Trouble at Gibson Ranch?

That is what the Sacramento Bee is reporting, but you have to take into account that the accusers fought bitterly against Doug Ose assuming management control of Gibson Ranch, and my inclination—we strongly support Ose’s management—would be to give Ose the benefit of the doubt.

And, by the way, how many park managers do you know who invite you to call for a personal tour of the park.

From what we can see, this is transparent and responsible management at its best, and we wish all of the parks in our region were so managed.

 Here is Doug Ose’s online response to the Bee article

“Interesting article.  I apologize in advance for the length of this posting.  I posted earlier but for some reason it has not been put up on the blog.

“In the public arena, our critics keep us honest.  I just wish they were honest about their private agendas.  Brisbois and Moore are active participants in a cabal that is advocating for the creation of another layer of government with a new layer of property taxes governed by a whole new group of elected officials for the purpose of managing our public lands.  I actually respect their advocacy, but strongly disagree with their proposal.  Their proposal includes no reforms to prevent a recurrence of the mismanagement that occurred for years under the previous department head; “just mo’ money, honey.”  Their worst nightmare is that my team and I will succeed, thereby showing the public that this pipedream of bigger government and higher taxes are unnecessary.  Consequently, they are doing everything they can to cause delays and increase costs at the park in the mistaken belief that we will grow tired and give up.

“How do we measure success in this endeavor?  We measure success by comparing the current condition of the park against the likely condition had we not gotten involved.  Prior to our involvement, the park was closed.  The County was spending over $200,000 per year to keep it closed.  No public use was allowed.  No maintenance was performed.  Improvements and infrastructure at the park were deteriorating at an increasing rate.  Many people, including the individuals cited in this article and the editorial board of the Bee, said the County should keep the park closed rather than privatize operations.  Therefore, the baseline condition against which we compare ourselves starts with: the park was closed, the public didn’t have access, the County was spending a lot of money and no maintenance was being done, and the grounds were increasingly occupied by homeless men (not homeless families –  homeless men).

“We asserted in June, 2010 that the park could be operated using private management and pay all the operating expenses associated therewith.  We developed a plan.  That plan was put through a public vetting process.  Interestingly, none of the “experts” cited in this article proposed an operating plan, lacking either the will or the vision or the ability to do anything to cure the problem.

“How has our plan worked out?  Let’s review the facts.  Sacramento County, instead of paying over $200,000 per year to keep the park closed, has paid or is on the hook for just over $70,000 in reimbursements to us for 2011 for correcting some, but not all, of the deferred maintenance that existed at the park on April 1, 2011.  Therefore, the County is approximately $130,000 ahead of where it would otherwise be, and the park is open for the public’s use.  For us, we operated the park at a loss of about $35,000 through December 31, 2011.  However, we expected to lose over $100,000 in that time period, so we are $65,000 ahead of where we otherwise expected to be.

“Simply put, we succeed by persuading people to come to the park.  How do we do that?  Primarily, we let our work speak for itself.  The park is open every day from sunrise to sunset.  The park is clean.  The bathrooms are clean.  The garbage is removed regularly.  The homeless men who previously resided throughout the park have been asked (politely, of course) to reside elsewhere.  The grass is cut regularly.  The fishing lake is stocked regularly.  The phone is answered.  If a message is left, someone returns the call.  If there is an opportunity, we try to seize it.  If there is a problem, we deal with it.  If there is a maintenance issue, we address it.  If we make a mistake, we correct it.

“Are we perfect?  No.  There are things that are not yet done.  That’s the way it is on a working ranch.

“Or a business.  Or a family.  Or any other organization you can think of.

“Are we succeeding?  My answer is:  I think so.  Thirty Boy Scouts spent the night last night in the park.  Two weeks ago the Girl Scouts were onsite in the rain for a “thinking day” event.  On Easter there were over 3,000 people in the park enjoying the sunny weather and family time.  We are still cleaning up the eggs and plastic and piñatas from that.  Later today, the Sacramento Valley Women’s Soccer League will play on our soccer fields.  Next week there will be 450 Boy Scouts on a camporee.  The week after that there will be 750 Boy Scouts on a camporee.  The week after that we are hosting a motorcycle get-together of an estimated 1,000 retired Marines.  The week after that we are hosting 1,200 to a labor union annual picnic.  The week after that we expect 10,000 people to visit us for the Civil War Days re-enactment.  The week after that is Memorial Day when we honor those who have gone ahead.  The week after that we have a concert with The Fish.  Etc etc etc.  In the  interim, we will host weddings, barbeques, birthdays, fishing clinics, horse riding, fun runs, yard sales, corporate team building events, camping, and a gazillion other active and passive recreational pursuits.  (BTW – we can host your event, too. :))

“I invite you to visit the park.  We are open every day.  My team and I are there every day.  If you call ahead I will be pleased to give you a personal tour.  We can be reached at 916-806-3868.  If we don’t answer its because we are on the other line or dealing with another visitor.  Leave a message and someone will call you back.  Bring your family and make it a picnic.

“Come see the park and judge our work for yourself.  Constructive criticism is always welcome.  Thank you for taking the time to read this.”

About David H Lukenbill

I am a native of Sacramento, as are my wife and daughter. I am a consultant to nonprofit organizations, and have a Bachelor of Science degree in Organizational Behavior and a Master of Public Administration degree, both from the University of San Francisco. We live along the American River with two cats and all the wild critters we can feed. I am the founding president of the American River Parkway Preservation Society and currently serve as the CFO and Senior Policy Director. I also volunteer as the President of The Lampstand Foundation, a nonprofit organization I founded in 2003.
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