By Ken Stone
Updated at 8:35 a.m. May 24, 2018
Despite an early hint that it might still be interested in hosting the 2020 Olympic Trials for track and field, Mt. San Antonio College will not reapply for the meet.On May 1 — after USA Track and Field suddenly announced that it was reopening bids for the showcase meet — Mt. SAC President William Scroggins said in a statement: “We remain confident in our ability to deliver a completed stadium on time and a successful event.”
USATF, the sport’s governing body, yanked the Trials from the Walnut school less than a year after awarding it, citing ongoing litigation that threatened to halt work on its track stadium.
In response to a query Wednesday, Mt. SAC spokeswoman Jill Dolan said the school was not re-entering the Trials race, adding later via email: “Why would we consider bidding for them again when they just took it away from us?”
Bids are due Friday, with the announcement of the new Trials host expected around June 8, USATF said in its Request for Proposals. (On Thursday, USATF spokeswoman Jill Geer said: “We will announce bidders at the appropriate time.”)
The head of the Sacramento Sports Commission told the Sacramento Bee two weeks ago that it would likely bid again — after hosting the meet in 2000 and 2004 at Sacramento State University. And the University of Oregon, host of the past three meets, also is a possibility.
Meanwhile, the head of the taxpayers group suing Mt. SAC over Hilmer Lodge Stadium financing gave Times of San Diego a timeline on her group’s lawsuit and one by the City of Walnut.
In an email Wednesday, Layla Abou-Taleb of United Walnut Taxpayers offered her response to Mt. SAC losing the Trials.
This note was lightly edited:
UWT filed its initial lawsuit regarding misuse of Measure RR bond monies on a parking structure in March 2015. The actual case on the stadium (PEP) project was filed on November 7, 2016, after [the] Mt. SAC board made its final decision to proceed with stadium at its October 2016 meeting.
UWT consistently extended the olive branch and a path towards better partnership. We offered to settle matters rather than litigate on multiple occasions. We met with Mt. SAC Trustee [David] Hall on a few occasions as well as the facility director. All along, Mt. SAC refused our multiple offers of alternatives to projects that would have ended the litigation.
Case in point: At a study session for the Board of Trustees of Mt. SAC at Laverne College, before the UWT lawsuit was filed, Dr. Scroggins approached two UWT board members and invited UWT to file litigation because “his attorneys were smarter than ours.”
Mt. SAC did not disclose to UWT, Walnut stakeholders or the host city Walnut that it was seeking the 2020 Trials until after it was awarded in June 2017. This is consistent with the claims contained in the UWT lawsuit against Mt. SAC about its lack of transparency, public notice and hearings on matters affecting the community.
After the award of the 2020 Trials was disclosed, UWT board member Mansfield Collins spoke in favor of the 2020 Trials during oral communications at Mt. SAC Board of Trustees (BOT) meetings on multiple occasions.
On behalf of UWT, Mr. Collins always extended the olive branch of settlement rather than litigation. Mr. Collins explicitly stated it is never too late to reach an amicable resolution of the parties. These presentations took place during 2017 and 2018.
On September 8, 2017, mediation talks between UWT, the City of Walnut and Mt. SAC failed. Several subsequent discussions similarly failed. On October 18, 2017, Dr. Scroggins unilaterally declined city settlement offer prior to consulting with his BOT.
On October 30, 2017, Mt. SAC called off settlement discussions and indicated it would proceed with stadium and West Parcel projects indicating the board was determined to build a solar farm (where 140,000 cubic yards of dirt from stadium was to be dumped).
In discussions with [athletic special events director] Doug Todd at an October 2017 Walnut City Council meeting, UWT informed Mr. Todd, having met for the first time, that UWT was not opposed to the 2020 Trials.
Todd seemed surprised when UWT stated that Mt. SAC could transport the dirt from the stadium out of the city for less money and less negative environmental impact. Todd agreed he would talk with Scroggins. Todd never requested or had a formal meeting with UWT in an attempt to reach a settlement path.
On November 13, 2017, Mt. SAC violated a city Stop Work Order on stadium PEP project. That would continue where Mt. SAC violated five city Stop Work Orders on the PEP, with the last on February 23, 2018.
On December 14, 2017, city filed lawsuit on CEQA for West Parcel where the stadium dirt was to be hauled.
The attached city agenda item of December 13, 2017, shows history between Mt. SAC and the City of Walnut.
On January 12, 2018, UWT filed for a [temporary restraining order] on PEP followed by filing for injunction in April 2018 and an appeal for the denial of the injunction on May 7, 2018.
On March, 2018, Mt. SAC deposed UWT board member Dennis Majors and UWT deposed [Mt. SAC director of facilities] Gary Nellesen and [Mt. SAC vice president of administrative services Michael] Gregoryk.
It is highly probable that Mt. SAC failed to disclose most if not all of these developments to the USATF. The Olympic Committee must have viewed this as Mt. SAC having poor community relationships and/or arrogance, and a harbinger of future discord and dissatisfaction within Walnut.
In addition, it violated the trust reposed in Mt. SAC by the Olympic Committee that Walnut was fully informed and onboard with seeking the 2020 Trials when Mt. SAC submitted its application.
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