Monday, August 01, 2005

Obfuscating the MLK issue

Stephen:

It's impossible to tell how much of the contents of your letter to BeyondChron are deliberate obfuscation or just plain ignorance.

"On June 16, Judge James Warren ruled against the public interest when he validated the Golden Gate Park Concourse Project, thereby throwing out all claims under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), Prop J, The Golden Gate Park Revitalization Act of 1998, as well as other state and county planning statutes." (see the Text of Prop. J)

In fact, Judge Warren validated the Concourse Project last August 10 in his first Statement of Decision. The only issue he had reservations about was the "dedicated" roadway to the southern, inside-the-park entrance to the garage (see pages 15-22 in the August 10, 2004, Statement of Decision for a thorough discussion of that issue). That was the only issue being litigated, regardless of the wishful thinking and/or outright disinformation from you and your allies.

Judge Warren's political affiliation: It's simply wrong to cite Warren's membership in the Republican Party as a factor in his decisions ("activist Republican judge [who]was preparing to give away the entire Park"). If you read both the decisions, you can see that they are well-written, logically argued, and based on the facts, including the text of Proposition J (both decisions can be viewed at http://www.sftc.org/ after entering case number 427163). The fact that neither you nor any of your allies in the anti-garage movement have done a public analysis of these decisions shows that your argument lacks intellectual seriousness. Instead, you just sound like a bad loser. In fact, no one has "given away" the park. The Concourse Authority is a public entity, as is Park and Rec., which oversees the Authority. Not to mention our progressive Board of Supervisors, which signed off on the final EIR.

"Our attorneys had never witnessed such a miscarriage of justice in over thirty years of environmental litigation."

Even if you didn't read Warren's 2004 Statement of Decision, Stephen, surely your attorneys did. It was irresponsible of them not to tell you that the game was essentially over, except for the "dedicated" access to the southern entrance issue. They also should have told you that your chances were slim to none that you'd win on that issue. Indeed, they should have advised you to forget about pursuing your litigation. There's been no injustice here. Your attorneys are just bummed because they probably won't be awarded any fees---that is, money from the city's treasury---for their "public interest" litigation, since they haven't won a single victory to justify getting the $250,000. I'd like to see an itemization of that bill, by the way. Maybe you can send me a copy.

"Think about this: The City won this suit on June 16th, and there wasn't a single article in the San Francisco Chronicle, The Examiner or any other area daily. Could it be that they don't want to bring attention to their impending boondoggle, prior to the issuance of revenue bonds to pay off their personal loans?"

Don't forget that District 5 Diary published a note after the June 16 decision. And, in the past six months, I've done a number of blog items on the MLK/garage issue, including a long interview with the Concourse Authority's Executive Director, Mike Ellzey. Remember, Stephen, I'm always here for you. Your "boondoggle" charge is without foundation, since there's no evidence of any public money going into the garage. If you have any such evidence, let's see it. I'll publish it here in my blog.

The ballot measure against widening MLK: After all that litigation and all that money for lawyers, you're back where you started---having to accept the Concourse Authority's original plan to access the inside-the-park garage entrance. And you won't even get that if city voters reject your ballot measure, and I'll do my small part to ensure that they do reject it.

Dear Randy, Casey and Alison[Beyond Chron],

Thank you for alerting your readers to the upcoming ballot measure to stop the increase of traffic lanes on MLK Drive to provide "dedicated" access from Lincoln Way & 9th Avenue to the deYoung Museum underground garage.

On June 16, Judge James Warren ruled against the public interest when he validated the Golden Gate Park Concourse Project, thereby throwing out all claims under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), Prop J, The Golden Gate Park Revitalization Act of 1998, as well as other state and county planning statutes. The judge you get is dependent on the luck of the draw. We drew a right wing, pro-privatization activist Republican judge who deferred to The City and the private Music Concourse Community Partnership on every point of law.

After reducing our entire legal claim down to the single issue of the illegal second garage entrance, he approved the increase of traffic lanes as mitigation, legalizing an intra-park garage entrance (which voters never approved) on Academy Drive adjacent to the Music Concourse Bandshell. We settled in mid-May because this activist Republican judge was preparing to give away the entire Park and hand our heads to us on a platter. Our attorneys had never witnessed such a miscarriage of justice in over thirty years of environmental litigation.

With over a quarter million in legal obligations, and serious threats being made against Chris's personal assets, we decided to negotiate the best deal for the public interest and pedestrian safety, by stopping the MLK Drive increase to four traffic lanes, while compensating our attorneys, and relieving us of the burden of a costly administrative record after losing in court.

Think about this: The City won this suit on June 16th, and there wasn't a single article in the San Francisco Chronicle, The Examiner or any other area daily. Could it be that they don't want to bring attention to their impending boondoggle, prior to the issuance of revenue bonds to pay off their personal loans?

FYI: Neither Chris nor I received any funds as a part of our settlement with MCCP.

MCCP agreed "to pay $30,000 to assist in pedestrian improvements related to the presently unfunded second phase of Concourse Improvements, including the restoration of pedestrian access to the area behind the band shell, in a check make payable to the San Francisco Recreation and Park Department."

Furthermore, it provided: " SGGP and MCCP both agree to support and/or not oppose a ballot measure to amend Proposition J to allow cars to enter and exit the southern entrance of the Underground Parking Facility at Martin Luther King Drive and Music Concourse Drive without requiring the use or construction of a dedicated access route."

Furthermore: "MCCP agrees to pay $30,000 towards the funding of the ballot initiative campaign. In its sole and exclusive discretion, MCCP may withdraw the $30,000 to fund the ballot initiative campaign described above if a ballot measure to amend Proposition J includes issues other than eliminating the requirement of the dedicated south access route. MCCP also will withdraw the $30,000 to fund the ballot initiative campaign if the measure to amend Proposition J is not on the ballot or otherwise approved by the Board of Supervisors by August 10, 2005. If MCCP withdraws funding of the ballot measure, MCCP will direct the $30,000 intended fo the ballot measure instead to the Concourese Improvements described" above.

Respectfully,
Stephen Willis
Save Golden Gate Park!

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