Bill Harper: Still many questions on Modesto courthouse deal

April 17, 2014 

Regarding the courthouse: Why is the city of Modesto the lead agency on this project, since this is clearly a state project? The mayor of Modesto says we should be willing to pay for a building like this in our city, which of course has never been an issue. The city is worried about blight on this block even though its redevelopment agency is dead. The city manager says the state asked the city to put together this deal because of multiple owners on the chosen block. If the city didn’t agree, would the state have picked the one-owner site?

The council said it is satisfied with the CEQA work done by the state, but it didn’t certify CEQA, as required. The agreements have a nondisclosure clause that I have never seen in a city land-acquisition agreement. Are there other terms outside the approved agreements?

The city is inheriting tenants. Who pays for relocation and goodwill when they are forced to vacate? The city is selling its land for less than it’s worth, which could be construed as a gift of public funds. Where’s the joint-powers agreement with the state that would give the city authority to act on its behalf to make sure sure the city gets its money back?

BILL HARPER

Modesto

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