My Walk and Talk with the Mayor…
Two Saturdays a month, Mayor Jim Frazier invites residents to “Walk and Talk” with him during a 3 mile walk. Based on recent actions by the city council and other issues, I took the Mayor up on this offer and simply showed up to a group of seven—that’s right, just seven people attended (Oct. 15). This was disappointing considering the recent actions of the council; however, this allowed me to have a nice conversation with the mayor.
I politely took the mayor to task regarding the mortgage deal as I firmly believe it is a crock of you know what. I also believe the City Council would never have said anything had the local papers not reported it followed by many speaking out against this cockamamie deal. The million dollar question I had was who approached who to make an amendment—turns out Mr. Montgomery approached the council, however, it was left at that. I tried to ask why a hiring had to include a mortgage deal; it was explained because he was being recruited by other cities at the time. He did not tell me specifics and honorably would not name names but said two council members (who shall remain nameless) flew out to Nevada to make the deal. So in fairness, the previous council did not do Mayor Frazier any favors on this one. Morally, this was botched from the start against the taxpayer. What struck me was the tone of the apology.
There was a vast difference in the apology from the council meeting and Saturday morning. The council meeting seemed phony, had little remorse, and nothing more than trying to save face. On Saturday, it came from someone who is man enough to admit a mistake rather than try to politically save himself.
He admitted he screwed up, realized he screwed up, and regrets not including two lines that would have protected the city and made all the difference in the world should Mr. Montgomery wish to sell his home or stop making payments. With that being said, he was quick to point out he is not a lawyer, and was taking the advice of an expert telling him it was legal and no laws were being broken because essentially money was being shifted from “today” to the “back end” of the loan—essentially hoping the real estate market would come back by then.
I shifted gears to the La Clinica clinic and the possibility of paying their rent in years 4-7. Mayor Frazier explained that in their existence, they have always had to expand and have never defaulted—the city had negotiated a 50% reduction in rent in exchange for a 7-year lease. I quickly shot back, “but what if they default” who pays? He replied that in that case, the city has the option to sublease and no money will be lost. He explained you go off what a company has done in the past and how due diligence was performed before a decision was made and with other clinics as they have always grown. It also had the backing of many large hospitals in the Bay Area. He also said he was proud to provide a service to a large number of people who cannot afford healthcare.
I discussed the Orchard Park sidewalk and how it’s still dangerous for kids to walk to school. He explained it came down to money and a grant. If not for the grant, children in the area would still be walking on a dirt path. When funds are available, they (the city) will continue to improve the safety of children getting to school. It then moved to a discussion about how drivers are taking a 2-lane road and turning it to a 4-lane road. He will see about getting an officer out there and monitor it. Children’s safety is one of his main concerns for personal reasons. Other issues were the CALTRANS turning over Highway 4 over to Oakley and future downtown development—it’s actually pretty exciting stuff. The new playground for the handicap children also was discussed.
While I am still annoyed with the whole mortgage deal in which there is no excuse for it, I took a lot of positives away today in learning more about Mayor Frazier on a personal level in terms of his background as a family man, business owner, donation of time to the community, money, dedication, goals, hardships and other things that I find inspiring. He is actually not a bad guy; he just made a stupid decision which we all do from time to time.
I probably will never agree with him politically on most issues, however, I believe his heart is in the right place for the community of Oakley—remember, city politics have no room for the “left” or “right” stuff, it’s about improving the community at all cost. Sometimes you just have to show up, invest some time, and give someone a chance to explain things outside of an office setting to realize they are also human. I showed up today and am thankful.
Do not just take my word for it, I urge you all to show up at the next “Walk and Talk” and ask similar questions while stating your concerns. By doing so, you become more engaged and learn more details than by what you simply may read in a newspaper.
Together, we can make this an even better community when we are all engaged.