Turlock City News

City of Turlock Needs Shaping Up: Op-Ed by DJ Fransen

So after attending the Turlock Parks, Recreation and Community (PRC) Commission Meeting, TurlockCityNews.com posted on Facebook “The City of Turlock needs to really (really) know their own policies, ordinances, resolutions, and government related laws. Things are coming to a head!”
 
One person asked what this statement was about and so now I’ll attempt to explain.
 
On top of all the alleged Brown Act Violations, alleged conflicts of interest, reference to the California Fair Political Practices Commission, Stanislaus County Civil Grand Jury, and pending lawsuits against the City of Turlock the last 3 years, I witnessed the worst ran government meeting ever.
 
The City of Turlock PRC Commission Meeting involved a discussion by the Commission and a summary by Municipal Services Director Dan Madden on the possible expansion of the PRC Commission, an issue that was not on the agenda.
 
The Commission expansion was on the Council agenda this week but because it had not gone before the PRC Commission first, it was sent back to PRC Commission to discuss if they wanted the expansion. Not addressing the PRC Commission first was an issue with Councilwoman Amy Bublak and Councilman Ted Howze. Municipal Services Director Dan Madden said that staff was requested to present the report to Council and because of the quickness did not have a chance to address the PRC Commission who would meet the next night.
 
The Commission expansion was brought up at the PRC Meeting when Chair Brent Bohlender brought it up during the Commissioner Comments section of the agenda.
 
Because Mary Jackson was in the audience, Brent asked her to share her thoughts. After Mary Jackson spoke, then Madden gave a summary of the issue. Madden did state that they couldn’t speak about the expansion issue at the time because it was not on the agenda, but after they already discussed it.
 
 
Another Brown Act violation concern came up when an agendized item of affiliate request by youth football league under Scheduled Matters was discussed (which is legal) and decided to defer it to the next months agenda. But then after all interested parties left, the issue was discussed again in length during the Commissioner Comments part of the agenda.
 
In this discussion, bias and questionably inappropriate comments where made such as if being from Turlock for a long time gave the right to affiliate status, if they could investigate their non-profit status and financials first, and why one has waited so long to be an affiliate while the other just changed their non-profit address from Hilmar to Turlock.
 
City Staff said that each organization had spies that talked to each other, so one knew that the other would be applying and the other heard that their Hilmar address might keep them from getting affiliate status.

My guess is that these questions and statements would not have been made in the manner they were if the youth football leagues’ representatives were still at the meeting.

 
 
The issue of quality and truthful City Staff reports was another concern that came up in the meeting.

Parks and Recreation Manager Rick Harden gave an update on the BMX Bike Park and stated that they’re (city staff) aren’t professionals at this but safety is the number one concern in regards to the controversy over the bike park organizers/riders saying the city didn’t follow their design plan and that it isn’t safe. Harden stated they didn’t see anyone making the gap of the original dirt jumps and that kids wanted something different on each volunteer work day.
 
Commissioner Desiree Silva asked how they knew what was safe and who was going to make the decision. Harden said they’ve made the final decision.
 
The City has only addressed what they think “looks unsafe” while actually making it more unsafe now because they’ve made it to where the beginners are encouraged to ride on the expert area of the bike park. Their final decision is after admitting they don’t know about this area of concern.
 
Chair Brent Bohlender asked about the BMX Bike Park Grand Opening and the donor plaque. Harden made a statement that “we’re working on the plaque as we speak and we’re waiting to hear back from the donors on what they want to say on the plaque.”
 
I have not heard of a donor (including myself) being contacted yet.

 

There also seems to be communication problems (besides the expansion issue going to Council before it went before the PRC Commission) when two newly appointed PRC Commissioners showed up and it was a surprise to some of the veteran Commissioners. One of the new Commissioners said that it was a surprise to him because he applied back in April when there was an opening and just found out this last week.

 

 
I recorded the meeting on my phone and after listening to it, there are more issues that can be addressed but I think I can sum it all up by simply saying the City of Turlock needs shaping up!

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