On Tuesday, the Clayton City Council moved to terminate its agreement with the Clayton Business and Community Association in a 3-1 vote. In response, councilmember Peter Cloven issued the following statement on social media.
The city and CBCA termination will commence on July 1, 2023. The CBCA puts on events such as the Clayton Art and Wine Festival, Clayton BBQ and Brews Festival, Clayton Oktoberfest, and the tree lighting event.
In Cloven’s statement:
- He accused Mayor Jeff Wan of placing the item on the agenda knowing a councilmember would be out of the country.
- Mayor showed his character while living up to “disgraceful” campaign tactics displaced during election.
- The staff report showed only the agreement, no backup support for the mayors assertions.
- Says Mayor Wan and Vice Mayor Diaz showed lack of respect to CBCA
March 7, 2023 – City Council Meeting Summary
Last night’s Clayton City Council meeting had one significant item on the agenda – “Consider Termination of the Clayton Business and Community Association Master Use Agreement”. This item was sprung upon the council and public on the agenda published last Thursday, March 2nd. Typically, to get an item placed on the agenda, any council member requests the item in public at the end of the meeting, and the mayor will schedule it on a future agenda for a broader discussion. For this item, mayor Wan placed it on the agenda with no prior announcement or other courtesy to council members or the public. He did so knowing that the full council would not be present, seeing as council member Tillman was out of the Country. With this ambush action of the council and public, mayor Wan showed his character and lived up to the disgraceful campaign tactics displayed during the recent election. None of the character traits of our Do The Right Thing motto were modeled in this action.
For years I have respected council member Wan for his financial acumen based on his profession. He has been well prepared, and his arguments for a parcel tax increase in 2021 and subsequent statements in support of those revenue increases were logical and on point. However, in his presentation of a case to consider the “termination” of the CBCA agreement, the staff report was woefully deficient in fact and detail. The staff report presented only the CBCA contract and a fee schedule. It also states there was a presumption that there is no “full cost recovery for services and facilities provided by the City” and that there is potential that “taxpayers funds are being used to subsidize the events.” However, there was no backup to support these assertions. There was no data about costs paid by CBCA for each event (or annually). There was no data about specific fees that were waived and should have been paid. On the contrary, Mayor Wan postulated a $25,000 deficit due to unpaid fees and wear and tear on city property. As a CPA, it is expected that substantive data be provided to back up the premise of the “termination” discussion.
The bigger question was whether this was indeed a “discussion” at all. It seems there was a predetermined decision of vote on the termination of the contract. The city council chambers were packed with Clayton citizens who volunteered and supported the CBCA, which exists solely for the “good of the Clayton community.” In addition to two letters, seventeen residents spoke against the termination of the agreement. The residents spoke about the impact of the festivals on the culture of our community and the financial benefits of the donations back to schools, scholarships and non-profits in Clayton. Several were in favor of a review or renegotiation of the existing agreement between the city and the CBCA.
As mayor Wan stated in his blog, “CBCA has received special treatment from the City where the City did not recover all of its costs associated with the use of city assets and resources”. However, Mayor Wan provided NO data to support that claim.
Based on the lack of data, and the lack of a full council presence to discuss a matter that impacts the very character of our town, I made a motion to table the discussion until mid-April. This was a logical request whereby the mayor and staff could assemble and present the appropriate data to support the premise on which this action item was based. The motion died for lack of a second. The mayor made a substitute motion requesting the termination of the long-term CBCA agreement, which passed quickly with a 3-1 vote, with me the lone dissenting voice. The mayor appointed himself and councilmember Diaz to an ad hoc committee to negotiate a “new” contract with CBCA for future events. Based on last night’s actions and the tone of their discussion, I would not expect that to be a fruitful conversation.
The mayor indicated that he put this item on the agenda in accordance with his goal to address the fiscal sustainability of Clayton. However, the “long-term” financial discussion has not yet come to the council. We have not discussed potential strategies for revenue increases or cost reductions. Yet after the last 2 meetings, clearly mayor Wan has chosen to tap CBCA as the first well to go to for funds to balance the city’s budget woes. He has done so without care for the character of the volunteer nature of the organization or data to support the premises behind his “discussion” of the CBCA contract which he terminated. Despite his claims to the contrary, mayor Wan and council members Diaz and Trupiano have shown their lack of respect for the CBCA and a willful disregard for the resident’s voices at the meeting. They showed no absolutely no desire to directly review and renegotiate the existing contract … but rather terminate it and leave the future of our festivals in doubt. Ultimately, this may leave the city in a worse financial position and it is mean-spirited and short-sighted.
Watch the meeting: click here (at the 37 minute mark).