• In our last issue, I commended Neal Andrews for having the courage of his convictions – because of his displeasure with the Republican National Committee he decided to stop being an active member. Some readers had a problem with me saying that because they thought I was siding with his concerns, which I wasn’t. If he was a member of the Democratic National Committee and made the same decision, I still would have applauded him. My comments had absolutely nothing to do with the fact that he is a Republican.
• This Saturday is the last concert of the wonderful Music Under the Stars music series at the Olivas Adobe (Lisa Haley & The Zydekats will play). It will be another sold out performance (6 of the 9 were sold out). So next year be sure to get your tickets early for this exceptional outdoor concert series.
• We have two “articles” in this issue regarding Brooks Institute closing. My last words (I hope) on the subject.
Brooks officials said the reason they made the “difficult decision” to shut down was due to declining enrollment and significant changes in the regulatory environment. These variables made it unlikely the school could be successful going forward.
What nonsense, their enrollment over the past several years had fallen from 2,500 to 250, hardly enough to sustain an ongoing business. Their issues didn’t magically occur in the months prior to renting all of the downtown spaces and commencing construction. It seems as if they were just hoping that this move might save the school from shutting down.
Plus, the company that owned Brooks was counting on enrolling hordes of foreign students to make up the slack by bringing in foreign students which did not happen.
I feel sorry for the many people that were affected. The students, clerical staff, instructors, landlords (both the commercial buildings who now have many liens on their buildings), homeowners who rented to students, the Clocktower Inn who set aside 27 rooms for students, the contractors and sub-contractors who weren’t paid and the poor students who lost everything.
I recently met a young girl who moved here from Texas to attend Brooks and had rented a house with four other Brook’s students. Who takes care of their broken lease?
Not to mention the merchants who would have benefited from Brooks being downtown and the non-profits who were forced to relocate. For example, Focus on the Masters the non-profit art appreciation program moved thousands of art pieces, huge numbers of files and much much more to a space on a different floor in the same location behind City Hall, about ½ half the size that they were in previously. The space is now so crowded that there is hardly room to walk through it. And, they still haven’t found a new location to hold their fund raising art boutiques.
Even local taxpayers will probably not see the city recoup the $70,000 that they didn’t collect up front from Brooks as a security deposit and back rent.
Now it’s finger pointing time. I blame those who convinced the City Council that this would be wonderful (which it would have been) and the City Council (and staff) for not doing a more thorough due diligence of Brooks and taking steps to protect the City should defaults have occurred. A deeper dive would have likely raised concerns with the conclusion that Brooks was not going to be a viable tenant.
There are bonds and insurance that would have protected the City (maybe our City Attorney should have insisted on this). Taking out an insurance policy wouldn’t have cost the city anything because the tenant or contractor pays for the completion bond. Because it was the taxpayers at risk if something went wrong, this should have been done under any circumstances.
The City says that they studied Brooks’ finances and believed the school looked solid. From my perspective, it’s hard to believe that they would have come to that conclusion.
I am not personally affected, but even I’m disheartened by this, so I can imagine how depressed those are that were very personally involved and impacted.
• Moving on, new reports show if Americans would quit smoking and cut back on drinking, most cancer deaths could be prevented. Maintaining a healthy weight and exercising at least 20 minutes a day would also benefit, so get with it.
• Preparatory grading work has begun for the construction of the new 72,000 square foot Kaiser Permanente outpatient complex located right off of the freeway near Victoria. It will also include a community garden, nature walk, and amphitheater.
• Due to the lucrative smuggling industry, reports show that the amount of Chinese immigrants crossing the Mexican border into California illegally has increased drastically. A report by the Migration Policy Institute shows the Chinese are the fifth largest population of immigrants in the United States illegally. I propose that we build a wall at our border and call it The Second Great Wall of China to keep them out.
• After completing a five-year 1.7 billion mile journey through the solar system, NASA’s Juno spacecraft is now set to begin a close-up study of Jupiter. A remarkable feat, yet here on earth, “we” can’t figure out how to stop people from killing each other. As my 11-year old grandson Evin asked, “If people are so smart why do they do such stupid things?” If we only knew.