Thursday, May 26, 2022

Transparency requests on the Salida Sheriff Substation

Stanislaus Board of Supervisors Public Comment - Tuesday, March 29, 2022

I'm here today because I did not receive a reply to an email that I sent to Tom Boze last week requesting the consultant's report on this project. 

6,000 sq ft od space available
in Salida Library
Having lived in Salida for nearly thirty years, I remember when our sheriff substation was in a modular building in downtown Salida, and then moved into the remodeled Bank of the West building in 2003, which is now La Familia Market. The substation was closed during the recession, a main reason cited was the high cost of rent on the bank building; if I recall correctly, it was $10,000 a month. At the August 2021 Salida MAC meeting, Sheriff Dirkse mentioned the two key options for a substation: the first being the 6,000 sq feet of unused space in the Salida Library building. The remodel of that old Brunners building was $6.3 million back in 2003. Sheriff Dirkse stated that the other site, the Salida Fire Dept Station 12 does not have the square footage needs to occupy further in the future. Sheriff Dirkse stated that the county is in the process of hiring a contractor through GSA to do a site assessment on both facilities. He stated and I quote, “We have to get that estimate before we have an honest conversation.”

Quite frankly, I did not have much of an opinion on where the substation was located until I received an email on March 15, 2022 that reported an arrest for prostitution on March 13, 2022 in the 4900 block of Sisk Road which is the site of two hotels. Further online searching turned up a bust by Turlock PD of a prostitution ring at the same address in February 2021. I asked a sheriff dept employee which hotel had sex trafficking and the reply was, “All of them”. The hotel closest to the library is a 430 foot walk from my house so I have no words for how horrifying what is going on just feet from my neighborhood.

Salida Library
Sheriff Substation April 2022
There's a small substation already built in the Salida Library which even has signage but has never been staffed. Perhaps if it was staffed, THAT could deter human trafficking and prostitution at these two hotels.

Both Sheriff Dirkse and Chief Pat Burns stated at Salida MAC at two different times that the lease for the property would be for 99 years yet this agenda item states only a two-year lease with a further option of two years. This 2-4 year lease was never mentioned at Salida MAC nor was there any presentation given by the General Services Agency comparing the two sites. Where is the contractor's report that Sheriff Dirkse mentioned? It's not attached in this board item. You are using public funds for this and you should be 100% transparent. The Salida Community deserves to know all the aspects of why a leased site is being chosen over a large site already owned by the county? Salida already has a history of having substations closed due to a lease so we should be able to have answers to all of our questions before this item is passed today. The MAC should not be bypassed.

This item should be pulled and a presentation given at Salida MAC by GSA and the Sheriff on why this site was chosen and explain the disparities of the lease terms.


Stanislaus Board of Supervisors Public Comment - Tuesday, April 25, 2022

It's been a month since I was here and requested the General Services Agency report on the site locations for the new substation in Salida. I was going to reserve my opinion on a site until I saw the report, and since you are using public monies, I still expect a report to be produced even if you are the ones who put the cart before the horse. I also expect a response as to why both Sheriff Dirkse and Fire Chief Pat Burns said the terms of the lease at the fire station was $1 a year for 99 years but the board item you passed stated $1 a year for 2 years with an option for 4 years. What do you five know about this lease that the public doesn't? What will happen after 2 years? Is the lease going to go up? Is the county buying the land? The county also needs to do better with respect to communication. The dedication of the substation at the fire department was not announced in the Bee nor on any county websites other than a new substation page just two days prior. Notices were not mailed either. Salida MAC did not post it on their page or to Next Door. The only place I saw it posted to and it was after the fact, was Terry's campaign website. Appearances matter so you need to be transparent and produce a General Services Agency report that addresses all of these issues and THE COUNTY needs to improve communication with the community. The onus is on county employees who are paid to be public servants, not the unpaid volunteers who serve on MAC councils. Also want to point out that you need another substation sign or a banner at the back of the fire station that you can view from the freeway ramp. And have the deputies park the car there too. Right now, a little brown sign in the front and hidden cars isn't deterring any criminals from what they don't see.


Stanislaus Board of Supervisors Public Comment - Tuesday, May 24, 2022 

I'm back for some updates: foremost, it's been two months now since I've requested the consultant's report that the county paid $25 thousand for. I did receive a “I don't think I can give it to you” or “it might be heavily redacted”. I am requesting the redacted version then. When Sheriff Dirkse visited Salida MAC, his words were “when the report comes in, we'll take a look at it” but he did not say, “But not you Salida.” It is preposterous to think that the county is not going to let Salida see what our substation will look like ahead of it being built. Also, the issue of why the county would choose a site they do not own over a site they do own still needs to be addressed. As I mentioned in my last comments, appearances count and it appears that the county is trying to hide something. Besides not releasing a document that public money was spent to produce, the Salida Fire Dept went through and purged people from their agenda subscription list including a current MAC member and when I inquired to the reason why, I was told that we were purged for being “inactive”. The fire department cancels half their meetings and they were the last entity in Salida to have in-person meetings yet we're the “inactive” ones. Put yourself in my shoes: county won't release substation consultant's report and the fire department purges their agenda subscriber lists – it looks like you're colluding to hide something. So if you're not trying to hide something, you can easily demonstrate your transparency by releasing documents that should be public.

So I formally request that a substation presentation be given at Salida MAC and that Salida MAC be added to the Planning Department distribution list for Early Referral Consultations if it has not already been done. 

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