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Lodi council votes to end Downtown Lodi Business Partnership

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Posted: Thursday, April 18, 2013 12:00 am

The Downtown Lodi Business Partnership is on its way out. The Lodi City Council approved an ordinance to cut off the partnership's ability to levy taxes by shutting down the improvement district that got the group started in 1997.

"There were great hopes about what it would accomplish," said Councilman Larry Hansen. "There have been some great things, and some not so great. The original concept has not been totally abandoned."

The DLBP was created by the council, but the city only had the power to approve the organization's budget and its taxing power, according to city attorney Steve Schwabauer.

The group found itself in debt early this year, and requested the council shut them down because they did not have enough money to pay their debts and continue events.

Any leftover assets, like information on how to run the Parade of Lights or how to set up the Farmers Market, will go to Visit Lodi!, a tourism outfit, and the Lodi Chamber of Commerce, along with all responsibility for the events themselves.

Any cash assets will be sequestered for one year to pay any outstanding bills, then divided among the businesses who were members of the group, according to Schwabauer.

Councilman Bob Johnson asked what would happen if an unanticipated cost turns up.

Schwabauer explained that the DLBP was private, and the city is not responsible for paying its debts. He plans to meet with city staff to determine what cash still exists from the group, but he said anything left over would be a very small amount.

"I want to make sure there isn't some pot of money we're going to distribute at the end of this. There are some very upset people," said Councilman Larry Hansen.

June Aaker, owner of Abrahamson Printing on Pine Street, said the city and council knew the partnership was planning to close, but the information was not made available. Money was collected for a full year of service, she said, but only one quarter was served.

"Am I to be penalized for paying on time, when they didn't serve a full year?" she said at the meeting. "When they assessed, they collected and they closed their doors."

Hansen acknowledged Aaker's frustration, and said the DLBP's efforts will continue through the Chamber of Commerce and other volunteer organizations.

"With new blood, new ideas and new approaches, I think we will seeing some better service to merchants in the Downtown area," said Hansen.

Fire Station 2 for sale

The council considered a bid from J-C Engineering to purchase the old Fire Station 2 on Lodi Avenue after the new station is built. The current fire station is overwhelmed by a leaky roof, extensive mold and vermin problems.

John Coughran, who owns the engineering firm, lives in Lodi and would like to move his business closer to home.

"I wouldn't use it for a firehouse, obviously. We wouldn't live in it like they are," he said.

The engineering company drills under rivers to place gas, phone and electric lines, and has had an office in Rio Vista since 1981.

Coughran said the place needs a lot of work, from eradicating mold to replacing the roof, but it would still be cheaper than building a new office.

Wayne Craig Realty submitted the bid to the city. The price was not released.

The bid was discussed in closed session, but no action was taken, according to Schwabauer.

The firefighters of Station 2 will move into a trailer in about a month while the new station on Cherokee Lane is built.

Contact reporter Sara Jane Pohlman at sarap@lodinews.com.

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  • Doug Chaney posted at 11:54 am on Fri, Apr 19, 2013.

    advocate Posts: 499

    Mr. Crow, thank the three amigos. They were the only ones in attendance and therefor the only ones to cast their same three votes to sweep this issue under the rug. The Sentinel doesn't help by putting this article on the back burner to help protect the three pandering council men who always show preference to their connections and contributors. I see this also as these three incapable council puppets as guilty as the defunct LBP and its past directors who have been accused many times of fleecing the members with the council repeatedly dismissing the facts as some sort of "mistake" and sweeping it under the rug. There are several articles in the Sentinel dating back to the beginning of the DLBP, especially the books and accounting, for documentation and explaining the lame excuses offered by the council and management that has bailed them out every time to protect their own financial status. Until these three stuffed shirts are sent down the road, nothing will change in good ol" boys town.

  • patrick crow posted at 8:01 am on Fri, Apr 19, 2013.

    patrick crow Posts: 10

    I normally do not have the time to deal with issues regarding the City of Lodi. But the recent decisions regarding the closure of the Downtown Lodi Business Partnership (DLBP) was handled so poorly I can't help myself. Let me see if I have this straight: City of Lodi creates a "private" entity. City of Lodi gives taxing authority to the DLBP and the authority to approve budgets. Then City of Lodi states that they aren't responsible for any bills, when the DLBP fails. Great job City of Lodi. On top of that, City of Lodi knew it was going to fail, yet did not disclose to the members of its pending closure until AFTER assessments were due. Legalized stealing from businesses that pay tax to the City.
    It's too bad that people don't have the time to really organize and demand accountability for the City's actions. Unfortunately, these people are all small business owners trying to make a living. We don't have the time to chase after the City and they know this. All the City and the DLBP had to do was to be honest and upfront with its members. Instead it chose the less ethical route and stick it to its members for its inability to balance a budget. And you wonder why citizens' opinion of public officials is at an all-time low and continuing to sink. You really shot yourself in the foot on this issue. Go ahead. Take my money. You might as well show up at my door with a gun. The result is the same. You and whomever else was involved in the decision to approach the closure of DLBP in this manner have forever gained political adversaries. A piece of advice. Next time you've got an issue, try doing the right thing, not what is most financially advantageous to the City. You just tripped over a ten dollar bill to pick up a dime.
    You've got my money, but you've lost something much more valuable: RESPECT.

  • Doug Chaney posted at 3:36 pm on Thu, Apr 18, 2013.

    advocate Posts: 499

    Raymond, after watching the council meeting last night and watching Hansen crying about having sympathy for the young lady who spoke and got ripped off for nine months assessments, it seems that he, Johnson and Katzakian let the DLBP director rip many people off to pay her salary, and I'm assuming, monies owed to the good old boys for debts incurred. and possibly other paid staff salaries. When Hansen said he didn't really care whether or not those overpaid assessments were returned to the many members who paid for all of 2013. Raymond, go the the city of Lodi website and watch the council meeting and the video of Ms. Aaker and her question why those funds shouldn't be returned and listen to Hansen and his pathetic reply. No one seems to know where all the funds went or even how much this city of Lodi non profit owes and to whom. The council has covered up for this seemingly corrupt group for years now and now the three amigos give them a free pass to keep monies that are not legally theirs. The three votes from the three most corrupted council stuffed shirts, the three amigos, again protect those well connected in their sheep herd. Nice job, Hansen!

  • Raymond Cook posted at 11:13 am on Thu, Apr 18, 2013.

    Lodi Resident Posts: 25

    What a shame all the local businesses who paid their annual membership fees in good faith were deceived into belieing their money was for a full years membership. Pro-rated fee would have been the honest way to treat members. Then everyone could have washed their hands and had clean hands. Instead, LODI has the bag of money and none of the business have what they paid for.

    I hope a class action lawsuit is filed. Should be no shortage of attorney's who can see this as a solid case of fraud and misrepresentation.

    It's no wonder that businesses are leaving Lodi and choosing to make a living somewhere else.

    This rip-off leaves a sour taste in every members mouth and those customers who do business not only with those businesses but also the city of Lodi!



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