Stadium Lawsuit Dropped Against City
The Turlock Citizens Coalition (TCC), Dana Vaughan, Lynn Gaiser-Sarraille and Michael Burtch, have dropped the lawsuit with prejudice against the City of Turlock, the Turlock City Council, the Turlock Redevelopment Agency, and individual Council Members Ted Howze, Kurt Spycher, and Amy Bublak who voted to approve the $2.8 million RDA funding of the Turlock High School Joe Debely Stadium Renovation project.
The TCC filed a lawsuit opposing using RDA funds on the stadium project while also stating their belief that the California Environmental Quality Act process was not legally followed.
On Monday, March 1, 2010, the Stanislaus County Superior Court found the Turlock City Council acting as the Redevelopment Agency (RDA) Board has appropriately spent RDA funds on the Joe Debely Stadium renovation project.
While the court’s decision was made, the opposition had the opportunity to amend their case and that case would have included that Councilman Ted Howze had a conflict of interest.
TCC attorney Richard Harriman stated that after receiving transcripts and researching the record, the point that Councilman Ted Howze had a conflict of interest would not lead to a court room win.
“The record didn’t support the claim of the statutory conflict of interest,” said Harriman.
Harriman still believes that Councilman Howze had a Common Law Conflict of Interest but that even taking Howze’s vote out of the equation, there would’ve still been a 2-1 vote of approval which would not have stopped the action to give the Turlock Unified School District (TUSD) $2.8 million in Turlock City RDA funds.
“We decided as public interest litigants that we had a duty not to go further, so we dismissed that portion of the complaint,” said Harriman.
“As for the Turlock Unified School District, that actually will continue to go on,” said Harriman. “I am very confident that we will win.”
The TCC believes the Joe Debely Stadium Renovation will increase the use and impact further the surrounding neighborhoods. TCC is demanding the TUSD follow the California Environmental Quality Act process and study the potential impacts due to increased use.
TUSD claimed during a past Board Meeting that most of the increased use would be by physical education students during school hours.
In response to the lawsuit being dropped, the City of Turlock sent out a press release stating:
“The plaintiffs’ decision to dismiss with prejudice its lawsuit affirms that the action taken by a majority of the City Council acting as the Redevelopment Agency in moving forward with approval and funding for this community recreational facility was legal and appropriate.
It is unfortunate that precious human and fiscal Redevelopment resources, which are critical for economic development, were expended fighting this frivolous lawsuit. Documented costs as of March 31, 2010 are $26,241.70 plus many hours of staff time. This dismissal with prejudice is viewed by the City as validation of the actions taken by a majority of the Council.”
Mayor John Lazar did not vote on the decision to fund the stadium project due to conflict of interest.
Vice Mayor Kurt Spycher responded to the dropped lawsuit just by saying that the City’s official statement is accurate.
Councilwoman Amy Bublak
Councilman Howze had more to say