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Costco and the Mayor

Original post made on Aug 1, 2016

Mayor Jerry Thorne disclosed at the start of a public hearing July 19 that he owns shares of Costco Corp. stock.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, July 29, 2016, 12:00 AM

Comments (63)

61 people like this
Posted by Val
a resident of Val Vista
on Aug 1, 2016 at 10:59 pm

Excellent editorial!

Mayor Thorne had no choice on July 19. Several people in the audience had learned of this conflict. He had to admit it.
While owning the Costco stock since 2014, he appointed a task force that allowed a big-box, Costco. Ethically, he knew better. Clearly, form 700 filed by Mayor Thorne on April 6, 2015 shows Costco ownership on two separate pages.

If we dig deeper, what else will we learn? Why won't the City tell us about the negotiated incentives with Costco? Why is the City willing to have us pay $11,000,000 of the infrastructure which would normally be paid by the developer?

I know many of you love Costco. I love Costco; just not here.

This whole project reeks of secrecy. Favoritism. Where is the transparency? What will it cost us? How much will be borrow? Has CalTrans decided on interchange improvements? No.

Let's look at alternatives. Trader Joe's wants to come. Other smaller retailers will come. They will pay their way. No borrowing. No $11,000,000 cost to the City. Less traffic. Less pollution.


49 people like this
Posted by Bob A.
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 2, 2016 at 7:42 am

Bob A. is a registered user.

Classic politician behavior! The Mayor knew he owned COSTCO stock, since at least 2014 and he waited until he was going to be called out on the deception to recuse himself. What else isn't he telling us?


45 people like this
Posted by JJ
a resident of Walnut Grove Elementary School
on Aug 2, 2016 at 8:16 am

JJ is a registered user.

While owning Costco stock, and reporting it on Form 700 "Financial Reporting" required by the Political Practices Act-- the Mayor helped form a pilot program called the JDEDZ-- a first for Pleasanton. It gave broad authorities to attract businesses with financial incentives.

Now the City leaders heading the JDEDZ will not tell us of the financial incentives promised Costco, yet Costco likes them so much that they have signed a lease.

This whole thing is being negotiated with our money behind closed doors. In addition to the $11,000,000 we are asked to pay and borrow for infrastructure -- there will be sales tax forgiveness; property tax reduction-- as in other cities. Costco demands it!

I say NO to Costco. NO to the broad authorities given to the Pilot Program, JDEDZ, which was appointed and approved by the Mayor while owning Costco stock. NO to the huge financial assistance being given to Costco.

Our City deserves better.




49 people like this
Posted by Lisa S.
a resident of Stoneridge
on Aug 2, 2016 at 8:34 am

Lisa S. is a registered user.

Mayor Thorne has been downright mean to people speaking against Costco at public meetings. He has been arrogant and indignant. It was very obvious that he favored Costco and did not want to consider alternatives which produced less traffic, pollution, and no borrowing.

Alternatives better for the community.

Now it is obvious why! Thank you for this editorial. You did the City a service in calling out unethical situation.


65 people like this
Posted by Maxed Out!
a resident of Stoneridge
on Aug 2, 2016 at 11:08 am

Maxed Out! is a registered user.

Hmm...this is all very interesting

...Mayor Thorne signs form 700 showing that he owned Costco stock since January 2014
...Costco approaches the City in 2014
...In 2014, Mayor is involved with forming a pilot program, JDEDZ, giving broad powers for financial incentives to companies locating in the JDEDZ
...On July 19, 2016, the Mayor admits to owning Costco stock and recuses himself
...On July 19, 2016 the 4 remaining Council Members decide to write the ballot arguments for Costco

It is widely known that Mayor Thorne influences most of the Council. Look at the voting record. Shouldn't the entire Council be recused? How is it right for the Council Members to write and sign the ballot arguments in favor of Costco, as they are heavily influenced by Mayor Thorne who has been biased?

I am Maxed Out of our current leadership, and the direction we are heading to build, build, build.


43 people like this
Posted by Bob QP
a resident of Rosewood
on Aug 2, 2016 at 2:01 pm

Bob QP is a registered user.

We desperately need to have someone come forward to run for Mayor, so that we don't reward Thorne's bad behavior by handing him re-election by default! Isn't there anyone out there willing to stand up for Pleasanton?


43 people like this
Posted by Junie Bee
a resident of Stoneridge
on Aug 2, 2016 at 3:17 pm

Junie Bee is a registered user.

Disappointing. Shameful. NO on Costco. NO on the Council's writing and signing ballot arguments.

Look at Costco's actions in Elk Grove, as reported by the Sacramento Bee on May 24, 2016.

Elk Grove Mayor, Gary Davis, "said he doesn't like the way Costco wants to lower its rents by asking the city to provide economic incentives to its would-be-landlord". Davis goes on to say "Costco is known for requiring its development fees to be reimbursed through sales tax sharing agreements with cities. In this case Costco wants the city to give its landlord subsidy while the company pays lower rent...that way it would not look like a kickback."

Davis continues by saying, "when I first met with Costco in 2008, they indicated very clearly that they would only locate in cities where 100 percent of their impact fees are returned in terms of revenue sharing. They didn't want to do it directly."

An honest man. Costco's indirect kickback plan was fully disclosed by the Mayor of Elk Grove. Why the secrecy in our city?


46 people like this
Posted by Flightops
a resident of Downtown
on Aug 2, 2016 at 8:08 pm

Flightops is a registered user.

Maybe we could recruit the mayor of Elk Grove, we don't need another 2 years of Jerry Thorne and his pro growth cronies, if he has ties to Costco what else is lurking behind that curtain, they have lost what little trust I had in them.


54 people like this
Posted by JJ
a resident of Walnut Grove Elementary School
on Aug 3, 2016 at 9:38 am

JJ is a registered user.

I agree with much that has been said in this thread. It has been informative. The Mayor has had a conflict if interest since 2014 when this Costco project began. The Council is controlled by the Mayor. Look at the voting record over the last two years.

The Council will write and sign the ballot arguments for Costco? This is absurd! After having only one public Council Meeting in two years (April12) and 90% of the people spoke against Costco-- the Council is in favor of Costco? Do they care about the will of the people? Or, are they taking direction from the Mayor who has had a conflict of interest for two years?

This is a brazen act on their part. It tells me that their decision has been made. The Mayor needs to stop this now, if he and the Council are to maintain any respect of the people. Let the people vote without their undue influence. Costco can write and sign their own ballot arguments.

Our City Council lacks transparency. They are negotiating deals which they will not tell us about. They want to influence the vote by writing and signing the arguments to favor Costco. It leads to the question: are there other conflicts of interest in addition to the Mayor, or is it just his influence that would cause this behavior.



34 people like this
Posted by Lisa S.
a resident of Stoneridge
on Aug 4, 2016 at 6:14 pm

Lisa S. is a registered user.

Gina,
Thank you for reopening the blog. Your PW editorial deserves comments on this issue. The citizens of Pleasanton deserve to be heard.

The mayor owes a public apology for his lack of adhering to the Fair Political Practices Policies.




29 people like this
Posted by KatieK
a resident of Stoneridge Park
on Aug 4, 2016 at 6:35 pm

KatieK is a registered user.

I was stunned the Costco blog was withdrawn as well. I hadn't logged on in several weeks and was curious to see where the comments ended up on the mayor! Here's what I intended to blog until I was shut out! Now I am re-posting!

I had no idea what was going on! I never heard of Costco until a few months ago. Originally, I thought it was a good idea: convenient and sales tax dollars. I was naive.

Now, I learn about incentives demanded by Costco, $16,000,000 costs of infrastructure, years to break even, creation of a "pilot" program for Costco (JDEDZ), borrowing, unethical dealings by Costco in another city or cities, and conflicts of interest by the mayor.

I say let Livermore have them. I can drive a few minutes to save a few bucks.

I did attend the July 19 meeting. I learned that unless the initiative stops the big-boxes, there can be more than one - not just Costco. A Super Center Walmart was mentioned. Is this possible as the JDEDZ is written? : Yes.

I agree with the blogger who said this is too much power given to the Planning Commission by the JDEDZ to decide the uses. Once the JDEDZ is approved, there can be no referendum. They can chose any use. It does not have to go to the council.

I will vote "yes" on the initiative to stop big- boxes on Johnson Drive, and to limit the authority of the "pilot" JDEDZ for approving future big- boxes, not just Costco.

And, I close by saying "shame on the Mayor"!!

And finally I will add - shame on the "blog closers" for shutting down our public opinions! Now, thank you for opening the platform back up!


20 people like this
Posted by Val
a resident of Val Vista
on Aug 4, 2016 at 9:35 pm

Val is a registered user.

Lisa,
I knew nothing about the Fair Political Practices Policies until your post. Is this something that is punishable? Will the Mayor face action for his conflict of interest?
I found that stock or holdings of over $2,000 are a violation- but it says nothing about what happens when there is a violation.


23 people like this
Posted by Lisa S.
a resident of Stoneridge
on Aug 5, 2016 at 8:34 am

Lisa S. is a registered user.

Hi Val,
A person must file a complaint with the Fair Political Practices Commission for an investigation. There is no automatic action or punishment without the complaint. It is my understanding that the complaint can be filed anonymously.
This is what I have been told.


2 people like this
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Aug 5, 2016 at 8:58 am

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

It is my understanding that Mr. Thorne did file with FPPC as required. Someone previously provided a link to that public document. Here it is again: Web Link


5 people like this
Posted by Pleasanton Parent
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Aug 5, 2016 at 9:49 am

Pleasanton Parent is a registered user.

This just in - those opposing costco own gas stations and enjoy free street parking both but oppose costco on the basis of traffic congestion in the best interest of the community, not their own self interests....no, never.

How much do you want to bet his stock portfolio is professionally managedesigned?

Should he disclose, yes. Should this throw out the Costco plan. No.


31 people like this
Posted by Val
a resident of Val Vista
on Aug 5, 2016 at 9:58 am

Val is a registered user.

The Mayor did file the form 700 in April of 2015, showing that he had owned Costco stock since 2014. The Costco stock is listed twice.
While owning the stock, the Pleasanton weekly says " He just didn't tell us, and proceeded to meet with the city task force he appointed that was considering land- use zoning changes that would allow big box stores like Costco to build on Johnson Drive".
During this period, the Johnson Drive Economic Development was formed, giving authority for financial incentives to build on Johnson Drive.
This is the conflict of interest. He owned stock in a company which he was promoting to build and to give financial assistance.


4 people like this
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Aug 5, 2016 at 10:12 am

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

I won't disagree that the mayor should have been more forthright, but it appears he met the requirements of the law. Those forms are available to the public, which is why they exist.


41 people like this
Posted by Val
a resident of Val Vista
on Aug 5, 2016 at 11:45 am

Val is a registered user.

This is more than just being forthright. I have done some research.
Filing Formm 700 acknowledges financial holdings. It was made by Mayor Thorne on April 6, 2015, acknwledging Costco stock ownership since 2014. This ownership precluded him from participating in matters where he has havebownership of a company. When you have ownership in a company of over $2,000, this becomes a conflict of interest.
I have learned that conflicts of interest can be punishable by the Fair Political Practices Commission.
His campaign manager, Michaela Hertlt, tried to coverup his misdeeds in a recent blog saying " the Costco stock was new and unbeknownst to him until Monday (July 18, 2016).

We all want the best for our city. Whether you support Mayor Thorne or not; whether you support Costco or not; this is against FPPC regulations.


27 people like this
Posted by res1
a resident of Birdland
on Aug 5, 2016 at 12:50 pm

res1 is a registered user.

Val, you are right and Kathleen is wrong here. Since Kathleen has been an elected official I am VERY surprised she does not know this.

the FPPC has a webpage about conflict of interest at Web Link

One of the Financial Interests is:
Business Entity. A business entity in which the official has an investment of $2,000 or more in which he or she is a director, officer, partner, trustee, employee, or manager.

The rule states: To avoid actual bias or the appearance of possible improprieties, the public official is prohibited from participating in the decision.

The City Attorney even stated that the mayor could not vote on this item at the last meeting.

The FPPC rules also state: An official with a disqualifying conflict of interest may not make, participate in making, or use his or her position to influence a governmental decision.

They mayor has certainly participated in making, or use his or her position to influence a governmental decision. It was illegal what he was doing and assuming somebody reports this to the FPPC (which can be anonymous as previously stated), the mayor can be levied fines and penalties. Possible he could get off with a Warning letter. At this point his name should not be used for anything on this ballot measure; whether through ballot arguments or advertising.




40 people like this
Posted by Lisa S.
a resident of Stoneridge
on Aug 5, 2016 at 2:20 pm

Lisa S. is a registered user.

Val, I did find the blog from Michaela Hertle, campaign manager of Mayor Thorne. It sounds like a complete coverup. There is no way she could have posted this without approval.

Posted by Michaela Hertle
a resident of Downtown
on Jul 21, 2016 at 12:11 pm
"Regarding Mayor Thorne's recusal from the EDZ discussion, I would like to clarify in response to comments in this thread... In preparation for filing his nomination paperwork to run for re-election this week, Mayor Thorne was required to file an additional FPPC Form 700 with the City Clerk on Monday. This form is generally filed only once a year in January. Mayor Thorne's retirement brokerage account is managed by a firm that purchases stock assets on his behalf. He is only notified of his holdings via statement each six months. The Costco stock holding was new and unbeknownst to him until Monday morning. He immediately took steps to notify his broker to not purchase this stock again, let the public know and recuse himself from the EDZ discussion at the Council Meeting the following day. I attest to this as I was present at the time and witness to the discussion. He did the right thing and notified the public within 1 day of finding out himself."
Sincerely,
Michaela Hertle
Campaign Manager
Jerry Thorne for Mayor 2016


16 people like this
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Aug 5, 2016 at 3:03 pm

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

res1, I was an elected official more than twenty years ago, and I didn't have anything to report. I can be wrong and admit it when I am. It's unfortunate how this appears to have unfolded, and I agree with Val's last sentence.


39 people like this
Posted by JJ
a resident of Walnut Grove Elementary School
on Aug 5, 2016 at 4:13 pm

JJ is a registered user.

Glad to see this blog reopened. 2 days ago after my blog, it was abruptly closed. The publisher of the PW did the right thing to reopen it for public comment. It is a very important topic with much good discussion.

We can all agree that Mayor Thorne was in violation of FPPC rules. Whether there is a fine or another form of punishment remains to be seen. His campaign manager appears to have tried to coverup the truth. These issues have both been stated and not the purpose of my blog.

My objection is with the remainder of the council, of which, the majority are still influenced by Mayor Thorne. Without regard to the will of the people, they voted themselves to write the ballot arguments for Costco. Of course they did! Weren't the majority handpicked to serve by Mayor Thorne? Don't at least 3, always vote with him? How can we be sure that this was not Mayor Thorne's direction to them before the July 19th meeting?

I believe this to be wrong. They should place themselves above this behavior - yet, they seem intent on influencing voters, in the same manner as Mayor Thorne would do - but now he cannot (openly). Under the circumstances, they should remain impartial and allow the people to decide.

I am sorry to say that this gives the appearance of corruption. Pleasanton deserves better.


34 people like this
Posted by Val
a resident of Val Vista
on Aug 6, 2016 at 8:11 am

Val is a registered user.

I agree....If the remainder of the Council writes the ballot arguments for Costco, there is still a conflict of interest. If they write and sign the ballot arguments in favor of Costco, Mayor Thorne's influence over the voting process to re-zone the property and to give financial benefits to Costco continues -- a company in which the Mayor has had stock ownership since at least 2014. There is no doubt that the council will continue to carry out his will.

If the Council is to try restore the citizen's faith in our leaders, we need unbiased, transparent handling of this process going forward. Too much has transpired since 2014, which we do not know. There should be an investigation. What is the City negotiating with Costco? They will not tell us. In 2012, when the Mayor Thorne first campaigned, he promised transparency.






34 people like this
Posted by Bob A.
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 7, 2016 at 1:26 pm

Bob A. is a registered user.

The mayor hiding his Costco stock ownership until he was about to be exposed, is just another example of how this whole EDZ process has been shrouded in deception.

• The city worked on this project in relative secrecy for well over a year and despite the overarching impact on the community and traffic throughout the area, limited public notices to only to what was required. Thank goodness for the Citizens for Planned Growth or most of the residents of Pleasanton would still be in the dark about this.

• The mayor and city staff have put out miss-information on additional traffic generated by the EDZ. They have said that there would be a total of 12,000 cars per day not an increase of 12,000 cars per day. This is wrong according to the numbers that they published in the SEIR. It clearly states that there will be 12,000 additional cars per day for a total of over 15,000 per day. Costco alone represents about 7,000 additional cars per week day.

• The city has continually spun the numbers to support the project. Their studies have ignored other future traffic generators in the area (Workday, Chick-fil-A, Ikea, etc.) when looking at traffic impacts but use Dublin and Livermore in their sales and demand numbers when they say that the project will have little impact on existing Pleasanton businesses.

• The city claims that Phase I of EDZ (Costco) will generate $1.7 million in new revenue for the city. However, this does not realistically take into account how much of this amount is will be redistributed from existing “Pleasanton” businesses. In other words, how much business Costco will take from others. The Economic Impact Study that the city had generated purposely dilutes this impact by including Dublin and Livermore sales and demand in the numbers. This number must also be reduced by payments on a $6 million loan (estimated at over $250,000 per year) used to fund part of the infrastructure that is needed because of the increased traffic. It also doesn’t take into consideration the $5 million coming from the city’s infrastructure reserve.

• The city has intimated that Costco is the only use that will help defray infrastructure costs. This is untrue. The city can require the developer to do this no matter what the uses are. Dublin does this routinely.

• The city says that they can’t tell us if there will be any incentives given to Costco or exactly how the necessary infrastructure will be paid for because no development agreement has been signed with Costco. Approval of the EDZ as it is proposed, would allow the Costco and other uses to be built without additional public hearings or input. This makes approval a lot easier for Costco and is why they haven’t filed their application yet.


8 people like this
Posted by Michael Austin
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Aug 8, 2016 at 6:55 am

Michael Austin is a registered user.

It was common knowledge back in December 2014 that Costco is planning a Pleasanton store. There was no secrecy about it. There was some discussion about it in Tim Hunt blog mid January 2015.


29 people like this
Posted by Val
a resident of Val Vista
on Aug 8, 2016 at 8:01 am

Val is a registered user.

There may have been one article in the Pleasanton Weekly in 2014-- but, I was told that the City sent out less than 50 notices to residents and businesses As to your statement on common knowledge...I never heard about it until the second of only two townhall meetings on November 12, 2015 (almost 1 1/2 years after it began). The only way that I found about it was a radio ad from a local business. No one that I talked in Val Vista, or antwhere in Pleasanton for that matter, had ever heard of it. I attended in November. Not one person from the audience spoke in favor of Costco - yet, the staff was intent on moving forward, and there were no more meetings until the City Council Meeting on April 12, 2016 (2 years after the proposal was begun). Most all of the people in that meeting spoke against the project.

I agree with Bob A that is was shrouded in deception and secrecy.


31 people like this
Posted by Lisa S.
a resident of Stoneridge
on Aug 9, 2016 at 9:18 am

Lisa S. is a registered user.

So, Bob A....I will try to do the math. Let's say conservatively 50% of Costco's business (some independent studies show a higher %) will come from our local businesses: grocery stores, gas stations, appliance stores, tire stores, automobile dealers, wine stores, pizza restaurants, insurance companies, florists, jewelry stores, sporting goods stores...I guess the list is endless...and the JDEDZ brings in $1.7 million -- Costco is about $1.5 million of the total. So, Costco will net us $750,000 in sales tax before loan paybacks and service costs.

Our payments on the $6 million borrowing @4% for 30 years are $343,740. If the cost of replenishing our $5,000,000 were the same: @4% for 30 years, that is $286,452.

Now we must include city services of police, fire, roads, etc. An article posted on a blog back on April 17 by "Lies-Tax Revenue" shows big- box services cost cities $1023 per 1000 sq ft.... @ 150,000 sq ft, that's $153,450 per year for city services.

$ 750,000 net sales tax from Costco (50% of sales from existing businesses)
- 373,740 annual payments borrowing $6,000,000 @4% for 30 years
- 286,452 payback $5,000,000 reserve @4% for 30 years
- 153,450 annual cost of city services
------------------------------------------
$ - 63,642 net annual loss for 30 years

Now I see why the quote from "Lies-Tax revenue" says that only 2 cities out of 116 in California had a net revenue gain from a Costco, as quoted in the blog below

Posted by Lies-Tax revenue
a resident of Bonde Ranch
on Apr 17, 2016 at 8:27 pm
"Out of 116 cities in California, only 2 had a net gain of tax revenue from the introduction of a big box store like Costco. Take a look."

Basically, Costco will eat into the profits of other local businesses, their profits will go down, and there will be no net gain.

It is Economics 101."

More deception from our leaders. The City touts $1.5 million to $1.6 million annually from Costco. What about paying back the loan to Costco? What about the costs of replenishing our $5,000,000 reserve (this is nor free money!)? What about the costs of city services.

If I can do the math-- why can't they? Maybe, they don't want to. It makes you wonder! Are there more conflicts of interest?


28 people like this
Posted by JJ
a resident of Walnut Grove Elementary School
on Aug 9, 2016 at 2:59 pm

JJ is a registered user.

Very informative. Yet, the City is not looking, and has never looked at, alternatives??

Something is wrong here. If a citizen like Lisa S is able to do the above analysis , she should be Mayor or City Manager. I really don't think these people care about our best interests. They certainly did not ask our opinion. In only 3 meeting in 2 years, most people have spoken against Costco.

The mayor admits a conflict in interest. Yet, the council moves forward with ballot arguments for Costco. Did I say: "something is wrong here?"


24 people like this
Posted by Val
a resident of Val Vista
on Aug 10, 2016 at 12:08 pm

Val is a registered user.

At the July 19 council meeting, Mayor Thorne asked the City attorney, if he sold his Costco stock, could he rejoin the Council and participate in the Costco issue. The City Attorney said that he would need a ruling from thr FPPC.

Has anyone heard the result of the Mayor's request to rejoin (and no doubt fight for) Costco discussions?


19 people like this
Posted by res1
a resident of Birdland
on Aug 10, 2016 at 1:45 pm

res1 is a registered user.

Even if the FPPC allowed this, it is a REAL bad idea. And if he is allowed to do that, I would expect people to file complaints to the FPPC against him for all the work he has been doing for Costco while he owned the stock. Also, what would stop him from selling the stock, advocating for and voting for the Costco, and then buying the shares back?

Thorne, you made a big mistake but allow the rest of the council to work on this project and recuse yourself. There are many other things to work on in the city. It looks real slimy you trying to force yourself into this issue.


25 people like this
Posted by Val
a resident of Val Vista
on Aug 10, 2016 at 7:16 pm

Val is a registered user.

res1,
I could not have said it better: "slimy".
Should he try to force himself back into the issue.
I love our City. This would be a very bad decision, and taint our image.


21 people like this
Posted by Maxed Out!
a resident of Stoneridge
on Aug 11, 2016 at 8:58 am

Maxed Out! is a registered user.

Lots blogged in last two days: April 12 staff surprises and deception, Mayor's rudeness, missing minutes from April 12 meeting, first half of audio missing from the meeting... But let's get back to the article.

Costco is not the cash cow portrayed by the City. The costs , borrowing, services required, in addition to the unknown negotiated incentives, make it a loser for many, many years. In fact, over $63,000, per year, for 30 years.

Traffic, pollution, decay of community .... For what?

I have a 10 year old daughter. I suppose in 30 years, when she is 40 and I am in my 70's (if not dead) Costco will start turning a profit for the City that I love, Pleasanton. This isn't an equation I want to pass on to future generations. I'm already maxed out on traffic! You saw that recent article that commuters spend a week of their lives in traffic? Well, if Costco comes, Pleasanton will lose a big chunk of character, uniqueness and independence. Losing $$ for 30 years isn't good. I appreciate the real issues brought up in this blog.


20 people like this
Posted by KatieK
a resident of Stoneridge Park
on Aug 12, 2016 at 12:14 pm

KatieK is a registered user.

I'm amazed at the knowledge base of all you bloggers! Even if some of the calculations are off a little - HOW DOES THIS MAKE ANY SENSE TO PROCEED WITH COSTCO? I'm very pro-business if the development works for our community, is situated in the right place and pays its fair share for developing in our area. The mayor needs to check his portfolio again for the next developer!


22 people like this
Posted by Lisa S.
a resident of Stoneridge
on Aug 13, 2016 at 12:31 pm

Lisa S. is a registered user.

Katie K,
It will be interesting to see if anyone files a complaint with the FPPC. I would like all facts to come to light. The Mayor, City Manager and Chamber of Commerce are all pushing for Costco - at the expense of the taxpayers and small businesses.
There is more to this story which was decided behind closed doors.


23 people like this
Posted by Lisa S.
a resident of Stoneridge
on Aug 15, 2016 at 6:07 pm

Lisa S. is a registered user.

I was told that someone filed near the deadline on Friday to challenge Mayor Thorne. If so, I welcome the news. Competition is healthy and will bring about debates of the issues.

Hopefully, some of the Costco deals and hidden negotiations will be exposed. The lack of transparency has been shameful. Mayor Thorne's conflict of interest for two years; unacceptable.


18 people like this
Posted by JJ
a resident of Walnut Grove Elementary School
on Aug 15, 2016 at 10:07 pm

JJ is a registered user.

Good news! Who?

I hope it's someone who is not part of the "good ole boys club". We need a change. Mayor Thorne wants growth and he controls the Council. Growth. Growth. Growth.

Growth requires services. The cost of services requires growth. It's a never ending cycle. WHEN AND WHO WILL SLOW IT DOWN. It seems out of control to me.


18 people like this
Posted by Val
a resident of Val Vista
on Aug 17, 2016 at 2:04 pm

Val is a registered user.

Glad to hear that Mayor Thorne has competition. The issues will be exposed, and the City will be all the better for a clean, respectful campaign, which is my desire.

I do not know Julie, but will be eager to learn more about her.


17 people like this
Posted by JJ
a resident of Walnut Grove Elementary School
on Aug 23, 2016 at 8:50 am

JJ is a registered user.




The demand for records on August 22 by the new coalition may answer why the City leaders, including Mayor Thorne, have been ignoring the citizens who have written emails, who have attended the few meetings that were scheduled, and who have spoken against Costco. Ignored requests for transparency in negotiations with Costco.

I just read that Mayor Thorne's Campaign Manager signed the ballot argument. Are you kidding? After revealing a conflict in interest with Costco stock ownership on July 19, his campaign manager signs the ballot argument in favor of Costco on August 18.

Wow! Is this bold or what? Is he just saying, I don't care about the laws; the FPPC. ....I will do what I want!!
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9 people like this
Posted by JJ
a resident of Walnut Grove Elementary School
on Aug 24, 2016 at 1:48 pm

JJ is a registered user.

Now, Julie Testa is disqualified. (Editor's Note: Testa's still a candidate and her name will still be on the ballot. Her statement will not be included in the Sample Ballot, though.] Convenient for the Mayor; convenient for the "good ole boys" who elected him. Great for the Chamber of Commerce and special interests. Great for Costco. No debate.

Terrible for Pleasanton. Another lawsuit. Another controversy. I, for one, am sick of it.

All because Karen Diaz would not use or print out an email statement! With 15 minutes left? There was plenty of time.

I'm not buying it! It gets back to the title of this article : Cocsto and the Mayor. It should read:
"SPECIAL INTERESTS AND THE CITY" --owning a little Costco stock and showing favoritism to Costco is just a small part of what's happening in Pleasanton. Borrow $6 million? No problem. Use $5 million reserve? No problem. Transparency of negotiations. Problem! Listen to citizens concerns: Problem!


4 people like this
Posted by Flightops
a resident of Downtown
on Aug 24, 2016 at 2:05 pm

Flightops is a registered user.

Great spot for an Indian casino if Costco falls through, leave out a gas station to appease shell gas and use black tie limo for the high rollers, everybody wins. Anybody downtown have ties with New York, Las Vegas, or Chicago money??


13 people like this
Posted by JJ
a resident of Walnut Grove Elementary School
on Aug 25, 2016 at 11:53 am

JJ is a registered user.

I vote for diversified retail which is the object of Measure MM. The Pleasanton Weekly said Trader Joe's is interested. Smaller, diversified retailers will create:
1) substantially less traffic
2) substantially less pollution
3) more jobs
All of this is shown in the Aug 9 study ordered by the City.

Special interests are pushing Costco.

A new citizens coalition is seeking transparency. Let's see what is found from their request for documentation.


18 people like this
Posted by JJ
a resident of Walnut Grove Elementary School
on Aug 25, 2016 at 1:17 pm

JJ is a registered user.

Has any one seen Tim Hunt's recent blog on this topic?

Web Link


18 people like this
Posted by Val
a resident of Val Vista
on Aug 26, 2016 at 5:59 pm

Val is a registered user.


I have read Tim Hunt's blog. Certainly, I agree that the Mayor did not own a large amount of Costco stock. The issue is, not whether large or small holdings, but FPPC rules regarding conflict of interest. And to me, what are even bigger issues, are what has recently transpired. First, I think he should have sold the stock immediately after filing form 700 on April 6, 2015. At that point, he was definitely involved with the land-use rezoning to allow a Big-Box, Costco. The Pleasanton Weekly speaks of his early involvement of appointing and meeting with a task force. This was poor judgement.

It was poor judgement to continue involvement until he was about to be "outed" on July 19, 2016.
It was poor judgement to publicly ask the city attorney on July 19, if he could continue to make decisions on Costco, if he sold his Costco stock
It was poor judgement for his campaign manager, Michaela Hertle, to blog a seemingly unbelievable coverup story on July 21
It was poor judgement for his campaign manager, Michaela Hertle,to sign the ballot argument against the initiative on August 18
It was poor judgement to give this interview to Tim Hunt, saying that he immediately sought advice from the city attorney and recused himself after learning of the Costco stock during his most recent filing for re-election (according to Michaela Hertle, this was on July 18, the day before the council meeting, July 19).

"Costco and the Mayor". What is next?


14 people like this
Posted by JJ
a resident of Walnut Grove Elementary School
on Aug 27, 2016 at 8:24 am

JJ is a registered user.

Val, I agree with most everything you said except on April 6, 2015 Mayor Thorne should have recused himself from all Costco discussions and decisions with staff, the task force, and any members of the Planning Commission or Council.

It is clear that he fully understood that he owned Costco stock on April 6, 2015, which he listed twice on form 700. Selling his Costco stock would not have permitted him to continue the land-use, re zoning changes to include a big-box Costco, which were well underway at that time. Most likely financial incentive plans to Costco were also well underway. This is usually one of the first things Costco begins to negotiate with cities, as explained in Elk Grove by Mayor Davis: " they made it clear from the beginning". In Elk Grove's case, Mayor Davis said Costco wanted concessions to the developer which would lower Costco's rent. Costco did not want it perceived by the citizens as a kickback.

Instead of recusing himself on April 6, 2015, Mayor Thorne knowingly continued until it was discovered by others on July 18, 2016. I think the FPPC will find wrongdoing.


4 people like this
Posted by BobB
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 27, 2016 at 10:29 am

BobB is a registered user.

This is silly. There was no conflict of interest. There is no careless or irresponsible behavior.

What a waste of time.

Build the Costco.


14 people like this
Posted by JJ
a resident of Walnut Grove Elementary School
on Aug 27, 2016 at 3:56 pm

JJ is a registered user.

BobB,
You may want Costco for your own personal convenience. I respect that-- but I do not believe the FPPC will agree "this is silly".

Owning part of a company (no matter how small), and using influence to appoint a task force, for purposes of re-zoning the land-use to allow for the company to locate on the property: is a conflict of interest.

Since at least April 6, 2015, Mayor Thorne has known of his stock ownership, and conflict of interest. He should have recused himself then, or before then, if he had knowledge of the ownership. Perhaps, in 2014.

I will vote for Measure MM which I believe to be a better choice for Pleasanton. It will produce about the same amount of net sales tax revenue as Costco, require no borrowing from Costco, no use of our $5 million reserve which is needed for safety issues now, smaller diversified retail, and less traffic.

I can drive a few miles to Costco. There are two close by.


10 people like this
Posted by Get the Facts
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 27, 2016 at 4:56 pm

Get the Facts is a registered user.

JJ, there are many people like Bob who just want their five-pound jars of mayo and $1.50 hot dog, but do not see the bigger picture. And I have found that the farther people live from the proposed site, the greater chance they are going to vote for it. Hopefully enough people will see the benefits of NOT having a Costco, and will vote it down. I recommend everyone read the post by Lisa S. titled, "Sales Tax: Measure MM vs Costco", it's very educational.


1 person likes this
Posted by BobB
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 27, 2016 at 8:35 pm

BobB is a registered user.

@getthefacts,

The loan doesn't sound that bad to me. Seems like a reasonable deal. I'M not seeing the downside here.


13 people like this
Posted by JJ
a resident of Walnut Grove Elementary School
on Aug 27, 2016 at 10:06 pm

JJ is a registered user.

Bob,
I get it. You want the convenience of a Pleasanton Costco badly enough for us to borrow $6 million and use our entire reserve of $5 million - a total of $11 million. You want it badly enough to overlook the additional traffic. You want it badly enough to agree to an unknown subsidy to Costco, which the City will not reveal.

Getting back to the topic: "Costco and the Mayor", the August 9 study revealed some surprising facts:
1) Diversified Retail will bring in almost as much sales tax revenue....If the developer pays for the infrastructure and passes this along to the retailers, as is the general rule in developing, there is no need for taxpayers to be out this $11 million.
2) Diversified Retail will have 2500 fewer car trips on weekdays; 3600 fewer on weekends.

The question becomes, why did Mayor Thorne advocate Costco, before even knowing the results of this study? Why did he not ask for this study two years ago? Why does the City Council continue to move forward with the Mayor's wishes even after these surprising results?

Bob, if you were investing your money, would you spend an extra $11 million for about the same return as spending nothing?

There is more to "Costco and the Mayor". I believe that we will learn more.


10 people like this
Posted by JJ
a resident of Walnut Grove Elementary School
on Aug 27, 2016 at 10:31 pm

JJ is a registered user.

So that there is no confusion...
The August 9 study did not address the issue of the developer paying for the infrastructure, and thus saving $11 million. These are my words which I inserted with the...("if the developer pays for the infrastructure and passes this along to the retailers, as is the general rule in developing, there is no need for taxpayers to be out $11 million")

I re-read my blog and wanted to clarify that these are my thoughts, not included with the study.


6 people like this
Posted by BobB
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 28, 2016 at 1:40 pm

BobB is a registered user.

"1) Diversified Retail ..."
"2) Diversified Retail will have"

And we won't have a Costco. You left that part out.

"Bob, if you were investing your money, would you spend an extra ..."

Even if we accept those numbers, this isn't just a return on investment issue. This is also an issue about having a store that many Pleasanton residents want. As I said above, the terms of the loan as seem reasonable to me.


16 people like this
Posted by JJ
a resident of Walnut Grove Elementary School
on Aug 28, 2016 at 2:45 pm

JJ is a registered user.

Yes, BobB, you want a Costco. As I said before, I may not agree, but I respect your decision.

The $6 million in borrowing; the use of our entire $5 million reserve fund; the 20% additional traffic; the unknown subsidies -- will give you a store that you want, which will be a little closer to your home than the other two which are already close by.

Just remember, the $6 million loan @4% for 30- 40 years, could be as much as $12 million total when paid in full. This is a lot to burden future generations with. Could this be a little self- serving on your part?

Again, this is why the Mayor's advocacy is questionable. And we return to the topic: "The Mayor and Costco".


5 people like this
Posted by BobB
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 28, 2016 at 4:58 pm

BobB is a registered user.

If this is about the mayor's advocacy, than I don't understand what the mayor stands to gain from it personally, apart from happy voters. What else would be in it for him?


14 people like this
Posted by JJ
a resident of Walnut Grove Elementary School
on Aug 28, 2016 at 5:52 pm

JJ is a registered user.

Bob,
It's a great question. I suggest you read "WHO RUNS PLEASANTON" by Lisa S. I, too, asked the same question to myself. Then I learned that special interests and large corporations control our Chamber of Commerce. Our Chamber funnels money to elect and re-elect City officials. The Chamber has Committees whose members remain anonymous. The two major are EDGR and BACPAC. These Committees are all powerful.

Most citizens have no idea this goes on. Costco was approved by the Chamber a long time ago, and made official in a January, 2016. If the Chamber wants Costco, the City Manager and the majority of the Council go along with it. In fact, they will advocate it. The citizens can speak at meetings, write letters, send emails- but the decision was made in 2014. The City, under the City Manager and Mayor's direction produced a "pilot" program called the JDEZ, which gave complete authority to the Staff and Planning Commission to decide uses of the Johnson Drive Development. Once approved, they found a way to bypass a referendum. They have authority to approve more than one big- box, if they desire.

The more we learn; the more power we have to change this system. When is the last time you have seen a project rejected? It's been growth, growth, growth.

I believe Mayor Thorne, when first elected, had good intentions of responsible growth and transparency. Somewhere along the way, he fell to the influences of the Chamber.


7 people like this
Posted by BobB
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 28, 2016 at 9:08 pm

BobB is a registered user.

Okay,

But what does the mayor stand to gain from Costco? What does he have to gain personally?

Seems like a Costco at that location is exactly what a lot of Pleasanton residents want.


10 people like this
Posted by JJ
a resident of Walnut Grove Elementary School
on Aug 28, 2016 at 9:47 pm

JJ is a registered user.

The best answer that I can give to that question is that Mayor Thorne gains support from the Chamber and it's Committees to get re-elected. If he bucked their decision, they would run a candidate against him. He did not; they did not.

That's politics; that's special interests. It's political influence. I am not saying the Mayor is a bad man. He most recently has made some poor judgements.

I will not disagree that there are other people who think Costco is good for Pleasanton. On the surface, Costco seems desirable. The deeper you dig, the more you appreciate that they are in nearby cities. Since the time Costco went into Danville and Livermore, the cost of playing poker has gone way up! Costco now wants to pay no infrastructure (if possible), a fraction of the normal impact fees, and asks for sales tax revenue sharing. This has mainly come in the last two years. I researched "Costco Tax breaks". It has changed a lot in two years. To be blunt: they have gotten greedy.


9 people like this
Posted by Blockhead
a resident of Grey Eagle Estates
on Aug 29, 2016 at 10:59 am

Blockhead is a registered user.

There has been a lot of talk back and forth on this issue. Why not do like you do in your own household (and politicians never do)-- use common sense and follow the money:

Why in the world are the citizens of Pleasanton being asked to pay $11 million (plus the interest on a $6 million loan for 20-30 year loan) for the privilege of having a Costco here that will hurt current Pleasanton businesses and themselves?

If we don't approve Costco, we citizens have to "suffer" by driving 10-12 miles roundtrip (maybe once or twice a month)to Livermore or Danville, and we have to "suffer" by getting to keep our $5 million surplus, and we don't have to borrow $6 million from Costco and pay interest for 20-30 years.

We also have to "suffer" for the next 15-20 years by enjoying the same sales tax benefit that we enjoy today, because we do not have to share 50% of the sales tax revenue with Costco that it accumulates. Is this new sales tax to the city? No - the EIR/SEIR prepared by the City of Pleasanton states that 50% of Costco's sales will come from existing Pleasanton businesses, which means those businesses will be paying 50% less sales tax. And Costco will demand a rebate of 50% of the sales tax that the City of Pleasanton receives for the first 10 years, so the net effect to the City is zero, after taking into account the businesses that close because of Costco's presence.

Something will be built at that site that will have to pay its own way without a "backroom deal" that has been made to a multi-billion dollar corporation that sure looks like "politics as usual -- the taxpayer loses".


5 people like this
Posted by BobB
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 29, 2016 at 8:55 pm

BobB is a registered user.

@Blockhead,

16 mile round trip for me not "10-12 miles". Try google maps. Most of Pleasanton is a lot farther than that. Grey Eagle Way to Costco Livermore is 22 miles round trip, for example. Danville is even farther.

How about the rest of your math? Just making everything up?

Looks like Costco is a good deal for Pleasanton.


8 people like this
Posted by JJ
a resident of Walnut Grove Elementary School
on Aug 29, 2016 at 9:56 pm

JJ is a registered user.

Hey BobB great to hear from you again!

I will let Blockhead answer for himself, but my google maps shows 8 miles from Grey Eagle Way to Costco Livermore , and it shows 6.5 miles from Grey Eagle Way to the proposed Johnson Drive site for Costco.

Got any thoughts on "Costco and the Mayor"?


2 people like this
Posted by Blockhead
a resident of Grey Eagle Estates
on Aug 29, 2016 at 10:43 pm

Blockhead is a registered user.

To BobB:

From my house to Costco Livermore (round trip) using Isabel is 15.8 miles. Using Santa Rita is 16.6 miles. There aren't too many houses in Pleasanton that are farther away from either existing Costco than the ones in my neighborhood.

You state that Grey Eagle Estates to Costco Livermore is 22 miles round trip? According to YOUR math, I must walk 3 MILES instead of 1 block when I pass Grey Eagle Estates.

Then to say that most of Pleasanton is farther away?

I don't make things up! I am only trying to figure out what is best for the citizens of Pleasanton. You are stretching the truth --- I am not. Most citizens will drive 10-12 miles or less, especially those who are close to I-580 or I-680.

Others can tell whose credibility is better here. BobB -- perhaps it was an error on your part. But anyone can easily check any map program and find out if your number or mine is correct. One might wonder why you didn't check your number before attacking me. Perhaps you are thinking that voters are apathetic. It is obvious that you are pro- Costco, even though the citizens of Pleasanton must "subsidize" Costco with $11 million of our tax dollars.

I, for one, still cannot see the benefits to this, but I am trying to keep an open mind. But I only want facts, not BS, when trying to come to a logical conclusion. OK, BobB?


4 people like this
Posted by BobB
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 30, 2016 at 9:34 am

BobB is a registered user.

"Round trip" means both ways. For JJ, that would be 16 miles; The same as for me.

Just as an example, try Pleasanton public library. Google maps gives me 14.4 miles round trip.


2 people like this
Posted by JJ
a resident of Walnut Grove Elementary School
on Aug 30, 2016 at 10:27 am

JJ is a registered user.

Hi Bob,
I did not quote round trip. Perhaps, I do not plan to go back home immediately. Traffic studies do not use round trip.
You are diverting the topic of "Costco and the Mayor", and his influence to the task force that he helped appoint; who he met with while knowingly had a conflict of interest since at least April, 2015


2 people like this
Posted by BobB
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 30, 2016 at 12:54 pm

BobB is a registered user.

@JJ,

"Blockhead" said "round trip" multiple times. That was what I was responding to.


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