Cone Ranch panelist calls bullshit on private meetings Chair had with investors

You might remember in my latest post on Cone Ranch I thought it smelled kinda fishy that the Chair (along with our highly paid lobbyist) would have a private meeting with the campaign donors brokers, FCEG, who are pushing the sale of publicly owned land to private investors. A review of prior panelist meetings revealed that the Chair never got approval to from the rest of the panelists to meet on their behalf and I thought that seemed kinda sneaky.

Turns out one of the panelists themselves felt the same way. Below is a letter from Ms. Vivienne Handy to Edith Stewart, our highly paid lobbyist in charge of the Cone Ranch panel with her thoughts regarding the Chair, Heidi McCree and this private meeting. She also lists several other valid concerns in the letter. Chair Heid McCree is Commissioner Jim Norman's appointee by the way.  And I gotta hand it to the Pimpin Commish, Kevin White for this one because Ms. Handy is his appointee to the panel. Looks like appointing her is the best judgment he has demonstrated all year. Thanks Pimpin Commish!

Here is Ms. Handy's letter:

Ms. Stewart,

I have several questions regarding the letter of October 19, 2009 from FCEG

that was included in our packet at the last Panel meeting.

First, please clarify for me why the other panelists were not notified of

this meeting. I do understand that for all of us to attend, Sunshine would

apply and the meeting would have to be noticed. However, as the letter

points out, Heidi McCree participated "on behalf of the Cone Ranch Advisory

Panel". As a member of the Panel, I would like to be informed any time

somebody participates in anything on my "behalf". A meeting on our "behalf"

without our prior knowledge does not sound to me like proper representation.

Second, why was this letter not copied to the rest of the Panel prior to the

October 23 meeting? The letter was sent on October 19 via electronic mail

and I see no reason why this was not immediately forwarded by you to the

other members of the Panel. This would have allowed us to be prepared to

discuss the contents of the letter and bring FCEG's request up for

discussion. The lack of discussion specifically pertaining to this meeting

and the letter also bothers me. The letter should have been placed on the

agenda, and the Panel allowed to discuss and vote on FCEG's request. Why

did this not happen?

Third, where are the minutes from your October 16, 2009 meeting with FCEG? I

feel it extremely remiss that to date the Panel has not received any such

minutes, and I am hereby requesting a copy. If the Panel is to be fairly

represented, we need to remain informed regarding what may have been

discussed on our "behalf". FCEG's letter of October 19 does not substitute

for minutes that you should have prepared as host of this meeting.

Also, please advise as to whether or not FCEG's request for agenda time has

been granted and by whom. I strongly feel that this is a decision that

should be made by the Panel and put to a vote. As members of the public

have suggested, it may not be appropriate to grant FCEG more time with the

Panel, at taxpayers expense, when members of the public are given only three

minutes each. FCEG wants the opportunity to present a revised proposal to

the panel. It should be up to the Panel to decide if this is relevant to

our task, and/or appropriate.

Whether FCEG is on the agenda or not, their "hybrid option" needs to be

provided in writing to the Panel prior to the November 16 meeting. This may

provide the background information needed for the Panel to decide whether

they want to hear more from FCEG or not. If the "hybrid option" is

adequately covered in their October 19 letter, then I see no need for them

to present. If the "current thinking and approach" they plan to present

consists of additional information, this needs to be provided to the Panel

in writing and to the public via the website.

And finally, FCEG states that they are "currently in discussions with a

highly respected environmental and engineering firm to begin a baseline

assessment of Cone Ranch." I would like to know whether the County has

given permission for FCEG to conduct such an assessment. If so, who will be

conducting this and when? Will the results be made available to the County

and does this obligate the County to FCEG in any way? If such an assessment

is to be performed, the County, as the property owner, should be involved in

the selection of the firm to conduct the assessment (at FCEG's expense) to

ensure that it will be conducted by a reliable, qualified, and neutral


I look forward to your response to the above questions, and further

discussion at the upcoming Panel meeting. Please feel free to copy the

other Panel members on this. Thank you for your assistance.


Vivienne Handy

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