Sep 17 2013

City Settles with PRFO by Absorbing $113,533 Blair Park Debt

Since January, the City Council has been in negotiations with Piedmont Recreational Facilities Organization (PRFO) to receive payment of the outstanding reimbursement obligation in connection with PRFO’s proposed Blair Park sports complex. 

At the City Council meeting on September 17, 2013, Mayor John Chiang announced that the City of Piedmont has reached and executed an agreement with the PRFO to settle claims over costs relating to Blair Park.

The press release states in part:

In the settlement agreement, PRFO has agreed to let the City retain the $95,000 balance in a separate $125,000 Indemnification Guarantee fund, after a $30,000 settlement negotiated by PRFO attorneys in defending the City in the lawsuit filed by Friends of Moraga Canyon challenging the proposed project. The $95,000, coupled with the initial deposit of $118,000, brings the total to $213,000 paid by PRFO towards the City’s stated total incurred costs of $326,533, leaving a balance of $113,533 to be absorbed by the City.

Click to read the entire settlement agreement and press release.

10 Responses to “City Settles with PRFO by Absorbing $113,533 Blair Park Debt”

  1. I, for one, am disgusted.

    GIFT, my fanny. We need to change the people who make the decisions on spending our tax money.

  2. We now know how much of a “GIFT” of public funds it takes to buy off PRFO! Notice that paragraph 5, “Mutual Release of Claims”, of the agreement DOES NOT include “property owners” or “residents” of Piedmont. No one got my vote on this.
    It’s time to replace the City Council and Senior Staff with people who won’t be bought by special interests.

  3. I could see if we, as a community, had put this decision to partner with the PRFO to a vote and had agreed to this arrangement. But it was foisted on us and we now must pay for the “clean up.”

    Democracy works in mysterious ways.

  4. Council and Staff played this well in reporting it out in closed session which negated any opportunity for both public input and no valid reason need given as to why the money was gifted. PRFO claims they weren’t informed in a timely manner of the billings. Why were the billings held by City Administrator Grote? The accounting he presented when the project was rescinded showed money was already owed but neither Council nor the public was made aware of this.

    $63,833 in additional taxpayer paid attorney fees were also forgiven related to the litigation. The indemnification agreement was specifically put in place to cover this. Were it not for the Blair Park proposal, these fess would not exist and are a direct result of PRFO’s Blair Park Proposal. Council chose to lessen the impact to PRFO by stating this is a city function, which is commensurate with many hundreds of thousands of other taxpayer funds classified as city function concerning Blair Park. We were told from the outset there would be “no taxpayer cost.” The end result has proven very costly and, much worse, the manner in which this was done means we are in for more of this.

    A Gift? The members of this City Council that approved this, three of whom negotiated this in closed session, run Piedmont as if it were a private country club. Piedmont is a public entity paid for by public funds.

  5. The Reimbursement Agreement that was signed by the City and PRFO was written, reviewed, and signed by attorneys for both the City of Piedmont and the PRFO back when the project started, and it clearly states that aside from city staff time, the PRFO agrees to pay for all other expenses. The statement in the Settlement Agreement that there was a “dispute between parties as to the interpretation of the Reimbursement Agreement,” sounds like a convenient way of turning the debt to the city into “The Gift” to the PRFO.

  6. What is perhaps the most distressing aspect of this whole mess is the statement made by the City in its press release to the effect that the community has benefitted from these public private partnerships and is committed to doing them again. We should support an ordinance prohibiting the Council from engaging in any more financial disasters like the Piedmont Hills undergrounding and now Blair Park. After Piedmont Hills Undergounding, the LWV made several specific recommendations on how to avoid these serial disasters, including open governance, timely cost reporting and accountability. This Council has ignored and violated all 3, negotiating the deal and then settling the resulting dispute all in secret, not timely reporting costs which was apparently the basis for PRFO not paying, and then holding no one accountable for their failure to timely account for costs which cost the City dearly. The Council and staff have demonstrated that they are incapable of competently managing a public private partnership, so lets prevent them from losing millions again by barring them from engaging in their reckless conduct yet again to support whatever new pet project they pick next time to subsidize with our tax payer funds all the while saying it is without cost.

  7. And this is the “legacy” of Mr. Grote who now retires on a handsome pension, leaving the mop up and payoff to the taxapayers.

  8. Run out of town on a Rail comes to my mind as does tar and feathering. It is time to put into place the recommendations of the League of Women Voters. As I once wrote to the city council, “the gift” was nothing more than a Trojan Horse.

  9. A gift implies a willing donor. No one asked the taxpaying donors if they wanted to make this gift.

    An unwilling donor doesn’t make a gift; (s)he has been subjected to extortion.

    This should be a VERY INTERESTING upcoming City Council race.

  10. Gotta love Lauren Field’s reference to both American traditions and the classics. In less imaginative terms, I land on collusion and entitlement. From any perspective, at once both breathtaking and utterly banal. And yes, tar and feather and pitchforks aside, the City Council elections should be very interesting.

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