MOFD Board Rescinds Purchase Contract of 1150 Moraga Way; Declares Issue "Moot"

Members of the Moraga-Orinda Fire District Board said they could no longer support the purchase of a building to serve as their administrative offices -- citing a "perceived reality" they could not fight.


Amidst a flurry of controversy and creation of a "perceived reality" they said they could no longer fight, Moraga-Orinda Fire District Board members rescinded their  plan to acquire an office building for use as district offices at 1150 Moraga Way.

The decision to rescind the purchase contract -- with penalty -- was made after rancorous debate about board spending habits and much public gnashing of teeth, in this site's comment stream as well as in the traditional local press.

A quietly angry Fred Weil cited an editorial appearing in a local newspaper earlier in the day and said the author had chosen to ignore the facts of the purchase as presented. Seething, Weil led a succession of his colleagues during the board's meeting Wednesday night, charging individuals in the media and private sector with "ignoring the facts" about the purchase and saying he would no longer support it.

He was followed by directors Frank Sperling and John Wyro, Sperling musing that the board had failed in its effort to educate the public sufficiently about the benefits of the move. Sperling said the board had fallen victim to a campaign of "purposeful misinformation" by some elements of the community.

Please see the attached video for more of the director's statements.

Directors Brook Mancinelli and Dick Olsen, both of whom had previously objected to the purchase, appeared to have been caught off guard by the sudden reversal of their colleagues, and Weil ended that portion of their meeting Wednesday with an appeal that there be no further public comment.

"The matter is moot," he said.

Fire Chief Randall Bradley, under contract to proceed with the purchase of 1150 Moraga Way, scrambled to organize a special meeting to formally notify the sellers of the district's intent to back away -- a meeting expected to take place over the weekend.

Eileen January 23, 2012 at 02:31 AM
I don't think you're being fair to Directors Olsen and Mancinelli (sp?) who long argued against the purchase of 1150 Moraga Way, Dennis. Likewise, I applaud Directors Wyro, Weil and Sperling for reacting to well-reasoned public comment and reversing course. I'll reserve judgment on future votes for any/all on how they move forward with important MOFD decisions.
Steve Cohn January 23, 2012 at 06:24 PM
I agree with Eileen that Directors Olsen and Mancinelli have consistently questioned the purchase of this building. It is not easy to go against the grain of the majority of a small, tight board like MOFD's. For quite some time Director Sperling was also against the purchase until the 100% financing package (in my opinion the most worrisome aspect of the deal) was developed. However, the comment that Wyro, Weil and Sperling reacted positively to well-reasoned public comment could not be further from the reality of the situation. Even though there was near-unanimous public rejection of the deal, including negative input from Steve Glazer who actually went to the MOFD Board meeting to voice his opinion, these three voted to purchase the building on December 28th. It was only after Dan Borenstein and The Times put the spotlight on the transaction on January 18th, that they did a 12 hour about-face and agreed to walk away from a $25,000 deposit they had agreed to three weeks earlier. That was, actually, a little strange after 8 months of effort and not really well explained.
Fritz 'Congodog' Stoop February 20, 2012 at 07:20 PM
Now this is enlightening and entertaining a la Steven King! I moved to Moraga in 2005 from Piedmont (another small town with fascinating political blunders) but this stuff is beyond the pale. Where can I read a synopsis of the Nowicki fiasco and the $330k/ city manager? And as far as civil servants, many are slopping down at the public trough, but many are not. A woman close to me graduated from Boalt Hall in the early 80s, and while Boalt does not rank its students, she was heavily recruited by many big firms, both here and in NY. She went into public service as a public defender based on her deeply held belief in the principles of our judiciary system. By doing so she gave up literally millions of dollars in potential earnings. Now a Judge, where she'll have to work until she's 70 to be fully vested in that punitive benefit system, she continues to earn a small fraction of her potential. Imagine that, a public servant actually driven by principle and not the almighty dollar! The Nowickis of the world are criminals, and their co-conspirators are the elected officials that make such atrocities possible. Why this smells like small Southern town chicanery and not "an affluent suburb East of San Francisco Bay".
Larry Pines February 20, 2012 at 07:48 PM
Great kudos to your PD lawyer-cum Judge, and take it at face value and applaud public service, or private service, by people with integrity, drive and focus. We're all better for it. Were that Nowicki and (what's left of) a corrupt MOFD Board were the isolated example. This just happens to be one of the countless that got media focus. Suggest you go here http://www.mercurynews.com/salaries/bay-area and do some research that shows that public sector comp. is so far over the top that public services State-wide will be getting haircuts due to out-of-control pension bloat and tens of thousands "retiring" on megabucks in their 50's. You can celebrate the hardworking minority that really do out-earn their private side counterparts, but it's a hard case to make. Pres. day proves it. Cali is just the poster child for a nationwide trend. Where else would you find public Lifeguards earning (and retiring) with $200,000/yr in salary and bene's? http://www.szone.us/f87/afp-californias-200-000-lifeguard-video-makes-headlines-59474/ Look in your mail box this week. Another desperate County measure to tax the rain that falls on your roof (over and above the separate tax on our property tax bills now, labelled "Fed Stormwater". They claim an enhanced "litter problem," hiding the taxes they get already. If its litter (90% along roads/highways, not buildings/houses), why just go after property owners? Ans.: Got to get it from someone w/assets. County is broke. Wonder why?
Steve Cohn February 20, 2012 at 08:45 PM
There is a section on the FAIR web site (http://www.fairfororinda.org/fairhistory/) that summarizes Chief Nowicki's pension spiking fiasco which has links to copies of several pertinent news article written at the time.


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