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Decommissioned - Council Makes Changes

POSTED May 17, 2011 8:30 p.m.

Hearing a final report from an ad hoc committee assigned to investigate violations of Business Improvement District commission members, Oakdale City Council members on Monday night also heard a call for admonishing four members for their actions of holding a private meeting, a violation of the Brown Act.

The report was delivered by committee members Ronald Keeler and Michael Ward, who were assisted by Councilmen Michael Brennan and Tom Dunlop and guided by City Attorney Tom Hallinan. The committee found that that BID members Virginia Camacho, Bill Houk, Sal Mistry, and Ramesh Mistry discussed commission business under the guise of a “meet and greet” at the Best Western Rama Inn on March 2, 2011.

The investigation was generated from a letter by the Oakdale Chamber of Commerce that claimed “a quorum of ‘select’ members of the BID commission” held the meeting for the purpose of attacking and trying to remove the chamber’s CEO, Mary Guardiola, from the BID board.

At the March 21 city council meeting the council initiated looking into the matter.

The finding recommended that the council admonish the involved BID members for their actions and to remind them of the seriousness and responsibilities that the positions carry. The committee also stressed that the city provides Brown Act training and better define committee member responsibilities and duties.

Mayor Pat Paul, later in the meeting, asked that Brennan and Dunlop continue to look into the structure of the BID. She added that the city hotel owners have asked that BID funds are frozen and that only hotel owners are on the committee.

After the meeting, Guardiola said she was satisfied that there were findings in the Brown Act violation that were in agreement with the chamber’s initial complaint, but that she was still concerned that there appeared to be city policy violations that weren’t addressed by the ad hoc committee.

The council also took action to disband the current airport commission.

City Attorney Hallinan made a proposal based on previous council meeting comments that cited the need for substantial changes to the current airport commission. Brennan commented that the commission had been “muddled” for the last few years and he had noticed finger pointing, infighting, and he suggested they were “serving themselves and not the City of Oakdale as a whole.”

Brennan added that the decision to disband was not a reflection of the current members or that they were not worthy, just that they may have lacked good direction from the council.

Dunlop stated that if a new commission is formed, that the council look into how the commission was structured. The council voted 4-0, with Councilwoman Katherine Morgan absent, to disband the commission.

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