Wednesday, February 16, 2022

Santa Clara PAL BMX - Board Meeting

Yesterday evening, amid questions as to why our local track has been closed, I attended a meeting at Santa Clara PAL BMX. Yuan and I stood in the cold on the bleachers with so many other amazing people in the BMX family to hear what has been going on. There were city board members there, the chief of police, track board members and the T.O., Nick Valencia. This was a public meeting, so I'm sharing some of what happened below, to the best of my memory: 

To get down to it, the TOs, Nick Valencia and Marissa (not sure of her last name), were (falsely) being accused of “mismanaging money”. This came about because a new person on the city board saw a commercial being filmed for something in San Francisco on track property and noticed that a company’s logo was displayed on the SC PAL jerseys. He asked the people doing the commercial who they paid, and the people responded that they didn’t pay anyone, they were just allowed to be on the land. The new board member brought up that they didn’t have insurance, and the people filming called in and added the track on their insurance for the day, providing the board member with the correct paperwork. Instead of going to Nick, the new city board member went to the company to ask if any funds were exchanged for the jerseys. The company told him no, and that they had donated the jerseys to the track. The city board then had an issue with the track not asking permission to put their name next to another company on the jersey. 

* Edit: I saw part of the commercial in question- no logos, jerseys, etc. were anywhere in the making of that production. From what I saw, the city board falsified their claim. 

Apparently, Nick found out that the city board member had gone to the company, and several track board members claimed that he apparently had portrayed himself as a police officer or as having police backing to do so (the city board member denied that he did this). Next, the board came into the signups booth and began taking money and Nick’s work laptop from the booth. There were no adults there at the time, but there was a child there. Nick immediately told them to leave and told them that this was harassment of a minor. The board also installed cameras inside the sign up booth, directly pointing to the computers and workstations inside the booth.

They continued to accuse Nick and Marissa of money mismanagement (let’s call it what it is- embezzlement) without any proof whatsoever. Marissa had enough and quit. It’s a very serious accusation, and Nick didn’t feel safe continuing to have the track open, so he and the board put it on pause until they could resolve something. 

The meeting started out like a hot mess. There were about 50 or so people there, including (like I said above) Nick, the track board, 3 city board members and the chief of police. They began the meeting by stating that they wanted the track to continue to be open but the current track board has been voted out by them and are gone, then they immediately began to ask for volunteers to step up and run the track (a.k.a. “scabs” in my opinion). This was met by angry resistance from all, as well as letting them know that the entire track board and Nick were in fact there. The city board would not tell anyone why they made their decision to get rid of everyone, until a few people with notes stood up and told everyone the above story.

Also during the meeting, a woman stood up on the top of the bleachers and told the city board that the reason the company donated jerseys to the track and had their name on them (the Santa Clara PAL track jerseys) was because her husband had a connection there. No money changed hands, and nothing was done wrong. The city board members didn't bother to even find that out, and had no idea that this was the case. 

Everyone there very passionately stuck together and told the city board in no uncertain terms that if the board goes and Nick goes, they won’t continue to ride or volunteer there. They told the board that in the last 10 years they have not even been out to the races once, they know absolutely no one there and have no idea what it takes to run a top-notch facility. A woman even brought up that if they really think there’s something shady going on with the money, they could do an external audit. The city board member responded that he was doing an audit, and that’s why he went to the company, and several people told him that that’s not how an audit is done. It needs to be done by an external person, not someone who has an issue with Nick. Nick said that would be great, because he has never and would never steal anything from the track. Several people said that when the track was getting started, he even gladly put his own money into it. The meeting participants also said that the city board would consistently tell them one thing in an email and then another thing verbally, throughout their time running the track.

For several weeks before the state qualifier, the track had volunteers out there doing a TON of work, and at the end they got them burgers. The burgers were paid for with a credit card associated with the track ($150 total charge). They had been told that they could use the card, then in the meeting the board members said, “oh well this other person had to be the one to physically use it”. The city board was told that getting everyone a burger at the end of a very long, grueling and time consuming three weeks is not money mismanagement. Receipts were kept, there was paperwork, etc.

While this was going on, USABMX has offered to manage the money directly, but the board doesn’t like that either due to certain words in the paperwork; however, talks with them are still on the table. Wednesday (not sure if it’s this Wednesday or next) is the deadline with USABMX, as they need to figure everything out about the national. The city board members had no idea that that was even the deadline, until they were informed by the track board in the meeting yesterday.

The meeting went on for an hour and a half, and towards the end they began communicating more, which was at least something. My take on it is that the city board members should be ashamed, firstly of accusing people of embezzlement without any proof, second for not taking the time to even interact with or get to know any of the hardworking members of the track-then pulling this stuff, and third for not having any numbers, etc. prepared for the meeting. The track members had notes, numbers, ideas, etc. and the city board wanted to have a “pissing contest” and not even listen. The city board also tried finger pointing several times during the meeting that it was Nick- not them- who closed the track. They received backlash for that too. Who would continue to run something when they are being wrongly accused of a major crime?

I stand with Nick, and don’t blame him for closing the track. If I were in his position, I wouldn’t feel protected there, and that’s exactly what he said as well.

My feeling on this is that it is VERY up in the air right now. All we can do is wait and see and hope.

To watch the meeting on Instagram Live, here's a link (not mine): 

One of the MANY posters in support of Nick, the track board, and the kids/riders taped up on the bleachers and the track fence yesterday. Photo not mine.

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