Merced City Council, Aug. 4, 2014: An inconsiderable lease

Submitted: Sep 02, 2014
By: 
Badlands Journal editorial board

 Merced City Council, Aug. 4, 2014

Item #10 on Consent Calendar would authorize staff to prepare a lease for 5,951 square feet of office space in the Parcade office/parking complex next to City Hall for a dollar a year for 10 years.

There were some deferential questions from council members which was met by a steady stream of impenetrable, uninformative "presentation," which we have nicknamed "boosterbabble," from city and UC Merced staff. Mainly they were talking about the deep social need for installing UC and small business sponsored a business "incubator," an "accelerator" and, of course, the obligatory "UC administration" space, in one of the deadest spots on the downtown landscape: the Parcade.       

We can't imagine many office sites in Merced less likely to inspire the young UC educated entrepreneur with a hot idea for an elf trap than a location, known primarily as a fine skateboard venue, which is around the corner from City Hall and across the street from a former fire station that has had more new facades than the city council has had new faces since former Councilwoman Dorothea Moore and her Goleta banker first sold the city on the idea of putting a brew pub in the old firehouse.

 

What we have here are two public agencies, a city and a public university, ostensibly creating some sort of atmosphere to encourage entrepreneurial enterprise primarily for UC Merced personnel.  If at all successful, they will be creating a new generation of anti-tax, anti-spend, anti-intellectual, anti-government small business people--incubated debtors accelerating toward bankruptcy.  It is an idea so stupid that it could only be funded publicly. It may not be any more complicated than making three office spaces in the wretchedly unsuccessful Parkcade appear full, perhaps cutting down on daytime vandalism. Although, somehow we imagine that UC Merced's constantly expanding bureaucracy will somehow hijack the administrative space for other purposes and gradually expand and swallow the incubator, the accelerator and the infant entrepreneurs smart enough to know who's buttering the bread. Some of them will emerge from this mentoring process slick grant hustlers for public agencies who will go right on mouthing the dead metaphors of "economic development" until the guilt money runs out.    

Council Michael Belluomini, who pulled the item from the consent calendar so that it could be discussed in public at the meeting, after making his mandatory obsequities before UC Merced, small business and job creation, "I am in support of" all of them, he said, he asked what the city was going to get for its $600,000 in lost rent.

Mayor Stan Thurston, adopting the superior tones of a litigator for the respondent university, said "this is not a performance contract, it is a lease." Therefore, according to Stan "the legal eagle," there doesn't really need to be much in the way of consideration like in a contract because it isn't a contract. Next, Councilman Josh Pedrozo chimed in such haughty tones you would have thought his words were begowned in those special imperial shades of blue and gold reserved for UC administerators. What he said was basically a rerun of the old mysteriosum proximum argument made by the first chanceller of UC Merced, Carole Tomlinson-Keasey, "the Cowgirl Chancellor," which goes: We don't know why but people who live close to universities are smarter than other people.

The problem with the mayor's legal reasoning is that a lease is a contract: A contractual agreement by which one party conveys an estate in 

property to another party, for a limited period, subject to various conditions, in exchange for something of value, but still retains ownership.-- http://legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/lease

A lease or rental agreement is a legal contract between landlord and tenant, --http://www.landlordtenantlawfirms.com/resources/leases-and-rental-agreements/california-lease-rental-terms

A lease is a contractually binding agreement between two or more parties. In real estate, this contract is usually between a landlord, or property owner, and a tenant, person who rents the property. The lessee (tenant) agrees to pay the lessor (landlord) for use of a tangible asset (apartment, or property) for an amount of time agreed upon in the lease terms. -- http://landlords.about.com/od/Landlord101/a/What-Is-A-Lease.htm

A random search for a few minutes suggests that leases are contracts, regardless of the mayor's defense. But, the mayor would say, a lease is not a performance contract. Right. But if it is a lease contract without performance for a dollar a year, considering that just one month of rent on any one of the vacant offices of the Parcade would produce more money for the city than the full lease to UC and its subsidiary, then where is the adequate consideration for the lease?

Well, the city would say, it is a lease so we can write in any terms we want to.

We  would suggest that according to Article XVI, Section 6 of the California Constitution, maybe the city is sort of giving UC a gift of public funds "or thing of value." (1)

But, smiles the mayor, it is not a gift. We get a dollar a year for five years, renewable for five more years if both parties agree.

But is this consideration, for commercial space, adequate? Beluoimini tried to ask the UC representative if he couldn't "give more definition" to the consideration part of the lease contract, but Thurston interrupted, telling Buluomini that was "inappropriate" and that he was "negotiating" with a person in public.

Nevertheless, the UC representatives said that "All I can say is that it is a work in progress." That doesn't look like a performance contract, but, then what is performance? The lessees say there are going to teach, instruct, mentor, advise and provide working space for entrepreneurs from UC and the local community who are trying to start businesses.

But, of course, they don't really have to do any of that according to the lease because if they were responsible for performing any of these services, that would be performance, wouldn't it?

So, essentially, what the city is doing is giving $600,000 worth of commercial rental space downtown to UC Merced for just about as close to nothing as you can legally get.

So, rush right down to City Hall and get your dollar-a-year lease contracts for city office space. All they need for consideration is "a work in progress."

Plans for another bridge to Brooklyn? (Of course, you would have to go to the trouble to tour a few bridges during 10 years in city office space.)

Since Beluomini ended up voting for it (psssst -- don'cha dare actually vote against UC), we'll probably never know.

 

NOTE:

 

(1) Article XVI, Section 6 California Constitution (Prohibits gift of public funds)

SEC. 6. The Legislature shall have no power to give or to lend, or to authorize the giving or lending, of the credit of the State, or of any county, city and county, city, township or other political corporation or subdivision of the State now existing, or that may be hereafter established, in aid of or to any person, association, or corporation, whether municipal or otherwise, or to pledge the credit thereof, in any manner whatever, for the payment of the liabilities of any individual, association, municipal or other corporation whatever; nor shall it have power to make any gift or authorize the making of any gift, of any public money or thing of value to any individual, municipal or other corporation whatever;

 

 

 

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Russia says "Nyet" to Sacred Nut along with Khaganate of Nuland

Submitted: Aug 31, 2014
By: 
Badlands Journal editorial board

Or as we sometimes say, "Das Kaganreich des Nulands." However you spell it, here in the Valley, even Ukrainian Nazi militia, backed by American neocon elites, can be a cause for whining. -- blj

 

 

8-8-14

Voice of America

US Almond Growers Feel Impact of Russian Import Limits

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Idyllic monounsaturated fats and the fifth level of drought

Submitted: Aug 31, 2014
By: 
Badlands Journal editorial board

One of our eastcoast editors sent this insightful article about the political economy of the Sacred Nut that appeared in The Atlantic, from Boston. We were intrigued by the literate good sense of the author, James Hamblin, MD, so included some other titles from his recent work at the bottom.


Enjoy Spanish Marcona almonds -- blj


8-28-14

The Atlantic

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As the Wolf arrives, Merced Agriculture gibbers on

Submitted: Aug 27, 2014
By: 
Badlands Journal editorial board

 There have been way too many groundwater management plans to make plans in Merced County and they have now come back to bite agriculture's habitual liars you know where. The wolf is here at last and the ag rhetoric is exhausted. 

Representatives of the Merced County Farm Bureau and California Women for Agriculture have been animated by what has come to be called "the Sloan Sale" (26,000 acre feet of groundwater sold to a Stanislaus County water district over two years at a minimum of $500/acre foot). On August 26, they were before the Board of Supervisors again demanding county action on the groundwater situation.

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Merced City Council, Aug. 4, 2014: change orders and contingencies

Submitted: Aug 25, 2014
By: 
Badlands Journal editorial board

 

The city council, like most legislative bodies, includes a number of items early in its agenda that are voted on together. It is called the "consent calendar" and items may be removed from it for individual attention. Councilman Mike Murphy asked that Item 8, a staff recommendation that the council accept a bid from a Fresno construction company to build a new laboratory building at  the city wastewater treatment facility, be removed for council discussion. After noting that "it is great that we have one of the bidders coming in 10 percent lower than the other two," Councilman Murphy objected specifically to the contract allowing a 25-percent increase for change orders on the authority of the city manager alone without council deliberation. Murphy thought 10 percent was good enough, noting that a $450,000 contingency fund was also included in the contract.

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Making a graph of stupidity and UC grant whoring

Submitted: Aug 22, 2014
By: 
Badlands Journal editorial board

 “We can’t manage what we don’t measure,” he said. “We’ve been putting a lot of efforts in developing intelligent infrastructure that will develop better information and lead to better decision-making.”

 

What is wrong with this statement?

1) It is historically absurd. Human beings have managed quite well without  "intelligent infrastructure."  But, of course, UC professors believe that real management of human affairs begins with measurements precise enough to build, launch and trigger the nuclear weapons for which UC is so famous.

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What's the price of city water for the Safeway water-bottling plant in a drought?

Submitted: Aug 17, 2014
By: 
Badlands Journal editorial board

 

 The Badlands Journal editorial board were thinking about water on Saturday because of the big water-bond, unanimous-minus-one vote in the Legislature last week. And other things as well, like Steve Sloan and Steve Smith's sale of 26,000 acre feet of groundwater from under their adjoining properties on the west side of the county for at least $13 million to Del Puerto Water District in Stanislaus County. Pretty slick deal for the publicly spirited Sloan, who served as the chairman of the Merced County Planning Commission during the real estate boom. We laughed at  the outrage on display in the county Board of Supervisors' chambers by most of his former political cronies, except westside Supervisor Jerry O'Banion, 67, reelected without opposition in June to his seventh term, the present chairman of the board. It was O'Banion that appointed Sloan to the planning commission.

 

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Introducing... The Fabulous Klugoza

Submitted: Aug 16, 2014
By: 
Badlands Journal editorial board

      

“With Dennis and Scott — a bipartisan team of former congressmen — at the helm … Foley will offer our business clients the comprehensive strategic and legal counsel needed on the myriad of complex public policy and regulatory issues that they face,” said David T. Ralston, Jr., chair of Foley's government and public policy practice, in a statement.-- Megan Wilson, thehill.com, Feb. 6, 2014

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We're not into necrophilia, but thanks for thinking of us

Submitted: Aug 14, 2014
By: 
Badlands Journal editorial board

 In the last several weeks, a member of the Badlands Journal editorial board has received 88 emails from various appendages of the Democratic Party, from Congressional candidate Amanda "Cotton Queen" Renteria (collecting on her fine work on the latest Farm Bill, which guaran-damn-tees agribusiness income if they buy the right insurance from the insurance industry) all the way past Steve Israel (aptly named chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, to be renamed "Friends of Israel" in honor of the latest act of genocide in Gaza), and from both the President and the Vice President (about whom the less said the better).

Each email announces another grave emergency to the very life of the Democratic Party and suggests, cajols, orders and demands that our editor pay the minimal sum of five dollars to avoid the collapse ... of what?

The Democratic Party?

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Naomi Klein draws a bead on TNC

Submitted: Aug 05, 2014
By: 
Badlands Journal editorial board

 The Nature Conservancy “has just lost its moral compass,” said Kierán Suckling, executive director of the Center for Biological Diversity, a group that works extensively on endangered species. “The very idea of oil drilling inside a reserve is utterly wrong, and it’s especially disturbing in this case because the Attwater’s prairie chicken is one of the most endangered species in the entire country. It could very well be the next species to go extinct in the United States.” -- Justin Gillis, New York Times, Aug. 3, 2014

 

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