It was business as usual during the first 30 minutes of the meeting for Greater Golden Hill’s Maintenance Assessment District (MAD) on August 18th. Back-and-forth squabbling over the purchase of 28 state-of-the-art trashcans with dog-bag dispensers nearly sent the entire meeting straight to the landfill.
“I don’t see any need for [trashcans] in the first place,” said MAD committee member Bill Hilsdorf. "A piggy-piggy person is a piggy-piggy person."
Fellow MAD committee member John Kroll had other concerns. He wanted reassurance from MAD program manager Alia Kanani that the board’s comments on the trashcans would be considered and not just tossed to the wayside.
“I wouldn’t ask for your comments if I didn’t want to hear them,” responded Kanani.
The program manager even agreed to accept individual emails from committee members, and not just from chair David Skillman. (“In this case I’d be willing to accept comments on this issue from the individual members,” said Kanani.)
The bickering did serve one purpose: it gave mediation specialists Barbara Filner and Robin Seigle, from the National Conflict Resolution Center (NCRC), a front-row seat to the difficulties with communication between the Greater Golden Hill CDC and MAD oversight committee.
A few months prior, members from the MAD oversight — scratch that — advisory committee, along with members from the Greater Golden Hill community, begged the city council to bring in a mediation team to help resolve the conflict. The city council concurred and councilmember Toni Atkins’s office asked Filner and Seigle to attend the Greater Golden Hill’s MAD meeting to see if the relations between the two community groups could be repaired.
Not all MAD members thought mediation was necessary.
“What is the conflict?” asked Hilsdorf. “I’m part of this, and I thought it was getting better. Now, how much is this going to cost us?”
Apparently, councilmember Atkins's office got a good deal at the local mediator market, a two-for-one reduced rate.
“We charge $300 an hour for each mediation specialist, though in this case we agreed to charge $250 for two mediators, for up to 20 hours,” said mediator Seigle.
The money will come from the city’s Economic Development Division.
“That’s all great, but I sit here once a month for nothing,” responded MAD member Hilsdorf.
“Yes, but you volunteered for this,” responded NCRC’s Barbara Filner.
Mediation will start on September 3rd when members of the MAD committee meet with Seigle. The Greater Golden Hill CDC will discuss the issue during this Thursday’s upcoming board meeting at 6:30pm at the Moose Lodge, located at 1648 30th Street. Meetings are open to the public.