After reviewing the May 29, 2013 article in the Hanford Sentinel, on the Lemoore Seniors, I would like to provide further information to clarify comments made by Kings Community Development Corp. President James Clark and City Council Member John Gordon.

Mr. Clark criticized city staff for being unprepared and uninformed while filing the application for CDBG funding and for not attending a grant application training session.  Mr. Gordon said he found it disheartening to learn that no one attended training…..even the one in Avenal.  Unfortunately, these partial pieces of information do not provide a full picture of what I, the former Planning Director, actually did and why.

1) First, I did attend later teleconferences in a Question and Answer (Q&A) format with multiple State and other jurisdictional staffers to get up to speed on what I missed in the day-long training after reviewing the grant application instructions.  Additionally, I followed up with multiple phone calls to Lemoore’s State representative Diane Moroni as further questions came up during the grant preparation. If Ms. Moroni didn’t know the answers, she asked her managers for clarification so that my work was done properly.  Lastly, I have personally attended at least five CDBG grant application trainings over the last decade with the City of Lemoore, with only minor changes occurring each year which are usually covered in the follow up Q&A.  Considering all this further information, I would state that Mr. Clark’s and Mr. Gordon’s comments are uninformed opinions and neither of them had a full picture of what constitutes “adequate training” for the grant application.

2)The only reason staff did not attend the optional training, was due to not  receiving direction from the City Manager to proceed with the grant process for the seniors until after the CDBG grant trainings were completed.  I hesitated to even try to obtain grant funding as the Planning Department really did not have time to put together the application in 60 days or administer the grant once awarded with only 2.6 full time equivalent employees.  Given how dire the seniors’ needs were, I decided to take the initiative and do whatever it took to pull together the CDBG grant application.

3)Once City Council had the required CDBG “Design Phase Hearing”, I was directed to look into four potential activities and pull together a combined grant application based on the activities which had the best opportunity for funding.  I had approximately 45 days to prepare a grant application for three (3) activities which consisted of approximately 300 pages.  This required close coordination with Frank Rivera and RT Henson of the City Building Department along with multiple contractors to get estimates of costs as well as the City Engineer’s office.  Some minor input from other City Departments included the City Clerk and Economic Development portions of the City Manager’s office and the Parks and Recreation Building Maintenance Division.  Additionally, outside help was provided by CSET in Tulare, West Hills College culinary, Kings EDC, Lemoore Chamber of Commerce, and of course the Lemoore Seniors Inc. 

Ultimately, I and my Planning Staff prepared a combined $1.4 million dollar grant to pay for the needs of the Lemoore Seniors (for approximately $1 million), about $350,000 for business training and loans, and about $60,000 for a planning study for a potential restaurant or regular business incubator with a lot of coordination from multiple players.  All this was prepared and turned into the Federal Express office in Visalia the day before the application was due in Sacramento and the State confirmed the completed application was received within the time frame of the grant.  I had given my all, and chances were 90% that the City of Lemoore would be funded in at least one (1) if not all three (3) grant activities.

At a City Council meeting in the Civic Auditorium, Acting City Manager Laws said that Leticia at the State Housing and Community Development Department stated the City’s application was “ineligible” due to financial audit issues.  The Statement of Assurances form, within the grant application, required that the City Manager concur via signature with all findings included that the financial audit was in order.  It appears that the “Acting City Manager” did not have the qualifications necessary to make the determination and therefore signed it blindly.

So hopefully you now have a better picture of the “rest of the story.”


Past Lemoore Planning Director Holly Smyth