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Monday, August 25, 2008

Home Depot, The DRP and a Closed Door Meeting!

At 4:30 this afternoon, Avis Ridley-Thomas and her Dispute Resolution Program will hold what is being billed as a "Scheduling Meeting" at the North Valley City Hall in Tujunga. The purpose off this meeting is to set the date, time, & ground rules for any further talks between Home Depot and the Sunland-Tujunga community and is part of the Stipulation Order to Stay Litigation made between the City and Home Depot.

If you'll recall Home Depot filed a $10,000,000.00 lawsuit against the City last year after their building permits were revoked by the L.A. City Council. Home Depot suspended their lawsuit and agreed to file a new application and undergo environmental assessment for their proposed store as an alternative to further litigation. Part of this agreement included a clause that the Dispute Resolution Program would mediate between the community and Home Depot. This mediation is completely non-binding and considered by many a waste of taxpayer money and community time. This mediation will have zero effect on whether or not Home Depot is ever able to open their controversial store, as that decision currently lies with City Planning, who is currently reviewing their application.

And the story goes all downhill from here.

After the DRP held it's first open community meeting back in April that was attended by over 300 local residents and produced an overwhelming consensus of opposition to Home Depot's store,(Just ask the MS bloggers who were there-Michael Higby, Red, Zuma, Joseph Mailander, and Petrafried), the DRP promised more meetings that would be "open and transparent in the process".

That promise comes to a grinding halt at 4:30 this afternoon, when the DRP holds a private closed door meeting with "invited community leaders" (of their choosing) in the very public North Valley City Hall. Even after numerous requests to the DRP, no names of the invited participants has been provided.

Not only is the public not allowed to observe this meeting, the DRP has now threatened a police presence to prevent local residents from entering the hall.

The Sunland-Tujunga Alliance, the sponsors of "The No Home Depot Campaign" have spent weeks trying to contact the DRP to discuss the details of the meeting.

The DRP has not returned a single phone call or email.

After waiting on hold for hours (literally) last Monday, the STA finally spoke with a DRP staff member who informed them that the meeting would indeed be open to the public. Additionally, people who called Councilmember Wendy Greuel's office were told the meeting would be open to the public as well.

With that info in hand, and feeling somewhat relieved, late last week, the STA posted a public invite to today's event on the No 2 Home Depot web site (www.no2homedepot.com).

Last Friday, the STA received an email from Barbara Goldfarb, the volunteer DRP lead facilitator in charge of the meeting.

Here is the entire contents of that email :

Sunland-Tujunga Alliance/No2Home Depot

It has come to our attention through observing the notices that the Sunland-Tujunga Alliance is posting on the No2Home Depot web site and through phone calls being received in Councilwoman Wendy Greuel’s office, that the Sunland-Tujunga Alliance is disseminating false and misleading information regarding Monday’s upcoming scheduling conference.

May we remind you once again that this meeting is under the auspices of the Dispute Resolution Program and that the Sunland-Tujunga Alliance has no role to play in its organization or conduct beyond that of being one of many invitees who have been asked to have a representative attend. The meeting is for invited participants only. This closed door meeting at this location does not violate any existing laws and its closed door status will be strictly enforced.

The Alliance’s irresponsible behavior in issuing its unauthorized public invitation has forced the Dispute Resolution Program to request police presence at the meeting to insure that this process will proceed under the Dispute Resolution Program’s policies and rules.
(emphasis added)

As was clearly stated in our letter, this meeting is logistical only. We fully respect and honor your right to express your opinions about the subject, but this scheduling conference is not the place for that and no discussion of the controversy as identified at the April 26, 2008 dialogue will be allowed. We are simply discussing time, date, place and ground rules and the Alliance’s representative will be asked for input along with all other representatives.

May we respectfully request that the Alliance issues a correction of the incorrect information on the web-site and call as many of their members as possible to instruct them not to attend. The last thing any of us want is a disturbance at the meeting and we should all do our best to avoid that possibility.

Barbara E. Goldfarb
Dispute Resolution Program

When Ms. Goldfarb was contacted by phone about the DRP staff member who said that the public could attend this meeting, Ms. Goldfarb was dismissive saying that the staff member didn't know what she was talking about. It is unfortunate that the DRP now blames the STA for their own lack of communication and misleading information. The DRP is ultimately responsible for creating this confusion and hard feelings among neighborhood residents, and the DRP is able to resolve this matter by calling off the police, and allowing the public to observe this meeting.

Sunland-Tujunga resident, Damien McGinnis, put it this way:

"What an outrage! Ms.Goldfarb seems to be making up the rules as she goes along and as she sees fit. The secrecy in the form of undisclosed participants/invitees, the closed door policy, apparent ulterior motives (which raises questions about possible corruption within and/or coercion of the DRP) and simple lack of congruency from the DRP and its office is intolerable and outrageous! I hope the news gets all over this and it becomes the latest city scandal."

Needless to say, angry residents upset about being excluded from this process will be showing up today at 4:30 pm to voice their concerns.

Perhaps you (and the Press) will consider joining us.

DRP Scheduling Meeting
4:30 PM
North Valley City Hall
7747 Foothill Blvd.

(For those that don't know, Joe B. is the president of the Sunland-Tujunga Alliance Inc., and chairman of the No Home Depot Campaign, in addition to being a blogger on Mayor Sam.)

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Blogger PetraFried in the City said:

Damn Joe, who in the hell does Ms. Goldfarb think she is? Oh wait ... she gave us her considered whoniversity credentials at the first meeting (snore...snore...snore)

She's the paranoid ditz who felt "threatened" by someone trying to take pictures and called the cops to "control" the "situation", yes?

I hope you guys have called the press because this could be really wild. Too bad Wendy G is out of town. I'll try to be there to help storm the North Valley bastille.

August 25, 2008 8:53 AM  

Anonymous Jane Fonda said:

You guys need to get a life; Home Depot is good for a neighborhood.

Lots of transient illegal immigrants will use the goods and services available from local merchants, they will inspire great graffiti on all signs and walls available.

The scavengers love them, because they leave beer cans and other refuse that can be recycled on lawns and in driveways where it is easily accessible to other low life types.

The auto repair folks will do great business as will the emrgency services folks who will get lots of calls as they try to get their cars and trucks started to no avail.

So, back off and let progress happen!!!

August 25, 2008 10:56 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

Why don't they have a private meeting at one of their private offices?

I wonder if Mark Ridley-Thomas would agree with holding a closed door meeting at a public place?

August 25, 2008 10:58 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

To: Jane Fonda said:

Don't forget the feces lining the parking lot..it converts into fertilizer! They can use it in the HD Garden section! Great for the plants and environment....

August 25, 2008 11:24 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

Wasn't it Rocky Delgawho and Tony Villawhathisnamenow's idea to sic
the DRP on S-T? Hmmmm I wonder what will show up in the Feds investigation. Who is buying who?
Why doesn't the county stop this insanity by the DRP. They are wasting money!

August 25, 2008 1:24 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

For God's sake, it's a f*^%$#g hardware store! And in modern times where we have communities with tens of thousands of people, they're bigger than they were in 1852.

The real issue at the heart of this is the number of brown people the store happens to attract.

Just don't hire the day laborers and they won't hang out there - a pure supply and demand principle.

August 25, 2008 3:42 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

Sure wouldn't want Rita of Sunland, who told KABC she produces porn and dresses like a raggedy has-been porn star, to worry her ratty hair none about them day laborors. Look I get the problem you all see with HD but unless you bunch are going to foot every last penny of the lawsuit yourselves, between your No HD group and HD itself -- not making the city fork out any more money than it already has -- get on with it.

Set up your own lingerie stand in front of the store, blast classical music at the site (which would have the salutary effect that mariachi music has on the rest os us) AND STOP WHINING AND DRAGGING THE REST OF US INTO FINANCIAL DEBT OVER YOUR GROUP OF HICKS IN THE STIX and one damn store.

The rest of us don't give a damn are are sick of you and your litigious influence on other groups on the city. In the end, you'll end up with the damn store anyway, and all these copycat suits are delaying needed projects and/or tax revenue.

JOE B, we don't give a damn about ST and HD or why you hate McCain.

August 25, 2008 4:56 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

I don't want to spend another dime on the city defending itself against this little community fighting a hardware store -- get real, people! Fight your own battles with your own money or if HD does open and they're a nuisance, attract day laborors who pose a nuisance, endanger school kids, any of that stuff -- sue them THEN for cause. Bring zuma dogg there to park his junkmobile and rap, no greater torture. But do NOT make the rest of us pay for it.

How about porn producer Rita of Sunland pouring her own ill-gotten money into this venture? Hilarious when she calls KABC full of "moral indignation" about some issue.

August 25, 2008 6:30 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

"undisclosed participants/invitees"

Barbara Goldfarb says she based her invitation list on the emails submitted by the community....the emails which listed the local organizations and individuals who represent Sunland-Tujunga's community leadership.

If that be the case, let's see the emails. Show us the documentation. How is it that Ms. Goldfarb's select list included people we have never heard of while people who have been community leaders for years were outside the meeting protesting?

Who is kidding who?

This raises serious questions about the integrity of this progress and that of Ms. Goldfarb in particular.

This isn't what Dispute Resolution director Avis Ridley-Thomas promised. Instead of transparency, Ms. Goldfarb appears to be running an open and shut case.

Who's pulling the strings here?

August 26, 2008 2:50 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

Look, HD does not have any stores near (less then 450 feet from the store)any school and in this case an elementry school. Day labor's, traffic and chemicals is a serious problem for the kids of the school's. Also, HD does'nt have a store in a residental area like this one. Apperson has field trips to McDonalds and some parents walk right down Woodward and the buses and parents drive down woodward, right where the Day Labors will be hanging out, and all the traffic will be tha HD has.

Sorry but there are more reasons not to have a HD then there is for having the HD.

this will be proven at the 10/16 meeting with the DRP. Sorry Barbara but this will be one of those that will have no sulation.

Sorry but HD should not be there and will make this community drop in value again.

If you're for HD at least make the case for it instead of attaking us.....

August 26, 2008 12:19 PM  

Anonymous Hedda Hopper said:

Isn't it strange that Barbara Goldfarb said the meeting didn't have to be open to public or require public disclousure because they had nothing to do with the HD's lawsuit or the Stipulation agreement> Therefore she didn't have to disclose anything regarding the results of that meeting.

Hmmm. All their correspondence to the community was on Rocky's City of L.A letterhead. The meeting was held on public property. The City is paying Loyola and another organization to help put the DRP together to facilitate the "dialogue", but yet, it is closed to the public and their selection process of inviting community leaders to participate in that meeting was unreasonable and joke

Does anyone belive, like me, that Sunland-Tujunga is being set up.
Take a good look community leaders, at the manipulation that is happening to Sunland-Tujunga. If we don't stop this, there is nothing to stop it from happening in your community.

You need to care and help us make our government transparent for your own sake as well as ours.

4:56 and 6:30 You either don't have a clear understanding regarding the Home Depot project and need to be educated, or you are HD representatives because you don't know what you are talking about.

August 27, 2008 1:59 AM  

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