Doug Wilson: Nothing was wrong with the past... Schwab did nothing wrong. Well he didn't pocket the money.
Stanckiewits: We must clear up the past to move forward. Schwab/Berry did do things wrong, and knowing what and not repeating the same type of errors is important to the health of Grand Terrace as a City and Community.
McGuire: Don't bother with the past it has no relationship to the present or future.
RDA disagreements split mayoral candidates
Ryan Hagen, Staff Writer
Posted: 10/08/2010 05:13:23 PM PDT
GRAND TERRACE - The mayoral race has been split by a simple litmus test: pro- or anti-Tom Schwab?
The question gets at the heart of the more complex debate about the role of the redevelopment agency, which consists of the mayor and members of the City Council.
Many running for those positions say the agency was mismanaged during Schwab's 20 years as city manager, while others - particularly those who support Schwab's campaign for City Council - say the accusers don't understand the agency. A third group criticizes the emphasis on the past.
Mayoral candidate Walt Stanckiewitz said members need to actively check that city staff use agency funds correctly.
"Tom Schwab systematically borrowed $4.6 million from redevelopment that he shouldn't have and used it to balance the general fund," Stanckiewitz said. "I blame former councils ... that pretty much handled this with a hands-off approach."
Doug Wilson, who is also running for mayor, said Stanckiewitz was stirring up confusion when nothing was done wrong.
"I don't believe in what he's trying to make out as intrigue," Wilson said. "It's always been in a public hearing. Nothing's `borrowed.' It's used on public projects."
Such transfers are common statewide, according to Douglas Johnson, a fellow at Claremont McKenna College's Rose Institute of State and Local Government.
"Cities do borrow from the redevelopment agencies fairly often, probably more than they should," he said.
When property values rise, redevelopment agencies keep a greater share of money that would otherwise go to the state. That money is intended to refurbish blighted areas, with courts usually bowing to a city's determination of blight.
Grand Terrace - which advertises that its median income is second-highest in the region - is one of several cities in the state to classify itself as entirely blighted.
Sally McGuire, another mayoral candidate, said it wasn't her place to say whether everything the agency did in the past was appropriate.
"Given the current state of the economy, I don't think that this is the time to concentrate all of our efforts on the past," she said. "I can assure the citizens of Grand Terrace (that) as mayor, I will work with the City Council and city staff to ensure that all RDA monies are used properly. "