Setting the record straight

January 29, 2013
In my book, family and the holidays trump politics. It is for that reason that I have refrained from speaking out in public about the falsehoods spoken about me.
My work in this community means a lot to me and now that the dust has settled I must speak out.

At the October 30, 2012 Council meeting Jeff Rubin and Mary McMain, speaking for the Concerned Citizens of Pinole, and citing the minutes of November 6, 13, and 27, 2007 made false, and defamatory statements about me.

Those statements were mentioned in Tom Lochner’s column dated November 2, 2012.
“At Tuesday’s meeting, Ricco touted her leadership skills, and about a half dozen supporters wearing Ivette Ricco t-shirts praised her personality and savvy. But Jeff Rubin of Concerned Citizens of Pinole, which endorses Murray and Swearingen, portrayed Ricco as someone more adept at driving away business, citing her and the chamber’s opposition to a plan for a commercial-retail building in 2007 and 2008 at what is now the Community Corner, and to several planned restaurants at Tennent and San Pablo avenues, including Tina’s Place, which ended up opening anyway”.

The following statements are absolutely false.
* That in my ten years as the Pinole Chamber of Commerce Executive Director or President I opposed virtually every new business that wanted to locate in Pinole.
* That I and several of my board members helped kill the retail office complex that was supposed to be on the corner of Tennent and San Pablo Avenue where the Community Corner is.
* That I am partially responsible for the ugly green fence being there in the first place.
* That I and others from the Chamber board stood at the council podium and spoke against the retail office complex that would have been on that corner and helped kill it.

The truth is:
I have never opposed any new business in Pinole either as the Executive Director or as the President of the Chamber.
I have never spoken against the Hirahara Project.
No one representing the Chamber of Commerce Board has ever spoken against the Hirahara project.

* That I and several of my board members have opposed every restaurant that wanted to open in the space where Tina’s Restaurant is. The First St. Café, an Indian restaurant, an Italian restaurant and that we opposed Tina’s Place.

The real truth is:
I have never spoken against any of these restaurants. No one representing the Chamber of Commerce Board has ever spoken against any of these restaurants. The July 2010 minutes where Tina’s was discussed are here.

* That I have spoken against a business that wanted to lease space at Pinole Shores Business Park.

The truth is that the Bay Cities Mechanical transaction in question was brought to the Chamber policy committee by Roy Swearingen who questioned the deal points and asked the Pinole Chamber of Commerce Policy Committee to consider opposing the deal terms. After meeting to discuss the Bay Cities Mechanical deal the Chamber, in a letter dated March 2010 expressed concern regarding the deal terms.
It reads in part “based on the information available to us, we feel that the benefits to the City of the proposed $430,000 BRIP loan and the $50,000 New Business Development Assistance Grant are not sufficient to justify the expenditures, in this case. The deal does not provide the City of Pinole, its citizens nor the business community with benefits commensurate with the City’s investment of $480,000.”
Council members Swearingen and Long voted against the deal which passed 3-2. A week later Bay Cities pulled out of the deal.
Chamber letter here

* That I oppose a lease with a husband and wife team that wants to open a coffee shop and jazz club in the bank building.

There are two situations you should be aware of.
1. I met with the couple interested in opening a coffee shop at the Pinole Bank Building in March at the request of staff.  I told the couple that I believe in a free market economy and would welcome new business in Old Town. I advised them to meet with the owners of the Bear Claw to mitigate any possible business issues’ pointing out that the community was in the process of “making over” the Bear Claw Bakery. I have never voiced opposition to them or any new business.
Update – March 2013 – The couple interested in leasing the Pinole Bank Building has pulled out of this deal with the city. They will open their business on San Pablo Avenue several blocks away from the Pinole Bank Building.

2. In September I was contacted by a resident who could not understand why his inquiry to the broker of the Pinole Bank building had been rebuffed in July, without explanation. He told the broker that he was interested in opening an Italian restaurant at that location. The broker said that the city didn’t want another restaurant, that they wanted a coffee shop. Email communications between me and the city ask why the resident’s idea was rebuffed when this piece of public property still displayed a For Lease sign.

Emails regarding the rejection of the resident’s inquiry here.

The truth is that I was the Executive Director of the Pinole Chamber of Commerce from 2002 until September 2007; prior to the period of time referenced in these statements (November-December 2007). As the Executive Director, I made no policy decisions on behalf of the Chamber. Neither I nor any member of the Chamber Board speaking on behalf of the Chamber ever spoke against the Hirahara project or the restaurants mentioned.  I stepped down in September 2007 and declared my council candidacy in August 2007.
In September 2008 I was elected as the President of the Pinole Chamber of Commerce.

During the period in November 2007 referred to, the Chamber President and Board members were:
Monica Shaw, President  Vickie Resso, Carol White, Michelle Blackwell, Deanna Million (Executive Director) Nancy Miller, Judy O’Bannon, Scott Carter, and Crag Parker.
I stepped down in September 2007 as the Executive Director.

Please note that those who are mentioned in the minutes spoke as private citizens and business owners, not, as representative of the Pinole Chamber of Commerce.

Complete copies of the Minutes of November 6, 13, 20 and 27, 2007 are below.|

November_6
November13
November_20
November_27

I have copies of the all the relevant minutes in 2007 as well as the July 2010 minutes regarding Tina’s as well as the Chamber’s March 2010 letter regarding Bay City Mechanical. I also have the relevant emails between the city and me regarding the Pinole Bank Building and the July 2010 minutes which reference Tina’s.
I am happy to provide you a copy of these documents.
Some of them can be seen here.

Please contact me at 510-758-0613 (home) or by email at ivettericco@gmail.com

 

Minutes

Chamber of Commerce Letter, March 2010, regarding Bay Cities Mechanical BRIP Loan and New Business Development Assistance Grant. 
Chamber’of Commerce Working for Businesses and The Community
Received APR 26 2010
Office of the City Clerk
Honorable Debbie Long
Honorable Roy Swearingen
Honorable Peter Murray
Honorable Virginia Fujita
Honorable Timothy Banuelos
March 1, 2010
City of Pinole
2131 Pear Street
Pinole, Ca. 94564
Dear Mayor Long, Mayor Pro Tern Swearingen, and Council members, Murray, Fujita
and Banuelos:
The Pinole Chamber of Commerce has been asked to state its position on the proposal to
approve a Business Relocation and Job Incentive Program loan (BRIP) from the Pinole
Redevelopment Agency to Bay City Mechanical, Inc. in the amount of $430,000 and a New Business Development Assistance grant in the amount of $50,000.
The Pinole Chamber of Commerce, as always, applauds the City Council and City Staff for being aggressive in their effort to spur economic development in the project areas.
Both the Business Relocation and Job Incentive Loan Program and the New Business Development Assistance Grant Program are excellent programs, and should be used aggressively, especially in this economy, to help bring businesses to Pinole.
However, based on the information available to us, we feel that the benefits to the City, of the proposed $430,000 BRIP loan and the $50,000 New Business Development Assistance Grant are not sufficient to justify the expenditures, in this case.
The deal does not provide the City of Pinole, its citizens nor the business community with benefits commensurate with the City’s investment of $480,000.
It is our position that the Bay City Mechanical proposal does not meet several important Redevelopment goals.
Tel (510) 724-4484 P.O. Box 1 Pinole, CA 94564 I (510) 724-4408 Fax y http://www.pinolechamber.org I pinolechamber@yahoo.com

Chamber of Commerce
Working for Businesses the Community
1. The loan is paid over a term of 15 years and is paid back using virtually all of the project’s tax increment over that period. Although using the Redevelopment Agency’s tax increment income to subsidize a new business is a valuable tool, we believe that it is a mistake to give away all of it for such a long period of time.
2. We are skeptical that the project will generate much sales tax revenue. Bay Cities Mechanical is not a retail store and most of its sales will be at work sites, with sales tax payable at those sites.
3. We are also skeptical that the location of the business at Pinole Shores Business Park will generate much additional traffic for nearby businesses. Although Bay Cities employs a lot of people, a relatively small fraction of them are expected to be on site.
4. We are worried that regardless of whether these funds are afready in this year’s budget, the City can actually afford the cash outlay this year.
The Pinole Chamber of Commerce would welcome Bay Cities Mechanical to Pinole with great enthusiasm. Our reservations about this transaction are not reservations about Bay Cities; they are merely concerns that the subsidy in this case outweighs the
benefits.
We urge the City Council, City Redevelopment Staff and Bay City Mechanical, Inc. to renegotiate the terms of the subsidy.
CC: Pinole Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors
Tel (510) 724.4484 P.O. Box 1 Pinole, CA 94564 I (510) 724.4408

Ivette Ricco
http://www.pinolechamber.org I pinolechamber@yahoo.com
President, Pinole Chamber of Commerce

Pinole Bank Building September 2012 Emails regarding lease of the vacant space.

Dear Belinda, Winston and City Council:
I just got off the phone with the Pinole resident who had expressed an interest in opening a restaurant in the Pinole Bank Building.
He told me that he contacted Cushman and Wakefield and was told that the city did not want a restaurant in that location, that they wanted a coffee shop. There seemed to be no room for discussion. He was simply shut down and not allowed to even have a dialogue about his idea.
I understand that the city has been in negotiations with the couple who have proposed a coffee shop/internet cafe with live music. I met with them back in April.
What is baffling is why the broker would discourage anyone with any interest whatsoever in this property. Most real estate people are eager to have a back up just in case things don’t work out.
An Italian restaurant seems like a good fit and a compatible use of the space and is worthy of consideration by the city.
Has the city entered into an exclusive contract with the coffee shop prospects? If so perhaps it would be fair and wise to remove the For Lease signs from the building.
Has the city instructed Cushman and Wakefield to not bring forth any and all prospects to the city?
As a taxpayer I am totally baffled by this action.
Please enlighten me so that I can communicate the reasoning behind this to the interested party.
Sincerely,
Ivette Ricco

On Mon, Sep 24, 2012 at 12:40 PM, Winston Rhodes <WRhodes@ci.pinole.ca.us> wrote:
Good Morning Ivette, This rumor sounds untrue. To my knowledge, the City has had no such conversation regarding the Pinole Bank Building and would welcome a restaurant use that protects the historic character of the building. A restaurant is a permitted use in this Commercial Mixed Use Zoning District so we would be supportive of an additional restaurant that would provide another dining option, add employment opportunities, generate sales tax revenue, and pay rent on this currently empty publicly-owned building. Any new tenant and lease agreement for this space would require City Council review and approval in order to lease this building. Discussions have been ongoing with prospective business owners interested in occupying this vacant building. The most recent of which is a local couple who have moved to Pinole and are interested in developing a coffee house / cafe with live music to complement the existing businesses nearby and provide another community gathering location in the Old Town. Belinda would be able to provide the latest information regarding the status of this most recent inquiry. Please note alcohol sales at the property would require a conditional use permit and we anticipate that any new restaurant would require a building permit for tenant improvements that would be carefully reviewed since this historic building is listed on the National Register of Historic Buildings. Depending on the specifics concerning live entertainment, the City may require a use permit for this business operational component. Hope this information helps and thank you for contacting the City regarding this rumor. Additionally, city staff would be happy to speak directly with residents that contact you to provide further information on this matter if needed. Regards,Winston Winston Rhodes, AICPPlanning Manager City of Pinole 2131 Pear Street Pinole, CA 94564-1774 Phone: (510) 724-9832 Fax: (510) 724-4921

Hello Belinda, Winston and Council:
It seems unusual that the question of whether the broker acted on his own or whether he had been instructed to discontinue marketing the property while the city negotiated with the coffee shop, requires an open records request.
We are not asking for closed session negotiation information, merely asking why this party’s inquiry was rebuffed three months ago, and in no uncertain terms.
Was the broker acting on his own? Was the broker instructed to reject new offers pending the outcome of the coffee shop negotiations?
We, as Pinole residents are entitled to know how and why this happened and under whose authority.
I will relay your response to them.
Ivette Ricco

From Ben Reyes:
To me, Belinda, Debbie, Pete, Pete, Phil, Phil, Roy, Tim
Ivette: The information that you are seeking is related generally to matters that are being discussed as part of a real property negotiation. Under the Ralph M. Brown Act (Government Code Section 54956.8 and 54963), the Council and Staff are simply not permitted to discuss any of these items with you or any member of the public until the conclusion of negotiations. If they answer your questions, this may potentially compromise an existing negotiation and subject the Council or Staff to criminal or civil liability. I hope you understand that I will not permit the City Council or the staff to breach confidentiality. Please contact me if you have any questions. Ben

July 2010 Minutes which show that no one representing the Pinole Chamber of Commerce, nor I, spoke against Tina’s.
Minutes here

TGIF – What’s Happening

Friday, January 25, 2013

Greetings everyone. Damn the flu, it’s really taken its toll on me.
My usual energy has been sapped, so much so that even the most exciting news I have received in a long time has been slow to fully assimilate.
I am going to the Super Bowl! I have a good friend whose husband  coaches for the 49ers and she called me on Monday to tell me that she was going to include me on their guest list for the Super Bowl!
I am still a bit dazed by this and so honored that she and her hubby thought so much of me to do include me in this once in a lifetime experience. I have yet to completely wrap my flu-ridden head around it. Attending a Super Bowl was on my bucket list and Mike and I did attend Super Bowl 40 in Detroit. But that event, although exciting and fun will not compare to being in New Orleans, with the team, and being part of what I hope is a victory for the Niners.
Speaking of football, the Pear Street Bistro and Femmefan are hosting a charity event for Children with Hair Loss tomorrow the 26th. The event will start with a hair-cutting session for those donating hair. At 1:00 we will begin the Football 101 session. There is a $25 fee which includes finger foods and a beverage. There will also be a raffle for some football goodies.
Make your reservation by calling the Bistro at 741-8875. Or pay at the door. Put your Game Face On!

The last few days were spent with my wonderful daughter, Cindy, who had gall bladder surgery. She is doing well and so I am now home and monitoring her over the phone.
But I have things to do, people to see and places to go. So although I’m operating at less than 100% I am working my way through my to do list today.

The City Council meets on Tuesday. It will be a special council meeting. The details are here.

Workshop meeting to discuss the WCCUSD, Pinole Valley High School and Pinole Middle School. Also on the agenda, a discussion regarding our Fire Services. Meeting begins at 6 pm.|

City Manager’s Report, January 25, 2013 here
Of interest, Rotary Crab Feed and the Q3 sales tax revenue report.

TGIF – What’s Happening

Friday, January 18, 2013
Life as I know it.

Aachoooo.
I have been horizontal for the last five days. Knocked down and out by a bug that seems not to care one iota that I had a flu shot in November. Modern medicine? It mocks you.
Ah, the best laid plans of mice and women. Nothing I had planned to do this week has gotten done as I lay on my spreading backside, aside from drinking water, swallowing Robitussin and dutifully taking Advil. My mom believes that Vicks VapoRub cures everything. She used to make us eat it, really!
I was almost, but not quite, desperate enough to consider spreading the stuff all over my chest, neck, back, forehead, nostrils and even my feet! But then that was probably the fever talking.
OTC meds I salute you. Aachooo.
The last five days are a hazy memory filled with visions of sunshine, beaches and warm tropical breezes fueled by a low grade fever. The one constant? My remote control held firmly in my grasp. The cloud is lifting ever so slightly today; which is important since I  have a family and football filled weekend ahead. Aachoooo.
Go Niners!
Friday, January 11, 2013
Life as I know it.

It’s a cold morning in the Bay Area and the warmth of my bed held me captive longer than usual. Life is different and oddly serene as a newly retired private citizen. My calendar isn’t quite so full and my days are not so hectic. I was recently asked if I would continue to be involved in my community. My honest answer was, “I’m struggling with that”.

2013 provides a clean slate, an opportunity to evaluate what is most important to me. Right now my priorities are family, fitness (that, I admit is more of a goal) and fun.

In the coming weeks I will be busy planning for a special charity event, Football 101, Women love Football Too! This event will be held on Saturday the 26th at The Pear Street Bistro with a portion of the proceeds to benefit Children With Hair Loss US, a non-profit that offers assistance in the form of hair replacements to children experiencing medically related hair loss, at NO Cost to recipients. http://www.childrenwithhairloss.us
Femmefan.com and the Bistro are hosting this event. The first part of the event is a a hair cutting session for those donating their hair. Starting at 2 pm Football 101 class will begin.
It promises to be will be fun and informative. The class will be taught by former SF 49ers offensive tackle and two time Super Bowl winner, Allen Kennedy.
I am excited to be a part of this event which marries some of my passions and interests, charity, football and small business.

But I did promise to keep you abreast of local things and now that everyone has returned to their normal routines, I can begin to provide a few updates.
I have received a few emails with specific questions that I will reply to next week on this blog. Stay tuned.

Save the Pinole Pool Committee
As you may know I am a member of this steering committee.
We now have our own blog http://savepinoleswimcenter.wordpress.com/ and will be meeting on Monday the 14th in the Alex Clark Room at 6:30. We invite you to attend and support our effort to not only maintain this important community amenity but to offer ideas for its future.

City Business

New Sewer Lateral Ordinance
The Pinole City Council adopted a Sewer Lateral Ordinance on November 20, 2012.
Any property being sold that has not received an offer is required to comply with the City’s Sanitary Sewer Lateral Ordinance as of February 1, 2013.

Weekly Manager Report
When Charlie Long was hired as the Interim City Manager he implemented a weekly City Manager Report.
Items you might find of interest:

JANUARY 17 – WASTEWATER TREATMENT SUBCOMMITTEE
The Pinole-Hercules Wastewater Subcommittee will meet at 9:00 am on January 17 in the City of Pinole Council Chambers and will be televised.

JANUARY 29 – CITY COUNCIL WORKSHOP- TWO TOPICS TO BE DISCUSSED
There will be a City Council workshop on January 29 and will include a joint meeting with the West Contra Costa County School District Board and Pinole City Council. The meeting will take place in the Pinole Council Chambers on January 29. This will be a workshop format and may include an update on the construction schedule at Pinole Valley High and Pinole Middle School, public safety in the schools including the School Resource Officer Program, how well the video cameras are working, as well as school academic performances and expectations.

The second issue to be discussed after the joint school board session will be on Fire Services Alternatives. The City has been discussing for quite some time, the idea of contracting out our Fire Department and has held many discussions in the past on this topic. In addition, the City has received notification of a $1.2 million federal grant for the rehiring of 4 firefighters. The Council will be discussing various scenarios for use of the funds. As we proceed into 2013, we are looking for input from the community on their ideas and thoughts. This meeting will be take place from 6:00 pm to 9:30 pm and will be televised. It is anticipated that each topic will be discussed for an hour and a half with the joint School Board/Council meeting beginning at 6:00 and the Fire discussion at approximately 7:30 pm. The public is encouraged to attend and participate.

Tuesday, January 15, City Council Meeting, 6:00
Agenda

Wednesday, Janaury 16, 2013 Finance Sub-Committee, 5 PM
Agenda

T ime to get back to preparing for the Playoff game tomorrow.
Go Niners!

Ivette

Life as I Know It – Where your Voice is heard

happynewyear
January 2, 2013
Happy New Year everyone.
2013! Wow that sure makes me feel old, or older depending on the mood I’m in.

During my campaign for Pinole City Council I was left with some lasting impressions;  having face to face conversations with so many of you, the members of my community, served as a reminder of how intelligent and caring you are. I would have been proud to represent you. Many of you raised questions, expressed opinions and voiced valid concerns. With this blog, “Life as I know it” I will stay connected with you and have fun doing it.

I realize that it is very difficult to stay informed about local issues when parents are working and raising a family, or in the case of many others, they simply don’t quite “get” all the political jargon and the acronyms that are tossed about like so many pieces of confetti. Frankly, it takes a concerted effort to stay informed and be able to follow the bouncing political ball.

For many, it’s not due to a lack of interest, as I discovered, but a lack of time. That unfortunately, leads to having the opinions and views of a small segment of the population being heard over the voices of those who do not have the time to immerse themselves in the goings on of our local government. Democracy is time-consuming.
For those busy with life, it is only when something we care about is threatened that, perhaps, we are moved to take action and speak out.

As I made my way around the neighborhoods, PTA meetings and living rooms, many told me that they felt city council meetings had become a platform for one-sided opinions and self-interest proclamations. Some stated that the length and complexity of council meetings were mind numbing exercises. There were some who had the unpleasant experience of attending a council meeting to speak on an issue that they cared about only to have to wait until almost midnight to be heard.
Others saw that there is a tendency to manipulate the speaker cards submitted under citizens to be heard so that an individual can get the last word and therefore no one can rebut those last indelible statements. Still others opined that the rules seemed to favor those with friends on the council, while others complained that they had evidenced Brown Act violations, such as cell phone usage and texting between the council and the public, with no apparent censure of those in violation.
As I said democracy is time-consuming, and many of you just do not have the time to dig through all this government-speak, gobbledygook.

I feel that we as a community do not have a true and relevant local news presence.
The West County Times has downsized its staff and the only local news they report is the type of news that sells newspapers, primarily controversy and scandal. The Patch is a hot mess, I don’t know what the heck is going on there.

This is a new world and many residents get their news via the internet. When was the last time you saw anything in the news, hard copy or online, that speaks to any of the concerns of the average family or resident in Pinole? Those concerns (some listed below) are the impetus for this blog.

I am opening the door to a dialogue about the things you feel are important to you.
I invite you to send me your questions, thoughts, ideas and comments.
The topics raised most often were, (not in this order):

1. Pinole’s financial future
2. Will we have to pay more for less services?
3. The state of the West Contra Costa Unified School District
4. Traffic
5. Public Safety
6. Community services
7. Salaries and benefits for our elected officials
8. Salaries and benefits for our paid staff
9. Parks and Recreation
10. Pinole Cable TV
11. The Waste Water Treatment Plant upgrade
12. Waste Treatment Plant rate increases
13. Hercules’ bleak future’s effect on Pinole
14. Safety in our schools
15. Development of vacant lots and store fronts in Old Town
16. Pensions and contracts for all public employees
17. The City Manager’s evergreen contract
18. The remodel of Pinole Valley High School
19. The use of Bond money by the WCCUSD
20. What will happen to revenue from the sale of RDA properties?
21. Why can’t we get representation on the school board?
22. How is the city marketing Pinole for economic development?
22. How much money did we lose in failed RDA projects?

These are areas I invite you to discuss. I will cover these areas but my postings will also be very personal and not limited to these topics alone. Perhaps we want to have a dialogue about gun control or the legalization of marijuana, so let’s do that.
I may decide to bore you with stories about the grand-kids or let you in on some of the legendary stories about my 92 year-old mother.

This forum is open to all, but I will moderate the comments and I will not permit disrespectful or less than civil posts. I want your voice to be heard but in a positive and constructive way. If you ask questions I will attempt to answer them or get the answers.
I really want to know what is important to you.

Please submit you comments via the blog or send an email to ivettericco@gmail.com

It’s time everyone in Pinole had a voice.

The opinions expressed on this blog are the opinions of Ivette Ricco only.