Apparently following rules and regulations appears to play second fiddle in the name of a “good time” in the Town of Discovery Bay.
Originally Rocktoberfest was promoted over the past few months to be an event at the Discovery Bay Shopping Center; however, due to lack of organization or a disrespect of the rules the venue had to change. While that is technically no big deal, it may become an issue for taxpayers.
Organizers of Rocktoberfest wasted the resources of the county and the Town of Discovery Bay. They not only ignored numerous letters sent to them by the county, but made a mockery of regulations by trying to avoid getting proper permits that the county requires. This caused the county to continue to waste resources sending them written documentation of what is required to host such an event. This is not typical behavior you would expect from any organization. It would have been easier, less expensive for taxpayers, and more responsible if the organizers of the event educated themselves on state and county regulations for such events before they planned and advertised.
This then resulted in the County having to further educate and monitor the event because they could not conduct themselves in a way that they were going to follow the rules which required County Staff on hand during the event.
Permit Issue = Change of Location
Organizers began promoting this event in July. County officials immediately responded due to the history of events not being properly permitted in the past. The county was proactive and sent their first letter with an application and ordinances on July 24. Two additional letters were sent on Sept. 25 and Oct. 8.
In order for the event to proceed, the Discovery Bay Lion’s Club was to obtain two county permits, one from Environmental Health for the food handling component of the event, and a Temporary Event Permit for the event itself. With plenty of notice, the Lions Club for whatever reason, decided to only apply for one of the two required permits.
This cannot be deemed an oversight or error because three letters were sent. They just didn’t do it.
Apparently, the third letter was the charm.
According to Town Manager Rick Howard he received a call from the Lions Club on Tuesday Oct. 8 requesting to change the venue. For reasons unknown, the CSD agreed to meet under a “special meeting”.
It typically takes an emergency or special circumstance to call a special meeting of a board. Special Meetings require staff time and stipends are issued to CSD Directors. Under normal meetings, 72-hour notice is required; however, a special meeting is just 24-hours.
Its subjective as to whether changing a venue site would meet the qualifications as a special meeting of a Board.
According to the CSD Staff report,
According to the Staff report, In order for the event to proceed, the Discovery Bay Lion’s Club was to obtain two county permits, one from Environmental Health for the food handling component of the event, and a Temporary Event Permit for the event itself. The Special Event Permit requires a 45 day lead period. The Lion’s Club failed to apply for that permit. As a consequence, the event will not be allowed to proceed at the planned location. Additionally, the organizers of the event believe that the Community Center provides better access and crowd control.
What raised my eyebrow to this issue was an article published in the Delta Sun Times approximately 8 hours before the special meeting.
In an attempted spin, the Delta Sun Times proclaimed ““We didn’t expect this! Response to Saturday’s Rocktoberfest has been amazing! So much so, that we have to move the venue! And thanks to the Town of Discovery Bay, we will be hosting the October 12th event of the year at the Discovery Bay Community Center – right across the street from the original location” – Discovery Bay Chamber of Commerce, Board of Directors”
This statement raises several flags. It suggests that the Discovery Bay Chamber of Commerce was so confident that they had the site because they knew the outcome of the votes. More troubling, it’s not truthful because the staff report said the meeting was called over permits, not attendance issues.
Also, what constitutes special circumstances to call a special meeting and who has the right to call these meetings? Ultimately, taxpayers are on the hook when this type of behavior occurs.
For arguments sake, let’s just say an overabundance of attendance was the issue that still would not classify as a reason to host a special meeting of the Board over poor planning of a service organization. Would they call a special meeting of the board if someone was to host a last minute wedding? If a 10-year-old wanted to host a birthday party? I doubt it.
It doesn’t pass the smell test while the legality over this special meeting should be questioned for several reasons.
For starters, the CSD approved the venue change in a 4-0 vote. During the meeting, it was not disclosed that all four of the voting members are members of the Discovery Bay Lions Club and are eligible to receive a stipend of $100 paid by taxpayers of the CSD to cast a vote that benefits their own club event.
Going back to the Delta Sun Times article that was posted and removed quickly, Amanda Dove highlighting that the CSD had already approved the vote and venue change. Boards are required to follow the rules of the Brown Act and cannot publicly talk about their votes—Ms. Dove might have been tipped off the Lions Club had the votes prior to the meeting.
I asked Rick Howard about the post and possible “serial meeting” he replied they do not operate this way.
“No serial meeting. We do not operate that way. To imply that it is, is flat wrong. That is why it is calendared. Ms. Dove may have her opinion and it may or may not be right. I can’t speak to her comments only to say that she is ahead of herself. Only after the Board takes a vote tonight will we all know what will happen,” said Howard via email.
Regarding the post, Mr. Howard also stated,
“I actually have a call into Amanda to let her know to correct it. I have to be sure that it say “pending Board authorization”… They are getting to ahead of themselves. It is frustrating.”
Going forward, we would hope a policy is put in place by the Town of Discovery Bay that for the rental of the community center, it should only be approved during regular scheduled CSD meetings with the caveat a fee equal to the cost of Director stipends is paid in addition to the Community Center Fees as residents of Discovery Bay should not be paying for special events put on by a service group.
County Gets Involved with Cupcake Wars Event
As if the venue change was not enough, we then move on to Cupcake Wars which tested patience of the County. It’s disappointing this did not come into fruition because this was a fabulous idea and I would encourage them to try it again with better planning.
Originally the idea was community cupcake bakers were going to bring their delicious cupcakes for a contest and then be able to sell the cupcakes as a fundraiser for the school. This event would have required one permit and covered everyone if they would have applied for it according to Francisco Avila from the County Department of Conservation and Development.
With the failure if the organizers to purchase the permit, it then put the burden on each of the participants to purchase their own permit at $119 each in order to sell cupcakes. It also would have meant the public could have tried each cupcake and funds could have been raised for the schools.
While the CSD was rescuing the organizers, the County was STILL trying to get the organizers to get their permit to fulfill their plans for Cupcake wars event. After several back and forth exchanges, they realized the cupcake war organizer was not going to work with them and notified them that no cupcakes were to be sold.
In response, Cupcake Wars organizer Amanda Dove tried to avoid the county order by posting the following:
In response to seeing this post, the County was not pleased.
In an email obtained from a county source, this was the response from a county official upon seeing the post by Amanda Dove.
Wow, that woman is creative. The tasting part is correct. If the cupcakes are only viewed by the public and then tasted by 5 judges that would be okay.
We are checking to see if Delta Valley Fitness is a permitted food facility and if so, they can then take on the liability of selling cupcakes from their counter. We will call them and advise them that under state law they do need to make sure the cupcakes are from an approved source. If they are not an approved food facility, that would not be legitimate to do at all unless they had gotten a temp food permit from us, and of course, the cupcakes are from an approved source”
The County essentially shut down Cupcake Wars which Ms. Dove later spun to save face by hosting a volunteer contest with no possible way of raising funds for schools which was her original intent.
In subsequent emails from the County:
- Matt Ellison owner of the Delta Valley Fitness Club, called Amanda Dove to cancel the sale at his establishment. The county also advised Jim Mattison, Rick Howard, and Byron Gutow of the happenings and the consequences of any attempt to sell cupcake—the public was only allowed to view the cupcakes.
- The county also stated that because the event had been tweaked by allowing 5-judges to “volunteer”, the event could continue since she would not be selling cupcakes. The county also had confirmation from Delta Valley Fitness that they are no longer taking part in the selling.
From what the event was originally intended to be in July, was not the final product and people were cheated from what the event turned out to be on Saturday. In these emails, it highlights lots of communication occurred, thoughts were exchanged, and words were twisted which resulted in frustration all because a permit was not purchased.
I asked Amanda Dove why she did not get the proper permits, her response was telling.
I’m not going to talk to you about it, Mike, because you never tell the full story and you’ll just trash someone else. There was an error, and that’s all there is to it. People make mistakes, and this is a really unfortunate one as the people it hurts most are the school fundraisers.
The irony of this comment is that she did not want the full story out after my inquiry. For the record, there is a difference between trashing someone by calling them a name versus holding a “community leader” accountable to their community and its taxpayers.
For the record, we stated on East County Today social media,
Rocktoberfest Update: due to a problem with permits, Contra Costa County we are hearing has shut down the Cupcake Wars event in Discovery Bay. The rest of Rocktoberfest appears to be a go as planned at the Discovery Bay Community Center.
I find it interesting that Ms. Dove would use the word “irresponsible” when describing someone for asking questions when it could be argued that “irresponsible” is someone being reckless by not following health code—that to me, is an irresponsible action.
I am looking forward to successful events in Discovery Bay whether put on by the CSD, Chamber of Commerce, Lions Club or other service organization; I just challenge them to do it in a responsible and lawful way.
Reports were that the event was a success, which may be the case, but at what cost? In my mind, a successful event would have required less county oversight, no emergency meeting, and hundreds of cupcakes would have been sold.
In the end, they sabotaged their own event which the School District and service groups lost out on a fundraising opportunity.
Had the organizers simply put in as much effort into following the rules and organizing as they did trying to circumvent the rules, the students would have won.
By Michael Burkholder
There is no doubt in my mind, the organizers of this event and CSD Directors had their hearts in the right place, I simply encourage them to start following procedures as required by the county to save taxpayers money. Resources are wasted in the enforcement of county rules by folks avoiding proper procedures and rules. I would challenge any organization who wastes taxpayers money and have done it in the past. I am not out to “get anyone” or personally attack, however, the events that transpired over the past week did not pass the smell test starting with a special meeting of the CSD Board. Articles like this are very difficult to actually publish as a growing news organization who relies on advertising. Having said that, stories like this often go unreported in other media outlets so we feel its our responsibility to our readers to point out these things not to hurt people, but I believe taxpayers in Contra Costa County deserve better.