It comes as no surprise as Oakley Councilman Randy Pope came out in support of Doug Hardcastle for Oakley City Council. The only problem is when questioned about the endorsement by fellow Facebook Friends, Mr. Pope immediately deleted the questions, concerns, and comments that followed. Going back to last June, he scolded Ironhouse for everything he now apparently applauding Hardcastle for doing. This is a bogus endorsement full of fibs and he is lying to Oakley on Hardcastles track record.
How I know this, because I myself am running for one of three seats at Ironhouse and know the damage Hardcastle and others have caused. Pope saw it last year, called Ironhouse out on it and now he is giving Hardcastle a free pass. Pope is a hypocrite and an opportunist.
Popes Endorsement reads:
I endorse Doug Hardcastle for Oakley City Council. He is a local businessman, and currently serving as the President of the Ironhouse Sanitary District (ISD) Board of Directors. As the Oakley City Council Liaison to the ISD for much of the past two years I have seen Doug’s performance as a civic leader first hand. He has shown integrity and responsibility, with an emphasis on being accountable with tax-payer funds. As a local businessman he has insights into how Oakley can be more business friendly and attract new economic activity to our city. I believe Doug Hardcastle will be a great addition to the Oakley City Council and I encourage you to cast your vote for him this Election Day (Tuesday November 6th).
Soon after this endorsement was announced, a fellow Oakley resident who gets some major kudos in my opinion questioned Mr. Pope about Hardcastles record at Ironhouse. Instead of being transparent and defending his endorsement, Mr. Pope deleted the questions and concerns as shown in the below screen shots.
After deleting the question, Mr. Varnado made another post.
This was then also deleted
Pope then went into private messages.
These messages were also deleted by Mr. Pope which included a comment from a form Oakley Chamber of Commerce President. This is par for course with Randy Pope who is basically getting paid to do nothing since he has no committees and accomplished nothing in his two years. But lets look closer at this endorsement as it makes little sense given Mr. Popes past comments on Ironhouse.
You see, last June Mr. Pope was not thrilled with how Ironhouse was being run. With no real changes, Mr. Pope has apparently changed his mind right before an election. According to the June 5, 2011 minutes, Mr. Pope is on record stating:
Randy Pope of the City of Oakley addressed the Board applauding the connection fee reductions. He asked the Board that before considering any fee increase to review that salaries are 62% of the operating budget and ask the Board to also consider the grand jury report for Board members and stated it is not fair or ethical that we have the “Golden Goose” and asked the Board to reduce their benefits since their positions are for public service.
So he encouraged Ironhouse not to consider a fee increase–Ironhouse ultimately increased the fee on ratepayers by $26 this past year. He wanted them to review salaries, Ironhouse instead gave pay increases. He asked the board to discuss their benefits which they failed to do up until last month, but the kicker is it only applies to new directors, not the current directors. So given this brief overview, this endorsement is a bunch of baloney!
As if that is not enough, lets go through his endorsement statement which just shows you how Mr. Pope doesn’t have a clue.
He states, he has seen Doug’s performance as a civic leader first hand and has shown integrity and responsibility with an emphasis on being accountable for tax-payer funds. Really?
Is this why during Mr. Hardcastles term, rates have skyrocketed by 250% jumping from $249 in 1999 to $618 today. Here is a link to the annual rate increases provided by Tom Williams via information request. As far as integrity and responsibility to the ratepayers, he has abused the stipend claims for many years as he has claimed the following meetings at a cost of $20,740
- City Council Meeting – a total of 101 meetings claimed at $170 a pop which is $17,170 to sit in the audience. Some of the older meetings combined the “planning commission” while there were a number of additional Planning Commissions on its own line item. This number is actually higher than the $17,170. Note, some of these meetings didn’t even list a date on them (it was either blank or it lists the month).
- Check signings were claimed a total of 8 times in which none of them had dates—this also could have meant double payments on a single day since it’s unclear if another action was also billed on the same day. Either way, this is $1,360 that should be reimbursed.
- Special Workshop (3/26 & 3/29), an additional 4 meetings were claimed for a total of 6.
- Lunch Meeting with Tom Williams (2/28/2012)
- Meeting with Tom Williams (12/28/2011)
- Household Haz Waste Grand Opening (9/9/2009)
- Meeting with Tom Williams – Haz Waste (3/29/2009)
- Ground Breaking (4/22/2009)
- Meeting/Dave’s Retirement/Conference w/Tom Williams (2/18/2005)
- Trail Opening (11/2/2004)
You can review his entire time sheet claims by clicking here.
Ironhouse has also increased its operating budget from $7 million in 2010 to $12 million in 2013. The point is, during a down economy, rather than tighten their belts, Ironhouse has been business as usual and actually increased their operating budget. This is not good leadership, this is putting an additional burden to ratepayers and taxpayers.
Pope continues in his statement by stating, “As a local businessman he has insights into how Oakley can be more business friendly and attract new economic activity to our city”. Again, not true. Ironhouse has been a bottleneck to business coming to Oakley and Hardcastle has not proven to work for business who have asked for help at Ironhouse.
At Ironhouse, fees (Plant Capacity, Trunkline Capacity, and Connection Fees) have gone up each year since 1999/2000 up until last year when the City of Oakley had to essentially step on Ironhouses throat to get a reduction—if you don’t believe me, ask the City! The reality is business’s are playing in the Ironhouse Sandbox and really do have to pay and arm and a leg to play. Here is the document showing the fee increases since 1999 on Development Request 14,
To put this in perspective of how unfriendly Mr. Hardcastle and the Ironhouse Board has been to Oakley business, they held up Oakley Disposals Franchise Agreement for multiple years. According to Oakley City Manager Bryan Montgomery, it cost Black Bear Diner around $150,000 to hook up into Ironhouse which is ridiculous considering it would have costs Blackbear under $10,000 to hook into Antioch or Brentwood.
To prove this point of how unwilling Hardcastle is on business and taxpayers, Rowena Coetsee of the Contra Costa Times provided a very nice overview write up of the Council forum where Mr. Hardcastle stated he is not a fan of cutting fees which his track record at Ironhouse proves that fact. This is what she reported:
Doug Hardcastle wasn’t enamored with that idea, however, saying that cutting fees would undermine city services such as street maintenance and consequently dissuade businesses from moving to Oakley. He wants to focus on getting the type of employers that offer well-paying jobs, jobs that will enable residents to work in town instead of commuting.
What Mr. Hardcastle needs to realize is you are not going to get those well-paying jobs to Oakley unless you reduce rates and create incentives for business to come to Oakley. The fee reductions need to begin at Ironhouse who is the bottleneck!
Mr. Pope is full of it when he makes the claim that Hardcastle can help make Oakley more business friendly and attract economic activity because he refused to do it at Ironhouse and failed. Hardcastle doesn’t have the track record Mr. Pope is portraying and its actually the opposite.
Ultimately, Mr. Pope is a hypocrite with this endorsement and its nothing more than an opportunistic move to try and take Kevin Romick out while finding someone else on the council who will push the Randy Pope agenda which has been basically rejected by the current council. What this endorsement shows is how disconnected Mr. Pope is from reality and really does not understand the problems ratepayers face at Ironhouse partly because of Hardcastle failure to work on behalf of the ratepayers while increasing rates while failing to work with business.
The truth is, Mr. Pope is entitled to his own endorsement, that is fine, but when he is questioned about it, he should not be deleting comments and going “private” since he made a public endorsement. What is he afraid of anyway if he truly believes in Hardcastle? If people really want him to defend his position, ignore Facebook and I suggest going through his City email and requesting answers and explanations.
This is just par for the course with Pope. A do nothing Councilman with no committees trying to undermine the rest of the city for his own political gain. Shame on him for ignoring Oakley residents questions and deleting them as if nothing was ever asked or questioned. How dare he!