Claremont Insider: Saturday Mail

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Saturday Mail

And then there was this reaction to those community development block grants for Hip Kitty Jazz & Fondue Lounge and the Packing House Wine Merchants that the city council agreed to award at their last meeting:

DATE: Wed, July 28, 2010 11:16:07 AM
SUBJECT: cdbg funds for hip f***ing kitty
TO: Claremont Buzz

HUD's CDBG website says this:

"...each activity must meet one of the following national objectives for the program: benefit low- and moderate-income persons, prevention or elimination of slums or blight, or address community development needs having a particular urgency because existing conditions pose a serious and immediate threat to the health or welfare of the community for which other funding is not available."

What a bizarre way to use this money. Maybe the Packing House is a slum that presents an immediate threat to the health of the community.

The CDBG website also says:

Citizen Participation

A grantee must develop and follow a detailed plan that provides for and encourages citizen participation. This integral process emphasizes participation by persons of low or moderate income, particularly residents of predominantly low- and moderate-income neighborhoods, slum or blighted areas, and areas in which the grantee proposes to use CDBG funds. The plan must provide citizens with the following: reasonable and timely access to local meetings; an opportunity to review proposed activities and program performance; provide for timely written answers to written complaints and grievances; and identify how the needs of non-English speaking residents will be met in the case of public hearings where a significant number of non-English speaking residents can be reasonably expected to participate.

Of course, this being Claremont, there was no mention of future public meetings involving in this particular CDBG disbursement. There was just a decision by city staff, who recommend the council grant Jerry Tessier the two CDBG grants totaling $100,000. The money then disappears into construction expenses at the Packing House, which itself was just renovated by Tessier's company Arteco Partners.

The federally mandated "citizen participation" is equivalent in Claremont to the "citizen oversight" for our school district's bonds. That is to say, in practice it's non-existent.