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Merchant questions Downtown Lodi Business Partnership’s bonuses for executive director

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Posted: Thursday, April 7, 2011 12:15 pm | Updated: 6:03 am, Fri Apr 8, 2011.

A Downtown merchant is raising questions about how the executive board of the Downtown Lodi Business Partnership is using city and business assessment funds during a rough economy.

Michael Warren, owner of Crush Kitchen + Bar and the Market at Crush, spoke at Wednesday's Lodi City Council meeting about $9,000 in total bonuses granted to the board's executive director.

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16 comments:

  • Jackson Scott posted at 4:31 pm on Mon, Apr 11, 2011.

    Jackson Scott Posts: 386

    Ms Sperling, ironically I declined the opportunity to walk in Ms Watt's shoes when two merchants approached me about ten years ago about applying for the position. The last job in the world I would want is one funded part by the City and part by a merchant tax. Talk about political eggshells! I'm way too smart for a job in the middle with the destination being nowhere.

    This is the one instance where Doug's constant call for an independent audit is necessary.

     
  • Doug Chaney posted at 11:03 am on Sat, Apr 9, 2011.

    Doug Chaney Posts: 1232

    Mr. Morgan, this is far from a conspiracy theory if you read the links posted below. The finances at the DLBP have been questioned many times in the past and the missing money and proper accounting under Mr. Easterling's watch was swept under the rug by your fearless city council, the same majority that sit on the present council. After 4 years and many stern warnings about proper accounting, the same problem still exists. I place most of the blame on the board of directors for poor decisions and very sloppy record keeping.

     
  • Rita Sperling posted at 5:46 pm on Fri, Apr 8, 2011.

    Rita Sperling Posts: 2

    Mr. Scott, try walking a mile in Ms Watts shoes, deal with all she has to do on a daily basis on such a low budget and show us if you can how you did it so much better with no complaints.

     
  • Rita Sperling posted at 5:37 pm on Fri, Apr 8, 2011.

    Rita Sperling Posts: 2

    Mr. Warren, when a personal vendetta becomes more important than the integrity of our downtown then there is a problem. Are you on a witch hunt ?. As I recall you made it very clear several times in the past that your sole purpose of being on the DLBP board was to get Ms. Watts fired, your choice of words were very colorful and vugar. If your going to continue to march to the beat of your own drummer at least be honest about why your doing it. Your lack of truth and intergerity is a joke. If this is the only way you can get the attention you desire, shame on you, as I told you before be part of the solution not the problem.

     
  • Josh Morgan posted at 3:42 pm on Fri, Apr 8, 2011.

    Josh Morgan Posts: 532

    Good for you JoAnne. That's the way it should be. You fight your best fight, make your best arguments, make a decision and win or lose....move on to the next. You don't pout, moan and groan. Unlike many of the blogger here who continuously spout their tired and repetitive conspiracy theories over and over and over again. Keep up the good work!

     
  • Darrell Baumbach posted at 3:29 pm on Fri, Apr 8, 2011.

    Darrell Baumbach Posts: 9405

    Mr Baumbach, your example of living in Asia (wasn't it Thailand?) and the farmers market there and ours on School Street is simply ridiculous. Apples & Oranges. No, Plums & Kiwi. Open markets are a 7/365 thing in Asia, Lodi will now have about 12-15 Farmers Markets
    Jackson... you have a unique gift to recognize the very obvious... of course the Asian farmer's market is night and day difference from that in Lodi...I was not beginning to suggest or think that is what would happen here... if you would just take 34 seconds and think outside the box just a tiny bit, you might think of what I was suggesting... as far as the locations, it was Thailand, Malaysia, China and India. There are many formats and variations that one who tries could learn from.

     
  • Jackson Scott posted at 2:31 pm on Fri, Apr 8, 2011.

    Jackson Scott Posts: 386

    Doug, I agree with you 110%. Since it's inception way back when, late 90's?, the LDBP has operated kind of shady. Great links btw, really shows the financial "issues" with the group, AND the high turnover in leadership. Why is that? Do merchants get in office and then realize they can not accomplish much? Is the board just a sham with no real authority?

    Ms. Mounce, I agree that the Farmers Market & Parade of Lights are wonderful events and make Lodi the community it is. However, one could read between the lines and believe that it is Ms Watt's sole job to produce those events. And after you've done it twice it really is simple. What else does the Exec Director do? Put up some flyers in a kiosk? Shake a few hands as she walks the downtown area? Yes, I'm being a bit sarcastic, but... And what does she get paid? Since the LDBP is funded with city dollars, and a tax assessment shouldn't this be public information?

    Mr Baumbach, your example of living in Asia (wasn't it Thailand?) and the farmers market there and ours on School Street is simply ridiculous. Apples & Oranges. No, Plums & Kiwi. Open markets are a 7/365 thing in Asia, Lodi will now have about 12-15 Farmers Markets.

     
  • Darrell Baumbach posted at 10:12 am on Fri, Apr 8, 2011.

    Darrell Baumbach Posts: 9405

    Ms Mounce stated...The farmers market and the parade of lights are the kinds of events that make Lodi a wonder place and give us a sense of community...
    I have a thought and concern... I completely agree with you that events like this help make Lodi a better place to live. It is why it troubles me that solutions to its viability are not being addressed. Why is it so expensive to operate a farmers market? Why can't the city counsel take action to decrease the expense and help merchants decrease cost of products marketed at the market. ( to attract customers)
    While in Asian I go to farmers markets daily. It is a magnet for locals. Many times, it is the center piece that attracts many customers for ancillary products and services. The cities will set up areas where commerce can take place in a very cost effective manner. Next to the farmers markets are squares (with hundreds of tables ) where music is performed by local musicians and food is cooked by local people ... Everyone goes there for quality cheap foods, a good time, and a cooked meal. Lodi's farmers market is destined to fail as it is periodic and expensive. I work next to the Lodi theater and have not bought anything from this market for about 3 years as the quality and price are out of line and much more expensive than it should be, even though I walk past the event each time it opens. If you really are serious about making Lodi a better place to live, maybe consideration should be given to creating an environment conducive to success. Moving the farmers market to a permanent location with more access and low prices would be a good start.

     
  • JoAnne Mounce posted at 8:17 am on Fri, Apr 8, 2011.

    JoAnne Mounce Posts: 18

    Much like Mr. Warren, I have been in many a situation were the majority of the council did not see my point of view. Just last Wednesday, the council voted on a 5% raise and six month severence pay for a very well deserving department head. I disagreed. Not during these difficult times. I lost. I will move on.

    Mr. Warren has now shown light on this an issue that he has concerns with and he needs to work with the board of directors of the DLBP to make changes. If the board disagrees, he should move on.

    I believe that the funding the city provides the DLPB is an investment in our sense of community on events that Lodians value.

     
  • JoAnne Mounce posted at 8:12 am on Fri, Apr 8, 2011.

    JoAnne Mounce Posts: 18

    The farmers market and the parade of lights are the kinds of events that make Lodi a wonder place and give us a sense of community. Lodi would not have these events if not for the DLBP. I have personally watched Jamie Watts working all hours of the day and night at times in 110 degrees to make sure Lodians had these events to enjoy.

    Anytime you have a board of directors overseeing an organization like the DLBP or even the city of lodi with it's five council members, you will have members who disagree with the way some matters are handled.

     
  • Doug Chaney posted at 7:57 am on Fri, Apr 8, 2011.

    Doug Chaney Posts: 1232

    And as far as Mr. Warren speaking publicly before talking to the board so they could hush it up, was a great idea. This is the kind of reporting I'd expect from the Sentinel and a well written article by Ms. Creamer and Mr. Guinn to expose incidents like these that never go outside the protective boards of many non-profits here in Lodi, that never show the real waste and extravagant spending voted by these same boards and the expenses given to the "directors" of thee non-profits.
    And Ms. Watts, there wasn't a cost of living raise that I know of this year, so why are you deserving of $9000 plus exclusive expenses for phone, gas, travel, certain meals, etc.?
    And Ms. Hauan-Byers, why are you so upset that this issue was taken up in council chambers? And Mayor Johnson questioning Mr. Warren's rights to speak openly at the council meeting to assure his comments go on public record? Mayor, weren't you also embroiled in the missing $40,000 DLBP episode in 2006 or 2007, I believe, and one of the council that tried to defend Mr. Easterling even though he couldn't come up with any positive answers or figures for those funds? And why is the DLBP such a santimonious organization in Lodi that shouldn't be criticized for it's ineptness or failures, whether unethical or criminal? Ms. Hauan-Byers has been on the board through these controversies and being an employee of Hewitt should be able to monitor the books for any inconsistincies and question them. I suggest that all bloggers read the links posted below to see the connection with some of these same parties of the past issues and how they were handled or merely swept under the rug.

     
  • Doug Chaney posted at 6:32 pm on Thu, Apr 7, 2011.

    Doug Chaney Posts: 1232

    http://www.lodinews.com/business/article_65ecf762-0310-5910-8525-47d295d3ed2d.html

    http://www.lodinews.com/news/article_5cd8799e-17b9-590b-9e85-a0702d50c53c.html

    http://www.lodinews.com/business/article_4858574f-dbba-5d42-adb6-e14cd89af76d.html

    Here's how business is conducted at the DLBP. Notice the recurring cast of characters in these related articles sine 2005 or so to the present?

     
  • Doug Chaney posted at 6:16 pm on Thu, Apr 7, 2011.

    Doug Chaney Posts: 1232

    http://www.lodinews.com/news/article_791d90ac-a841-5b41-bda0-dea87c96dcef.html

    You'll notice that Nancy Byer-Hauan, the spokesperson in the above article, and executive board member, was the same lady involved in the missing $40,000 DLBP debacle in 2006. Please read this link Mr. Warren and you'll see the real backroom DLBP.

     
  • Doug Chaney posted at 6:05 pm on Thu, Apr 7, 2011.

    Doug Chaney Posts: 1232

    Ms. Chapstick, ironically, she's the same one who suggested cutting the farmers' market 5 weeks this year, which they've decided to do. $5000 of that bonus money was from a percentage of the net profits from the farmers market, which she claimed lost money the last 5 weeks last year. Just what percentage of that farmers market profit constitutes that $5000. Mr. Warren needs to have that question answered by Ms. Watts. Does she get that same percentage of ALL DLBP events? Mr. Warren, don't let city council shine you on and sweep everything under the rug like they did with Mr. Easterling.

     
  • Doug Chaney posted at 5:57 pm on Thu, Apr 7, 2011.

    Doug Chaney Posts: 1232

    Thank you Mr. Warren for exposing the backdoor deals council and management negotiate with "executive directors" of DLBP, Wine and Visitors' center, Lodi tourist center, Chamber of Commerce, etc. This sounds like the debacle just before Ms. Watts became director in which there was a $17,000 queston concerning the beer sales at the farmers market. Of course, Mayor Mounce was first to ask hard questions and not receive any answer as to where that $17,000 went, yet Mr. Easterling promptly resigned as director of the DLBP. The whole debacle is on the council archives if you'd like to watch. And Ms. Chapstick, you should use your real name if you want to be a whistle blower. Or are you too cowardly? I apologize if I'm wrong. Council should deduct that amount of bonus each year from the funding that the DLBP is granted from taxpayer funds. I would hold those board members responsible for making such an ugly decision.

     
  • Susan Chapstick posted at 1:37 pm on Thu, Apr 7, 2011.

    Susan Chapstick Posts: 5

    "As The World Turns" or "All My Children?" The LDBP is a giant soap opera.

    Why should Watts be awarded with a bonus for attracting more patrons to the Farmer's Market? Isn't that one of her main job duties? And a $150 gift to the secretary? Was it a birthday gift? A gift of appreciation for a job well done? At my job the boss would pay for that out of her own pocket.

    Great job Michael calling out very questionable financial transactions. I'm sure there are more merchants who feel the very same way but are reluctant to speak out for fear of retaliation.

     
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