I wish that, when presented with a street closure request by Mr. Cipponeri who sought to completely supplant our non-profit, volunteer Turlock Certified Farmers' Market—time, place, and location—that the Turlock City Council had simply accepted the permit for review and turned it down.
Failing that, I wish that during their research into how other cities dealt with market applicants they’d noticed that Requests For Proposals were only used by those that didn’t have a market to begin with, or that had had a “divorce” with one. Cities that have markets generally respect the effort they’ve put in and the benefit they provide, and allow competing markets competing spots—not the pick of a spot already held.
Failing that—and I believe it was a failure—I wish the council had accepted the community suggestions to add a “first right of refusal” to their RFP—not for whichever applicant was awarded the market, but for the one already in place with six years of experience downtown. I wish they had accepted the suggestion (mine) that, instead of using a 25-page application, they use the simple, clean rubric they were developing in parallel during the very same meeting—which covered every other type of event but this one, and which naturally favored events with a long, positive history here over newcomers, and non-profits over for-profits.
Failing all of that, I wish that, after viewing the massive applications and the presentations that the participants had taken weeks to put together, the city had voted in favor of TCFM. Or that Mr. Cipponeri had taken Councilmember Nascimiento’s suggestion of altering his application to choose a different time, or day, or place. And failing that, I wish the council majority had at least had the courage to vote between the proposals, not delay further with a disingenuous plea that the two applicants “work together” and “work it out,” when even a basic understanding of the laws regarding farmers' markets—or even of economics—would have shown them that 1) a market couldn’t be BOTH for-profit and non-profit (either it profits or it doesn’t), 2) the volunteer, non-profit board could not volunteer to work for the for-profit vendor (labor law frowns on uncompensated work for profiteers), and 3) the only legal option for a merger had been shot down when Mr. Cipponeri made it clear he wouldn’t be joining the non-profit board.
But they didn’t.
If they had done any of those things, perhaps Mr. Cipponeri’s market would be the one gearing up at the fairgrounds instead of TCFM’s, and TCFM would be preparing for a seventh lovely summer downtown. I might have shopped Mr. Cipponeri’s market, then, at least gone to see his non-local vendors in the off-season, when TCFM had closed for winter. But now I won’t. I can’t reward Mr. Cipponeri’s behavior with custom, and I won’t reward the council majority—Soiseth, Bublak, and Jacobs—with my vote, again, either. I’ll be shopping TCFM at the fairgrounds, this summer.
— Lauren Byerly