Southern California City Of Poway Hits Redevelopment Iceberg


Mayor Higginson and the entire City Council were in attendance for a vote, which would decide if the City stays the course and listens to the piano play one more song or head for the life rafts and let the redevelopment agency sink with the ship.

While the theme song from the Titanic movie was not playing at the Poway City Council meeting last night, those in attendance heard the alarms sounding. The first of many alarms is that the Poway City Firefighters will be next on the chopping block for a pay reduction. This follows a long list of other Poway employees who have had to take drastic pay cuts. The City of Poway's leaders have been throwing taxpayers money at business in hopes that they could miss the iceberg. Mayor Higginson and the entire City Council were in attendance for a vote, which would decide if the City stays the course and listens to the piano play one more song or head for the life rafts and let the redevelopment agency sink with the ship. The City of Poway which like the Titanic was thought by many as too great to fail is now taking on water. The Captain of the ship,Mayor Higginson, must have had the sinking feeling for awhile as he has declined to take a salary while serving as mayor.

One crew member council woman Merille Boyack seemed to be in disbelief that this cruise, which had been funded with taxpayer money was coming to a end. Before the vote to sink or swim Council member Boyack told the crowd that she had a comment. She said she "was disgusted and outraged. This is like taking your neighbor and tying up their arms and legs and saying if you spit up your piggy bank we will let you walk again". Dave Grosch is one of the councils newest members.He brought up the fact that the city had been sued for not properly allocating tax dollars on low income housing in the past as required. Mr Grosch seemed very concerned that this new ordinance in which Poway will be pulling from low income housing dollars to supplement Redevelopment reimbursements to the state, would lead to future lawsuits from housing advocates. In spite of concerns raised, the City leaders voted and approved the ordinance which will now allow them to take 4.2 million from the low income housing fund to pay the amount owed to the State of California, which will then be used to fund California schools.

The City has faced many vocal critics in regards to the operation of the Redevelopment Agency.(RDA) Many local auto body shops were outraged that the City was giving Toyota of Poway three million dollars in taxpayer money in 2010, that virtually puts their longtime local businesses out of business. This money came with very few strings attached, and only required the dealership to basically repay the city through future taxes and one dollar after the period of twelve years. The city leaders seem to have hit their heads during the ruff seas and forgot that the empty Dodge Chrysler building which Toyota of Poway would move into was a failed redevelopment project from years earlier. They ignored an Environmental Impact Report that states paint and body shops do not blend well with residences in the area. Perhaps the Poway City leaders could have contacted the City of El Monte to see if the six million in taxpayer dollars they had given to Longo Toyota was a really worth it. Longo Toyota is owned by Roger Penske and according to Forbes magazine Roger Penske is worth some 1.4 billion dollars. He, like the owners of Toyota of Poway, could afford to build his own car dealership without the taxpayers help.

The City of Poway was warned of the Iceberg in August of 2010 and failed to take action. Dina Padilla, Sharon Kramer and Timothy Hack sent the City of Poway information in regards to insurer fraud that was taking place at Toyota of Poway. Padilla was running for office as the California Commissioner of Insurance at the time. Kramer was the catalyst that caused a federal audit of an insurer cost shifting scheme. Hack is one of five employees who were harmed by the contaminants in the old Toyota of Poway building. The dealership was attempting to shift their cost of injured workers to the taxpayers of California's disability and social service programs..

Mr. Hack as well as other employees of the dealership took their information to the California Insurance Fraud task Force a division of the San Diego District attorneys office overseen by Bonnie Dumanis. The injured employees have given Dumanis a letter from Toyota of Poway to HUB International evidences that insurance fraud was being committed by Toyota of Poway. Falsely stated in the February 25, 2010 letter, it made it appear that portions of the Toyota of Poway used car building were cordoned off and that the occupants had been removed after safety concerns were raised. The employees actually remained in the non-cordoned off building until Mr. Hack, the sales manager, insisted customers and employees not be in the building after numerous complaints of ill health. The building would later test positive for high levels of the black mold Stachybotrys and other mold known to cause adverse health effects in humans. Perhaps if the San Diego District Attorney, who is currently running for Mayor of San Diego, fulfills her duty to the taxpayers of San Diego county and brings fraud charges against Toyota of Poway owners Vincent Castro and Troy Duhon; the city will be able to continue with its obligation to fund low income housing.

All Taxpayers Aboard