At the June 2 Tulare County Board of Supervisors meeting, item 17 of the consent calendar was pulled for separate discussion.
Amy Dickinson-Campbell, from the Real Mooney Grove Project, requested that the item be pulled so they could discuss why the well failure at Mooney Grove constitutes an emergency.
Dickenson-Campbell pointed out that the particular well in question has been failing since 2008 and that declaring it an emergency was just a tactic to sidestep the bidding process.
The Board of Supervisors (BOS) placed the item on the consent calendar in order to declare that the well failures at Mooney Grove Park, along with two other county wells, are in fact an emergency. By declaring an emergency the county can hire a contractor immediately to do repairs.
Mary Bryant and Amy Dickinson-Campbell, both of the Real Mooney Grove Project, have received through the Freedom of Information Act all of the county’s past financial records and emails concerning the county parks.
Over the last month their research has found many financial irregularities between the BOS, state grants, private companies contracted by the county and Neil Pilegard, head of Tulare County Parks and Recreation Department.
Because of the complexity of the financial transactions nothing yet has been made public or definitively proven. Bryant and Dickenson-Campbell allege that the county obscuring this item in the consent calendar and trying to avoid the bidding process is symptomatic of their lack of transparency and evidence of past abuse.
The following is Dickinson-Campbell’s letter presented to the BOS at their June 2 meeting.
Despite Dickenson-Campbell’s protestations, the board voted 5-0 to declare the emergency and proceed with hiring a private contractor to repair Mooney Grove’s well.
Open Letter of Objection to Item 17 of the County Supervisor’s Agenda for 2 June 2015, specifically where Mooney Grove Park is concerned.
In accordance with the California Public Contract Code and the Subletting and SubContracting Fair Practices Act the bidding process can only be bypassed in the event of an emergency, otherwise any projects exceeding a $10,000 minimum threshold were to have open contract bidding.
Where Mooney Grove Park is concerned, there is no emergency in 2015, that was not already present and required addressing in 1980. In accordance with line item 1(a) of the 2006-2007 Grand Jury Report (p3), it specifically states, “Moisture requirements were not being met to keep the trees in optimal health.” This finding was from 1980 University of California Cooperative Extension Survey. The 2006-2007 Grand Jury Report also states in line item 2, p.3, “In 1987, 140 young Valley Oak Trees were donated to the park by Mr. Tony Montiero. (As of the writing of the 2006-2007 report) Most of the donated trees have since died.
Additionally, according to invoices uncovered through a California Public Records Act request (Freedom of Information Act request), CJ Hammer Machinery Company noted that in 2008, one well had completely gone dry; one well was nearly dry, and the remaining two pond wells were fine.
In 2014, an invoice was uncovered regarding the well that was nearly dry in 2008 showing that $13,162.43 was spent at Willits Pump (Wilits Equipment Company, Inc.) for parts to repair the pump.
As a matter of interest, a call was made to CJ Hammer Machinery about wells that were marked as dry or nearly dry in 2008, if they could have refilled themselves – and the Mooney Grove Park Wells were specifically mentioned in the question. The representative on the phone from CJ Hammer Machinery stated that refilling wells naturally is possible when the springs and aquifers are being replenished. As the central valley has been in a drought cycle since 2008, it is not possible for a well that was nearly dry then to have replenished itself.
As such, it is completely and totally IRRESPONSIBLE and INAPPROPRIATE to bypass the bidding process for Mooney Grove Park well repair and dig – since this has been a DOCUMENTED EMERGENCY for nearly three decades.
Amy Dickinson Campbell, Secretary for the Real Mooney Grove Project