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  • From: Lorraine Dietrich [mailto:ljdietrich@comcast.net]
    Sent: Sunday, November 23, 2003 9:26 PM
    To: livermore@yahoogroups.com
    Subject: [livermore] FW: art community information

    Please read this!

    Lorraine

    -----Original Message-----
    From: Mark Beeman [mailto:mlbeeman@earthlink.net]
    Sent: Sunday, November 23, 2003 7:06 PM
    To: Nancy Nancy
    Subject: art community information

    Everyone,

    I've had a number of emails and phone calls asking me what happened last Monday night at council. There are a few incidents which are all inter-related. The bottom line is that I had to make some decisions between holding the "party line" and doing what I thought was the right thing to do. As a result, the mayor has seen fit to employ retribution rather than reparation. Given the same set of circumstances, I would make the same decisions that I have already made due to the fact that I have to look in the mirror at the end of the day. How is this related to the art community in general? Please read the information below and then think about how tenuous the support of the council may be if you happen to stand up for what you think is the right thing to do. I am not necessarily looking to be reappointed to the committees that I was removed from. However, it is very important to me that elected officials be fiscally and programmatically accountable to the community they are representing.

    I appreciate all of the good thoughts coming my way and I am continuing to work for the good of the art community, albeit in a different format.

    Mark

    /////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////
    Facts related to the performing arts theaters. I have tried to assemble facts that can be verified with public documents so that there is no disputing them and distracting from the core issue.

    1. Joan Seppela owns the Independent and is the president of the board of directors for the non-profit group LVCCC.

    2. The Independent is the only building on the golden triangle not slated to be replaced by redevelopment. Eventual value of this property after redevelopment will skyrocket. While there is no legal requirement for Joan to excuse herself from negotiations, there appears to be a conflict of interest between her business interests, personal finances, and the use of public funds and the non-profit organization of which she is the president.

    3. Joan worked very hard on the campaigns of Kamena and Leider, including going door-to-door and telephone fund raising and writing numerous editorials and endorsements in the paper.

    4. Upon successful election to office, Kamena appoints Kamena and Leider to the subcommittee to negotiate with LVCCC for the performing arts theaters. Joan Seppela is the appointed representative for the LVCCC. (An initial examination of the ethics rules for elected officials suggests there could be a conflict of interest here. This is probably not illegal but certainly a grey area for an elected official.)

    5. The LVCCC has long advocated two separate theaters on two separate sites for the Performing arts. Mark Beeman tells the Valley Times that he is an advocate of a single theater structure that would primarily accommodate local groups. However, Mark states that in his opinion the regional theater in a separate building and separate site would be very difficult to undertake for the city of Livermore. After the election, Mark is removed form ALL art-related committees as well as the redevelopment project area committee (downtown redevelopment). Lorraine Deitrich is by-passed for her appointment to Vice Mayor (normal rotation as per traditional protocol) and removed from the subcommittee to define the duties of a cultural arts committee.

    5. At the first subcommittee meeting after appointment, Kamena and Leider chose to completely change direction of the subcommittee and fire two consultants that were jointly hired by the City and LVCCC to study the feasibility of the theater project. This decision is made without the vote of the full council, even though the previous subcommittee (Beeman and Kamena) took all major decisions to the full council.
    Initial findings of the (newly fired) consultants included opinions that there is strong support for a local theater of around 500 seats but that the regional theater would be very difficult to move forward at this time. Additionally, the consultants suggested that we examine an alternative theater comprised of multiple uses in a single structure on a single site that would accommodate our thriving local demand and still allow some presenting programming. All of this information is available to the public by asking Chris Davidson with the City of Livermore (960-4143) for the Webb Management Services "Needs Assessment Report, August 2003". Public money spent on this work: $20,000.

    6. In 2001, the city paid the consulting company B Squared and Auerbach and Associates to do a needs assessment and planning assessment of the performing arts center. The initial findings by these consultants were that there was strong support for a local theater of about 500 seats but that a regional theater of 1250 seats would be very hard to finance and compete in the SF Bay market. Another recommendation was that both theaters be located on the same site to economize capital and operating costs. These consultants were also released upon direction by Joan Seppela and LVCCC. Public money spent on this report: $17,000.

    7. To date, LVCCC has raised $00.00 while insisting that the City determine how we will pay for this project. City has released $450,000 in public funds to the LVCCC in anticipation of a theater project. Currently, the LVCCC is operating without a full board of directors since the resignation of David Mertes in February, 2003. I am currently looking into the legal requirements for non-profits to have a full (5 member executive board) board to make decisions on expenditure of public funds.

    8. In the research that I have done so far, I have found that all successful community theater projects have been spearheaded by the cultural arts groups in the community. Lots of public support is needed for a project of this magnitude. The LVCCC project is being spearheaded by a group of local entrepreneurs that have done very little public outreach to see what size project would be supported by the largest number of citizens.

    Things that you can do:

    1. Write letters to the editor citing facts and demanding that the theater process become a public process. If the public is going to finance this project, then we should be the ones determining the parameters of the project.

    2. Contact Chris Davidson at the City of Livermore (960-4143) and ask for copies of the B Squared preliminary report and the Webb Associates preliminary report. (These are public domain documents and copies must be provided in a timely manner.)

    3. Come to a City Council meeting and ask for copies of the B Squared report and the Webb Associates report.

    4. Ask for a public process to discuss the composition and responsibilities of the proposed Public Art Commission for the city of Livermore. The art community should benefit from this committee and should have access to the process at the outset to preserve the integrity of the proposal. Councilmember Dietrich had proposed that there be a public workshop that would be used to determine the scope of work for this committee but we have no idea if this will go forward with the new subcommittee.

    5. Research contributions to the political campaigns of Kamena and Leider to determine how many contributions were made either by Directors of LVCCC or their spouses (Joan Seppela, Phil Wente, Phil Dean, Mort Mendelson). None of this is illegal, but may provide some support for this process to be a public process.

    6. Research conflict of interest rules for elected officials using Fair Political Practices Commission, League of California Cities or Institute for Local Self Government resources (websites hopefully). Again, there may be areas that are not technically illegal but would make public accountability necessary.

    7. Pass this information along to as many people as possible so that the facts can get to the public.

    8. Contact media and ask that they do a story to illustrate the facts in the process. I have already talked with the TriValley Herald and the Valley Times, but they are reluctant to discuss the role of Joan Seppela due to her position as a newspaper editor. There is some possibility that papers outside the TriValley may be interested (like the Chronicle). Otherwise, it becomes more important to write letters to the editor, stressing the actual facts in the matter.


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