Grand jury wants El Dorado County to take over S. Tahoe


By Kathryn Reed

Having South Lake Tahoe be absorbed by El Dorado County, and turning the ice rink into a private enterprise are the two issues the El Dorado County Grand Jury wrote reports on involving the city.

While South Tahoe Public Utility District was a target of an investigation, grand jury foreman Ted Long said no report was made.

The entire grand jury report is expected to be available within a matter of days.

Lake Tahoe News has received advance copies of some of the reports.

Long said he is the one who initiated the query into consolidating the city into the county.

“What is the city doing that is so earth shattering?” Long said to Lake Tahoe News. “I think it would be better to get rid of the city.”

The report says, “This grand jury is suggesting that a dialog should begin to reinvent the meaning of local government. What are our priorities and how can they best be paid for? Have we outgrown the traditional notions? Are we using technology to its maximum benefit?”

If South Lake Tahoe wanted the county to take over, first it would have to dissolve, as in no longer being an incorporated city. This requires LAFCo (Local Agency Formation Commission) to be involved.

Long should know all of this because when he was on the South Lake Tahoe City Council he was the city’s rep to LAFCo.

With the voters in the mid-1960s agreeing to incorporate, it takes the voters of South Lake Tahoe to unincorporate. Only two cities in California have done so. That was in the 1970s – one did so because it was broke, the other because of rampant corruption.

The grand jury report says money would be saved by consolidating city and county resources and getting rid of the city. Long said this would happen by not having duplicate top administrators.

But consolidation isn’t that easy because of labor agreements, debt the city has and assets it owns.

City Manager Nancy Kerry said if dissolution was so easy cities like Stockton would be looking at doing so instead of filing for bankruptcy. Plus, the difficulty in actually dissolving redevelopment agencies in California proves the process is convoluted.

“I think we should look at the broader picture. Should we leverage resources? Sure. We are talking to the school district and everyone,” Kerry told Lake Tahoe News.

This week the city met again with Lake Valley fire officials to discuss creating a partnership. While no decisions have been made, the city is looking at ways to save money and get rid of duplicate resources.

While the civil grand jury wants the city to save money, having a private company operate the taxpayer built ice rink is not a good thing, according to the second report. This, despite the fact the city is saving in excess of $100,000 by not operating the rink. That figure does not include the profit margin the operators are to pay the city.

The grand jury issued five recommendations regarding the ice rink. The main one is to go back to the voters to see if they are OK with the rink being operated by a private company. The other recommendations are things like mandating the council respond to grand jury emails. But protocol would be to have the city attorney respond to legal matters.

“Private-public partnerships have been legal for a long time,” Kerry said in regards to the flap involving the piece of ice.

She said when the city receives a copy of the report City Attorney Patrick Enright will review any legal issues that are brought up and the findings will be in the city’s response to the grand jury.

When the grand jury report is officially out, it will be accessible online. This June 25 LTN article is about the Pioneer Fire Protection District hiring a political consultant with taxpayer dollars and the ties El Dorado County Superior Court Judge Steven Bailey has to the consultant.

 

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Comments (42)
  1. Steve Kubby says - Posted: June 28, 2012

    Name one thing the City has done to make live any easier or less expensive. I’ll wait for your answer.

  2. 4-mer-usmc says - Posted: June 28, 2012

    “Long said he is the one who initiated the query into consolidating the city into the county.” “What is the city doing that is so earth shattering?” Long said to Lake Tahoe News. “I think it would be better to get rid of the city.”

    Well, this certainly appears like the classic case of sour grapes. Subsequent to Long’s one-term as a Councilmember on the SLT City Council he’s continually applied to nearly every Council appointed City Commission in existence and was not selected by any sitting Council so it appears he’s used his legal expertise (and I use that term loosely) and applied to the Grand Jury so he could flex his muscles over being snubbed by every successive City Council after his term. This individual cannot be trusted and as a Grand Jury appointee he’s now maneuvered and manipulated a report to advance his own agenda.

    Long was a lousy, one-term Councilmember whose only concern was getting his way and it appears this bottom feeder hasn’t changed one bit. In his effort to get even with former and current Councilmembers since his term ended he has now demonstrated no compunction at harming and forcing additional expenses on this entire community. No class.

  3. earl zitts says - Posted: June 28, 2012

    I like duplicate police depts. I like duplicate fire departments. I like empire building. I like pettiness. I like wasting taxpayer money. I love the hole in the ground. And the Grand Jury wants SLT to dissolve. What are they crazy?

  4. Skier says - Posted: June 28, 2012

    People have been saying dissolve city since it was incorporated. Put it on the Nov ballot. The city could hand public safety to county resources and go away and we would never miss them.

  5. biggerpicture says - Posted: June 28, 2012

    Dissolve the city and all those folks that live to complain about local bureaucracy can shift their focus and target thier complaints on folks in Placerville! And the rest of us SLT citizens can become completely disenfranchised!

  6. Steve says - Posted: June 28, 2012

    Like it or not, the truth has a habit of eventually rearing its sometimes ugly head.

    End the duplicity, unnecessary redundant layers of government, overlapping departments and positions, wasteful spending, and higher taxes and fees. Dissolve the city. Incline Village and Tahoe City do just fine and are examples of why this is not rocket science.

  7. 30yrlocal says - Posted: June 28, 2012

    How could losing a city and being taken over by a county be good for us? Why is a grand jury even suggesting that this be done?

    Grand juries were formed to protect society and make sure the law was enforced. Isn’t a grand jury (a group of dedicated citizens, government background and knowledge not needed) even suggesting that our city be dissolved beyond the scoop of their duties? I think there are plenty of allegations against county operations, judges and west slope mayors that they can investigate.

  8. JoAnn Conner says - Posted: June 28, 2012

    A handful of citizens, some not City residents, wants to make a decision for all the people of South Lake Tahoe? There were some very good reasons for incorporating as a City. What makes Ted Long the authority on what’s good for us? Why is the Grand Jury even involving itself in this? We have ONE representative for our County. Do you really think the Placerville area people know what’s best for the City of South Lake Tahoe? Keep our City, “warts and all.”

  9. Parker says - Posted: June 28, 2012

    Everyone has to see how wasteful and inefficient it is to have an independent City of SLT! Having all that duplication with the county, and thus all that duplication of high and overpaid top mgt., means a lot of money is flushed down the proverbial toilet!

    Heck, I see Sheriff’s cars pulling people over in the City and I know of instances where Lake Valley has responded to City fire calls, so there should be no problem with their taking over. Plus, since the City has some weird fetish where they like sit on money and fail to provide the other most basic service, maintaining our streets, it cannot justify its further existence!

    No need to “study it” or god forbid, hire a consultant! Plain & simple, just put it to a vote!

  10. 4-mer-usmc says - Posted: June 28, 2012

    Ms. Conner:

    Thank you for your comments. I 100% concur with all your remarks.

  11. sunriser2 says - Posted: June 28, 2012

    Everyone knows I’m no fan of our local government But El Dorado County is the worst.

    They are a horrible combination of big government and cronyism.

    The old liberal retires from the Bay area have created a NIMBY environment like none before.

    I would like to see the grand jury investigate where all the money went during the boom years, but that would require looking into the city council that Long was a member of.

  12. dan wilvers says - Posted: June 28, 2012

    Have been very impressed with City snow removal service, my county neighbors wait longer.

  13. Ted Long says - Posted: June 28, 2012

    First of all the S.T.P.U.D. was not a good subject to investigate. Secondly the Grand Jury, looking at the cost and the availability of modern technology is not asking to ban anything; it is saying that the concept of a city is hundreds of years old and maybe it’s time to relook. What do we want as local services? What’s the best way to provide them? Do we have too many managers and high paid executives? Can we improve the system to provide better serve to the tax payer. Why so much fear to even look? Our city charges us to play golf and wants to sell the ice rink to private interest. We need more police and fire on the job and fewer chiefs, if the inquiry continues I am sure that the truth will come out. In the meantime business is streamling, and government is dying, Stockton is only one city that is bankrupt!

  14. Brian says - Posted: June 28, 2012

    Put it on the ballot… To much duplication of agencies up here… We Could use some consolidation..

  15. Ted Long says - Posted: June 28, 2012

    By the way, those complaining about Placerville should first visit El Dorado Hills, the difference is it’s the citizens, the voter’s job to deal with Placerville. I bet none of the above complainers have ever been to a board of sups. Meeting and we have the lowest voter turnout in the county. By the way did you notice the county’s street got repaved while you are still dodging potholes?
    And by the way what makes Ted Long knowledgeable on the subject is 50 years of public service from councilmember, to chair of LAFCO and state board delegate, to president of the League of California Cities Sac. division. Three Grand Juries, planning commission, regional transportation board member and twenty additional boards and committees. Funny I have not seen you there?

  16. Deborah A. Palmer, Esq. says - Posted: June 28, 2012

    Cutting overhead and consolidation has been the mantra of the bust years, so the grand jury suggestion to explore the topic is nothing new. However, the Lake Tahoe Basin and it’s unique assets and concerns, should have local representation. If the most populous Tahoe area, South Lake Tahoe, has it’s government dissolved, then the entire Tahoe Basin will be controlled by outside interests. I do not see how that can be in the best interests of the local populace.

  17. 4-mer-usmc says - Posted: June 28, 2012

    I find it amusing that when Ted Long served as a Councilmember on the SLT City Council he suggested that South Lake Tahoe possibly change from a Charter City to a General Law City and how he’s suggesting a review of South Lake Tahoe even being a City at all. I can’t help but wonder what the motivation is this time but seriously doubt it has anything to do with what’s really best for the South Lake Tahoe community.

  18. sunriser2 says - Posted: June 28, 2012

    Ted might be right. I have recently had the opportunity to review easement proposals and the accompanying appraisals for some of the Siva Valley/White Rock Road freeway interchange acquisitions/condemnations.

    They appear to be far above the level of work afforded to the family businesses at Stateline that Ted helped to ruin.

  19. lou pierini says - Posted: June 28, 2012

    Ted, You have not seen us there cuz you came too late. You were elected in tne basin 1 time and defeated 2 times, the rest is fluff or style over substance.

  20. JoAnn Conner says - Posted: June 28, 2012

    4-mer, Deborah, and Lou – I agree! Mr. Long, you’re an “outsider” yourself in many ways, and haven’t weathered the storms most of us have. Since you moved here, you have been full of ideas on how to “change us.” We have our flaws, but most of us don’t want to be like the big city, that’s why we live in this basin. Please check your history – before the City was incorporated, they had difficulty getting the services the people here needed. As for paying our dues, just because we have served in other public arenas than you, does not mean we haven’t served this community. You don’t seem to listen to the people, you want to tell them what is good for them.
    Deborah – good to see another “white hat” on this post! Long time!

  21. earl zitts says - Posted: June 28, 2012

    Jo Ann you are four for four today.
    Can somebody please answer the above question why El Dorado Hills voted to stay county and not incorporate. They are not exactly economically deprived.
    I believe SLT is still a general law city and still violating the law. I don’t remember a ballot issue to change to charter law city.

  22. Not Born on the Bayou says - Posted: June 28, 2012

    Why does the debate seem to revolve around extreme choices – as either dissolve the city or keep it? I just don’t understand the all or nothing mentality.

    Why not evaluate those services that can be:

    – best consolidated with the county (fire, police, others?)

    – privatized

    – remain with the city so it can control its destiny better (possible examples: strategic investment, code enforcement, etc)?

    Then try some of those changes incrementally but not irreversibly, and not just have a rushed vote dominated by propaganda laden advertisements and fear mongering.

    Anytime you turn over ALL functions to outsiders, your particular and important local needs will most likely take a back seat.

  23. John says - Posted: June 28, 2012

    Not Born, the city refuses to talk to the county about consolidation. It is just an exercise in frustration to deal with the city on really anything, so this is where the conversation heads. We are talking about a group that couldnt even set up a contract for a hot dog stand.

  24. Biggerpicture says - Posted: June 28, 2012

    Not Born on the Bayou.
    Such a level headed thought process in your post is a breath of fresh air! I’m a firm believer in the KISS principle, and from what I just read, you may even subscribe to it. Too many folks today back extreme knee jerk reactions to deal with our problems, then blame someone else when the extreme quick fix doesn’t work!

  25. Skier says - Posted: June 28, 2012

    The City of South Lake has demonstrated that they screw up pretty much everything they touch. Most recently, the bid for Lakeview Commons, the bear box bid. They have amassed a huge, yet to be determined unfunded liability for its retirees for healthcare and retirement plans.
    The City incorporated for better snow removal and public safety services(police, fire). Well, they laid off most of their snowplow operators last fall. This spring they fired all their fire battalion chiefs. They eliminated captain and sergeant positions in their police department. They made their police chief their fire chief too.
    Please explain to me how they are providing better service than County resources? These city services are the laughing stock in the industry. It’s time to change the way the city does business. Consolidations make sense.

  26. Parker says - Posted: June 28, 2012

    Just because you don’t like the messenger, doesn’t mean the message is a bad one. And at the very least, we should consolidate service with the County!

  27. Frank says - Posted: June 29, 2012

    Ted Long is jusing the cover of “government is inefficient,” “costs us too much” “taxpayers are mad” as a way to make himself relevant to discussion.

    If the Grand Jury was actually interested in the concept of smaller or less governments, where is consolidation or dissolution of cities best for the citizen, then they would have looked no further than the City of Placerville, with city offices and services only a few miles down the street from the County offices. It would make sense to evaluate whether Placerville dissolving first since a resident would have little change or impact to drive a few miles further to handle their business dealings with the County. If it doesn’t make efficiency sense for Cit of Placerville, its far less logical for South Lake Tahoe that is 60 miles away from the County, thousands of feet up a mountain and light years different than the County. We have one elected representative on the County board, and she along with Ted are hardly relevant to our community. Here we have five elected board members who I can pick up the phone or talk to any day of the week and get something done. Placerville city residents have the right to have their own locally managed government and so do we. A grand jury foreman, former city council member who ‘s been told by the residents we don’t elect him because he doesn’t speak for us, can’t get on a board appointment although he still tries, gets himself on a civil grand jury and oddly suggests the city who won’t elect him should go away (doesn’t the overseeing judge question his motives?) all in the name of government efficiencies.

    Start with City of Placerville and see how that works, we’ll use it as a model since they are literally within a stone’s throw and would have little change to the residents. Once you dissolve Placerville, then you can use the results to demonstrate the effectiveness to other communities.

  28. JoAnn Conner says - Posted: June 29, 2012

    There are consolidation talks going on where it makes some sense. The communication between Lake Valley Fire and South Lake Tahoe Fire is still on the table. Both of these entities have existed for a very long time, so nothing is going to happen quickly here – everyone wants to have their say and make sure the fit will be a good one, for the citizens as well as the firefighters. Likewise, the elimination of certain positions in both the fire department and the police department were a result of budget cuts and having to do more with less. Isn’t that what some of you want? The Chief position was the same thing. Saved the City a lot of money and if you went to the discussions or were able to see some of them on TV, that also made sense, even though not a popular decision with some. The philosophy was to keep more FD & PD on the streets and cut management costs – also what many of you stated you would like to see.
    I also agree that good change does not always come swiftly; government is complex and the people need to have input.I still think this town can run itself and that the people want their own government right here. There are a lot of good people here working to make this a better place to live and improve the economy as best we can within the state of the nation.Keep our government in SLT, not the County.

  29. earl zitts says - Posted: June 29, 2012

    A third of the south shore residents are in the county. They sure are suffering not being part of the city.
    The problem is more of empires built and selfish concern for self before community.

  30. Parker says - Posted: June 29, 2012

    That’s awesome to hear they’re ‘talking’ about doing what they should do! They’ve ‘talking’ about it for many years. It doesn’t need to be studied or discussed! Anyone with any logic, (and if it was being run like a business/like they cared about our tax dollars) can see we should consolidate police, fire, roads/ snow removal now!

  31. David Jinkens says - Posted: July 1, 2012

    The City of South Lake Tahoe incorporated I am told to give residents more local control and to improve police, fire,and snow removal services. By and large, these services have been good and City employees have done a fine job. Collaboration and cooperation between local elected Basin agencies is important and proper, and it should continue and be pursued.

    While there are examples of cooperation between City and County government, most notably Lakeview Commons and City police and the Sheriff’s Department, it has not been the norm at the elected level over the years even with the efforts of our County Supervisor. In fact, one County Supervisor from another district said publicly that our area near the Lake should incorporate into its own County so that County government did not have to pay for the costs of the large number of unemployed.

    County government as a whole has largely ignored the interests and concerns of the people of the City and left us to fend for ourselves rather than being an advocate with City government officials for change of the bureaucratic governance system forced on the City by regional agencies in the Basin whose leadership is elected by no one. Yes, there are examples of cooperation among line employees in City and County departments, but County elected leadership has left the Lake on its own in large part rather than being a political partner and advocate. Remember, it was County government that suddenly gave in to Indian Casino interests (Red Hawk) even though they knew that this casino would hurt the South Shore economy and it did hurt the economy. The South Shore was sold out without warning despite City government and private sector protests.

    I agree that all public agencies should strive to work together in an efficent and effective manner and keep coodination of services an open topic for real evaluation and debate. I do not think County government in Placerville has been helping the South Shore economy as a priority on their agenda while having a strong local and diversified economy is or should be first on our City agenda.

    I just can’t agree that the idea would be good for the people of South Lake Tahoe, but I have enjoyed reading the comments.I mean no one ill here, I am just offering an opinion.

    Thanks Kae for following the story.

    David Jinkens

  32. xmotelworker says - Posted: July 1, 2012

    Mr. Jinkens, as long as you are “just offering an opinion” maybe you can find the time to tell the good people of South Lake Tahoe why you supported the use of eminent domain being used for the “tahole” while you were city manager.

  33. lou pierini says - Posted: July 1, 2012

    The city used eminent domain for only one property or two for the hole. I know two is too many, but compared to ski run or park av. it’s minimal.

  34. Frank says - Posted: July 2, 2012

    Mr. Jinkens, try answering for previous Grand Jury report, tell the good people of South Lake Tahoe why you created such animosity among the Council, why you sat in your tower and pounded out emails around town but never bothered to actively work with the counties of El Dorado and Douglas; why you consistently touted that everyone else was supposed to cow tow to the City aka you, but we were going to do it your way or no way. Mr. Jinkens, we have not forgotten the disarray in which you left the city. If you think we have, we are ready to roll tape. You cannot run along the sidelines of the game waiting for the moment you think we’ve forgotten and hope when you grab the ball you won’t get tackled with the pile of us who lived through the messes you created and left. Look around, we’re still cleaning up. You don’t just offer an opinion, you’re testing the water for something and I’m not drinking the coolaid. Been there done that. Just read the LTN stories from a few years ago, it aint that long ago.

  35. Steve says - Posted: July 2, 2012

    Cities and communities in Southern California that have replaced their police departments with county sheriff services instead have experienced lower costs, faster responses, better service, and vastly improved efficiency.

    By and large, the only ones to benefit from keeping the status quo are government bureaucrats and retirees interested in keeping their nests feathered, comfortable, and protected, and other beneficiaries in position for personal gain.

  36. Julie Threewit says - Posted: July 2, 2012

    Mr. Zitts, you say “A third of the south shore residents are in the county. They sure are suffering not being part of the city.” How are we suffering?

  37. JoAnn Conner says - Posted: July 2, 2012

    Please be careful of comparing “apples to oranges.” It has been stated before, but to repeat – we are different. Most recently, we were compared to Sacramento, Livermore, and Monterey. You don’t name a particular city or cities, Steve, but please remember we are a small, somewhat geographically isolated community of approximately 23-24 thousand people. We have no manufacturing, and most of our businesses are small.Sacramento has a population of nearly 500 thousand and is close to the small community of Placerville, which enjoys the benefit of having industry within 10 miles or so. Livermore is approximately 90 thousand people, has vineyards, and is the third wealthiest mid-size town in the nation. Monterey is a very wealthy community.We are unique, and that is both wonderful and frustrating at the same time.

  38. xmotelworker says - Posted: July 2, 2012

    Mr. Jinkens, would you agree with Mr. Pierini that at the most only two properties were taken thru eminent domain?

    And while you are talking to the comminity thru this website maybe you can explain your role in the citys decision to NOT require a performance bond for the tahole.

  39. Hang Ups From Way Back says - Posted: July 2, 2012

    No one would take this town ,not for one dollar worth 43 cents,they got frankenstein written all over it’s body parts they donate to Science section for Study.

    Nothing fits anyone agenda ,nothing ever did fit it’s greed to domain the bucks location to go only to certain people who have Owned this town since you could see the 100 foot clear water white dish,special since the rope was only 70 foot long to begin with.
    Happy Holidays,it’s been gorgeous out there.
    Water,women,secret coves,meat on the grill,Sammy playing at snow globes shock waves decimals of PURE LIFE,FUN.
    Don’t worry the town will survive.

  40. Frank says - Posted: July 2, 2012

    Mr. Jinkens, please answer why you allowed the tahole to proceed without performance bond, why you brokered, defended and advocated for Randy Lane’s deal and allowed your staff to permit pouring concrete over parcels he didn’t own, (doesn’t one need a building permit and to get a permit, wouldn’t you need to prove you own it at least?), why don’t you answer the questions you don’t like to answer. Mr. Jinkens, please tell us and xmotel, why you personally advocated for that project to the council and didn’t require due diligence to make sure the parcels were all one parcel , that he owned them and require a performance bond.
    Can you also tell us why you don’t answer questions you don’t like?
    How about the grand jury’s report on problems under your management that were never addressed?
    along with the fact you didn’t work well with other agencies.
    Just read the letter you posted again, it’s all about the same old stuff, that the county isn’t a good partner, the County didn’t do this or that, but never about how the city made mistakes under your management.

    Seems to me we have a lot of questions you should answer before you start acting as if none of this ever happened. As long as you want to start getting in the public’s face again, be prepared to first answer the questions you never did.

    its ironic that in your posting you say thanks to Kae for following up; laughable since you refused to answer questions or provide information to this site while being manager.

    Answer our questions , we have a whole lot more… roll tape!

  41. mike mulligan says - Posted: July 4, 2012

    Maybe it’s time to revisit the decades old idea of forming a new county up here in the basin. I personally have never been comfortable with the fine folks from Placerville controling what goes on up here on the south shore. El Dorado County has the reputation throughout California of cronyism and corruption. Oh, and I agree that Ted has some sort of personal motivation for this.

  42. xmotelworker says - Posted: July 4, 2012

    Mr. Jinkens, your silence is growing louder and louder!