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Media Coverage
Council Sticks To Point Molate Redesign Choice
May 23, 1996




Thursday, May 23, 1996
Section: news
Page: A03

RICHMOND The Richmond City Council has reaffirmed its March 4 decision to hire Dan Peterson & Associates, a Richmond architectural firm, as consultant to design a re-use plan for the Point Molate naval fuels depot.

Responding to a federal government request to resolve the Point Molate dispute at the local level, the council held a hearing Tuesday night to air concerns over selection of the consultant.

Peterson's firm was chosen because he was the most qualified of the seven applicants, a majority of the council members said. They also said they followed the established process.

Those who voted to reaffirm the selection were the same who originally voted for Peterson: Irma Anderson, Nat Bates, Lesa McIntosh, Alex Evans and Richard Griffin.

Several community members came to the hearing to express their anger about the consultant selection process.

"This (project) is a wonderful, wonderful opportunity, and I'd hate to see any chance that it could be blown, so to speak," said Helen Klebanoff. "You had a very good process. You simply didn't follow it. I don't understand that."

The dispute started after the selection of Peterson, when Councilman Tom Butt accused his colleagues of bowing to pressure from Richmond's preeminent lobbyist, Darrell Reese. Butt forwarded his complaints to federal authorities.

The five members who voted for Peterson vigorously denied the accusations.

"There isn't a major decision that this council makes . . . without some lobbyist or another," Bates said. "That is politics."

Butt tried to distance himself from his written accusations about his five colleagues, reiterating an earlier statement that he did not mean to imply they were accepting bribes.

He said he only meant to point out a connection between council members' votes and the monetary support they received from Darrell Reese in their elections. Reese is the political consultant for the Richmond firefighters union, which spent more money than any other group in the 1995 council election.

Point Molate is a 400-acre site just west of the Chevron refinery and north of the Richmond-San Rafael bridge. The federal Office of Economic Adjustment gave Richmond $150,000 to pay for its redesign.

After Butt wrote a letter to the OEA protesting the council's selection of Peterson, a federal official wrote to city officials. The city would have to exhaust "local administrative remedies" to resolve the dispute before the OEA would get more involved, wrote Helene O'Connor, acting director of the OEA, to City Attorney Malcolm Hunter.

The city held the protest hearing to meet O'Connor's request.

O'Connor also asked Hunter to send her office a copy of all city laws governing the hiring of consultants.