Turtle Bay – the Evil Empire, Really?

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Redding City Manager Kurt Starman has been having conversations about how to cut an additional $5 million from the city’s budget.

According to a story in last week’s Record Searchlight, one such discussion reportedly involved Turtle Bay CEO (and former city manager) Mike Warren and former Turtle Bay CEO Judy Salter.

The idea of closing of the Redding Convention Center and diverting some of the money saved to Turtle Bay Exploration Park was discussed.

That got ’em going on redding.com. The venom came shooting through the screen. The comments attacked Warren, attacked Turtle Bay, attacked the McConnell Foundation, attacked Salter, the Sundial Bridge. They left no stone unturned.

“Cut out TB (Turtle Bay) and CUT OUT WARREN” — wrote 3343.

“If Turtle Bay is so successful, why does it need a subsidy? Turtle Bay is the gift that keeps on taking.” – wrote veph.

“I hear the folks in Redding are finally getting sick and tired of the Turtle Bay’s greed and the McConnell foundation part in all this.” — wrote countrylady.

There were dozens more.

Angry, snide, anonymous comments on websites are rapidly becoming my least favorite thing in life. I’ll address them in a minute.

First, the fact that an option for closing the Redding Convention Center is even on the table speaks volumes for how bad the current recession is. I assume most of us wouldn’t want to lose the convention center OR Turtle Bay. The convention center is our hub for too many big events. Ideally, we need a new, bigger, more state-of-the-art convention center. But it seems non-negotiable to lose what we have.

But this also provides a window for something I’ve wondered about for quite some time. I’ve never fully understood the angst, mistrust and hostility that some around here harbor against Turtle Bay and the McConnell Foundation.

Turtle Bay grew out of the Redding Museum of Art and History and the Carter House Natural Science Museum. The idea was to combine those two institutions, expand and enhance the Redding arboretum, and develop a museum that highlighted and honored the area’s logging history.

Turtle Bay tells the story of our natural and socioeconomic history. It keepsakes incredible artifacts (many from this area) in its permanent collection. It hosts unique homegrown exhibitions and major touring exhibitions (that you’d otherwise have to travel to a big city to see).

The Sundial Bridge (funded mostly by the McConnell Foundation) connected Turtle Bay’s south campus to its Arboretum and Botanical Gardens. The bridge has become a nice focal point for our community to gather, walk, ride bikes, observe the river and enjoy the beautiful setting we live in. Most people love it, but a few people still hold disdain for it. They wanted barrels and wooden planks and not something designed by the world’s leading architect.

They want to tell a philanthropic organization how to spend its money and where it can go. I guess they don’t dig museums and arty things.

A commenter on redding.com said Redding wouldn’t miss Turtle Bay at all. Really? Tell that to the 14,000 students who tour through the park each year. Tell that to the preschooler who pressed his face against the glass where the salamander was and said, “His nose is touching my nose.”

I’ve seen artifacts from the Titanic, marveled at works by Pollock and Willem de Kooning, watched a sturgeon swimming next to a salmon and steelhead, contemplated the lives of the native peoples who have lived in this are for centuries. I’ve learned something new every time I’ve gone there.

The park attracts about 140,000 people a year, including an estimated 30 to 40 percent from outside Shasta County. It employs more than 40 people, including jobs for people who are plant, animal and art experts. It disperses thousands of dollars each year into the local economy on things like print jobs and advertising.

It’s also important to remember that no big cultural institution survives on its gate alone. The major museums in large cities depend on foundations, grants and private donations. Without the McConnell Foundation we wouldn’t have Turtle Bay or the Sundial Bridge.

All that said, is Turtle Bay perfect? No. Is it deeply important to everyone around here? No again.

But it’s one important shade for what makes a city diverse and attractive to outside businesses that might consider moving here. If we start ditching our cultural institutions the moment hard times hit, how do we define ourselves? By Super Wal-Mart?

I do believe the park needs to work harder at being completely inclusive to this community. Opening the botanical gardens to everyone for free was a good step. Residents should feel like they’re in partnership with the park. The more independently sustainable it can be financially, the easier its relationship will be here. That requires finding out what area residents want and providing it for them. They’re the core.

People view Mike Warren’s pitch to Starman as greedy. He was looking for a revenue stream for the institution he works for. Perhaps he believes in the mission of Turtle Bay. How many of Kent Dagg’s radical 10 ideas were pluses for the building industry? I think the government should fund my struggling journalism career. We tend to pitch for ourselves.

Now, as for how much credence to give online commenters. As ugly as it gets, they do represent a segment of this community.

But I tell you, I typically feel bewildered, nauseous and angry after reading comments on redding.com (and a few recently on this site). The discourse often gives me a headache and a soul ache.

Were I in control, I’d make people sign their own names to their comments and get off the snide, I’m-right-and-you-suck train. The ease and anonymity allows them to fire away (although Doni’s warnings certainly make me want to play nice).

It’s tough times right now. It’s tough on museums all across our country . It’s tough on everyone. Maybe this period will be documented in a museum someday. Maybe people will learn about what happened. That is, if there are still museums.

jim-dyar-125Jim Dyar is a journalist and the former arts and entertainment editor for the Record Searchlight’s D.A.T.E. section. Jim is also a songwriter and leader of the Jim Dyar Band. He lives in Redding. E-mail him at jimd.anewscafe@gmail.com

is a journalist who focuses on arts, entertainment, music and the outdoors. He is a songwriter and leader of the Jim Dyar Band. He lives in Redding and can be reached at jimd.anewscafe@gmail.com
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56 Responses

  1. Avatar Ronda says:

    Very well written, Jim. And I agree 100%.

  2. Avatar Charlie Burns says:

    I have to agree with you.

  3. Andrea Charroin Andrea Charroin says:

    Right on Jim!

  4. Barbara Rice Barbara Rice says:

    Though I've never been to Turtle Bay, I do enjoy the Sundial Bridge. The McConnell Foundation can spend its money any way it wants – some people will never be happy no matter what.

    I agree 100% with you about the anonymous rude comments. I wouldn't allow someone to come into my house and be rude; why is it any different in one's virtual home? Those people may represent a segment of the community but it is a very small, cowardly, poisonous segment.

  5. Avatar Dana J says:

    I have 2 small children and we LOVE going to Turtle Bay. It's a great educational place to escape both the rain of winter and the heat of summer. It's actually a year round joy for us, I hope it never has to close its doors to this community! It's very important to me, as a parent, to have this type of environment available to my children!

  6. Avatar panahe says:

    Redding has a place where its citizens go on a nice day to hang out,go for a walk and take friends from out of town..Where people from all around the world can be found taking in the sights.If you have been to Turtle Bay and the Sundial Bridge you know what I'm talking about.Redding has a civic center and this is also it,Just go there on in a summer evening and hear some music and something to eat and drink,there is not a nicer place.If Redding has a place to brag about this is also it.

  7. Avatar Leo says:

    I found this through the online comic strip 'Penny Arcade'

    There's another name for it, but it involved naughty words. Enjoy.

  8. Avatar Grammalyn says:

    Turtle Bay is a gem. My grandkids would go every week if we had the time. Any time I ask what they want to do, the answer is always "Turtle Bay". When my husband and I went to Disneyland in November, it cost $95 per person, per day. TB costs less than that for an entire year.

    The Sundial Bridge is also wonderful and unique. I love seeing people of all ages walking at their own pace, often accompanied by their dogs.

    I feel that closing the Convention Center would be a tremendous loss. Once these places are gone and the recession is over, then what happens? I hope everyone will think long and hard before making these decisions that affect our city, and believe that as citizens we must speak up as well.

  9. Avatar Damon Miller says:

    You had me up to eliminating anonymous speech. Other than that, well said.

  10. Avatar Les Baugh says:

    My wife Susie, whose goal in life is to be a “professional grandma”, has taken all seven of our grandchildren to Turtle Bay many times. They love it! Every visit is another adventure for them. Personally, I enjoy the gardens – the quiet, the water, the sheer beauty. In terms of cost, our family membership is a true bargain. For about the same price as one “grandkid x’s 7 ” trip to the movie theater, our family membership allows us to visit as often as we choose. Thanks for the fresh perspective Jim. And… thanks Turtle Bay.

  11. Avatar veph says:

    It's a backlash. Prolific and hostile online commenter(s) used attacks, insults and false information to promote the subsidy for Turtle Bay. Those same commenter(s) viciously attacked real people who post in their real names. It's an example of that adage "You reap what you sow."

  12. Avatar Patrecia Barrett says:

    This blog is extremely disingenuous and highly selective. There is quite a bit more to this story than the author would have us believe.

    The bulk of the objections were to the self-serving Mike Warren culture in general (still very much in evidence in City government, and for which the citizens of Redding will be paying far into the future), the incredible amount of influence the McConnell Foundation is accorded in local affairs (often to the detriment of the general population), and the fact that our City Manager would actually entertain a scheme to close down our only Convention Center and re-route nearly $500,000.00 to Turtle Bay at a time when we are facing another $5 million in cuts to public safety and other basic services.

    The only legitimate destination for this money – in its entirety – is the general fund. Turtle Bay and the Shasta Cascade Wonderland Association are entitled to no part of it in this time of economic crisis, which the Warren administration could certainly be credited with at least partial responsibility for creating.

    • Avatar Jim Dyar says:

      Paul Frye's comment below does a good job of listing a few of McConnell's positive gifts to the community. There's no doubt the foundation is an influential player here in the north state. I'm contending that if you line things up, they've done a lot more good than harm. I'm hoping (and I'm not being flip), that you'll list some of the ways in which their influence has had an overall negative effect on the community.
      As for the economic crisis, it's been a national (and now international) trend that Redding, like everywhere else, has not managed to avoid. I assume you're saying that Warren should have done a better job of anticipating the downturn.
      And, just to be clear, I'm not arguing that the convention center be closed and savings routed to Turtle Bay. The days are really looking dark if we're forced to close the Redding Convention Center.

      • Avatar Mike Flanagan says:

        Close the Civic and you might as well close down Redding.
        Concerts, shows and such make the Civic a social hub for all the smaller communities. Next time a concert is there visit any surrounding restaurant and ask the staff if the Civic should be closed. I stopped by the Fiesta Azteca restaurant, across the freeway, not knowing comedian Paul Rodriguez was performing at the Civic, and the place was packed and the staff was busy getting everyone fed in time to see the show. Our server said that the shows at the civic is what is getting them through these tough times.
        I appreciate the dialog but seriously folks, we are a tourist town and with no Convention Center how will we book conventions? The civic is small and outdated but still better than nothing. Nothing is economic suicide.

    • Avatar Lynda Bos says:

      I agree with you, Patricia. I believe the backlash is directed more toward Mike Warren. My solution is to privatize the Convention Center. And I LOVE Turtle Bay. It's well worth getting the season pass if you can afford it. Although I do not care for Mike Warren at all, I don't want to throw the baby out with the bath water. Yes, these are very tough economic times for a city that has perpetual tough economic times, but it's places like Turtle Bay that take me out of the stress and add a little beauty to my world.

  13. Avatar sandi says:

    Well said, Jim. The often illiterate, angry, negative comments make my heart and soul ache, too! After reading or hearing such negativity, my thought is "it must suck to be you". I love Turtle Bay–membership is a great value (compare it to a monthly cell phone contract, cable, movies, video games; simply a matter of priorities). The increasing walking and biking trails that highlight our beautiful town are fabulous. Thank you for addressing this issue.

    Sandi Thompson

  14. Avatar Liz Merry says:

    Turtle Bay gives me hope for Redding. People do come from out of town to visit it. I live in Tehama County and am a Turtle Bay member. Every time I visit I also spend money at other local businesses. I'm sure I'm not the only one. I don't know how that can be quantified, but it should be considered. Tourism (even if it's just for the day) dollars are among the best a town can earn. People bringing money they make elsewhere and inserting into the local economy is always a good thing.

    About the anonymous posts: sometimes I forget that lots of people think very differently from me, because we tend to communicate with like-minded folks. Having crazed lunatics able to say whatever pops into their tiny brains is always a wake-up call. Without extremes on each side there can be no middle. (Of course, if they really wanted to stand behind their words, they would use their real names.)

    : )

  15. Avatar Paul Frye says:

    Hey Jim,
    I, also, am baffled by the opposition by some to McConnell and its efforts to aid Northstater's attempts to improve the quality of their lives. Not all of McConnell's efforts are as visible as the bridge, but they are here and, often, quietly supply support to Northstate communities.
    I worked for an agency here in Redding that offered services to persons with traumatic brain injury. At the time, the closest services for these folks were in Sacramento. McConnell came through with some much needed operating funds. I'm not talking really big bucks, if I recall correctly it was around $46,000. The program operated until 2,000 or so, an early casualty of these troubled financial times.
    In addition to the direct services to the clients of the program, nearly a million dollars a year came into Redding and Mc Connell was a large part of the initial efforts to get the program "up and running".
    I take umbrage with the folks who rail about/against McConnell. Many must be ill- informed or un-informed about all of McConnell's efforts. Not only "the Bridge" and the 4th of July fireworks, both visible and notable efforts, but, also, maybe that sherriff's car that just passed you, or maybe the radio communication that car utilizes or its other voice and data capabilities, so critical to the maintenance of a safe and healthy rural area, such as ours.
    "nuff said, I believe that we citizens up here in Jefferson, are better served with McConnell than we would be without them. And it is their money, not tax dollars, going into the projects that they choose to support.
    Stay well, peace and love,
    Paul Frye

  16. Avatar Adrienne jacoby says:

    Yes, a GREAT reference, Leo. I like that word, DISINHIBITION. That about says it, doesn't it?

    Thanks for an excellent article, Jim. Turtle Bay and the Sundial Bridge are two of the many things happening in Redding that help us to know that our community is growing up culturally. They also make me very proud to be from Redding and those are two of the stops for any out of town visitors I may have.

    As for the McConnell Foundation. let him has earned his million and donated it to the improvement of the community cast the first disparagement.

  17. Avatar Gary Andresen says:

    Jim, an excellent article with a lot of great points.

    We moved here to retire ten years ago from the San Francisco Bay Area. My initial reaction to Turtle Bay was ……… How does a town like Redding financially support Turtle Bay?

    Without continued financial support from the McConnell Foundation and the City, it would quickly fail. The addition of the Sundial Bridge certainly helps bring people to Turtle Bay, but that is not enough to sustain it financially.

    If it comes down to one or the other, I would vote to keep the Convention Center. It serves a much broader cross-section of the community with the many events that are held there.

  18. Avatar Patrecia Barrett says:


    I need to get to an appointment, but I'll be happy to answer your question when I get back (I'm afraid you'll have to settle for a half-dozen examples, though, since a complete answer would require that I write an entire book).



  19. Avatar Ronnieboy says:

    I resent McConnell's attempts to set Redding's priorities. The California Horse Park is one such example, let's not forget that "stellar" project. Fortunately that idea wasn't approved. McConnell seems to believe that Redding can be improved by bringing tourists to the area. Tourism brings pollution (i.e. motor homes, power boats, horse trailers) and minimum wage jobs (bartenders, waiters, motel maids, etc), not the type of economic activity I want to see more of here. Instead McConnell could use its influence and money to help bring decent jobs to Shasta County. Funding the EDC, partnering on Stillwater, partnering to bring a 4 year state university and developing a technology hub are all ideas worth exploring that could improve Shasta County's economic outlook.

    There is no shortage of worthy projects in the north state. I resent McConnell spending their money on projects in Tibet and Vietnam. Would Carl and Leah McConnell would approve of these projects? That's a fair question because it's their money and their wishes should be followed.

  20. Avatar Larry says:

    Well-said, er, well-typed, Jimbo…

  21. Avatar Barb says:


    Thanks for a great example of expressing your opinion in an intelligent articulate fashion. I pray that Doni does not allow posters to come to this forum and bring down the atmosphere of civility that pervades the postings here. Republican that I am, I have no problem with certain bans on folks that don't play nice. It really would ruin my enjoyment of the site if it spirals down Redding.com's dark road!

  22. Avatar Dee Domke says:

    Excellent piece, Jim. Thank you for your understanding and caring for the health of our community.

    D Domke

  23. Avatar Pat j. says:

    Good article Jim!!! I wish you had listed the prices of the yearly memberships which are quite reasonable. I seldom attend the museum but keep my membership in support. I do enjoy the Sundial Bridge and Arboretum several times a year, and also do some of my gift shopping at the museum store. I fell in love with the bridge when I saw the fiirst drawings, and visited at least once a month while it was under construction. I respectfully disagree with Gary A. about the Convention Center vs Turtle Bay as Turtle Bay is used everyday.

  24. Avatar Bill says:

    Good article but Im more concerned with how the turtles may be affected by the spitballs. They can't move that fast.

    • Avatar Marie Stadther says:

      I'm a turtle and I have to tell you that I completely understand disagreeing with how things are done. However, the employees (the vertebrate) of Turtle Bay are here because we are passionate about what Turtle Bay stands for. This organization has a lot of potential and already provides a great amount of good to our community and visitors alike. It's a shame that ones vengeance and hate can blind them to the point that they can't see what a wonderful environment all of us are responsible for creating.

  25. Avatar Susan Daugherty says:

    Thanks for the great article, Jim. I too, have never understood the perception of The McConnell Foundation espoused by some fellow residents. I will look forward with interest to Patrecia's further response. I've always assumed that there was some bad blood created along the way, that I simply missed.

    I am heading to a Turtle Bay event this evening and looking forward to being there once again. I love walking across the Sundial Bridge and hearing different accents and seeing the incredible diversity of the people sharing the bridge with me. It brings a larger world into out insulated one and I think that is a good thing.

    The bridge provides a fabulous view for both sunrise and sunset and allows me the opportunity to watch the water fowl and reminds me how darn lucky I am to be surrounded by such beauty. I also enjoy walking the gardens and use them as a measuring stick for how the plants in my own yard are doing.

    At the same time, I cannot see how Redding could thrive without the Convention Center. While it's acoustics leave much to be desired, it is what we have for events that require large seating arrangements. I have had the pleasure of seeing some great shows there. This economic downturn continues to hit us in new and unexpected ways.

  26. Avatar Patrecia Barrett says:


    1) To begin, I've found the following article to be an informative overview of the McConnell Foundation and its operation. It also addresses McConnell's elitist Horsepark scheme, which could have cost the taxpayers as much as $55 million (that may have been the only time the City ever said "no" to McConnell).


    2) McConnell has been snapping up water rights on a large scale, which it sold during last years' drought for 4 times the normal rate. Residents of Shasta Lake City were forced to pay a surcharge as a result of what some of those affected referred to as McConnell's "gouging" and "monopolization". At the same time, McConnell has been cutting back on its local endowments.

    3) McConnell objected to a request by the Howard Taylor Auto Dealership to rezone and relocate his dealership to land designated for "multiple-family" housing on the grounds that this would cut into the City's necessary supply of affordable housing (Taylor's request was denied). Taylor claimed to have been told by then-Development Services Director Swason that his request would be denied "because McConnell would not approve it".

    However, McConnel itself then applied for the same property to create a helipad and maintenance buildings in the middle of this residential district (even though it owned 300 acres just to the north of that property). This request was approved by the City Council despite widespread objections from residents to having the noise and dust of a heliport and maintenance buildings in their residential neighborhood.

    One area resident also stated that McConnell had been performing construction on an adjoining property without a permit, but that her complaints were ignored by the City.

    4) Shasta County has directed a federal grant toward the creation of a miniature version of Stillwater on 22 acres in Shasta Lake City owned by the McConnell Foundation. It seems to me that this U.S. Community Development Block Grant could have found a better use.

    5) McConnell monopolizes dozens of acres of prime real estate belonging to the citizens of Redding for Turtle Bay (for which I believe it only pays $1 a year), yet it sold land to the taxpayers for the Riverfront Playhouse. Given McConnell's stated committment to "culture" and the arts (and the City's generousity to McConnell), I'm surprised it didn't just donate this land.

    6) Turtle Bay received permission from the City Council to seek zoning changes so that it can build a Marriot Hotel complex on 5 acres owned by the taxpayers. However, Mike Warren has stated that – no matter how successful this complex may be – it will not eliminate the need for Turtle Bay to seek annual public subsidies from the City. He said that any added revenue would likely go into "savings".

    7) And my personal favorite was McConnell's insistence 8 or 9 years ago that the land once occupied the Casa Blanca would be a good location for a ritzy hotel, boutiques, and gift shops to attract tourists to Turtle Bay. So down it went in a big hurry, displacing dozens of elderly and disabled people into what was then a non-existent rental market due to the City's redevelopment activities. This included one woman who had just undergone heart surgery and whose doctor provided the City with a statement to the effect that forcing her to move at that time could endanger her life. It's too bad the City was in such a hurry to accommodate McConnell that it didn't bother to determine that the water line on this property would interfere with the type of construction envisioned.

    That's the tip of the iceburg, but it looks like I nearly wound up writing a book after all.

  27. Avatar Tom King says:

    Great piece Jim. Well thought out. Well said. Not surprised. Keep it up!!!!

  28. Avatar lenny says:

    It's all Al Gore's fault.

  29. Avatar Ronnieboy says:

    Thanks for the excellent commentary Patrecia!

  30. Avatar JJ says:

    Seems like someone should respond to Ms. Barrett's examples of how McConnell has had a negative effect on our community, although given her clear distaste for all things McConnell, I'm not sure there's much point. But I'll give it a shot:

    1) Horsepark. An anonymous blog is not an "article." The link shows us the writer's own perceptions about McConnell and the now-defunct horsepark. For all I know, you wrote the piece and now use it to support your diatribes against the foundation. I think your use of the phrase "elitist Horsepark scheme" is more instructive, as it informs the readers where you are coming from.

    In case I'm missing something, the horsepark project never went forward. So how is that project evidence of a negative effect on our community? I guess its a hypothetical negative effect, but only if you assume the project hypothetically failed. Otherwise, nothing to see here, folks. Let's move along.

    2) Water. McConnell has not been "snapping up water rights on a large scale". It acquired water rights when it bought the Gore Ranch 15-20 years ago. What other water rights has it snapped up? Why such sensationalism?

    The Gore Ranch rights were converted to a contract when USBR negotiated the removal of Saeltzer Dam. McConnell sells that water to local districts for use in Shasta County at a market price. In wet years, the price is low. Last year was a drought year, so the price was greater.

    The City of Shasta Lake does not have to buy water from McConnell. If they do and it costs more than their USBR water, then its reasonable for the City to pass those costs on to their customers. The "gouging" to which you refer resulted in a $3.00/month surcharge for Shasta Lake customers. That's a small price to pay for reliability.

    Your point seems to be that by not giving away its water or by not selling it at a less-than-market price, McConnell is having a negative effect on our community. However, just because you would handle things differently is not evidence of a negative effect. In a real drought, we will be real happy McConnell has this water and keeps it in the county, because they probably could make more money selling it south.

    3) Taylor. I think your facts here are simply wrong. Taylor tried to rezone property at the intersection of Shasta View and 44. I don't believe McConnell ever owned that property or ever applied for a helipad and maintenance building on that site.

    McConnell may have opposed Taylor's zoning change request, but they weren't the only opposition. And Taylor's "claim" about what Jerry Swanson told him is not reliable evidence of anything. Nor is your statement about McConnell's alleged work without a permit. Why don't you ask the people that live next door to the Lema Ranch whether that's been a positive or negative experience for them? I'd certainly like to live next door to those walking trails and open space, and I bet the neighbors appreciate the amenities. Instead, you focus on rumor and a serious misunderstanding of the facts.

    I guess you are saying that Taylor not getting his rezone had a negative effect on our community, but you don't say how that is so. Given the current conditions facing auto dealers, I would wager Taylor is glad he stayed where he is. Where is the negative effect? It looks like you just resent that people at McConnell had an opinion on Taylor's rezone. But that's democracy, not an example of a negative effect.

    4) Shasta Lake development. Seriously? You cite as a negative effect the fact that McConnell is trying to help the City of Shasta Lake with economic development? It seems your test for what is a negative effect is whether you would make the same decision. This one is a real reach.

    5) Turtle Bay and Riverfront. Your point here is not clear. You seem to be saying that Turtle Bay's use of City property for a $1.00 is evidence of a negative effect caused by McConnell. And you are saying that McConnell's decision to sell property for the new Riverfront playhouse is evidence of a negative effect. I guess what you are saying is that by not giving away their assets and by supporting Turtle Bay's continued existence, McConnell is having a negative effect on our community. Other than the fact that this is your opinion, your statements otherwise don't show a negative effect. Again, just because you would do something differently isn't evidence of a negative effect.

    6) More Turtle Bay. Your criticism here is that Turtle Bay gets a subsidy from the City and – according to a statement attributed to Mike Warren – would continue that subsidy even if the hotel is built and generates revenue. Wow. This sure makes McConnell look evil. (Sarcasm.) Seriously, this is an example of your bias, not of some negative effect caused by McConnell. Its clear you don't think Turtle Bay is good for the community and you don't support the City giving money to Turtle Bay. But that's just opinion, nothing more. Its not evidence of a negative effect. Certainly the hypothetical scenario Warren was discussing isn't evidence of a negative effect.

    7) Casa Blanca. Casa Blanca was closed in 2001 because of code violations, not because of some glorious plan McConnell had for property in which it held no interest. Can you show us how McConnell was behind the closure? As you know, the same thing happened to the El Rancho, and the Roberts also was slated for closure before it was purchased and renovated. Or do you think McConnell was behind those closures too?

    Its interesting that your own People's Press article is completely devoid of any reference to McConnell being responsible for the Casa Blanca closure, and yet that closure is now your "personal favorite" example of how McConnell has had a negative effect on our community. (Maybe the McConnell references are on the second page – it doesn't come up in the link.) How is the Casa Blanca closure an example of McConnell having a negative effect?

    Patrecia, the examples you give speak more to the fact that you disagree with what McConnell does rather than demonstrate how the organization has a negative effect on our community. Also, your sensationalism and factual misrepresentations undermine your premise. We are left with opinion masquerading as evidence and unsupported examples of a negative effect. Its also curious you keep such a list.

    My prediction is that if you were in charge, the foundation would quickly run out of money and Turtle Bay would be closed; however, the homeless and low income residents here would be well cared for until the money ran out. Fortunately, the folks at McConnell take a long term view.

    Just my opinion.

  31. Avatar Patrecia Barrett says:

    Thank you, Ronnieboy.

    I don't visit this website very often, but judging by the comments above, it appears not to attract as wide a variety of people as does redding.com.

    However, it's nice to see at least a few people here who understand and appreciate the bigger picture.

  32. Avatar Mike Flanagan says:

    I find this article and comments a great example of why I support A News Cafe!!!

    Very seldom do I see people posting venom and such here. This sites readership is the class of people I would like to set down with and have a healthy discussion.

    That is a reason why I avoid Redding.com where everyone hides behind monikers, pseudonyms or cognomens and spout insults, self serving misinformation and general ignorance.

  33. Avatar Kelly Brewer says:

    Thanks for the kind words, Mike Flanagan. Our team wouldn't have it any other way.

  34. Avatar Patrecia Barrett says:

    JJ (whoever you may be),

    For some reason your 1:05 p.m. comment hadn't yet appeared on this board when I last posted at 2:11. How odd.

    Please be advised that my information came largely from public meetings and other official sources.

    I would also suggest that you disprove the information in the quite lengthy and comprehensive "blog" I linked to if you believe that it is in any way inaccurate. You may not agree with it (and it certainly doesn't deal in the type of "facts" we are typically exposed to here in McConnell Country), but that doesn't make this information anything less than factual.

    And the 4 year old "article" that bore my name in the "People's Press" was heavily edited by its publishers. The original version most assuredly did reference McConnell (along with other things that were edited out). It was my impression that they did not wish to offend certain local "players" since they asked me if I had obtained the "permission" of certain people to write about them. Incredible.

    I'm aware that this is not my kind of website. However, I felt I compelled to respond this time because perfectly legitimate concerns expressed by people like myself were under attack.

    • Avatar JJ says:


      My comment posted late because I have the ability to warp the space-time continuum. Or maybe it was because my post was being moderated. Either way, thanks for your reply.

      The purpose of my response was not to attack you, but to discuss what you considered McConnell's negative effects. I thought your original post focused more on your disagreement with decisions made at the McConnell Foundation or with the City's support of Turtle Bay than on negative effects caused by McConnell. There is no debating your disagreements with McConnell and the City – that's your opinion. I just didn't see the negative effects.

      For example, I didn't say the horsepark blog was factually inaccurate, I was just pointing out that it was unattributed. I have no quibble with the "facts" presented. My actual point was that the horsepark project never went anywhere. Because of that, I didn't understand how McConnell's advocacy for that project had a negative effect on our community. Now if the project had gone forward and failed, costing taxpayers millions of dollars, that would be a negative effect. But that never happened.

      With respect to the Casa Blanca closure, I did allow for the possibility that your article referenced McConnell – I just didn't see it in the online version. I believe you when you say your article was heavily edited. Even so, other than your statements, I don't see the connection between McConnell and the City's code enforcement activities. It seems like you were asserting a cause and effect relationship without independent support. Just because McConnell – and others – wanted to see the "Miracle Mile" improved doesn't mean that's why Casa Blanca was closed. Had the owner brought the property into compliance, I'm pretty sure he would have been able to continue his operations. That's how the code enforcement program works. I believe the owner chose not to rehabilitate his property for financial reasons, and instead put it up for sale.

      Mr. Dyar invited you to list McConnell's negative effects, because he believes the Foundation has a positive effect on our community. I thought the examples you gave were more matters of your disagreement with McConnell than examples of negative effects. I also noted some factual inaccuracies and gave additional information.

      This discussion makes me wonder what Redding would be like if there was no McConnell Foundation, but that's someone else's story to write.

      Anyway, thanks again for following up. While you say this isn't your kind of website, as a frequent lurker here its pretty clear to me everyone is welcome as long as they are civil.

      • Avatar Mike Flanagan says:

        Thank you JJ and Pat for keeping it real and civilized. Redding get's ridiculed a lot in my travels outside city limits as hicktown and your civility and investments like T Bay, City Hall, County Hall, SunDial bridge, River Trail and more make Redding a better place to visit and hence support local businesses struggling to survive.

  35. Avatar David Thompson says:

    Jim, I wouldn't worry too much about about the state of negitive comments on these forums. It has been my experience that nobody really respects anonymous postings or the people that won't stand behind them. Good article.

  36. Avatar James Gilmore says:

    Excellent article, Jim. Evidenced by a scintillating (and civil) debate!

  37. Avatar Brandon says:

    Thanks for writing this article, Jim – it reverberates the way I feel about TB and the current economic situation. I agree, the RS blogs are bitter and the power that anonymous comments provides fire negativity. I often wish that TB administration was more open to the public so that community members might have more of a stake in how the business is administered, so that we might feel like we have a stake in TB. I really believe that when people are empowered to feel ownership of something that's when magic happens.

  38. Avatar Patrecia Barrett says:


    The link I posted in my earlier comment was offered for its value in providing general information about the McConnell Foundation, not because it mentioned the only project for which McConnell didn't get the City's support (after which McConnell's administration went into a snit and said it was considering concentrating its resources on its Asia Foundation).

    Have a nice day.

  39. Avatar pmarshall says:

    Thank you for the piece on Turtle Bay, Jim. You certainly opened a "bag of worms". I have to say, I agree with Ms. Barrett. I have lived here a long, long time, so I more or less know about the "auditorium", as we oldsters call it. To begin with, it was not really wanted; it would cost too much, (so it was said). So it was sort of built, "bare bones"; so it now is showing its age and maybe it had not been built to hold up (at least maybe it hasn't.) As for McConnell, yes, they have done a lot of good for the community, but they are also very much "in charge". One point, I know, what developed on Shasta View Drive, and the fact that Taylor could not put his auto agency there. What? Well, Ms. Barrett, I know there are many who won't agree with you, but I do. Politics do reign in Redding. Thanks for trying to remind us.

  40. Avatar gamerjohn says:

    It would be nice if Turtle Bay would allow more free or discounted days for the locals who can't afford the ticket. I know they have some, but it seems like it is reported after the fact "Here are happy kids attending the free day at Turtle Bay" type of thing.

    If the Civic Center loses money everytime it opens its doors, it makes it hard to want to open the doors more often.

    I have a distinct name that I post under here, there and everywhere. I have a job that requires me to be in contact with various local officals who I critize as an American. It allows me to be honest. I don't think I act as a troll.

  41. Avatar veph says:

    As I wrote over in the that ugly place–Aren't charitable organizations supposed to distribute charity? Not grab it away from other community-minded groups, or taxpayers?

  42. Avatar Joanne Lobeski Snyde says:

    Great article Jim. I do love that people can engage in civilized conversation at the News Cafe.
    I would like to mention that one additional malicious aspect to the anonymous blogs at the RS (besides the disinhibited posts that follow even the most pedestrian articles) is that it is possible to pose as another person, use their name, and post information that may cost them their job. It's happened. The RS will not participating in righting such a wrong. Bloggers are entitled to free speech.

  43. Avatar Russell K. Hunt says:

    There is no need to close the convention center. But there is need to get it off the city dole.Pairing and selling it with the rodeo grounds would make an attractive format for a very large hotel. Perhaps a destination resort with river related activities.. As long as the City controls it, there will be continious pressure to give discounts to the 320 non-profits in the county. And let's not forget that Turtle Bay is still subsidized by the City in the form of free rent.

  44. Avatar Rachael C. says:

    you carry a rather large spoon with which you like to stir things up. stir stir stir…


  45. Avatar Margaret says:

    My goodness.
    Criticizing the Mc Connell Foundation is certainly "looking a gift horse in the mouth."
    No wonder Leah Mc Connell preferred making all of her gifts anonimously while she was alive.

  46. Avatar Carla Clark says:

    Regarding onine comments: Yes, many of them are mean and nasty, and I wouldn't want to meet most of those folks in a dark alley. Last summer, the Record Searchlight published an article about a Head Start summer child care program for parents who were working or going to school, and the viciousness of some of the comments took my breath away.
    Regarding the McConnell Foundation: I think this area is very lucky to have a resource like this. So what if they support projects in Tibet and Viet Nam? It's their choice. I love Turtle Bay and the world-class Sun Dial Bridge which has enhanced this area immensely. The Convention Center definitely has its place as an important local component too. It shouldn't be either/or.