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Indybay Feature

Concord Police Association Back Seeno - Developer With Criminal History

by Pseudonymous
It is not usual for a police officers' association to openly express an opinion in a development decision. Yet, the Concord Police Association, which represents 130 police officers, openly supported Seeno/Discovery Builders - a company known for mortgage fraud, price inflation, the desecration of a Patwin burial site, and who recently tried to sue the East Bay Regional Parks in an attempt to stop the development of the the Thurgood Marshall Regional Park in the Concord hillside. The president of the Oakland Police Officers' Association also spoke in favor of Seeno.
A special meeting was held on on August 21, by Concord city council sitting in their capacity as the Concord Reuse Authority. The city of Concord has been trying to find a master developer for the old Concord Naval Weapons station. Lennar was the prior choice, but was later rejected for not agreeing to hiring directly-local union workers. The meeting on the 21st was the final interview for the 3 companies who made it through the latest consideration process. Mayor Tim McGallian and all city council members were present for the meeting which spanned over 9 hours. The majority of submitted spoken and written comment from the public was against the developer Seeno/Discovery. Individuals, community groups and official non-profit organizations expressed overwhelming concern about Seeno's history, and infamous business practices. The majority of the public were in favor of the 2 other developer options: either Brookfield or City Ventures. Brookfield and City Ventures both agreed to a hyper-local union hiring agreement.

Seeno/Discovery did not offer a proposal with the same dedication to affordable housing and ecologically innovative development as the 2 other companies competing for the contract. Seeno is partnering with Phil Togami, who wanted to bring in coal via rail into the city of Oakland. Seeno/Discovery also has a history of unethical business practices and corporate crime. On the typical end of the scale, Seeno has faced home buyer complaints of construction defects and soil movement. More notable are a myriad of scandals.

Seeno/Discovery broke environmental law, damaging a red-legged frog habitat during a development project in Pittsburg, California. Having hired an environmental consultant, Albert Seeno Jr knew the frogs were present and were an endangered species. He ordered his team to fill in the frog ponds with dirt. Seeno ultimately paid $1million in damages, and had to set aside over 100 acres of land for frogs habitiat.

In Yolo County, a Patwin burial site was torn up by a subcontractor hired by Seeno. Albert Seeno Jr and Albert Seeno III were previously informed there were Patwin remains on the acreage their subcontractor was working on. When the remains of over a dozen people were unearthed, proper authorities were not contacted, and an effort was made to cover up what had happened.

Seeno sued the East Bay Regional Parks District in an attempt to stop the EBRPD from creating a new regional park in the Concord hillside. The park will honor those who died in the Port Chicago explosion and the former Concord Naval Weapons station, preserve habitat for native plants and animals, and offer camp grounds. Albert Seeno III initially tried to sue the Navy to halt the land transfer from the Navy to EBRPD. After that failed, Albert Seeno III sued the EBRPD directly, claiming that the park would harm his plans to develop a second housing project on the Pittsburg side of the hill ridgeline. Seeno's lawsuit was a delay to the EBRPD, but Seeno lost his lawsuit. Seeno is still developing the housing project in Pittsburg, and has expressed intentions to limit access to the new Thurgood Mashall Park from the Pittsburg side of the hills.

Seeno/Disovery was fined $11 million in bank fraud, participating in a builder bailout scam. Albert Seeno III avoided personal prosecution, by dubiously claiming that Ayman Shahid - the manager of the Seeno/Discovery Sales division - was acting without the knowledge of Albert Seeno III himself. In a plea deal, Ayman Shahid has offered to work with the FBI to investigate Albert Seeno III.

In response, Albert Seeno III said he would kill Ayman Shahid. Seeno was arrested and charged with witness tampering. The charge was later dropped, as the FBI could not prove Seeno had intent to follow through with his words. Although, Albert Seeno III is alleged to have a history of hiring people to threaten business partners and business rivals.

Due to their history, Seeno/Discovery is barred from getting contracts in the state of Nevada. They have been shunned by the city of Walnut Creek. In the city of Concord, however, they have the support of Mayor Tim McGallian, Vice-Mayor Dominc Aliano, Councilperson Edi Birsan, and the Concord Police Officers' Association. The police are backing the developer with a criminal history of fraud, embezzlement, witness tampering, and violating both environmental and archeological laws. Over the years, various people within the Seeno/Discovery organization have been arrested, including Albert Seeno III. They have paid many millions of dollars in fines, for a range of violations. Yet, Seeno/Discovery was the developer the membership of the Concord Police have chosen to back. In addition, the president of the Oakland Police Officer's Association, a Concord resident, also expressed his support for Seeno.

The following are transcriptions of comments submitted via email to Concord city council, as read into the official record by the Concord city clerk. This is all in the public record, including the names of the police. Nothing printed below violates privacy laws or violates the "The Law Enforcement Officers' Bill of Rights". The video from which this transcription was made is available on the city of Concord website.

"Mayor and council. My name is Barry Donelan. I am a Concord resident and a police officer in the city of Oakland. [Note: He is a Sergent, and is the president of the Oakland POA]. Who you select today for the master developer of the Concord Naval Weapons station matters greatly to our community. I am writing to ask you to support the discovery team including Phil Togami, who has been a wealth of talent and knowledge in Oakland. We need a local developer team, who knows this community and who can work closely with local labor, this city and those of us who live here in Concord. Thank you for taking my support in consideration when you vote. Barry Donelan."

"Mayor McGallian, Vice-Mayor Aliano, Council Members. Many of you know me. My name is Ron Bruckert, a current resident of Concord many years, and a retired police officer with the Concord police department. I have also served for many years as President of the Concord Police Officers' Association. I am emailing today to reiterate the reasons why the Concord Police Officers' Association whole-heartedly endorses the Discovery development team as the next master developer for the Concord Naval Weapons Station. Quite simply, when the Concord community has specific needs, the Discovery team will be there for all of us, and won't have to run ideas, community partnerships, or financial commitments up the corporate flag for a decision that would be based on the company's bottom line. The Discovery group and its partners not only have the experience to successfully partner with the city on a project this complicated, but they will have - as they always do - the best interest of police, fire and our Concord community in mind when making decisions of the Naval Weapons Station. Please register my support for Discovery Homes, Lewis Homes, and California Captial. We need them fighting for us. Ron Bruckert."

"Mayor McGallian, Vice-Mayor Aliano, and Council Members. My name is Joe Higby, a longtime police officer [Note: rank of Detective] with the Concord Police Department. I am emailing you today on behalf of the Concord Police Association, representing 130 officers here in Concord. We are asking for your support for the Discovery team as the next master developer of the Concord Naval Weapons Station project. ...[Sentence fragment unclear]... and I am confident that having a local developer team from Concord and East Bay is the best option for the city and our residents. Thank you taking the Concord Police Association's support for the Discovery Team into consideration for the master developer. Joe Higby."

The choosing of a master developer is not a public safety issue. There is no direct reason for the Concord police to have influenced the decision. They don't regularly participate in decisions about development. It is unusual for the city of Concord and the Bay Area in general, for a police officers' association to involve itself so directly in such matters. Not only did the Concord police get involved, but the president of the Oakland POA did as well. This is irregular, and could be the start of a trend for police to shape all manner of public policy here in Concord.

The only opposition was from Councilpersons Carlyn Obringer and Laura Hoffmeister, who both wanted Brookfield to be the master developer. It took political courage to go against the police union. According to these 2 Council persons, Brookfield had a better presentation and offered the experience needed for a large mixed-use project on former military land which needs remediation. With council majority, 3 against 2, Seeno/Discovery won the exclusive negotiation agreement with Concord. Not only did Councilperson Edi Birsan support Seeno/Discovery, but he personally chastised Save Mt Diablo, the membership of Save Mt Diablo and various community members who spoke out against Seeno/Discovery. In a bit of a meandering tirade, he expressed outrage that people were speaking out against Seeno/Discovery.

The decision made on Saturday only means that at this time, no other company can negotiate with the city of Concord regarding the development of the former Naval Base while Seeno/Discovery negotiates with Concord. Seeno/Discovery has not fully completed the selection process. The public can still demand that Concord city council resend the negotiation agreement with Seeno/Discovery, and express concern that the decision was so obviously influenced by the police department as to favor the least qualified, and most corrupt of the 3 applicants.
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i dont think so
Wed, Dec 15, 2021 4:43PM
no way
Wed, Dec 15, 2021 4:38PM
no way
Wed, Dec 15, 2021 4:34PM
Mike Gotfried
Mon, Aug 23, 2021 11:59PM
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