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Indybay Feature
Groups Fighting Concord Corruption and the Seeno Deal
by Concord Reporting In
Wednesday Sep 29th, 2021 6:07 PM
Groups are fighting back against Seeno (Discovery Homes), and the corruption in city council that resulted in them being chosen as the potential developer for the Concord Naval Weapons Station redevelopment project. The Seeno family has a criminal history, as does the company that carries their name, which 3 council members (including the current mayor of Concord) are overlooking as to further their political careers.
Concord Mayor Tim McGallian wants Seeno's money. Council persons Edi Birsan and Dominic Aliano want the big Seeno bucks, too. Edi wants to move up to a county seat in 2022. Tim and Dominic are up for city reelection next year. The political corruption on display in Concord is so daringly blatant. The city of Concord needs a developer for the former Concord Naval Weapons station, to build new housing, new business real estate, a new university and parks. Rather than go with the developer who is best equipped for the project, and the developer with the strongest business ethics (relatively speaking), the three men on council went the developer who is openly buying their support. The Seeno family represents old Concord, and represents wealth in Concord, in a city that is not particularly wealthy compared to SF, Oakland, or even Walnut Creek. The Seeno family for years has made or broken political aspirations for people trying to get onto city council or into county or state office. The family buys the city council they want.

Two groups are fighting back against the 3 council persons who have chosen Seeno as the developer. Locally in Concord, the Concord Communities Alliance has directly spoken out against Seeno at council meetings, and has organized people to contact council to cancel the Seeno deal. They additionally have an online petition, which has been gaining traction, in a city that is typically not very political active. The petition can be found here: https://www.concordcommunitiesalliance.org/reverse_the_seeno_decision

Concord is a relatively sleepy town. It's not often for Concord to be in the news. The opposition against Seeno is getting into Bay Area press. People in Concord are angry about the council decision. Furthering the opposition is Save Mount Diablo, a prestigious environmental group, who is focusing on Seeno's history of violating environmental law including clearing old growth oak trees, and back-filling red-legged frog ponds. The Seeno's have a history of ecological harm in the Concord hills, and there is every reason to believe they will do immense harm to the ecosystem adjacent to the development project. Save Mount Diablo is fighting Seeno on both sides of the ridge-line. In Concord they are organizing their members and supporters to get the Seeno contract cancelled. On the Pittsburg side of the hills, they are suing against Seeno's involvement in another housing project. Because of their advocacy, the Contra Costa Local Agency Formation Commission has denied Seeno's application for the Faria housing deal in Pittsburg. They are now suing the city of Pittsburg for violating "state law by failing to comply with its own zoning and General Plan policy requirements". https://savemountdiablo.org/blog/2021/09/29/save-mount-diablo-sues-against-seenos-faria-project-in-pittsburg-hills/

The Seeno's were found to be responsible for the damage to native remains in Yolo County. A judge found that the family were made aware by Yolo County of native burial prior to work, yet their contractor was instructed to ignore the county's warning. The Seeno family for a decade have faced accusations of extortion. They were barred from doing business in the state of Nevada, due to criminal behavior. The Seeno's are known for shoddy work in their construction and repairs. An elevator at a Seeno owned building in Walnut Creek cost the company $5.6million when a woman was injured, and the company was sued for rather severe injury. It was found that parts of the the elevator were repaired with zip-ties. Any applicant is going to have some issues, but the history of Seeno is so egregious that their approval can only be explained by political corruption and bribery.

The 3 council members representing the majority vote choosing Seeno over more qualified applicants, are perpetuating disinformation that Seeno is the better applicant because the company agreed to a project labor agreement that met the terms set by local labor unions. While this fact is true, they refuse to acknowledge that the other 2 applicant companies also agreed to the exact same labor agreement to use local union labor, to hire veterans, and partner with labor apprentice groups. If the qualifier most important to the 3 council persons was the labor agreement, there was no particular reason why Seeno should have been chosen over the other applicants.

Seeno didn't meet city council's requirement that any applicant company reveal their current financial information. This issue was brought to council's attention by former council person Collen Coll. Coll has has also spoken to press in order to point out that Seeno didn't follow the city's own rules, and yet the majority of council chose them anyway. Seeno's financials are in question due to years of fines levied by the state of California and lawsuits placed against them by various parties. The Concord Naval Weapon's Station redevelopment is a massive undertaking. The majority of council may have chosen a company that could potentially have to cease work partway through. Allowing Seeno to break the city's own application process opens the city of Concord to a potential lawsuit. The city of Concord could be sued for not following it's own rules, just as Pittsburg is being sued for not following it's own legal guidelines.

The final vote to formally approve Seeno might happen this October. There is a big push by various groups and individuals to get people to oppose Seeno and to oppose the council persons who support Seeno. Seeno must be stopped, as must be the political careers of anyone who is so openly being bought by Seeno. Concord needs a more ethical developer and a developer more sensitive to environmental issues. We have an chance to have a development that represents the future of eco-friendly construction, green energy, green transportation, bio-diverse parks and green jobs. Seeno won't build what the future of Concord needs. Tim McGallian, Edi Birsan and Dominic Aliano have betrayed the people of Concord for their own personal aspirations and enrichment, and they should face the political consequences for doing so.
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