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NCRA will take Ukiah deport revote Thursday – The Willits News
Wednesday 21 Jan 2009, 08:12
Filed under: Mendocino, NCRA, Northwestern Pacific Railroad, Railroad

NCRA will take Ukiah deport revote Thursday – The Willits News.

The North Coast Railroad Authority will vote again on a proposal to use the Ukiah depot and 10 acres of surrounding land to secure a $1.67 million loan from Northwestern Pacific Railroad during its January 22 meeting in Ukiah.

The action is meant to allay accusations the agency intentionally violated the Brown Act at its December meeting, and comes in response to a January 7 letter from attorney Andrew Packard of Petaluma.

According to the letter, the NCRA discussed and voted on a measure to secure a loan from the Northwestern Pacific Railroad Company, Inc., that was not adequately described in the NCRA’s agenda.

The item was characterized in the agenda by the phrase, “Discussion and possible approval of First Amendment to Bridge Financing and Security Agreement.” In reality, the board discussed using the Ukiah depot and land as collateral to secure a loan to make improvements to the line and pay attorney’s fees to the City of Novato in connection with a 2007-2008 lawsuit by the City of Novato.

In addition, according to Packard, the document describing the agreement to be discussed, which was posted on line, was substantially different from the document actually discussed at the meeting: one page of the agreement was not copied and was not part of the agenda packet distributed to the public for review prior to the meeting.

“The item voted upon encompasses a whole range of larger issues not adequately conveyed by the more limited language of the agenda
posting and the document partially posted to the directors online,” Packard wrote.

A joint press release from environmental groups Friends of the Eel, the Environmental Protection Information Center and Humboldt Baykeeper alleged NCRA was guilty of multiple violations of the Brown Act.

“The post agenda did not identify this action item with a title that adequately described the actions taken; the posted agenda and board packet, available online for the public, was missing the page of the original amendment document that mentioned the collateralization of the Ukiah depot and 10 acres for a private loan to the NCRA; the actions taken by the board of the NCRA was ultimately to approve an entirely different document than the original amendment that was posted and then distributed to the public in writing at the start of the meeting as if it was the item under consideration; the actual agreement voted upon was only supplied to the public on demand of David Keller during the public comment period held after the board had already discussed it and called for a vote; depriving the public of the opportunity to read, understand and comment upon the agreement.”

NCRA Executive Director Mitch Stogner denied the agency had intentionally tried to slip one past the public, adding the rail authority would reconsider the item at its January 22 board meeting in Ukiah.

“We are gonna do it again,” Stogner said,” and we will resolve all the differences that now exist between ourselves and our critics. We have nothing to hide. We have never had anything to hide. It has never been our intention to hide anything.”

The meeting will begin at 10:30 a.m. at the Ukiah Conference Center, 200 School Street.


1 Comment

Basically, the taxpayers (NCRA) are taking out a 5-year mortgage on the historic depot. The lender is none other than the private sector railroad operator (NWP). The terms on the $325,000 loan are 8% per annum, payable upon maturity in 2014. Sound like a sound deal for the taxpayer?

Comment by Dave

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