Opinion - PDA's "Awful Truth and it’s Documented"

by Placerville Newswire / Feb 08, 2021 / comments

[Tom Cumpston, former EID General Counsel and Board Member at Marshall Medical Center, 2-4-21]

Mayor Dennis Thomas and (City of Placerville) council members:

You have received a letter from the board of the Placerville Downtown Association, claiming that it still represents its members and that “misinformation” and “speculation” are harming the PDA. I’m a PDA member and I strongly disagree.

Here’s why:

Since Jan. 2 of last year the PDA board has held at least 13 meetings, none of which were noticed to the members. None of those meetings had more than four attendees.

What did three PDA board members do at those exclusive meetings? Without consulting their members, they reorganized the PDA and spent most of its money in service of their personal interests.

For example, last summer they authorized spending $6,000 of PDA money to support three ballot initiatives they liked. None of the measures wound up qualifying for last November’s ballot.

About the same time, they paid out $8,083 of members’ money to settle legal bills that a totally different organization, Friends of Historic Hangtown, has run up while fighting the City Council here and in court. There is significant overlap between the faction currently running the PDA and the leaders of Friends of Historic Hangtown.

More recently, the PDA authorized spending an additional $18,000 — which is nearly every penny left in its shrinking bank accounts — to oppose Therapy Stores. I’m expecting news of PDA/FOHH lawsuit any day now.

The PDA also paid one of its board members nearly $3,000 in consulting fees in 2020.

They’ve spent more than $10,000, so far, on a new PDA website. The home page features the costumed members of the Hangtown Marshalls, including a PDA board member, striding down Main Street.

The board also spent nearly $5,000 to rewrite the PDA bylaws and mission statement to emphasize political action and to make many Main Street businesses ineligible for membership.

A single motive explains these actions: rather than promoting events and all of the businesses in downtown Placerville, this board wants the PDA to function instead as a combined political action committee/litigation factory to serve its board members’ private, political agendas.

Meanwhile, the board has unilaterally withdrawn the PDA’s longtime support of the Main Street flower baskets program and the annual Festival of Lights at Christmas — dropping those expenses into the city’s lap and walking away.

Every one of the decisions and expenditures I’ve just described was made by three people, at meetings that no other PDA members attended or had notice of. I had to demand inspection of the PDA’s accounting records and meeting minutes, and wait a month for a response, just to learn these facts.

Bottom line, the PDA is deeply dysfunctional, out of control and nearly broke. That’s not misinformation; it’s the awful truth and it’s documented in the PDA’s own records.

TOM CUMPSTON
Placerville