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Plethora Of Issues - Council Addresses Issues, Brennan Offers Apology
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Plenty of action items for the Monday, April 7 Oakdale City Council meeting saw a proposal that the city half-cent sales tax be extended for another five years, a narrowly passed move to purchase water conservation software, opposing public comments on the Valley View River Access Trail, and a questionable apology by a city councilman regarding comments made in a recent Oakdale Leader article.

In a presentation, Ad-hoc Sales Tax Exploratory Committee co-chairman Frank Clark advised the council that the committee unanimously approved moving forward with the Measure O half-cent sales tax assessment that is set to expire in April 2015. The matter would be put as a ballot measure and would be lettered as a different measure in the November 2014 election.

“Without question Measure O saved the city from insolvency,” Clark said. “It allowed the city to function and continue to provide vital services to the community while developing a plan to move ahead and get back on a firm financial footing.”

The proposal for five years, according to Clark, would allow the city time to recover from serious financial difficulties and cuts.

“The real issue here is the quality of life in the community,” Clark said.

An item regarding a trail connecting Valley View Park to the Stanislaus River brought comments from concerned residents about its effect on traffic, vandalism, and homeless access and also featured comment from those in support of the nature trail.

The measure to construct the low-maintenance trail was passed unanimously.

Under pressure by the state to drop water conservation by 10 percent, the council, by a vote of 3-2, passed an $82,000 contract with WaterSmart Software that would provide a two-phase program to interact water customers with conservation.

“What are other options?” asked Councilman Farrell Jackson, who opposed the proposal and felt more time was needed to look at the matter and the spending wasn’t right. “What are other cities doing?”

Councilman Mike Brennan also voiced disapproval of the purchase stating other options were more viable and customers were cost-driven.

Toward the end of the nearly three-hour meeting, and prior to an update report by City Manager Bryan Whitemyer on the airport, councilman Michael Brennan said he’d like to take the opportunity to address some comments he made in a March 12 Leader article.

Brennan, who in the past has been outspoken on a number of topics, commenced with an apology and then shifted, saying that his comments were misinterpreted.

“What I meant to say was that if Mr. Metz had found any vermin in his hangar, it should have been exterminated,” Brennan said. “I didn’t mean to reflect badly.”

Brennan went on to say that when the city solicited bids for a fixed base operator (FBO), “the fine Mr. Metz” would be allowed to bid.

In the March 12 article, Brennan had referred to Bob Metz, who the city was involved with in a legal battle, as “vermin” in both an obtained email to the airport committee and later in an interview.

The “apology” overshadowed Whitemyer’s presentation that detailed plans for airport upgrades and future business plan including getting leases signed and searching out a FBO.

During public comment former Airport Commission Chairman Dick Jorgensen called out Brennan stating the comments were not misinterpreted especially when using “hang ‘em.”

(In the March 12 article Brennan stated, “If this was the Old West, we’d have cut off the locks to the doors, burn his stuff, and take him out and hang him,” in reference to Metz.)

Jorgensen told the council that Brennan’s comments set the city and airport back and increased its vulnerability to a lawsuit.

Jorgensen agreed with Whitemyer that signing airport leases and clearing space for a FBO was a priority but that giving concessions to Sierra West wasn’t the answer.

“If you don’t have the guts to kick someone out of there, it’s not going to get done,” Jorgensen said. “Kick Sierra West out of there, bite the bullet.”

Jorgensen also cited that the FAA requires an airport commission and not an ad-hoc committee.

“Its members should not be threatened if they support someone,” Jorgensen added.

After the meeting Brennan refused to talk to The Leader when asked about his apology and that his comments were misinterpreted.

“I’ve got nothing to say to you,” the councilman said, putting up a hand as he turned away.