takeover of the pool by the City, nor did the Council take a public vote on whether the City should assume operations of the pool expected to cost approximately $400,000 a year. The City’s decision took place 46 years after the Swim Club  built the pool, which it managed and paid for through its membership fees.  Access by the Recreation Department, School District, the public, and Swim Team was provided by the club.  John Chiang was the only participating Council member who supported  continuation of the lease.  Council member Garrett Keating,  a Swim Club member, could not participate in the procedures as he was considered to have a conflict of interest.


One Response to “OPINION: Former Swim Club Officers Correct Post Article”

  1. Bill and Jon, Thank you for weighing in on this matter and providing a fuller account of what transpired during negotiations. I understand that both of you participated in pool negotiations with the City. Did anyone from the Post contact you prior to the article to get your persepective on negotiation with the city?

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