An email criticizing Councilman Farrell Jackson’s position on not banning alcohol in city parks remains in the forefront as some business officials attempt to distance themselves from a correspondence they described as “a personal attack” and “personal vendetta.”
On Wednesday, Aug. 21, Oakdale Travel and Visitors Bureau (OTVB) Administrator Ramona Howard, sent a lengthy email regarding the city’s proposal of banning park alcohol drinking and putting portable toilets in certain parks.
In the email, Howard named current councilman, and former mayor, Farrell Jackson stating because of his inaction the problem has worsened.
Howard also wrote, “Well, between a council who couldn’t see the same problem and an ex-mayor (Farrell Jackson) insisting that we keep drinking so he could have a beer with his grandkids in the park, they failed to attack the problem back then when it was a bit more manageable.”
Jackson confronted Howard at a Business Improvement District meeting later in the day. (Refer to Aug. 28 Leader article Park Alcohol Ban Feud Spreads)
Since the date of the Leader article regarding the subject, BID Treasurer Has Panchal contacted the Leader stating he did not have knowledge of the email prior to the meeting as was reported.
When advised that when Chairman Ramish Mistry asked if any of the board was aware of the email prior to the meeting he had raised his hand, Panchal said, “I raised my hand to speak on the matter. I wanted to speak about action taken by a person that reflects negativism about our goals and objectives for the betterment of Oakdale.”
Panchal said he wanted it clarified that he and the BID board had nothing to do with the action.
“I was not aware of the email or none of the BID or OTVB members involved or inspired to do this kind of personal attack on any person, it seems like it’s their personal vendetta,” Panchal stated. “We as a board member has nothing to do about this matters (sic).”
Howard, who ran and lost in the same 2012 city council election as Jackson, but not against him as misstated in The Leader print edition, emailed the Leader to address the make-up of the BID and OTVB.
“FYI the OTVB is half and half not ‘predominantly are the same individuals’ as you state in the article,” Howard wrote. “It soon will be more majority non BID members as there have been a few things in motion that is just taking longer than wanted. This has been something we have been working on all year as it was a concern BUT not a restriction from the council.”
In a phone interview, Panchal said the group was about two to three years from being consisted of totally separate individuals.
Minutes for the May 7, 2012 city council meeting shows that Councilman Tom Dunlop had a concern with the make up being the same individuals of both boards with then-Councilmember Kathy Morgan questioning why the same people were on the same boards. City attorney Tom Hallinan said there was a potential problem due to the same individuals heading both organizations that were supposed to be separate entities.
Councilman Tom Brennan favored both boards not consisting of the same individuals.
Minutes show Dunlop directing a proposal to have both boards set up separately so “they could be run properly.”
“The council warned them they should do that (separate),” Dunlop stated when told of Howard’s belief that the separation was not a restriction. “It wasn’t a suggestion. Just because you asked nicely, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it.”
Howard also added in her email to The Leader, “Prior to the OTVB remember Mary (Guardiola) sat on both the BID and OTVB and this was brought up by Virginia (Camacho). The council saw no issue with it then but as a working group trying to do the right thing the hotel guys and the OTVB have been trying from the start to create more of a separation.
When contacted, Chamber of Commerce CEO Mary Guardiola said she did not know why Howard would bring her name up or try to draw her in to the controversy.
Panchal said possible action to sanction Howard would be taken as part of the OTVB board who has hired her.
“Personally, I don’t like that they have to play that game inside during the meeting,” Panchal said. “We as a board aren’t supporting any position on alcohol bans in the parks. It’s a 50-50 call on whether it hurts tourism.”
“The first thing on my list is either eliminating one or both groups or separating them,” Dunlop said. “We need it to be run properly.”