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World Series Runner-Ups Fear Striking Out with Lemon Grove City Council

A council majority opposed funding proposal as written, and urged league to return with new request.

Civic pride clashed with public responsibility Tuesday night as the City Council considered a donation request from the Lemon Grove Little League for funds the organization needs to meet its operating expenses.

And while council members did not vote down the proposal, league officials hoping for help found themselves at odds with a council majority concerned with using public money to assist the group.

The league, whose senior division team became local heroes over the summer as they battled their way from regional tournaments to the World Series in Bangor, Maine, is having trouble paying its bills after scrambling to cover the costs of the championship season.

According to Art Martinez, LGLL past-president, travel expenses left the league without enough funds to pay for utilities, equipment, field supplies, and uniforms in the coming year. There is an immediate need for money to cover an $1,800 water bill for the Nichals Street field where the teams practice and play.

Martinez made the request for $4,000 to refurbish the league’s savings in an Aug. 21 letter to Councilman Howard Cook.

In addressing the council, Martinez explained there was little time to fundraise in the week between the Senior League All-Star’s taking the Western title and team members, coaches and parents leaving for the World Series.

“The kids needed their parents with them, traveling so far away,” Martinez said. “Some of the parents were fortunate to be with them.”

For those who were less fortunate, “Little League stepped up to help them out,” he said. “It depleted our savings.”

Cook strongly supported the idea. Remaining council members were opposed, citing a concern over the use of tax-payer monies.

“This is really a terrible place to be,” Councilman Jerry Jones said. “I don’t mean to belittle or take away from the accomplishment, but as an elected official and a custodian of the public money, I have a responsibility.”

Jones urged league officials to bring back a retooled request that details the organization's expenses.

Mayor Mary Sessom agreed the proposal needed changes, but could be brought back for another look.

“Tell us what you need and why you need it,” she said. She also asked the league to report on their fundraising efforts and offered to help them secure business donors.

“Come back with a plan that says what you can’t do,” she said. “We don’t know what that $4,000 represents. We just need a plan.”

Councilwoman Mary England was not in favor of the request as it was proposed.

“It’s not about the $4,000,” England said.“I believe in my heart we should do this the way we’ve done it with other groups. There’s a process in place so we don’t look like we’re cherry picking who gets the money.”

Afterward, Martinez expressed the league's disappointment.

“I came and asked from my heart,” he said. “I didn’t sit there and bring a 10-page deal to get it all figured out.”

Time worked against the league, Martinez said, as the team advanced toward the World Series.

“I needed money right now. I didn’t need it next week, I needed it now,” he said. “The games weren’t going to stop because we didn’t have money.”

Despite their frustrations, league officials promised they'd be back in front of the City Council with a revised request.

“We’ll take their suggestions,” Alicia Martinez said. “We’re not going to give up.  We’re not giving up. We’ll write down our budget and come back with the things they requested we do.”

JoAnne Burke October 17, 2012 at 03:33 PM
Alfred I Burke and all the early fathers of Lemon Grove Little League would want to make sure LGLL continues and is able to meet their expenses. We are so proud of the LGLL and their performance in the tournament this summner and would like to give to them. Where do we send a check? Sincerely, Ken and JoAnne Burke
Christine Huard (Editor) October 17, 2012 at 04:24 PM
Hi JoAnne, Alicia Martinez says donations can be sent to: Lemon Grove Little League Seniors, P.O. 755, Lemon Grove, CA 91945.
LemonGroove October 17, 2012 at 07:02 PM
Unfortunately, I do have to agree that City funds, except maybe some used for advertising/marketing, shouldn't be used for the LGLLS. BUT, I do expect every business and church to have donation jars available to remind people and have them donate. Having been in a financial bind in the past myself, I have found, that talking to those I owed, about the situation, caused them to be more flexible. I know the CVLL had a zillion fundraisers and those kids and parents washed a lot of cars.
rene preciado October 18, 2012 at 05:17 AM
I feel so embarrassed to live in this city, were talking about 4 thousand dollars. We are so lucky to have these boys represent Lemon Grove, there not drinking, into drugs or robbing people they are good kids who go to school and get good grades. To ignore our baseball fields is a crime if we dont have a field what do you think happens to the kids that out there and left alone and no where to go. Yup they will be getting into trouble. We need our fields so kids can come and play baseball and stay out of trouble. I just believe this city doesnt care about the kids they only care about themselves and they should be ashamed us them selfs. Those boys who put our city on the map should be getting alot more then just a banner that was only left there for 2 mos and a parade they worked there butts off and to come home with a city that doesnt stand behind them.
Lemongrovelocal October 18, 2012 at 04:39 PM
Rene, it's not the City's responsibility to cover airfare and lodging for the little league parents AND I'M A LITTLE LEAGUE PARENT!!! If you have been paying attention, the City has hit hard times just like everyone else in this country. The Little League should have come prepared. You don't ask a public agency for money and not have backup to support your request! As a parent of a little leaguer (soon to be two), we pay a lot of money to the Lemon Grove Little League in the form of registration fees, mandatory fundraisers and mandatory sponsorship...where does all that money go? A financial statement should have been provided to the council. I was happy to see the team go to the Senior League World Series and my family and I supported them at all their fundraisers. The fundraising didn't need to stop when the boys came home. If the Little League really needs the money, they should continue their fundraising efforts in their community and around the county. Then comeback with a complete request with their fundraising totals, where that money went and what the need the $4,000 for and present that to the council. As a resident and a little league supporter, I'm happy to support the team any way I can, but I don't think it is a financial responsibility of the City!
J Jones October 25, 2012 at 06:33 PM
For anyone still watching this article, I just received word that the Bob Baker organization has stepped up with the full $4000.00 the Senior League had requested. I don't have any of the details other than they have committed. Much thanks to them and who ever arraigned the contact! This is how it's supposed to be done. jj

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