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RDA cuts small business contribution in half

May 30, 2002|By AARON CLAVERIE

Staff Writer

CALEXICO — The City Council, seated as the city Redevelopment Agency board, voted 3-2 to rescind a $15,000 contribution to the Imperial Valley Small Business Development Center at a special meeting Wednesday.

The RDA board voted to contribute $15,000 to the center at an April 9 meeting. After its vote to rescind the contribution, the RDA board voted 3-2 to contribute $7,500 to the center, which helps entrepreneurs further fledgling businesses.

Councilman David Ouzan said the city of El Centro gives the center $5,000 a year and past Calexico councils have given the center $3,000 a year, when they did contribute to the center. He said he thought it was "outrageous" the center was given $15,000 this year.

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"It's way too much. I don't think we should cut down on our services," he said.

Mayor John Renison said, "This is an investment in the business community, in the small business community of which many people in this city thrive. … That's what we're looking at here tonight, whether we're investing in small business or not, and has this benefited Calexico, not how it has benefited El Centro or Brawley but how it benefits Calexico?"

Councilman Alex Perrone said Ben Solomon, director of the SBDC, has "done a great job" but added, "But I do have a concern. I see previous years where we have supported the program with $3,000 and then it's bumped up to $15,000. It concerns me."

Perrone said $7,500 would be a fair amount.

"We can talk about principles, we can talk about ethics but when we're playing or we're working, with city moneys I think we should be good stewards," Perrone said.

Mayor Pro Tem Frank Montoya said he doesn't like to revisit issues but he said he would go along with the $7,500 figure.

Councilman Victor Carrillo said, "It's unprofessional for us to renege on a contribution that we made to a professional organization or an agency that now has based that premise for their funding for the calendar year. .. I believe that it's unethical, it's unprofessional. This sends out a very negative image throughout the Imperial Valley."

Renison said the city should fund the $15,000 and revisit the issue if it comes back before the council next year.

"I think this benefits Calexico," he said.

After the RDA board voted 3-2 to reconsider the previous action taken, the board voted 3-2 to give the center $7,500.

After the votes, Renison asked why a special meeting had been called for this one item.

The board met at 6 p.m. before it was scheduled to meet at 6:30 p.m. as the Housing Authority board of commissioners.

City Attorney Michael Rood said the mayor or the city manager usually sets meetings with the approval of at least three board members.

Ouzan said the timing of the meeting was keen since the $15,000 check had not yet been written.

Then, he said, "Calexico is not a deep pocket city! Enough with this! Enough with this giveaway! It's not your money! If you want to give give it out of your own pocket, don't use city sources."

Ouzan continued, "The $7,500 could be used to make Calexico prettier."

Ouzan mentioned palm trees downtown specifically.

Ouzan continued, "For you ($15,000) is nothing. Enough is enough! We're not going to give away. It's unprofessional to revisit an issue? Anybody has the right to revisit an item, whether it's a penny! This is the right of the council."

Ouzan then addressed the four or so people in the council chambers who weren't city employees, "Wake up, people, to what is going on here. I have the right to revisit an item and I will, any time, any item!"

Renison asked the clerk of the board, "Did you get all that?"

During the Housing Authority meeting, the City Council, seated as the authority's board of commissioners, gave direction to interim Executive Director Peter Castro to advertise for legal services and start the process of bringing in a management team.

The management team might consist of two people from the Imperial Valley Housing Authority, according to Castro.

In closed session the commissioners discussed potential lawsuits and contract negotiations. After closed session, the commissioners voted to give the authority's Teamsters a 5 percent raise retroactive to June 1 of last year, according to Renison.

>> Staff Writer Aaron Claverie can be reached at 337-3419 or aclaverie@aol.com

volved in a high-speed chase through city streets Wednesday morning that left an officer with an injured knee and a car with a sideswipe before the chase reached a muddy conclusion.

El Centro police Lt. Tim Blankenship said the pursuit started at 10:28 on Orange Avenue after El Centro police were told by U.S. Border Patrol agents they were following a vehicle that might be carrying illegal immigrants.

Agents told police the vehicle was heading west on Orange at a high rate of speed. Agents were following the vehicle with an air unit and some unmarked vehicles.

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