Official Statement to the Gilroy Community from Mayor Marie Blankley
Thursday, April 28, 2022
A STATEMENT TO THE GILROY COMMUNITY
FROM MAYOR MARIE BLANKLEY
As a lifelong Gilroy resident (since 1964 for those who don’t know me), a proud volunteer of the Gilroy Garlic Festival, and a current and past Board member of many of the nonprofits that benefitted from its fundraising and success, it is heartbreaking to see sadness and pain manifest in accusations and mudslinging against the City of Gilroy that is ALL OF US. We ARE the City of Gilroy, and we are better than this.
Nonprofits, like the Garlic Festival Association, are run by their own Board of Directors and receive funding from their own fundraisers, donations, and grants. Their board members, and the staff they hire, are responsible for all decision-making. Their board meetings are not open to the public nor are board members elected by the public. As such, the activities of nonprofits are their own, planned and executed with resources of their own.
The City of Gilroy, like the Gilroy Unified School District and Gavilan College, is a public entity responsible to the public for any use of public spaces or other public assets. Private entities, including nonprofits, may not use public property for their own purposes without covering the associated costs and risks that make the public whole. It is for this reason that GUSD could not donate the use of their busses to the Garlic Festival Association when housing took over the private property adjacent to Christmas Hill Park. Similarly, Gavilan College was required to pass on to the Garlic Festival Association security costs, as determined by the county Sheriff, as well as insurance costs when asked to hold the festival on college property, both of which were considered prohibitive by the Association. A smaller venue proposed for Gilroy Gardens by the Garlic Festival Association also came with too high a price tag from the Gilroy Gardens Board of Directors who, under lease with the City of Gilroy, are responsible to protect the Gardens for the public. It is true that the Garlic Festival Association has been trying feverishly to find solutions they can afford to continuing the festival, but given what they can afford today, private property may be the only solution for the time being. As we navigate this sense of loss each in our own way, remember that we have the luxury of trying to rebuild, while a 6-year old, 13-year old, and 25-year old had their lives ended by a gunman who opened fire at the Gilroy Garlic Festival on Sunday, July 28, 2019. The importance of security and insurance is not determined by fear, as some have suggested. It is determined by reality, a reality that hit us in our home at our beloved festival and forever changed us all. However, it is not that tragedy that caused the demise of a 40+year festival that generated over $12 million for our local nonprofits. Rather, it was the pre-existing financial crisis and spending down of reserves that left a once robust Association now unable to pay insurance premiums for which no one otherwise would be questioning.
Marie (Patane) Blankley, CPA