Trash Cans and Smoke Shops; Resignations and Recruitments; Speed Bumps and Sand in the Water: A Brief Summary of January, 2015

Livingston, California 2/21/2015

The thought was if you’re going through it for recyclables, a penalty of $25 is going to mean a lot to that person. It’s going to be quite a bit of money. City Attorney, City of Livingston, January 06, 2015 City Council Meeting: appx. 32:27,

This is kinda dumb. We will have police doing garbage duty. City Council Member David Mendoza, January o6, City Council Meeting. appx. 37:40

Passing this ordinance does not automatically allow a Smoke Shop to come in. There still has to be a CUP. City Attorney, City of Livingston, City Council Meeting, January 06, 2015 City Council Meeting: appx. 54:47 

A Conditional Use permit can be appealed to the Council and we can dictate some of the items there. Mayor Rodrigo Espinoza, January 06, City Council Meeting. appx. 1:08:07

The following contains a brief summary of a few things that happened in the City of Livingston during the month of January, 2015, Council Agendas for the month of January, and a few links to relevant Sun Star Articles.

Livingston’s police officers and their supervisors started the new year with a 5 percent pay cut; the Resignation of City Manager Jose Antonio Ramirez became final; the City Council called for the Resignation of the Planning Commission’s Chairman, appointed Odilion Ortiz as Interim City Manager, adopted an Ordinance prohibiting trash scavenging and imposing fines, adopted an Ordinance regulating Smoke Shops and Smoking Lounges, discussed speed bumps, approved emergency repairs to Wells 9 and 11, approved a Memorandum of Understanding with the Public Works and Parks Employees Unit, and talked about how hard it seems to be to recruit members for the Recreation Comission.

The RESIGNATION OF CITY MANAGER Jose Antonio Ramirez became final at the end of January. During the January 06th and 20th City Council meeting, he presented a List of Items the City Council would need to address some time in the future:

  • Amending the Watering Ordinance

  • The Repairs needed to be done to the City’s Water Storage Tank

  • Planning Fees Increases

  • Well Deconstruction Fees. The City will have to start issuing Well Deconstruction Permits.

  • Master Plans for Sewer, Water, and Storm Drains need to be updated

  • The 4th of July Committee would like to come under the umbrella of the City

  • Sunvalley Estates and Well #17  improvements

  • Devante Villas project: haven’t heard from them in a while. But sure they will be coming back

  • Kera (?) Fernandez Reimbursement issue: Staff is working with legal council on this issue

  • AB1600 Draft: Final draft is ready. Staff is working with legal council to move foreword with the adoption.

  • Tree Grant: the city still has trees to plant

  • Winton Parkway Development: Mr. Javier Galvan is very interested in moving that project forward with his partners. He mentioned he had a letter from the City from some years ago promising funding for the Winton Parkway street.

  • New WCIII Proposed Fees Schedule as part of the Building Services Department

  • Pipeline from Well #14 to Well #8 currently being designed and going out to bid in early spring.

  • Well #17 CBDG Grant Project.

  • Well #13 Project Design complete and going out to bid in February. (California Department of Public Health Grant)

  • Well #15 Project should either be a grant or a 0% loan

  • Groundwater Levels have dropped and monitoring needs to continue. 35 to 40 foot drop last year. Levels have risen about a foot this year.

  • Self Monitoring for ADA Requirements. As the City has been replacing curbs, gutters, and sidewalks, issues are being addressed.

  • Community Facility District Formation in the Winton Parkway area. Once the Gallo Subdivision takes place, make sure that goes forward. 

  • National Endowment for the Arts Grant has been applied for, in conjunction with the Merced Arts Council: Start a Mural Project in the Down Town, beginning with the City Owned Building next to the Council Chambers.

  • Tax Sharing Agreement with the County has yet to be finalized.

  • Cal Trans Campbell Project Properties: They are trying to come up with the cost of those odd shaped properties so they can tell the City what they want for them.

  • Health Insurance: There had only been 1 response to the Request for Proposals. Council might want to extend the request period.

The City Council Members called for the RESIGNATION OF PLANNING COMMISION Chair Luis Flores on the grounds that his position as Livingston Unified School Board Member was “incompatible” with membership in the Planning Commission. (I must admit, I’m scratching my head a bit on this one. It’s OK to be a member of the Real Estate Profession and be on the Planning Commission. But it’s not OK to be on the School Board and be on the Planning Commission.)

An ANTI-TRASH SCAVENGING ORDINANCE was adopted. The possible fines for those caught digging through other people’s trash would be as follows. First offense: warning. Second offense: $25. Third offense: $50. When asked who would be responsible for issuing Warnings and Citations, the reply was it would be the responsibility of the Police Department to issue citations . (After responding to a phone call from a resident complaining about scavengers)

An ORDINANCE was adopted which allowed SMOKE SHOPS in the Industrial Areas of town; and also in the Downtown Commercial Area with a Conditional Use Permit. During the Council’s discussion, the City Attorney stated that passing this ordinance does not automatically allow a Smokeshop to come in – there would still need to be a CUP and Mayor Espinoza made the point that any CUP granted could be appealed to the City Council. (I’m having a serious case of deja vu here)

Ruby and Emerald streetsWhether or not SPEEDBUMPS were needed in parts of the City was discussed. The Mayor stated he had been getting complaints about speeding vehicles by residents by Ruby and Emerald Streets. Discussion included:

  • What triggers the need for a speed bump

  • What impact would speed bumps have on emergency vehicles.

  • What kinds of speed bumps should be considered.

  • How much do they cost?

  • And perhaps there should be a Speed Survey before going ahead and installing speed bumps.

The City of Livingston and the AFSCME Public Works and Parks Employees Unit, came to a tentative agreement to a one (l) year Memorandum of Understanding, covering the period July 1, 2014 through June 30, 2015 consisting of one (l) furlough per month, freezing 20 hours of vacation cash­ outs effective July 1, 2014 through June 30, 2015 and $75 per month towards medical insurance premiums.

For more details about topics discussed during the January, 2015 City Council Meetings, see below.

JANUARY 06, 2015

clip_image002

CITY COUNCIL REGULAR MEETING AGENDA

JANUARY 6, 2015

CLOSED SESSION: 6:00 P.M.

OPEN SESSION: 7:00 P.M.

Notice is hereby given that the City Council will hold a Regular Meeting on January 6, 2015, at the City Council Chambers, 1416 C Street, Livingston, California. Persons with disabilities who may need assistance should contact the Deputy City Clerk at least 24 hours prior to this meeting at (209) 394-8041, Ext. 121. Any writings or documents pertaining to an Open Session item provided to a majority of the members of the legislative body less than 72 hours prior to the meeting shall be made available for public inspection at Livingston City Hall, 1416 C Street. The Open Session will begin at 7:00 p.m. The Closed Session will be held in accordance with state law prior to the Open Session beginning at 6:00 p.m. The Closed Session will be held at the City Council Chambers located at 1416 C Street. The agenda shall be as follows:

Closed Session

1. Call to Order.

2. Roll Call.

CLOSED SESSION

A “Closed” or “Executive” Session of the City Council or the Livingston Redevelopment Agency may be held in accordance with state law which may include, but is not limited to, the following types of items: personnel matters, labor negotiations, security matters, providing instructions to real property negotiators, conference with legal counsel regarding pending litigation. The Closed Session will be held in the City Council Chambers located at 1416 C Street, Livingston, California. Any public comment on Closed Session items will be taken before the Closed Session. Any required announcements or discussion of Closed Session items or actions following the Closed Session will be made in the City Council Chambers, 1416 C Street, Livingston, California.

1. Public Employee Appointment

(Government Code Section 54957)

Title: Interim City Manager

2. Public Employee Appointment

(Government Code Section 54957)

Title: City Manager

City Manager Recruitment

3. Conference with Real Property Negotiator

(Government Code Section 54956.8)

Property: APN: 024-011-016, Olive Avenue

APN: 023-100-049, Burgundy Drive

Negotiating Party: City Manager

4. Conference with Labor Negotiator

(Government Code Section 54957.6)

Labor Negotiator: City Manager Jose Antonio Ramirez

Employee Organizations: All Represented City Employees

Regular Meeting

CALL TO ORDER Next Resolution Number: 2015-1

Next Ordinance Number: 621

Pledge of Allegiance.

Roll Call.

Changes to the Agenda.

ANNOUNCEMENTS AND REPORTS

Supervisor John Pedrozo Announcements and Reports.

City Staff Announcements and Reports.

City Manager Announcements and Reports.

City Council Members’ Announcements and Reports.

Mayor’s Announcements and Reports.

PUBLIC HEARINGS

1. Introduce and Waive the First Reading of an Ordinance Amending the City’s Municipal Code by Adding Chapter 8-8 Prohibiting Unauthorized Entry into Waste Containers.

2. Introduce and Waive the First Reading of Ordinance No.___ of the City Council of the City of Livingston Amending Livingston Municipal Code (LMC) Title 5, Zoning Regulations: Sections 5-2-3, 5-2-4, 5-3-15, Tables 3 and 4, and the Addition of Section 5-5-13 under Specific Use Regulations.

CITIZEN COMMENTS

This section of the agenda allows members of the public to address the City Council on any item NOT otherwise on the agenda. Members of the public, when recognized by the Mayor, should come forward to the lectern, and identify themselves. Comments are normally limited to three (3) minutes. In accordance with State Open Meeting Laws, no action will be taken by the City Council this evening. For items which are on the agenda this evening members of the public will be provided an opportunity to address the City Council as each item is brought up for discussion.

CONSENT CALENDAR

Items on the Consent Calendar are considered routine or non-controversial and will be enacted by one vote, unless separate action is requested by the City Manager or City Council Member. There will be no separate discussion of these items unless members of the City Council or City Manager request that specific items be removed.

3. Approval of Minutes of Meeting Held on November 13, 2014.

4. Approval of Minutes of Meeting Held on December 2, 2014.

5. Approval of Warrant Register Dated December 30, 2014.

DISCUSSION AND POTENTIAL ACTION ITEMS

6. Discussion – Installation of Speed Bumps Throughout the City and Related Costs.

ADJOURNMENT

JANUARY 20, 2015

clip_image002


CITY COUNCIL REGULAR MEETING AGENDA

JANUARY 20, 2015

CLOSED SESSION: 5:45 P.M.

OPEN SESSION: 7:00 P.M.


Notice is hereby given that the City Council will hold a Regular Meeting on January 20, 2015, at the City Council Chambers, 1416 C Street, Livingston, California. Persons with disabilities who may need assistance should contact the Deputy City Clerk at least 24 hours prior to this meeting at (209) 394-8041, Ext. 121. Any writings or documents pertaining to an Open Session item provided to a majority of the members of the legislative body less than 72 hours prior to the meeting shall be made available for public inspection at Livingston City Hall, 1416 C Street. The Open Session will begin at 7:00 p.m. The Closed Session will be held in accordance with state law prior to the Open Session beginning at 5:45 p.m. The Closed Session will be held at the City Council Chambers located at 1416 C Street. The agenda shall be as follows:


Closed Session


1. Call to Order.

2. Roll Call.


CLOSED SESSION


A “Closed” or “Executive” Session of the City Council or the Livingston Redevelopment Agency may be held in accordance with state law which may include, but is not limited to, the following types of items: personnel matters, labor negotiations, security matters, providing instructions to real property negotiators, conference with legal counsel regarding pending litigation. The Closed Session will be held in the City Council Chambers located at 1416 C Street, Livingston, California. Any public comment on Closed Session items will be taken before the Closed Session. Any required announcements or discussion of Closed Session items or actions following the Closed Session will be made in the City Council Chambers, 1416 C Street, Livingston, California.


3. Public Employee Appointment

(Government Code Section 54957)

Title: Interim City Manager

4. Public Employee Appointment

(Government Code Section 54957)

Title: City Manager

City Manager Recruitment

5. Conference with Labor Negotiator

(Government Code Section 54957.6)

Labor Negotiator: City Manager Jose Antonio Ramirez

Employee Organizations: All Unrepresented City Employees

6. Conference with Labor Negotiator

(Government Code Section 54957.6)

Labor Negotiators: City Manager Jose Antonio Ramirez and City Attorney Jose M. Sanchez

Employee Organizations: All Represented City Employees

7. Conference with Legal Counsel – Potential Litigation

(Government Code Section 54956.9(d)(2))

Number of Cases: 1


Regular Meeting


CALL TO ORDER Next Resolution Number: 2015-1

Next Ordinance Number: 623


Pledge of Allegiance.

Roll Call.

Changes to the Agenda.

AWARDS, PRESENTATIONS, APPOINTMENTS AND PROCLAMATIONS


1. Introduction and Swearing-in of new Police Dispatcher Veronica Bates by Chief Ruben Chavez and City Clerk Tony Silva.

2. Presentation of a plaque by Mayor Rodrigo Espinoza to out-going City Manager Jose Antonio Ramirez in recognition and appreciation for his service, dedication and accomplishments to the City of Livingston.


ANNOUNCEMENTS AND REPORTS


Supervisor John Pedrozo Announcements and Reports.

City Staff Announcements and Reports.

City Manager Announcements and Reports.

City Council Members’ Announcements and Reports.

Mayor’s Announcements and Reports.

CITIZEN COMMENTS

This section of the agenda allows members of the public to address the City Council on any item NOT otherwise on the agenda. Members of the public, when recognized by the Mayor, should come forward to the lectern, and identify themselves. Comments are normally limited to three (3) minutes. In accordance with State Open Meeting Laws, no action will be taken by the City Council this evening. For items which are on the agenda this evening members of the public will be provided an opportunity to address the City Council as each item is brought up for discussion.


CONSENT CALENDAR


Items on the Consent Calendar are considered routine or non-controversial and will be enacted by one vote, unless separate action is requested by the City Manager or City Council Member. There will be no separate discussion of these items unless members of the City Council or City Manager request that specific items be removed.


3. Waive the Second Reading and Adopt Ordinance No. 621, Amending the City’s Municipal Code by Adding Chapter 8-8 Prohibiting Unauthorized Entry into Waste Containers.

4. Waive the Second Reading and Adopt Ordinance No. 622, of the City Council of the City of Livingston Amending Livingston Municipal Code (LMC) Title 5, Zoning Regulations: Sections 5-2-3, 5-2-4, 5-3-15, Tables 3 and 4, and the Addition of Section 5-5-13 under Specific Use Regulations.

5. Resolution Approving a One (1) Year Memorandum of Understanding Between the City of Livingston and the AFSCME Public Works and Parks Employees Unit.

6. Approval of Warrant Register Dated January 15, 2015.

DISCUSSION AND POTENTIAL ACTION ITEMS


7. City Council Direction on Appointment of Parks and Recreation Commission Members.

8. City Council Accept and Authorize Sweeper Truck Repairs Quote from Ry-Den Truck Center, Inc.

9. Approve a Supply Capacity of 2,000 gpm for Well No. 17.

10. Approve a Purchase of Sand Filtration Equipment for Wells No. 9 and 11B.

11. Discussion and Possible Action – Potential Incompatibility of Offices by Planning Commissioner Serving as Both a City Planning Commissioner and a Livingston Union School District Board Member.


ADJOURNMENT

And for even more of January’s goings on in the City of Livingston, you can go to the following Sun Star Articles.

Livingston considers banning trash scavengers - People rummaging through trash every night is a rude awakening to some residents, and now Livingston city leaders are now considering a law to ban people from digging through trash for recyclables and other materials.

Livingston council OKs trash scavenger ban and smoke shops - Despite one council member calling it “dumb” and “ridiculous,” an ordinance that penalizes people for rummaging through other people’s trash is one step closer to becoming law

New AutoZone opens in Livingston, fuels city’s future growth plans - The city’s motto may be “The Last Stop,” but city leaders are pushing to make Livingston the first stop for business growth, starting with a new AutoZone store that opened its doors this week

Livingston planning commissioner might be removed; officials cite conflict of interest - The Livingston City Council on Tuesday discussed ousting a planning commissioner because of a potential conflict of interest with his elected seat on the city’s school board

Sikh bonfire festival in Livingston marks end of winter

Bird flu found at Foster Farms turkey ranch in California – THE ASSOCIATED PRESS – 01/25/2015 – The Merced Sun Star – Hundreds of turkeys at a Central California ranch are being killed to prevent the spread of a type of avian flu that is not a threat to people but can decimate poultry flocks

Arsenic, TCP and Salmonella; Lawsuits and Politics; A Look Back at 2014 and A City Council Agenda


LIVINGSTON CALIFORNIA – 2/01/2015

A Livingston public works employees union recently questioned the mayor’s friendly relationship with Mendoza, in addition to accusing Mendoza of harassment.– Espinoza, however, said his friendship with Mendoza had nothing to do with him getting invited to China. “We’ve been friends, and we talk once in a while, but that didn’t play a part,” the mayor said. from Livingston council questioned over China trip – Ramona – Merced Sun Star – 12/03/2014

“There is an urgent need to have Well 16 back on-line in the near future to meet the City’s water demands that will likely increase in the Spring and Summer.” From STAFF REPORT -  Resolution Approving an Agreement with Shannon Pump for Sampling and Repairs to Well 16, Making Findings Supporting that Award of Such Agreement is Exempt from Competitive Bidding Requirements and Authorizing the City Manager to Execute the Agreement. MEETING DATE: February 18, 2014

Approximately 18,267 sq. ft of land is needed to locate the treatment facilities at the existing Well No. 8. The adjacent property (APN 024-020-023 and 029) is owned by Foster Farms.  From  STAFF REPORT  AGENDA ITEM: Resolution Authorizing the Purchase of Land Needed for the Installation of Water Treatment Facilities at the City Water Supply Well No. 8, Approval of the Appraisal Report Prepared by The Thomas Wilkins Company, and Authorizing the City Manager to Execute the Agreement with Foster Farms for the Purchase of the Land.  MEETING DATE: May 21, 2013

One of the city’s largest water wells previously plagued by a major contaminant now runs with a new filtration system, city officials announced this week…….The upgraded well, located on Livingston Cressey Road, near the Foster Farms plant, was chosen because water drawn from it contains high levels of TCP contamination, said Livingston Mayor Pro Tem Gurpal Samra…. The well pumps 1,200 gallons of water per minute to the city, with the majority used by Foster Farms. Livingston water well receives $2.3 million filter system – Ramona Giwargis – The Merced Sun Star – 12/30/2014

Without Livingston, there is no Foster Farms, and without Foster Farms, there is no Livingston. Those were the words of Mayor Pro Tem Gurpal Samra as he explained the company’s impact on the city. Samra joined Mayor Rodrigo Espinoza and Councilman Arturo Sicairos in presenting Foster Farms CEO Ron Foster with a commemorative key to the city Tuesday night. From Livingston city officials present Foster Farms with key to city – Ramona Giwargis – Modesto Bee -07/16/2014

This is not an all inclusive discussion of everything that happened in Livingston during 2014. It is only a brief look at what I consider some of the more significant historical and political happenings in the City of Livingston.

preparing-to-take-down-the-marqueeCOURT THEATER IS DEMOLISHED – Another sad chapter in Livingston’s History has ended with the destruction of the Court Theater.  In 2001, the City had purchased the Court Theater with the high hopes of restoring the Theater and transforming it into a Cultural Arts Center . In 2005, the City received a Community Development Block Grant: which it used to complete Architectural Drawings in 2008.

But between trouble getting enough additional financing, accusations in 2010 that Police and Fire Department budgets were cut to finance the project, and the deterioration of the relationship between City Council Members, the Court Theater Committee in 2011, it became pretty clear the Court Theater Project was doomed.

The City was able to salvage some of the Grant Money it had received by getting permission from the State to use these funds for improvements at Gallo Park.

The City also made attempts to save the Theater’s Marquee, Ticket Booth, and Sign.

WITHOUT LIVINGSTON, THERE IS NO FOSTER FARMS, AND WITHOUT FOSTER, THERE IS NO LIVINGSTON – In a previous post, I talked about the Symbiotic and Sometimes Dysfunctional Relationship between Foster Farms and the City of Livingston. Since Foster Farms is the largest consumer of water in Livingston: using at up to 66% of the water produced from Livingston’s wells, it can’t help but have a large influence on the size and condition of Livingston’s Water Delivery System.

Most of you remember that 2013 ended with Foster Farms coming under intense scrutiny due to an outbreak of antibiotic resistant Salmonella. This continued into 2014 as Livingston braced for fallout from an idled Foster Farms .  Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro reacted to the closing of the plant due to roaches as “long overdue.”: pushing for action against the company. Three days after federal inspectors shut it down Foster Farms got the OK to reopen plant only to shut it down again a day after reopening in order to expand safety procedures.

As the number sickened by salmonella outbreak rose to 430, according to government reports Foster Farms reopened the plant after a 10-day closure. And while Salmonella cases continued to grow, Foster Farms noted progress with it’s safety and prevention efforts

By April salmonella cases linked to Foster Farms, were reported to have grown to 524 people in 25 states and Puerto Rico.

May 2014 brought a couple of interesting developments. In Virginia, Foster Farms, in conjunction with Marketing & Planning Specialists LP, filed a federal lawsuit claiming the EPA improperly applied the Clean Water Act on land they wish to develop. In California, Foster Farms blamed and sued its exterminator for cockroaches.

The Months of June saw Foster Farms celebrating its 75th anniversary.  Meanwhile, in Congress, Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) and Rep. Louise M. Slaughter (D-N.Y.) introduced a bill called the Pathogens Reduction and Testing Reform Act: which would require the USDA to recall meat, poultry and egg products contaminated by pathogens that cause serious illnesses or death and that are also resistant to two or more classes of antibiotics commonly used to treat human illnesses

In July, Foster Farms received the Key To The City of Livingston from Livingston’s Officials;  issued its first voluntary chicken recall since 2013 salmonella outbreak ; updated the recall to include additional "use or freeze by" and "best by" dates; and sued its insurance companies for recall reimbursement in ‘cockroach infestation’ “arguing that the forced closure of a plant earlier this year by the government and subsequent destruction of chicken amounted to a recall”.

By July 31, The Center for Disease Control said the salmonella outbreak appeared to be over. In September Foster Farms recalled chicken from Louisiana due to possible contamination by Listeria.

In October Ron Foster announced he would step down as Foster Farms President and CEO.

In November, a billboard scrutinizing Foster Farms was set up: an indication that Foster Farms still has a ways to go before things settle down to “business as usual.”

WITHOUT LIVINGSTON’S WATER, WHAT WOULD BECOME OF FOSTER FARMS?

Impact on Foster Farms

Without the “low cost” water coming from Livingston’s wells, there would be no Foster Farms as we know it today. I’ve already mentioned the Symbiotic and Sometimes Dysfunctional Relationship between Foster Farms and the City of Livingston and how Foster Farms is the largest consumer of Livingston’s water.

In 2014, The City of Livingston purchased land from Foster Farms, in order to have enough room to install a TCP Filtration system on a well that sends most of it’s water to Foster Farms. 

I have also noted that, in the long run, Foster Farms would need to address an issue much larger than cockroaches and salmonella: that of having enough water that meets State and Federal Drinking Water Standards.

It is no secret, to those who have been paying attention, that Livingston’s Water Delivery system has been degrading over time. Arsenic levels have been rising and Foster Farms had to shut down at least 1 shift in February 2013 due to problems with water quality

In December, 2013, California River Watch served the City of Livingston with a 60-Day Notice of Violations and Intent to File Suit alleging various violations of the federal Safe Drinking Water Act. This was followed up with a Complaint against the City in the United States District Court, Eastern District of California, Case No. 1:14-CV-00437-AWI-MJS. In June 12, 2014, this was followed by a 90-Day Notice of Violations and Intent to File Suit alleging various violations of the federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act. 

A Settlement Agreement and Release was signed in September 2014. Some of the agreed upon actions to be taken by the City include:

  • Well 13Install and operate wellhead treatment for Arsenic at Well No. 13 no later than June 1, 2016.

  • Continue monitoring for Arsenic at Well No. 13 consistent with federal Safe Drinking Water Act and California Safe Drinking Water Act requirements.

  • Well 8-9(b) Install and operate wellhead treatment for 1,2,3 Trichloropropane (“TCP”) at Well No. 8 no later than January 1, 2015.

  • Within six (6) months after the Effective Date of the Agreement, post on its website information regarding the City’s efforts to address TCP in drinking water.

  • on a semi-annual basis, provide inserts in its utility bills that provide information on efforts to address TCP.

  • update its website and the utility bill inserts, as needed, to reflect current
    information.

In January, Governor Brown had declared a drought emergency, and urged residents to reduce water consumption by 20 percent

Shortly thereafter, the Livingston City Council voted to ban outside watering on certain days of the week. “City leaders said the plan has been in the works the past few years, but was given a new sense of urgency after the governor declared a drought on Friday.”

Well 16In February, the Livingston council approved an urgent contract for repairs at Well #16 

In April, the City Council voted to begin the Proposition 218 Process for Water rate increase. Notices about Livingston rate increases went out the following Friday .  Meetings were held at which the new Rate Structure was discussed

In June the Livingston council approved utility rate increases and also approved a contract for emergency repairs to a damaged main pipe at the wastewater treatment plant . It should be noted that the Water Rate Increases adopted by the City of Livingston assume that Grants and Low/No Interest Loans from the State Drinking Water Revolving Loan Fund will fund the majority of Repairs/Upgrades to Livingston’s Wells and Water Delivery System over the next 5 years: any loans to be paid back over the next 20 to 30 years.

In September, the City received a Notice of Violation from the Water Board regarding the Domestic Wastewater Treatment Plant for not meeting certain testing and reporting requirements.

Well 8-9Well 11 - 15In November, there was discussion about wells #11 and #9 having been taken offline because of sand causing problems with Foster Farms: overwhelming their filters.

By the end of December, the TCP Filtration System on Well #8 was up and running; and the City Council approved the purchase of Arsenic Filtration equipment to be eventually installed on Well #13. As I mentioned earlier, installing filtration on both of these wells was covered in the Settlement Agreement between the City of Livingston and California River Watch.

BUDGETS,  CONCESSIONS, AND DEFICITS

Although the 2013/2014 Fiscal Year began back in JULY 2013, the Budget for that year wasn’t adopted until March 2014. This budget included salary reductions and other concessions from employees

The 2014/2015 Fiscal Year was barely over in June before the Budget for the Next Year Fiscal year was predicted to be $146,000 in the hole. Employees were again asked for a 7 percent pay cut: which was rejected.

In JULY a Memorandum of Understanding and a Side Letter Concessions Agreement between the City of Livingston and the City of Livingston Management and Confidential Employees Association was adopted. Terms included:

  • One furlough day per month

  • 1% pay decrease effective July 1, 2014 – June 30, 2015

  • $100 per month medical contribution per member

  • freezing 40 hours of vacation cash outs.

In August, the City Council adopted a budget which included a deficit of $44,000. The Council also considered the topic of planning fee increases. The leader of the Public Works Employees union expressed frustration over the way labor negotiations were being handled

A Resolution Approving a Successor Memorandum of Understanding Between the City of Livingston and the Livingston Police Officers’ Association (LPOA) OE3 Unit for the Period of January 1, 2015 through June 30, 2015 was approved in December of 2014.

A Memorandum of Understanding for the AFSCME Public Works and Parks Employees Unit for the period July 1, 2014 through June 30, 2015 was not approved until January 2015 and included one (l) furlough per month, freezing 20 hours of vacation cash­ outs effective July 1, 2014 through June 30, 2015 and contributions of $75 per month towards medical insurance premiums.

MAYOR’S TERMS, “POLITICS”, FIREWORKS, AND “FAVORITISM”

IN JANUARY, the Livingston City Council approved a ballot measure which would EXTEND THE MAYOR’S TERM of office from two years to four: in order to maintain “institutional knowledge” on the council according to Mayor Pro Tem Gurpal Samra, who had placed this item on the Agenda.

A previous ballot measure in 2006, Measure C, had asked Livingston voters if they wanted their mayors to have a two year or a four-year term. By about 66 of the vote, the term for mayor was limited to two-years. In 2006, voters said “no” to a 4-year term for mayor. Voters said “no” again in 2014. Voters said “no” again in 2014

IN JANUARY, The Council also discussed changing the way Fireworks Booth Permits were distributed by the city. Directions given to Staff was to include language in an Ordinance that would allow the City Council the ability to award the “COUNCIL’S CHOICE” to the Livingston Youth Football Organization for (2) CONSECUTIVE YEARS.  According to Youth Football Coach and City Council member Jim Soria, he had placed the Item on the January 21, City Council Agenda. According to Council Member Soria, the recent death of Mike Coronado created a Special Circumstance which justified giving Youth Football priority other non-profit organizations.

There was another discussion of the proposed Ordinance on February 18, and March 04: along with a fair share of criticism, replete with allegations of favoritism.

The actual Issuance of Permits to Sell Safe and Sane Fireworks took place on April 15th. Although Mayor Pro-Tem Samra made a motion to put all applications in a lottery,  Council Member Jim Soria’s “push to award a fireworks stand to a nonprofit for which he volunteers proved successful” by a 2-1 vote.

Allegations of “favoritism” was not limited out to just the handing out of Fireworks Booth Permits.  One of Livingston’s unions alleged acts  sexual harassment were committed by the City’s Public Works Supervisor.   “the union began receiving numerous complaints about his leadership, leading to a vote of no confidence signed by 11 employees in May” in addition to (allegations that) “Mendoza has an inappropriate relationship with Mayor Rodrigo Espinoza, allowing the mayor to have preferential treatment on projects related to his property.”

And although Mayor Espinoza claimed favoritism was not a factor when he picked who would travel with him to China , it couldn’t prevent questions from being raised. Public Works Supervisor Ruben Mendoza also went on the trip: in addition to Council Member Jim Soria, and City Manager Jose Ramirez. According to the Mayor Espinoza “I got invited through a friend and former mayor of Lathrop,” and was asked to invite 10 other people.

2014 WAS AN ELECTION YEAR with two seats “up for grabs” on the City Council, and also had it’s fair share of controversy.  A photograph circulated by Mayor Pro-Temp Gurpal Samra elicited claims of “dirty politics” and slander by by his opponent: Planning Commissioner Mario Mendoza. 

THE CITY MANAGER ANNOUNCED HIS INTENTION TO RESIGN during a Special City Council Meeting in DECEMBER. According to the City Attorney, the Report out of Closed Session, as stated by the City Attorney, was as follows:

Tonight in Closed Session, the City Manager informed the City Council that he is resigning from his employment with the City.  Mr. Ramirez has elected to resign to pursue personal and professional opportunities outside of the region.

The City Council on a vote of 4-0-1 (Council Member Mendoza was not present) has accepted the City Manager’s resignation and has agreed to waive the 60 days’ notice provision in the City Manager’s contract. 

The City Manager’s last day of employment with the City will be January 31st

Mr. Ramirez has expressed his willingness to continue to assist the City with current projects and to assist in the City’s transition to a new City Manager.  The City will be working with Mr. Ramirez to accomplish this

And now, on to the

CITY COUNCIL REGULAR MEETING AGENDA

FEBRUARY 3, 2015

CLOSED SESSION: 6:00 P.M.

OPEN SESSION: 7:00 P.M.


Notice is hereby given that the City Council will hold a Regular Meeting on February 3, 2015, at the City Council Chambers, 1416 C Street, Livingston, California. Persons with disabilities who may need assistance should contact the Deputy City Clerk at least 24 hours prior to this meeting at (209) 394-8041, Ext. 121. Any writings or documents pertaining to an Open Session item provided to a majority of the members of the legislative body less than 72 hours prior to the meeting shall be made available for public inspection at Livingston City Hall, 1416 C Street. The Open Session will begin at 7:00 p.m. The Closed Session will be held in accordance with state law prior to the Open Session beginning at 6:00 p.m. The Closed Session will be held at the City Council Chambers located at 1416 C Street. The agenda shall be as follows:


Closed Session


1. Call to Order.

2. Roll Call.


CLOSED SESSION


A “Closed” or “Executive” Session of the City Council or the Livingston Redevelopment Agency may be held in accordance with state law which may include, but is not limited to, the following types of items: personnel matters, labor negotiations, security matters, providing instructions to real property negotiators, conference with legal counsel regarding pending litigation. The Closed Session will be held in the City Council Chambers located at 1416 C Street, Livingston, California. Any public comment on Closed Session items will be taken before the Closed Session. Any required announcements or discussion of Closed Session items or actions following the Closed Session will be made in the City Council Chambers, 1416 C Street, Livingston, California.


3. Conference with Legal Counsel – Potential Litigation

((Government Code Section 54956.9(d)(2))

Number of Cases: 2


4. Public Employee Appointment

(Government Code Section 54957)

Title: City Manager

City Manager Recruitment

5. Conference with Labor Negotiator(Government Code Section 54957.6)

Labor Negotiator: Interim City Manager Odi Ortiz Employee Organizations: All Represented City Employees


Regular Meeting


CALL TO ORDER Next Resolution Number: 2015-3

Next Ordinance Number: 623


Pledge of Allegiance.

Roll Call.

Changes to the Agenda.

AWARDS, PRESENTATIONS, APPOINTMENTS AND PROCLAMATIONS


1. Mayor Rodrigo Espinoza – Presentation of Key to the City plaques to members of Grupo Musical Los Kinos for their continuous contributions to the Livingston community.


ANNOUNCEMENTS AND REPORTS


Supervisor John Pedrozo Announcements and Reports.

City Staff Announcements and Reports.

City Manager Announcements and Reports.

City Council Members’ Announcements and Reports.

Mayor’s Announcements and Reports.

CITIZEN COMMENTS

This section of the agenda allows members of the public to address the City Council on any item NOT otherwise on the agenda. Members of the public, when recognized by the Mayor, should come forward to the lectern, and identify themselves. Comments are normally limited to three (3) minutes. In accordance with State Open Meeting Laws, no action will be taken by the City Council this evening. For items which are on the agenda this evening members of the public will be provided an opportunity to address the City Council as each item is brought up for discussion.

CONSENT CALENDAR


Items on the Consent Calendar are considered routine or non-controversial and will be enacted by one vote, unless separate action is requested by the City Manager or City Council Member. There will be no separate discussion of these items unless members of the City Council or City Manager request that specific items be removed.


2. Report on United Front Security and Patrol Security Company Seeking a Business License.

3. Approval of Minutes of Meeting Held on December 16, 2014.

4. Approval of Warrant Register Dated January 29, 2015.


DISCUSSION AND POTENTIAL ACTION ITEMS


5. Resolution Appointing Odilon Ortiz as Interim City Manager and Approving a Second Amendment to the Employment Agreement between the City of Livingston and Odilon Ortiz.

6. Resolution Approving the First Amendment and Restatement to Agreement for Employment between the City of Livingston and Ruben Chavez for the Position of Police Chief.

7. Vacancies and Appointments to the Livingston Planning Commission.

8. Council Accept and Authorize Temporary Outsourcing of City’s Street Sweeping Services with Gilton Solid Waste.

9. Discussion Regarding Changes to the DTC Zone.

10. Discussion Item: Consideration of Changing the City Logo Slogan from “The Last Stop” to “Sweet Potato Capital of the World.”

11. Discussion Item: Twelve Acres of Industrial Land at the Max Foster Sports Complex.

ADJOURNMENT

So You Think You Can Govern in 2014

LIVINGSTON CA, 10/30/2014

First issue is to the Council Member Samra and the Mayor Espinoza. It has come to my attention that you both have approached residents of the City questioning their support by having my election signs on their lawn. In addition, both of you accuse me of having bad character: which I’m quoting you as saying I am a gang member. -   Excerpted from Public Comment by Mario Mendoza – City Council Meeting date 10/21/2014

Samra told the Sun-Star he showed the picture to residents in Livingston. “But I never told anyone that Mario is a gang member,” Samra said. “I never brought this up (publicly) because I don’t want people to vote against him, I want them to vote for me.” – Samra said voters will have to decide what the photo means during the Nov. 4 electionPhotograph stirs campaign controversy in Livingston, Merced Sun Star, Rob Parsons, October 25, 2014.

Historically, Livingston City Council elections have been rather sedate. Over the past 15 years or so, however, the campaigns have become filthy and juvenile. – Mike McGuire – Editor of the Livingston Chronicle from 1984-1996

So……… Voters will have to decide what “the photo” means?

Interesting……

I’m invoking a little of The Story Teller’s License as I sit at my laptop and write. This is not an All Inclusive History of Everything That Happened over the Last Few Years. If you look over in the Right Hand Margin of this Blog, you will find plenty of links to loads of information about

  • The Recall, and Water Rates, 

  • The Utility Rates Stakeholders Committee

  • Notices of Violation from the State about the Old Industrial Waste Water Treatment Plant, Arsenic Levels in the Drinking

  • The Water Rate Increase that was finally passed

  • How the City is asking the State for money to help fix several Problems with the Water Delivery System because these Items are not paid for by Water Rates.

  • Allegations of “Favoritism” and Fireworks Booths

  • The allegation that records at the Domestic Waste Water Treatment plant have seemed to vanish into thin air

  • The relationship between Foster Farms and The City

  • And so on

This is just my general Kvetch about the way I see “Politics” playing out every couple of years or so in Livingston.

When I wrote the first “So You Think You Can Govern”, I’d been somewhat of a local political junkie for a couple of years prior to the 2008 Elections and I was concerned about the number of candidates whose faces I hadn’t recalled having seen at City Council meetings (or Planning Commission meetings, or Citizens Advisory Committee meetings when they still had them).

At the time, it was already clear to me that there were sitting Council Members who did not bother to read the material in their Agenda Packets, did not understand the significance of the long term effect of what they were voting on, and/or were just “there” for reasons of their own.

I was also concerned that some of the people seeking to replace them didn’t have a clue as to what they would be getting themselves into. Livingston was going through several changes; had been on the “back end” of at least one very expensive lawsuit; was already enmeshed in a long, drawn out expensive mess of a General Plan Update and had already been through at least one Water Rate Study.

The General Election of 2008 came and went. And although there was a Council Meeting or two where everyone seemed to be willing to hold hands and sing Kumbya, it didn’t take to terribly long thereafter before the Political Cat Fighting began.

Well, the Recall Election of 2010 came and went: Theresa Land (Recall Candidate) displaced Martha Natares as Council Person and Council Person Rodrigo Espinoza, (Recall Candidate), displaced Daniel Varela as Mayor. Warren Urnberg, (Recall Supporter), was appointed as Temporary Council Member until the results of the General Election 0f November were tabulated.

Gurpal Samra, (Recall Proponent), won that “temporarily filled” Council Seat during the General Election in November and Rodrigo Espinoza also kept his seat as Mayor.

And, as before, there were people on the council who clearly didn’t bother to read the material in their Agenda Packets, didn’t really seem to know the difference between a “Commission” and a “Department”; were even more openly hostile towards City Staff,  didn’t seem to know what an Auditor was for; didn’t understand the significance of the long term effect of what they were voting on; and/or were just “there” for God Only Knows what reason of their own.

The Elections of 2012 came and went. Mayor Pro Temp Margarita Aguilar decided not to run again for office. Council Person Frank Vierra, also decided against running for another term on the Council.

During the Campaign of 2012, it became clear that relationships between some of the once Staunch Allies Of The Recall had begun to fray. Council Person Teresa Land, who had campaigned heavily for the Recall and Recall Committee backed candidates, found that she no longer had the support of those she had helped gain office.

Mayor Espinoza, instead, joined forces with Arturo Sacairos.  As Reported in the Merced Sun StarBefore the election, Espinoza released fliers endorsing himself and several other local candidates, including contenders for the Livingston council, city clerk, city treasurer, county supervisor, assembly and congress. Everyone he endorsed won.…….Espinoza put out the flier jointly with Sicairos, who said the flier might’ve helped him win, since a lot of Livingston voters look for guidance around election time”

{Before we go further, let’s take a brief Side Trip to map out a few familial relationships while we are here. 

  • The City Clerk, Tony Silva is City Council Member Arturo Sacairos’, Father-in-law.

  • The City Treasurer, Maria Riberio, is the City Clerk’s Sister}

So three “newcomers” took their places as City Council Members, with Rodrigo Espinoza as Mayor and Gurpal Samra as Mayor Pro Temp. {and with 3 members of the same family holding the positions of City Clerk, City Treasurer, and City Councilperson}

And although most of the current crop of newly Elected Officials haven’t “beaten up” on City Staff quite as much as Previous Council Members did, there ended up being  less “City Staff” to browbeat or blame for the City’s ills. Most of those who had openly suffered the Wrath-of-Council-Members-Past were either replaced, retired, fired, or otherwise laid off due to a “reorganization” dictated by an ever shrinking budget.

Now we come to the General Election of 2014 and it is clear that relationships between the core of the Recall Coalition have fractured even further. Mario Mendoza: Treasurer of the Recall Committee, (and brother to Council Person David Mendoza) is trying to unseat Mayor Pro Temp Gurpal Samra.

And here we are, only a few days away from another General Election and again we have Candidates for Office who have hardly ever shown up for City Council meetings; we are STILL working on that mess of a General Plan that has already cost the taxpayers of the Livingston hundreds of thousands of dollars in Court Fees, Attorney’s fees, Consultant’s Fees, and wasted Staff time.

And although, after the THIRD (?) Water, Garbage, and Sewer Rate Study since 2007: with the 4th Consultant in a row – what was eventually passed has Livingston in the position of begging The State for grants and loans in order to complete most of the needed repairs and upgrades to the City’s wells and water delivery system that need to be done over the next 5 years. 

"Dirty Politics" seems to have become the Norm, not the Exception in Livingston. If you have lived here long enough, you know what I mean. But the issue of “the photo” begs a couple of questions.

First off…What happened to cause Mr. Mendoza, and his supporters, to feel the need to try to oust Mr. Samra from the City Council?

And secondly…..if Mr. Samra “just wants people to vote for him” why walk around with a copy of “the photo” of Mr. Mendoza?

What would be the point? Just to show it to residents of Livingston??????

That doesn’t make sense to me

{SMH}

I said it before, and I’ll say it again now, the Ethical and Effective Council Member of the 21st Century will need to be more than just a person who sits behind a dais and votes “yes or no”. S/he must be able to comprehend, analyze and distinguish between a multitude of competing interests, knowing that all decisions made will have implications for the future.

S/he must recognize that the issues facing Livingston won’t just impact those living within “the City”. There are those outside the City Limits and Sphere of Influence that are as important to the cultural and economic health of Livingston as those who live “inside”.

An ethical and effective Council Person must be fully aware of present needs, and yet have an eye for the future consequences of any and all actions taken, votes cast, and directions given to City Staff in the present. S/he must understand both the “the Time Value of Money” and the “Money Value of Time”: spending both taxpayers dollars, and City Staff time wisely and well.

I have included a partial list of terms any competent council person should be aware of, understand, and able to use in a complete, coherent sentence.

For anyone who REALLY wants to be knowledgeable about how City Government works, I would strongly suggest s/he get out a dictionary, do an Internet Search, or talk to someone at City Hall about any of these terms/concepts s/he may never have heard of before. Granted, it’s only an abbreviated list: an “Introduction to 21st Century City Government 101” so to speak, but at least it would give you an idea of the kinds of stuff you would need to know so you don’t end up sounding like a damn-fool every time you open your mouth .

PRIMARY DRINKING WATER STANDARDS address health concerns. (Things in the water that can make you sick or kill you if you drank enough of it over time)

SECONDARY DRINKING WATER STANDARDS – (things that make the water look and smell yucky, but might not necessarily make you sick or kill you) established to address issues of aesthetics (discoloration), not health concerns. In California secondary MCLs (Maximum Contaminant Levels) are enforceable.

UNREGULATED CONTAMINANTS – Chemicals and stuff which do not yet have a Maximum Contaminant Level. (emphasis on “yet”) There is ongoing testing So the The Environmental Protection Agency can decide whether or not these contaminants occur often enough and at high enough levels to warrant further attention and/or regulation. (In other words, the Government is still debating the science about how much of that stuff will make you sick or kill you over time.)

ARSENIC – : a semi-metal element in the periodic table. It is odorless and tasteless. It enters drinking water supplies from natural deposits in the earth or from agricultural and industrial practices.

CHROMIUM – 3 An Essential Trace Mineral, not to be confused with it’s deadlier cousin: Chromium – 6.

CHROMIUM – 6:  Chromium-6, or hexavalent chromium, is a naturally occurring metal. It is also used in several industrial processes. Chromium-6 has been known to cause cancer in humans when inhaled. In scientific studies in laboratory animals, chromium-6 has also been linked to cancer when ingested (Think “Erin Brokovich”)

MANGANESE: Manganese is a pinkish-gray, chemically active element. it is one out of three toxic essential trace elements, which means that it is not only necessary for humans to survive, but it is also toxic when too high concentrations are present in a human body. When people do not live up to the recommended daily allowances their health will decrease. But when the uptake is too high health problems will also occur. (Not getting enough? You get sick. Getting “too much”? You get sick)

TCP – 1,2,3:  TCP-containing fumigants were used extensively by farmers in the production of a large variety of crops from the 1950s through the mid-1980s. In California, these fumigants (known by the trade names D-D and Telone) were among the most widely used pesticides in the history of the State, second only to sulfur…. In 1999, 1,2,3-TCP was added to the list of chemicals known to the state to cause cancer (Livingston sued Dow Chemical and netted about $9.5 million dollars to put towards removing the TCP from our Drinking Water)

mg/L: Milligrams per liter or Parts Per Million. 

ug/L: Micrograms per liter or Parts Per Billion, (ppb)

Parts per Billion, (ppb) – Imagine 13 drops of ink in one of the largest tanker trucks used to haul gasoline. That would be 13 Parts Per Billion of ink.

MCL: Maximum Contaminant Level – The highest level of a toxic substance allowed in Drinking Water. The Health & Safety Code §116365(a) requires California Department of Public Health to establish a contaminant’s MCL at a level as close to its PUBLIC HEALTH GOAL (PHG) as is technologically and economically feasible, placing primary emphasis on the protection of public health

  • If a toxic substance is higher than the Maximum Contaminant Level using a 4 QUARTER AVERAGE, a water purveyor has to figure out a way of reducing that number down to below the MCL, and/or come up with another source of water to deliver to it’s customers.

  • The Maximum Contaminant Level for Arsenic currently stands at 10 Parts Per Billion

  • We have at least 2 wells that are over the limit of 10 Parts Per Billion and others that are really close to going over that limit.

4 QUARTER AVERAGE: As is this example.

  • If quarterly testing for arsenic at Well A produced the following results in Parts Per Billion: 8.5, 9.9 , 10, 11

  • The 4 Quarter Average would be 9.85 Parts Per Billion.

RANGE: The Lowest and the Highest. Using the Above as our example,

  • The Range would be 8.5 – 11 Parts Per Billion

NOTIFICATION LEVEL – The level at which the State of California says the public needs to be notified about a contaminant in the Drinking Water

.

  • The Notification Level for TCP – 1,2,3 is 0.005 ug/L ( 0.005 Parts per Billion)

  • I’m not to crazy about decimals. So to “get rid” of the decimal, we move the decimal 3 places to the right and get 5 Parts per Trillion.

  • According to the Report by Kennedy Jenks, a significant number of Livingston’s wells produce water with TCP ABOVE the Notification Level.

Parts per Trillion (ppt):– Imagine 5 drops of detergent in enough dishwater to fill a string of railroad tank cars ten miles long. That would be 5 Parts Per Trillion of detergent.

RESPONSE LEVEL – The level of contamination at which the State of California says a well “should” be removed from service because of a potential threat to Public Health.

  • The RESPONSE LEVEL for TCP – 1,2,3 is 100x the Notification Level (therefore 500 Parts per Trillion).

  • According to the Report by Kennedy Jenks, some of Livingston’s wells produce water with TCP levels ABOVE the Response Level.

PUBLIC HEALTH GOAL –  Concentrations of drinking water contaminants that pose no significant health risk if consumed for a lifetime, based on current risk assessment principles, practices, and methods. (Translation: levels low enough that you should die of old age before any of that stuff would make you really sick or kill you)

1,2,3, TCP Industrial
A-1 Zoning Industrial Wastewater
AB 1234 Infrastructure
Allowed Use Joint Use
Assessed Property Values LAFCO
Audit Light Industrial
Audit Report Litigation
Bank Owned Properties Long-Term Debt Obligations
Benefit Assessment District Low Density Residential
Breach of Contract MAGPI
Brown Act Master Plan
Budget Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL)
California Public Records Act MCAG
Capital Improvements Medium Density Residential
Capital Projects Fund Memorandum of Understanding (MOU)
Cash Pool Mitigated Negative Declaration
Centralized Water Treatment Mixed Use
CEQA Modified Accrual Method of Accounting
Citizens Advisory Committee Municipal Code
Citizens Service Committee Notice of Action
City Limits Notice of Violation
City Manager Form of Government Notice of Preparation (NOP)
Closed Session Notification Level
Code Nuisance Abatement
Code Enforcement Officer Obligation Payment Schedule
COLA Open Meetings Law
Commercial Open Session
Commission Open Space Reserve
Common Sense Operating Deficit
Community Operation and Maintenance
Community Commercial Ordinance
Community Development Block Grant Percolation ponds
Community Facilities District Permitted Use
Community Service Planning Commission
Community Values Prevailing Union Wage Law
Community Vision Primary Drinking Water Standards
Confidentiality Proposition 218 Hearing
Conflict of Interest Public Comments
Consent Calendar Public Document Request
Constituent Qualified Audit Opinion
Contract Quorum
Cooperation Recusal
Department Redevelopment Area
Development Impact Fees Reflective Listening
Detection Level Regional Sewage Treatment Facility
Domestic Wastewater Response to the Grand Jury
Easements Restricted Fund
Education Revenue Augmentation Fund (ERAF) Retainer
Enterprise Zone Revenue
Environmentally Superior Alternative Revenue Sharing
Errors and Omissions right-of-way
Excused Absence Secondary Drinking Water Standards
Expenditure Serial Meeting
Fiduciary Funds Shared Use
Fiduciary Responsibility Site Design Review
Fiscal Impact Special Planning Area
Fiscal Year Special Revenue Fund
Fixed Assets Sphere of Influence
Form 700 Strike expense
Fund Successor Agency to the Redevelopment Agency
Fund Balance Tax Sharing Agreement
General Fund The Illegal 42′ Sewer Pipe
General Plan Triple flip
Generally Accepted Accounting Principals (GAAP) Union
Government Accounting Standards Board (GASB) Unqualified Audit Opinion
Government Code Unrestricted Fund
Grand Jury Report Urban Reserve
Grievance Warrant Register
Hearing Wellhead Treatment
Heritage Tree Ordinance Work in Lieu
High Density Residential Workers Compensation
Highway Commercial

One last thing. Please Mr./Ms. Council People of the future: when you do speak, please finish your first sentence before beginning a totally different one. Trying to follow some of the rambling trains of thought I hear regularly at Council Meetings gives me a headache.

Thank You.

Arsenic and Lawsuits, Workshops and Hearings; A Clean Up/Abatement Order from the Water Board, and a City Council Agenda

LIVINGSTON, CALIFORNIA 05/19/2014

Water quality monitoring conducted by the City since January 2008 revealed that the arsenic levels in the water produced by the City’s wells has increased. the city must develop a contingency plan to be used in the event that the water produced by the City’s wells exceeds the arsenic MCL.California Department of Public Health, 2011 Water System Inspection Report. 

Well No. 16 has been offline since September 2011 because the media in the arsenic removal treatment system has been exhausted . Well No. 13 is also offline due to arsenic at elevated levels but below the MCL. The City is currently flushing the well to waste and collecting a bacteriological cycle test and hopes to bring the well online by mid-April if the cycle test results are coliform negative.California Department of Health: City of Livingston 2013 Water System Inspection Report

The City is currently conducting a Feasibility Study to examine adding additional source capacity, adding additional storage capacity , and adding localized or centralized treatment to provide water that complies with all primary and secondary drinking water standards. Several of the City’s wells produce water with 1,2,3-TCP above the Notification Level. Many of the same wells produce water with arsenic approaching the MCL (Well No. 12), at the MCL (Wells Nos. 13 & 15), and over the MCL (Well No. 16). Thirdly , Well No. 15 produces water with excessive manganese levels. The City has opted to provide treatment for the latter rather than applying for a waiver from the Department. The Feasibility Study is expected to be completed by the end of April 2013 – Ibid

Council Member Espinoza commented that there have been many complaints about the water system and a rate increase is warranted to correct the problems June 19, 2007 Draft Meeting Minutes (Re -Bergman Rate Study)

“Mayor Samra commented that making a decision is not easy for him and he agrees with all of his colleagues that something needs to happen. He said the Council will study this matter; however, not just the Council, but also the community at large needs to deal with the issue. Mayor Samra added that residents’’ concerns will be answered and he agrees that this item (Water Rate Increases) be continued” January 15, 2008, Draft Meeting Minutes (Bergman Rate Study)

“[t]he City operates a community water system under California Water Permit No. 03-11-98P001. The City’s source of water supply is exclusively groundwater. The City currently has eight (8) active wells. The quality of the water produced by most of the City’s wells is marginal and in some cases it exceeds the maximum contaminant level (MCL) for constituents like arsenic or manganese. Well No. 13 has [except in 2010 and 2011 when Well No. 13 was not operated] been exceeding the arsenic MCL of 10 μg/l since 2010.”  – California River Watch v. City of Livingston 

The City of Livingston has been sued.

Because of the Arsenic Levels in our Groundwater.

More on that a little later. But First:

A FEW DEFINITIONS

Before we get started, I must state that I am neither a Scientist, Engineer, nor Chemistry Nerd. But I have been following Livingston’s Water Quality Woes for quite some time. And after attending meeting after meeting over the course of the past few years while watching City Council after City Council punt this issue down the road time after time, I think I have managed to pick up a bit of knowledge by osmosis.

I have also amassed a fair amount of documentation over the years, and I’ve done additional research online: some of which I will be referencing as we go along. (click the links for even more detail)

Please forgive me, documentation purists, if some of my links are to Wikepedia, Yahoo Answers and/or other “Non Scientific” type websites. This is not a University Level Discussion in “The Chemistry and Related Issues in Municipal Drinking Water”.  I  just want to get across a few basic ideas before the Proposition 218 Hearing that’s coming up on Tuesday.

PRIMARY DRINKING WATER STANDARDS address health concerns. (Things in the water that can make you sick or kill you if you drank enough of it over time)

SECONDARY DRINKING WATER STANDARDS – (things that make the water look and smell yucky, but might not necessarily make you sick or kill you) established to address issues of aesthetics (discoloration), not health concerns. In California secondary MCLs (Maximum Contaminant Levels) are enforceable.

UNREGULATED CONTAMINANTS –
Chemicals and stuff which do not yet have a Maximum Contaminant Level. (emphasis on “yet”) There is ongoing testing So the The Environmental Protection Agency can decide whether or not these contaminants occur often enough and at high enough levels to warrant further attention and/or regulation. (In other words, the Government is still debating the science about how much of that stuff will make you sick or kill you over time.)

ARSENIC – : a semi-metal element in the periodic table. It is odorless and tasteless. It enters drinking water supplies from natural deposits in the earth or from agricultural and industrial practices. 

CHROMIUM – 3 An Essential Trace Mineral, not to be confused with it’s deadlier cousin: Chromium – 6.

CHROMIUM – 6:  Chromium-6, or hexavalent chromium, is a naturally occurring metal. It is also used in several industrial processes. Chromium-6 has been known to cause cancer in humans when inhaled. In scientific studies in laboratory animals, chromium-6 has also been linked to cancer when ingested (Think “Erin Brokovich”)

MANGANESE: Manganese is a pinkish-gray, chemically active element. it is one out of three toxic essential trace elements, which means that it is not only necessary for humans to survive, but it is also toxic when too high concentrations are present in a human body. When people do not live up to the recommended daily allowances their health will decrease. But when the uptake is too high health problems will also occur. (Not getting enough? You get sick. Getting “too much”? You get sick)

TCP – 1,2,3:  TCP-containing fumigants were used extensively by farmers in the production of a large variety of crops from the 1950s through the mid-1980s. In California, these fumigants (known by the trade names D-D and Telone) were among the most widely used pesticides in the history of the State, second only to sulfur…. In 1999, 1,2,3-TCP was added to the list of chemicals known to the state to cause cancer (Livingston sued Dow Chemical and netted about $9.5 million dollars to put towards removing the TCP from our Drinking Water)

mg/L: Milligrams per liter or Parts Per Million. 

ug/L: Micrograms per liter or Parts Per Billion, (ppb)

Parts per Billion, (ppb) – Imagine 13 drops of ink in one of the largest tanker trucks used to haul gasoline. That would be 13 Parts Per Billion of ink.

MCL: Maximum Contaminant Level – The highest level of a toxic substance allowed in Drinking Water. The Health & Safety Code §116365(a) requires California Department of Public Health to establish a contaminant’s MCL at a level as close to its PUBLIC HEALTH GOAL (PHG) as is technologically and economically feasible, placing primary emphasis on the protection of public health

  • If a toxic substance is higher than the Maximum Contaminant Level using a 4 QUARTER AVERAGE, a water purveyor has to figure out a way of reducing that number down to below the MCL, and/or come up with another source of water to deliver to it’s customers.

  • The Maximum Contaminant Level for Arsenic currently stands at 10 Parts Per Billion 

  • We have at least 2 wells that are over the limit of 10 Parts Per Billion and others that are really close to going over that limit.

4 QUARTER AVERAGE: As is this example.

  • If quarterly testing for arsenic at Well A produced the following results in Parts Per Billion: 8.5, 9.9 , 10, 11

  • The 4 Quarter Average would be 9.85 Parts Per Billion.

RANGE: The Lowest and the Highest. Using the Above as our example,

  • The Range would be 8.5 – 11 Parts Per Billion

NOTIFICATION LEVEL – The level at which the State of California says the public needs to be notified about a contaminant in the Drinking Water.

  • The Notification Level for TCP – 1,2,3 is 0.005 ug/L ( 0.005 Parts per Billion)

  • I’m not to crazy about decimals. So to “get rid” of the decimal, we move the decimal 3 places to the right and get 5 Parts per Trillion.

  • According to the Report by Kennedy Jenks, a significant number of Livingston’s wells produce water with TCP ABOVE the Notification Level.

Parts per Trillion (ppt):– Imagine 5 drops of detergent in enough dishwater to fill a string of railroad tank cars ten miles long. That would be 5 Parts Per Trillion of detergent.

RESPONSE LEVEL – The level of contamination at which the State of California says a well “should” be removed from service because of a potential threat to Public Health.

  • The RESPONSE LEVEL for TCP – 1,2,3 is 100x the Notification Level (therefore 500 Parts per Trillion).

  • According to the Report by Kennedy Jenks, some of Livingston’s wells produce water with TCP levels ABOVE the Response Level.

PUBLIC HEALTH GOAL –  Concentrations of drinking water contaminants that pose no significant health risk if consumed for a lifetime, based on current risk assessment principles, practices, and methods. (Translation: levels low enough that you should die of old age before any of that stuff would make you really sick or kill you)

05012014 Water Bill Insert Page 1Having a basic understanding of these terms will comes in handy every now and then: like when open your “Water Bill” and find another in an ever growing series of “its not an emergency but we have to tell you about the Arsenic in the Drinking Water” notices.  (Or when you go to a Meeting, Hearing or Workshop about “What’s In Our Water and What We Plan To Do About It” and the Consultants and Engineers go on and on in what sounds like a Foreign Language to those of us who are not Math/Science Nerds.)

SO NOW, LET’S TALK A LITTLE ABOUT ARSENIC and that Lawsuit I mentioned earlier.

To start with, we’ve been getting “Warnings About Arsenic” in the Water Bills since at least July of last year: after Well #13 was brought back on line and it was discovered, oops, that it was testing just a little over the Maximum Contaminant Level for Arsenic.

According to the 2011 California Department of Public Health Water System Inspection Report (page 9), Well #13 “was offline because the motor had burned up and needed to be replaced” and “the well has been offline for approximately two years due to construction”.

Well Locations with Local LandmarksThe 2013 California Department of Public Health Water System Inspection Report (page 15) talked about City Wells that “produce water with arsenic approaching the MCL (Well No. 12), at the MCL (Well Nos. 13 & 15), and over the MCL (Well No. 16).

At the May 20, 2013 meeting of the Utility Rates Stakeholders Committee Meeting, members were notified that Well #13 was running a little high on Arsenic and would likely need to have an Arsenic Filtration System installed.

Arsenic Compliance OrderAt the June 03, 2013 meeting of the Utility Rates Stakeholders Committee, members were informed that the California Department of Public Health had issued a Compliance Order For Violation of the Arsenic Maximum Contaminant Level

Page 8About December 10, 2013, California River Watch notified the City of Livingston of their intention to file suit under the Safe Drinking Water Act. At the very next City Council Meeting, the number of Cases of Potential Litigation to be discussed in Closed Session increased from 3 (as on November 19th) to 4. 

Page 1That Livingston finally ended up with a Compliance Order for Violating the Arsenic Maximum Contaminant level should be no real surprise to anyone who has been paying attention to Livingston’s Water Quality Woes.

Arsenic, and the need for filtration was a Topic of Discussion in the 2007/2008 Bergman Rate Study.  It was also a component in the 2009 Rate Study done by Raftelis Financial Consultants.

imageMaybe it is just coincidence that California River Watch decided to sue the City of Livingston about Violating the Arsenic Standard right around the same time we are getting ready for our THIRD round of Water Rate Studies and Proposition 218 Hearings in 6 years or so…..But

According to the Merced Sun Star, David Weinsoff, an attorney retained by California River Watch, stated

“There are senior citizens and children who are drinking this water, those that have compromised health systems that are drinking this water,” he said. “I frankly don’t see why the city doesn’t figure out who is most affected by the arsenic and provide water bottles or another alternative water source.”

And

Weinsoff said the goal of the lawsuit is to order the city to address the problem sooner than the deadline issued by the state and to notify at-risk residents, such as children and the elderly, when the city is out of compliance with maximum contaminant levels.

Maybe, just maybe, considering Livingston’s long history of Cycling through Hearing after Hearing, Consultant after Consultant, and Study after Study, California River Watch decided to invoke a “Higher Power” to make sure something actually gets done this time around.

FOR THOSE OF YOU WHO MISSED THE “WATER RATE” WORKSHOPS last month, and would like to see a copy of the Power Point Presentations, you can click on the following.

Water And Sewer Rate Study Community Workshop #1 April 8th, 2014: English

Water And Sewer Rate Study Community Workshop #2 April 10th, 2014: Spanish

Water And Sewer Rate Study Community Workshop #3 April 22nd, 2014: Punjabi

  • TO READ A COPY OF THE RATE STUDY in English, Spanish and/or Punjabi, you can go to:

    FOR EVEN MORE ON THE HISTORY OF LIVINGSTON’S WATER QUALITY WOES, I offer the following:

  • Salmonella, Arsenic, TCP and Manganese, A Timeline About Water Issues, and a City Council Agenda 

  • California Water Board Clean Up and Abatement Order – July 21, 2012 – Industrial Wastewater Treatment Facility

  • 2 Rate Studies, 4 Rate Consultants, 1 Recall Election, 3 Rate Rollbacks, 1 Rate Committee, 1 New City Manager, 1 New Public Works Director, 1 Public Relations Firm and 1 Report by Kennedy Jenks (And a City Council Agenda) (I should probably mention at this point that the City of Livingston is now looking for Yet Another Public Works Director..anyone want to take bets about how long this one will last? )


  • 2008 City of Livingston Water Rate Study Presentation: Dan Bergmann, Interstate Gas Services, Inc.

  • 2009 City of Livingston Wastewater and Solid Waste (Garbage) Rate Study: Raftelis Financial Consultants

  • 2009 City of Livingston Water Rate Study: Raftelis Financial Consultants, Inc. 

  • California Department of Health – Compliance Order For Violation of the Arsenic Maximum Contaminant Level: May 16, 2013

  • California Department of Health Sept. 2010 Letter on Water System Funding

  • California Department of Health: City of Livingston 2011 Water System Inspection Report

  • California Department of Health: City of Livingston 2013 Water System Inspection Report


  • Feasibility Analysis For A Sustainable Water Treatment Strategy–Kennedy Jenks Consultants

  •  

    CITY COUNCIL REGULAR MEETING AGENDA

    MAY 20, 2014

    CLOSED SESSION: 6:00 P.M.

    OPEN SESSION: 7:00 P.M.


    Notice is hereby given that the City Council will hold a Regular Meeting on April 15, 2014, at the City Council Chambers, 1416 C Street, Livingston, California. Persons with disabilities who may need assistance should contact the Deputy City Clerk at least 24 hours prior to this meeting at (209) 394-8041, Ext. 121. Any writings or documents pertaining to an Open Session item provided to a majority of the members of the legislative body less than 72 hours prior to the meeting shall be made available for public inspection at Livingston City Hall, 1416 C Street. The Open Session will begin at 7:00 p.m. The Closed Session will be held in accordance with state law prior to the Open Session beginning at 6:00 p.m. The Closed Session will be held in the City Council Chambers located at 1416 C Street. The agenda shall be as follows:


    Closed Session


    1. Call to Order.

    2. Roll Call


    CLOSED SESSION


    A “Closed” or “Executive” Session of the City Council or the Successor Agency to the Redevelopment Agency of the City of Livingston may be held in accordance with state law which may include, but is not limited to, the following types of items: personnel matters, labor negotiations, security matters, providing instructions to real property negotiators, conference with legal counsel regarding pending litigation. The Closed Session will be held in the City Council Chambers located at 1416 C Street, Livingston, California. Any public comment on Closed Session items will be taken before the Closed Session. Any required announcements or discussion of Closed Session items or actions following the Closed Session will be made in the City Council Chambers, 1416 C Street, Livingston,

    California.


    3. Public Employee Performance Evaluation

    (Government Code Section 54957(b)(1))

    Title: City Manager

    4. Conference with Labor Negotiator

    (Government Code Section 54957.6)

    Labor Negotiator: Jose M. Sanchez, City Attorney

    Unrepresented Employee: City Manager


    5. Conference with Legal Counsel – Potential Litigation

    [(Government Code Section 54956.9(d)(2)]

    Number of Cases: 2

    6. Conference with Labor Negotiator

    (Government Code Section 54957.6)

    Labor Negotiator: City Manager Jose Antonio Ramirez

    Employee Organizations: All Represented City Employees


    Regular Meeting


    CALL TO ORDER


    Roll Call. Next Resolution No. 2014-22

    Next Ordinance No. 619

    Pledge of Allegiance.


    Closed Session Announcements

    Changes to the Agenda.

    AWARDS, PRESENTATIONS, APPOINTMENTS AND PROCLAMATIONS


    1. Presentation by City Manager Jose Antonio Ramirez: 20 Year Service Pins to Danna Rasmussen, Senior Administrative Analyst, and Debbie Parrott, Senior Account Clerk.


    ANNOUNCEMENTS AND REPORTS


    Supervisor John Pedrozo Announcements and Reports.

    City Staff Announcements and Reports.

    City Manager Announcements and Reports.

    City Council Members’ Announcements and Reports.

    Mayor’s Announcements and Reports.


    PUBLIC HEARINGS


    2. An Ordinance of the City Council of the City of Livingston Adopting a New Rate Schedule for Water Service – Proposition 18 Hearing.

    3. Resolution and Ordinance of the City Council of the City of Livingston Adopting a New Rate Schedule for Domestic Wastewater Service (Sewer Service) – Proposition 218 Hearing.


    CITIZEN COMMENTS

    This section of the agenda allows members of the public to address the City Council on any item NOT otherwise on the agenda. Members of the public, when recognized by the Mayor, should come forward to the lectern, and identify themselves. Comments are normally limited to three (3) minutes. In accordance with State Open Meeting Laws, no action will be taken by the City Council this evening. For items which are on the agenda this evening members of the public will be provided an opportunity to address the City Council as each item is brought up for discussion.


    CONSENT CALENDAR


    Items on the Consent Calendar are considered routine or non-controversial and will be enacted by one vote, unless separate action is requested by the City Manager or City Council Member. There will be no separate discussion of these items unless members of the City Council or City Manager request that specific items be removed.


    4. Waive the Second Reading and Adopt Ordinance No. 613 of the City Council of the City of Livingston Amending the Livingston Municipal Code Title 4, “Building Regulations,” to Add Chapter 4-7 Establishing a Regional Transportation Impact Fee (RTIF).

    5. Approval of Warrant Register Dated May 1, 2014.

    6. Approval of Warrant Register Dated May 15, 2014.


    DISCUSSION AND POTENTIAL ACTION ITEMS


    7. Introduce and Waive the First Reading of Ordinance No. 616 of the City Council of the City of Livingston Adopting Amendments to Title 4, Chapter 1 of the Livingston Municipal Code Pertaining to the Livingston Building Code, and Ordinance No. 617 Adopting Amendments to Title 7, Chapters 1, 2, 4 and 5 of the Livingston Municipal Code Pertaining to the Livingston Fire Code and Related Changes.

    8. Introduce and Waive the First Reading of Ordinance No. 618 of the City Council of the City of Livingston Amending the Livingston Municipal Code to Repeal Title 9, Chapter 7, Entitled “CATV Franchise” in its Entirety.


    9. Direct City Engineer to Design and Prepare Plans of Scope of Work for Water Line Improvement Project Phase III.


    ADJOURNMENT


    Budget Documents, Staff Reports, and When Figures Don’t Lie

    Fool me once: Shame on You. Fool me twice: Shame on Me. Old American proverb.

    Figures don’t lie. But liars figure. Old American proverb sometimes attributed to Mark Twain.

    “I would love to have surplus money, but at this point, the goal was just to close the gap,” said City Manager Jose Ramirez, noting the city originally faced a $150,000 shortfall. “You’re not trying to get any more than what’s needed from the (employee) bargaining units. With the budgetary concessions we had, we wanted to get to zero.” Livingston adopts a balanced budget, Ramona Giwargis, Merced Sun Star, March 23, 2014

    If the concession agreements are not extended, the city’s general fund will dip into the red by $80,000. The agreements end on June 30, and that will attribute to an increase to city expenses – Ibid

    At the March 18, 2014 City Council Meeting, the City Council adopted what was said to be a “Balanced Budget” after finally closing a “Budget Gap” of over $150,00.  One would think that meant the City had found a way to Cut Spending by that very amount. But that’s not really how that Balanced Budget came about.  There is a little piece of the Budget Puzzle that has been left out.

    And from what I can see, from looking at the numbers, the City just might have a little difficulty convincing the Bargaining Units to extend concessions into the next Fiscal Year. More on that a little later. But first.

    FAMILY HAMBURGER NIGHT AT THE VFW

    Family-Hamburger-Night--03-20142

    Kite-Festival-20144LET’S GO FLY A KITE!  The Knights of Columbus presents The Week of the Young Child and K97.5, 3rd Annual “Time to Fly” Kite Festival.  Sunday April 06, 2014 8:30 am – 3:30pm at the Livingston Middle School 101 F Street Livingston, CA 95334. FREE to the Public the first 500 kids get a free Kite.

    We are less than 2 weeks away from our 3rd Annual Kite Festival and Kite building days at local schools starts next week.  We will be visiting all the local schools from the Head Starts to the Middle Schools to build kites with the kids and their parents. The Kites will have BLUE tails to represent the week of the young child.

    The Merced County Sheriff will be present at Livingston’s 3rd Annual Kite Festival show casing its arsenal of crime-fighting tools including their 1973 UH-1H VIETNAM-ERA HUEY Helicopter, Sheriff’s S.W.A.T. Armored Vehicle, “Bearcat,” and The Sheriff’s Water Rescue Boat.  Come meet and thank some of the dedicated officers including the pilots and SWAT and Dive Operators.

    There will be GIANT Kite Flying Demonstrations by Brian Champie, George Halpin, Mike North and many more.  There will be kite-making workshops, plus other activities for everyone to enjoy including Kite Building Contests, The Rotary Club of Winton-Nuevo Latino Pie Eating Contests, Face Painting, Bounce Houses, Crafts, Kite, and informational Vendor booths, plus various cultural performances. 

    We will also have safety demonstrations from PG&E, Livingston Police and Fire, CHP, and Merced County Sheriff and of course “The Jim Strealy Memorial Candy Drop,” presented by Fluetsch and Busby Insurance.

    Don’t forget to enter FREE Kite Building Contest for your chance to win cash money! We are still looking for Non-Food Vendors.  For more info, pictures of last year’s event, and vendor application, visit our website:  https://www.livingstonKiteFestival.com or call Contact: Julio Valadez  209-277-1402 LIKE and SHARE our FACEBOOK page for a chance to win a 70 Inch Stunt Kite!

    TRUST, NEGOTIATIONS, AND BARGAINING IN GOOD FAITH…Some of you may have read the article in the Merced Sun Star about Livingston finally adopting a balanced budget nearly 9 months after the Fiscal Year started. According to the article

    Despite reaching concession agreements with employees that included furloughs, pay reductions, limiting vacation cash-outs and requiring employee contributions toward health insurance, the budget shows the city will break even but not achieve a positive financial position

    OK. So the City is just breaking even. This time. But there is a little part of the Budget Gap Story that has been left out. And in my opinion, the part that was left out may well have an impact on any future Negotiations between the City and Employee Bargaining Units.

    Let’s begin by examining the text from the Staff Report.

    Paragraph 1 states:

    The City’s financial records show that the City has depleted its General Fund balance (reserves) over the last 10 years. A decade of continuous operating deficits has resulted in significant impacts to City’s operations. The City had over 100% of fund balance in 2002 to cover its annual operating costs of over $3.5 million. This fund balance (reserves) was reduced to approximately 60% of annual operating expenditures by 2007 as expenditures materially increased to over $5.6 million. Five years later, the fund balance for fiscal year 2012-13 as of June 30, 2013, is $843,000 which is below 20% of the City’s projected annual expenditures. This figure reflects the write-off of the Outstanding Notes Receivable (Loan) from the Former RDA in the amount of $511,000. The State Department of Finance declared this loan to be an un-enforceable obligation.

    Paragraph 2 states:

    A similar scenario is reflected on the City’s cash balance in the General Fund. These are the results of the continuous economic challenges Livingston along with many other agencies continues to face.

    Paragraph 3 states:

    Management conducted several budget workshops in mid 2013 in efforts to address the anticipated General Fund operating deficit of nearly $150,000 and to allow public/community input. This gap was then reduced to about $100,000 after management successfully negotiated a three year reimbursement agreement with Merced County in late September 2013. An analysis concluded that the County overcharged the City for Property Tax Administration between 2008 through fiscal year 2012. Per Statute of Limitations, the City could only recover three years of reimbursement plus accrued interest. County agreed to reimburse City in three fiscal year installments at just over $58,000 per year, FY2012-13, FY2013-14, and FY14-15.

    Paragraph 4 States:

    This anticipated gap was further reduced by negotiating budget concessions with the bargaining groups. Agreements were reached with Management & Confidential employees and Public Works units in early November 2013. General Fund savings from these two units in the form of personnel cost is estimated at $28,000 plus about $51,000 in other funds during fiscal year 2013-14. Late agreements were reached with our Police units after both units decided to exercise their right to Fact Finding procedures. On March 4, 2014, after a year of negotiations with these two units, an agreement was reached to honor the recommendations made by Mr. Burdick, mediator on Fact Finding process. Anticipated personnel savings to the General Fund from these two Police units during 2013-14 are estimated at $22,000 in the General Fund and about $5,200 in other funds.

    Paragraph 5 states:

    A mid-year review was performed by finance in January-February and minor adjustments were made to revenue and General Fund expenditure projections, this included reallocation of funds within and between departments to balance the General Fund budget.

    Paragraph 6 States:

    The City has posted a copy of the proposed budget on its website and will provide a free copy of the proposed budget on a CD to any citizen desiring to have one. Copies will also be available for public review at City Hall.

    If you only look at the plain language of the Staff Report,  you would most likely arrive at the following conclusions:

    1. The General Fund has been in a downward slide towards Bankruptcy for quite some time and we’re just about there.

    2. The City is in a heap of trouble, financially. Just like everyone else.

    3. Expenses were expected to $153,000 more than Revenues. But the City managed to negotiate a refund of about $50,000 from the County: which dropped the “budget gap” to $100,000.

    4. The City also negotiated about $50,000 of concessions from the Employee Bargaining Units: which dropped the “budget gap” to $50.000.

    5. During the Mid Year Review, “minor adjustments” were made which eliminated that last $50,000, thereby dropping the “budget gap” to zero.

    6. And you can see it for yourself by looking at the version of the Budget on the City’s website.

    So, from the March Staff Report, you would most likely gotten the impression that back in July 2013, the City was facing a Budget Gap of close to $150,000.

    And after several months of negotiations, this Planned Spending was reduced by concessions gained from Employee Bargaining Groups, refunds from the County, and some Inter Departmental “adjusting”:thereby reducing the nearly $150,000 Budget Gap to Zero {0} Resulting in a Balanced Budget.

    But as I mentioned earlier, this Staff Reports leaves something out: the fact that Projected Revenues were adjusted UP about $150,000 during the same time all those Refunds, Concessions, and other “adjustments” were supposed to be bringing Spending DOWN.

    But, but, but, the Budget was Balanced. Wasn’t it? Well, yes, in a manner of speaking. Just not exactly the way the Staff Report makes it appear.

    At the General Fund Budget Workshop in July 2013, According to the Spreadsheets included in the Agenda Packet posted online, the Budget Gap was calculated as follows:

    · General Fund Revenues: $4,402,825

    · General Fund Expenses : $4,546,718

    · “Budget Gap”:                         ($143,893)

    And there was a whole lot of negotiations with the bargaining units about things like furlough days and other concessions because it was a Critical need to close that Budget Gap.

    So..when I saw the Agenda Item about the Budget on the March 18, 2014 City Council Agenda, I expected that after the Employee concessions, and other spending cuts the Staff Report talked about, the numbers would look something like this:

    · General Fund Revenue: $4,402,825

    · General Fund Expenses: $4,402,825

    · Budget Gap: 0

    But that’s not what the Revised Budget Said. What it said was:

    · General Fund Revenue: $4,556,650

    · General Fund Expenses: $4,556,650

    · Budget Gap: 0


    Total Revenues were increases by over $153 thousand dollars but Total Spending wasn’t cut at all! In fact, Total Spending INCREASED almost $10,000.

    And from looking at the details, any “budget savings” from employee concessions were more than wiped out by increased spending on Professional Services, Contract Services, and other spending increases.

    When I pointed out those facts to the City Council and asked “what happened”, I got quite the long answer about how Budgets are Living Documents and how The-Longer-You-Go-The-More-Things-Change from the City Manager and a retort about Just-Looking-For-Things-To-Criticize from the Mayor.

    Excuse me?

    I understand that there are times when spending cuts just have to be made. I get that.

    I understand that there are times when Pay Cuts and Furloughs may be truly necessary. I get that too.

    But if you tell the Bargaining Units at the beginning of the Fiscal Year that Concessions are necessary because there just isn’t going to be enough Revenue coming in…

    And negotiate, negotiate, negotiate, because you so NEED those concessions in order to close that Budget Gap.

    Then turn around around towards the end of the year, after the concessions were made, with a “oops, we bad, we’re actually going to get $153,000 more Revenue then we originally figured on, but we plan to spend it elsewhere…but we sure do appreciate those concessions anyway.

    Why should you think you will be trusted the next time you cry “Budget Gap! We have a Budget Gap to Close!”

    Just sayin

    Watering Days, Fireworks Booths, Arsenic, Sand and “Broken” Wells: plus a City Council Agenda

    LIVINGSTON, CALIFORNIA 02/17/2014

    I am going to invoke a little of the Story Teller’s License before discussing my take on Current Events as they relate to Water Related Stuff.

    I’ve developed a theory, which started bubbling up in my brain, ever since the Days-of-the-Recall, that there have been, and still are, two quite distinct factions within our Elected and Appointed Officials .

    One faction has known all along about the growing problems with our Groundwater and Water System. They have been on the council long enough to have had more than a fair few Staff and Consultant’s Reports in their Agenda Packets: they have no excuse whatsoever in my mind for “not knowing”.

    But for Political Reasons they seem to have made it a deliberate practice to ensure that that knowledge and comprehension has not been passed to other Elected/Appointed Officials, and Livingston-Residents-As-A-Whole.

    We’ll call them “Political Can Kickers” because they have been Kicking the Political Can about Water System Problems down the road for quite a while.

    The other faction of Elected/Appointed Officials, which we will call “Water Truthers”, most likely believed everything that the “Political Can Kickers” said about significant repairs and upgrades to Livingston’s Water System being “Unwarranted” and “Unnecessary”, and that any claims about contamination of the Groundwater and problems with the Water System were either Wild Exaggerations, or Figments of the Imagination.

    Which the “Water Truthers” intended to prove once they got into City Hall, “cleaned house” and hired a New City Manager, a New City Attorney, and perhaps a few New Consultants and a few New Engineers, and a New Public Works Director Of-Their-Own-Choosing.

    After which, they could Re-Study Everything and therefore be able to discover, then declare the REAL Truth-About-Our-Drinking-Water: that all claims of Groundwater Contamination and System Problems were either patently false, or wildly overstated, and that the City DIDN’T really need all the expensive Wellhead Treatment Systems and System Repairs it said it did.

    More on that a little later. But first, lets catch up on couple things…

    FERSENIUS WILL BE CLOSING the end of May: which will leave Foster Farms as the only Industrial Water User in the City of Livingston.

    FOSTER FARMS REOPENS AFTER A 10 DAY CLOSURE,  According to a report in the Merced SunStar, the Foster Farms Plant in Livingston reopened on January 22, after a 10 day voluntary closure. According to the article,

    Bill Mattos, president of the California Poultry Federation in Modesto, said the extended closure, originally planned for a few days, came about because of an abundance of caution while workers cleaned the plant thoroughly. “They wanted to be perfectly sure they had zero tolerance,” he said. “So they did it twice instead of one go-round.”

    Most of you reading this are probably well versed in Foster Farms recent struggles with Cockroaches and Salmonella, so I won’t rehash the whole sorry saga here.

    Except to point out that Foster Farms uses around 66% of Livingston’s water. And if there isn’t enough water, Foster Farms cannot Clean and Sanitize the plant or process chicken.

    With that in mind……

    Well 8-9-16ONE OF THE 2 WELLS REPORTED TO BE OFFLINE, at the February 10, 2014 meeting of the Utility Rates Stakeholders Committee is Well #16. This well, which is on the same side of town as Foster Farms, has been shut off since at least 2011 because the Arsenic Filtration Media was used up. The Arsenic concentrations in that well are nearly 3 – 4 TIMES the legal limit, and without the Arsenic Filtration System up and running, the City cannot legally use that well.

    (One of things that should be noted at this point of the discussion,  Well #16, was NOT meant to be used on an everyday basis. It was to be used as a BACK UP well. Because of the High Arsenic levels, and the High Cost of filtering out that Arsenic, Well #16 is hugely expensive to run on a regular basis).

    In Early, 2011, the Utility Rates Stakeholders Committee was established to “come up with ideas” about how to address Livingston’s water issues, and  “work with” the City and the Engineers and the Consultants who were hired to work on projects like this one, and to “make recommendations” to the City Council.

    In October, 2012, the Resolution to Award a Contract to Filtronics, Inc. of Anaheim, California for Goods and Services Provided to Change Out the Arsenic Removal Media for the Well 16 Arsenic Removal Treatment System was approved by the City Council.

    By September 03, 2013, most of the work had been completed and the only steps remaining to bring the well back online were stated to be as follows:

    • Final calibration/adjustment process fine tuning:

    • System Disinfection

    • California Department of Public Health (CDPH) field inspection

    • CDPH approval of Operation Plan and Final Permit to Operate

    During the September 03, 2013 City Council Meeting, there was an intense discussion about whether or not Well #16 really needed “improvements” like a Variable Frequency Drive or Orifice Plates, etc. before being brought back online.

    Flash forward to February 10th, and According to the City’s (New Set Of) Engineers, the only thing really standing in the way of turning that well back on is getting the Well’s new Operations Manual approved by the California Department of Health. However, something DOES really need to be done to slow down the number of gallons the well pumps per minute: especially if the City plans to use the well on More-Than-Just-The-Occasional Basis. A Variable Frequency Drive would be nice: but expensive. Orifice plates would be much less expensive: but wouldn’t work as well.

    NOW THE CITY NEEDS TO SKIP THE BIDDING PROCESS for Repairs and Upgrades to Well #16 altogether because, according to the Staff Report, “There is an urgent need to have Well 16 back on-line in the near future to meet the City’s water demands that will likely increase in the Spring and Summer.” Part of the reason this has become So Urgent Urgent Now is because

    Well 8-9ALSO ON THE FOSTER FARMS SIDE OF TOWN, and reported to the Utility Rates Stakeholders committee as having been shut down for repairs, is Well #9. This well was taken offline for repairs, after reports by Foster Farms, and testing done by the City, revealed a problem with sand infiltrating the well. 

    According to the City Manager and Engineers, it could take anywhere from about a week to a month to “redevelop” the well and bring it back online.

    Well 13According to the Findings in the Council Resolution, another reason given fixing up Well #16 is so Urgent is that “There is an urgent need to bring Well 16 in production to enable the City to move forward with the installation of wellhead treatment facilities at Well 13, which will require Well 13 to be off line for some time.”

    According to the report by Kennedy Jenks, Well #13 (at Joseph Gallo Park) had been inactive, but was reactivated in early 2013. Which in my mind implies, that Livingston is getting pretty desperate for water.

    AND THERE IS ONE MORE WELL ON THE FOSTER FARMS SIDE OF TOWN, that will need to shut off a while for scheduled “upgrades”: Well #8. This is the first well in Livingston scheduled to have a Filtration System for TCP installed. Back in 2004, the City began tracking the levels of TCP in Livingston’s water.

    In 2005, the City sued Dow Chemical Corp about the TCP Contamination.

    2006 Memorandum Of Understanding Foster Farms and Livingston croppedIn 2006, the City of Livingston and Foster Farms entered into a Memorandum of Understanding in which Foster Farms would lend Livingston the money needed to get the Well #8 TCP Filtration Project moving along. In 2011, the City received a settlement from Dow Chemical: and I guess you could say the City no longer had the need to borrow the money from Foster Farms for that particular project.

    In late 2011 the City Council awarded a Professional Engineering Services Contract for Water Treatment at the City Water Supply Well No. 8 (for TCP) to AECOM 

    In May, 2013, that contract was amended for Additional Design and Construction Support Services for the 1,2,3 Trichloropropane (TCP) Treatment at the City Water Supply Well No. 8

    The City Council also approved a Resolution Authorizing the Purchase of Land Needed for the Installation of Water Treatment Facilities at the City Water Supply Well No. 8, Approval of the Appraisal Report Prepared by The Thomas Wilkins Company and Authorizing the City Manager to execute the Agreement with Foster Farms for the Purchase of the Land. in May, 2013.

    In October, 2013 the City Council approved a Resolution Awarding Construction Contract to Conco West, Inc. of Manteca, CA; Approving the Expenditure of Construction Funds for the Well No. 8 Wellhead Treatment System and Authorizing the City Manager to Execute a Construction Contract and Any Change Orders Thereto with Conco West, Inc.

    Although Well #8  is currently up and running, it is expected to be shut down sometime from May – July for construction.

    Now Livingston is in the position of needing to do repairs and upgrades on multiple wells: the trick being to not to end up with multiple wells down at the same time and/or not have any at all down during the Summer: when water usage is at it’s highest.

    Sooooo, let’s meander back to where we started about “Political Can Kickers”, “Water Truthers” and how that relates to the mess the City of Livingston is clearly in now.

    And did I mention this is a drought year?

    But I digress….

    Back in 2007-2008 the Rate Study done by Dan Bergman talked about groundwater contamination, 6 wells needing treatment and the need for more capacity and storage etc.

    In 2009 – 2010 a New Rate Study done by Raftelis Financial Consultants talked about: Pipeline Removal and Replacement, Wellhead Filtering at Wells 8, 16, 12, and 14; a New Supply Well #17, etc.

    Not to mention the May 2009 Enforcement Letter for Violating the Secondary Maximum Contaminant Level for Manganese at Well #15 (which is by Starbucks) by the California Department of Public Health

    But during the Days of the Run Up to the Recall over Water Rates, the Can Kickers and the Water Truthers joined forces and all reasonable discussions about Livingston’s Water System went to Hell in a Hand Basket.

    And while the Post Recall Council started “cleaning house” and hiring Staff Of Their Own Choosing, the California Department of Health sent even more documentation which pointed out even more problems.

    Like the California Department of Health Sept. 2010 Letter on Water System Funding 

    And The California Department of Health: City of Livingston 2011 Water System Inspection Report 

    After the General Election of 2012, the “bad news” just kept coming in reports like:

    The California Department of Health: City of Livingston 2013 Water System Inspection Report 

    Followed by the California Department of Health – Compliance Order For Violation of the Arsenic Maximum Contaminant Level: May 16, 2013

    And it wasn’t just the California Department of Health saying there were problems. The New Staff/Consultants the New Council hired were saying pretty much the same thing. For example:

    In July, 2013, the  Feasibility Analysis For A Sustainable Water Treatment Strategy–Kennedy Jenks Consultants was released: Which basically stated that, yep, we have problems, big problems, and the longer we go the bigger they get.

    So now, I believe the Can Kicking Days are coming to a close, and the painful truth of the matter is, unless the City can pull off some kind of miracle and get the State to bail us out somehow, we are going to end up in a world of hurt.

    Now that it is an Election Year, I only hope we end up with a group of Open Minded and Informed Realists on the Council who can guide Livingston through the days to come.

    Resolution 2011-32 Includes Complete CommitteeBTW – SINCE WE TOUCHED ON THE SUBJECT OF WELLS ON THE FOSTER FARMS SIDE OF TOWN, something has been puzzling me for quite a while. Way back when the Utility Rates Stakeholders Committee was established, Foster Farms was “given a seat at the table” to represent the Industrial Class of Water Users: you can see for yourself how one of their VP’s was actually named on the Council Resolution.

    I’ve been to practically every single meeting since that Committee was set up, and I can tell you that attendance by anyone from Foster Farms has been spotty at best over the last few months.

    And I just can’t help but wonder why…I’ve heard there have been some “staffing changes” lately. But so far, no “Official Announcements”.

    Watering RestrictionsWATERING DAYS ARE BACK!  At the January 21 City Council Meeting, the Council voted 4-0 to reinstate Mandatory Watering days in Livingston. According to the Municipal Code, the restrictions will be as follows.

    9-5-712 (C) Water Restrictions.

    • When directed by the City Council, the following outside watering restrictions apply to residential, commercial and industrial customers of the City of Livingston:

      • 1. All house numbers ending with an even number may water on Sunday, Tuesday, and Friday.

      • 2. All house numbers ending with an odd number may water on Monday, Thursday, and Saturday.

      • 3. No outside watering on Wednesday.

      • 4. The washing of vehicles will be allowed on the designated watering day and on weekends (Saturdays and Sundays), regardless of house numbers, as long as a quick-acting positive shut-off nozzle is used.

    • (D) Enforcement.

      • It shall be the duty of the Police, Fire and all other departments and employees to give vigilant aid to the Public Works Department in the enforcement of the provisions of this chapter. (Ord. 576, 12-16-08)

    To give Livingston’s residents time to adjust to the newly reestablished watering restrictions, the Council voted to give residents two “warnings”, before imposing fines as follows:

    • $25 (after those first two “reminder” warnings)

    • $50 the next time

    • $100 each time thereafter 

    The flier above states that “water conservationists are patrolling the City”, looking for violations of the Watering Restrictions.

    Amendments to the Fireworks Ordinance CroppedPUBLIC HEARING ALERT! COUNCIL TO GIVE YOUTH FOOTBAL the right to a Fireworks Booth Permit for (2) years to ….At the 01/21/2014 City Council Meeting, the City Council voted 4/0 to direct staff to bring back an Ordinance which would eliminate the current Booth Permit Rotation list; assign (1) Booth Permit to the City which would be assigned to either the Recreation Department or other City Wide Non-Profit Organization, give the City Council to award  (1) Booth Permit to the Organization of it’s choosing; and assign the remaining (3) Booth Permits by Random Lottery.

    Also included in the Directions to Staff was to include language that would allow the City Council the ability to award the “Council’s Choice” to the Livingston Youth Football Organization for (2) consecutive years.

    According to Youth Football Coach and City Council member Jim Soria, he had placed the Item on the January 21, City Council Agenda: partly in memory of Mike Coronado.  According to Council Member Soria, the recent death of Mike Coronado created a Special Circumstance which justified giving Youth Football priority other non-profit organizations.

    Council Member Soria stated “One of the reasons I put this on is, a few months ago or I’m not sure when it was, we had a few fireworks booths grandfathered in. Youth Football wasn’t selected. I just want, being part coach, I volunteer as a coach and I see that the financial impact – that financial impact that it helps – in helping the Youth football and the kids. That’s what I’m about: about the kids.” 

    During that night’s discussion, Mayor Pro-Temp Samra said – …The best thing to do is have everything in front of us. Its nice and clean and everybody knows what we’re talking about and what we’re voting on…you want to vote on that’s fine. I don’t have any objections either way. But I think it would be cleaner if it was like written down so everybody knows what to do. My suggestion is to direct staff to bring to the Council at their earliest convenience as quickly as possible.

    Mayor Espinoza stated — “I know that, the High School has had probably the majority of the booths all the time every year. And in memory of Mike Coronado, we think it’s a great thing to do.” and that

    “I know we have it tough because if we give you guys priority we’re gonna get ridiculed and criticized by other organizations. But I know the High School has had it for a lot of programs: they had the majority of the years. So, but this is a good memory – of Mike Coronado’s memory – its still for our youth in Livingston so I’m all supportive. Two years – I agree to two years. So hopefully, later on in the future, what ever Council is here, they can decide that. But hopefully, to help out, right now this youth. With the other rotations – we’ll have to deal with that.”

    Council Member Sacairos said — Like the Mayor said – we might get criticized. But, you know what, when I was growing up I had to go to Winton to play for the Cowboys because there was no program for here and I wish there was here and it was not cheap. So that’s what I have.

    The City Attorney said —It’s just a rotation list. There is nothing currently in our Code that allows for this (grandfathering in any particular organization). The Code needs to be amended… But the direction helps a lot. That way it can be drafted a certain way. Seeing that this is an Ordinance, having the direction to put something General in there as far as the City Council selection helps because then by Resolution or Motion, then you could decide who gets that booth.

    If you would like to read the entire discussion that took place that evening: Click Here 

    And now on to the..

    CONCURRENT MEETING OF THE CITY

    COUNCIL AND SUCCESSOR AGENCY TO THE REDEVELOPMENT AGENCY OF THE

    CITY OF LIVINGSTON

    REGULAR MEETING AGENDA

    FEBRUARY 18, 2014

    CLOSED SESSION: 6:00 P.M.

    OPEN SESSION: 7:00 P.M.


    Notice is hereby given that the City Council and Successor Agency to the Redevelopment Agency of the City of Livingston will hold a Regular Meeting on February 18, 2014, at the City Council Chambers, 1416 C Street, Livingston, California. Persons with disabilities who may need assistance should contact the Deputy City Clerk at least 24 hours prior to this meeting at (209) 394-8041, Ext. 121. Any writings or documents pertaining to an Open Session item provided to a majority of the members of the legislative body less than 72 hours prior to the meeting shall be made available for public inspection at Livingston City Hall, 1416 C Street. The Open Session will begin at 7:00 p.m. The Closed Session will be held in accordance with state law prior to the Open Session beginning at 6:00 p.m. The Closed Session will be held at the City Council Chambers located at 1416 C Street. The agenda shall be as follows:

    Closed Session


    1. Call to Order.

    2. Roll Call


    CLOSED SESSION


    A “Closed” or “Executive” Session of the City Council or the Successor Agency to the Redevelopment Agency of the City of Livingston may be held in accordance with state law which may include, but is not limited to, the following types of items: personnel matters, labor negotiations, security matters, providing instructions to real property negotiators, conference with legal counsel regarding pending litigation. The Closed Session will be held in the City Council Chambers located at 1416 C Street, Livingston, California. Any public comment on Closed Session items will be taken before the Closed Session. Any required announcements or discussion of Closed Session items or actions following the Closed Session will be made in the City Council Chambers, 1416 C Street, Livingston, California.

    3. Successor Agency

    Conference with Legal Counsel – Existing Litigation

    [Government Code Section 54956.9(d)(1)]

    City of Livingston and Successor Agency to the Livingston

    Community Redevelopment Agency v. Ana Matosantos, et al

    Superior Court of the State of California – County of Sacramento

    Case No. 34-2013-80001460


    4. Conference with Legal Counsel – Potential Litigation

    [(Government Code Section 54956.9(d)(2)]

    Number of Cases: 2

    5. Conference with Labor Negotiator

    (Government Code Section 54957.6)

    Labor Negotiator: City Manager Jose Antonio Ramirez

    Employee Organizations: All Represented City Employees


    Regular Meeting


    CALL TO ORDER


    Roll Call. Next Resolution No. 2014-4

    Next Ordinance No. 611

    Pledge of Allegiance. Next Successor Agency

    Resolution No. 2014-1

    Closed Session Announcements

    Changes to the Agenda.


    ANNOUNCEMENTS AND REPORTS


    Supervisor John Pedrozo Announcements and Reports.

    City Staff Announcements and Reports.

    City Manager Announcements and Reports.

    City Council Members’ Announcements and Reports.

    Mayor’s Announcements and Reports.

    PUBLIC HEARINGS


    1. Resolution Conditionally Approving Site Plan/Design Review 2013-04 for the Proposed Motel 6 Project, a 75-Room, 3-Story Motel on a 2.43 Acre Parcel Located at 110 N. Del Rio Avenue.

    2. Ordinance of the City Council of the City of Livingston Amending Title 7, Chapter 4 of the Livingston Municipal Code Pertaining to Fireworks and the Issuing of Permits.


    CITIZEN COMMENTS

    This section of the agenda allows members of the public to address the City Council on any item NOT otherwise on the agenda. Members of the public, when recognized by the Mayor, should come forward to the lectern, and identify themselves. Comments are normally limited to three (3) minutes. In accordance with State Open Meeting Laws, no action will be taken by the City Council this evening. For items which are on the agenda this evening members of the public will be provided an opportunity to address the City Council as each item is brought up for discussion.


    CONSENT CALENDAR


    Items on the Consent Calendar are considered routine or non-controversial and will be enacted by one vote, unless separate action is requested by the City Manager or City Council Member. There will be no separate discussion of these items unless members of the City Council or City Manager request that specific items be removed.


    3. Resolution Supporting and Implementing AB 1012 “Timely Use of Funding”.

    4. Resolution Authorizing Award of Contract/Purchase Order to Sequoia Equipment Co., Inc., Fresno, California for the Purchase of One (1) Tier 4 Title 23 Backhoe Purchase.

    5. Resolution Approving Amendment No. 1 to the Contract Agreement Between the City of Livingston and HDL Coren & Cone to Continue Providing Support Services in Property Tax Areas and Authorizing the City Manager to Execute a Three Year Service Contract Extension.

    6. Waive the Second Reading and Adopt Ordinance No. 610 of the City Council of the City of Livingston, Amending Livingston Municipal Code Sections 1-18-11 (A), 4-6-3, 4-2-8-2 (A)(3), 4-2-8-2(A)(4), 8-2-1, and Zoning Ordinance Sections 5-3-16 (Table 7), 5-5-8 (E)(Table 12), and 5-4-7 (C).

    7. Approval of Minutes of Meeting Held on February 4, 2014.

    8. Approval of Warrant Register Dated February 13, 2014.


    “CONSENT CALENDAR – SUCCESSOR AGENCY”


    9. Resolution of the Successor Agency to the Redevelopment Agency of the City of Livingston Approving the Recognized Obligation Payment Schedule (ROPS 14-15A) Pursuant to Health and Safety Code Section 34177 for Period July Through December 31, 2014.


    DISCUSSION AND POTENTIAL ACTION ITEMS


    10. Resolution Approving an Agreement with Shannon Pump for Sampling and Repairs to Well 16, Making Findings Supporting that Award of Such Agreement is Exempt from Competitive Bidding Requirements and Authorizing the City Manager to Execute the Agreement.

    ADJOURNMENT

    Cockroaches, Arsenic, and TCP; A Requiem for the Court Theater and a Planning Commission Agenda

    LIVINGSTON, CALIFORNIA 01/13/2014

    Tainted water disrupted poultry production at Foster Farms last week, and city officials are trying to find out what caused it. Mike North, Merced Sun Star -Discolored water disrupts production at Foster Farms, February 27, 2013

    Among 403 persons for whom information is available, illness onset dates range from March 1, 2013 to December 1, 2013…. Thirteen percent of ill persons have developed blood infections as a result of their illness. Typically, approximately 5% of persons ill with Salmonella infections develop blood infections. No deaths have been reported. Center for Disease Control – http://www.cdc.gov/salmonella/heidelberg-10-13/

    If the city loses one of its existing wells, Samra said, it would have to implement severe conservation efforts, such as restricting residents from watering their lawns or asking Foster Farms to alter its production, Ramona Giwargis, Merced Sun Star Livingston gets water project grant amid struggle to pass balanced budget – September 16, 2013

    As of December 18, 2013, a total of 416 individuals infected with the outbreak strains of Salmonella Heidelberg have been reported from 23 states and Puerto Rico…. Center for Disease Control http://www.cdc.gov/salmonella/heidelberg-10-13

    “USDA has said they did not have the authority to shut down Foster Farms, despite repeated outbreaks,”…“We are exploring options to ensure they have clear authority to do so, instead of hoping they find filth before they can shut down a plant they already know is a problem,”…“Change must be made to protect Americans.” Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro – former chairman, and current ranking member, of the U.S. House subcommittee responsible for funding the federal Agriculture Department, DeLauro reacts to closing of chicken plant due to roachesShelton Herald – January 10, 2014 (ht Mike McMguire)

    FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) — Foster Farms released a statement Sunday saying it has voluntarily put operations on hold at its Livingston facility. …The company says it is taking extra time to expand safe manufacturing procedures and monitoring systems. The move comes after U.S. Department of Agriculture suspended operations on Wednesday because of a cockroach infestationABC 30– Breaking News, January 12, 2014 (ht Belinda Silva)

    In my Last Post, I talked about the sometimes turbulent, sometimes antagonistic Symbiotic Relationship between The City of Livingston and the City’s largest employer: Foster Farms and how most of the turbulence and antagonism centers around Livingston’s Water, Water Quality, and Foster Farm’s use of that water. We’ll talk a little more about how recent events may continue to impact both Foster Farms and the City of Livingston. But First…

    ~~~~~~~~~~

    Preparing to take down the MarqueeTHE DEMOLITION OF THE COURT THEATER has been rescheduled to begin January 14, 2013. As reported in the Merced Sun Star, demolition was originally to have begun a weak earlier, but was postponed while the demolition company waits for some required equipment.

    The Staff Report for the Demolition Contract tells the Court Theater Story this way…

    The "Court" Theater was designed in August 1945 and built soon thereafter by the Court Family to replace a 200-seat theater that had burned to the ground…. It was used extensively over the subsequent years and used primarily for movie viewing. The theater is reported to have closed in 1977 and has remained vacant since then.

    The property was purchased by David and Judith Theodore in November 1987.

    On February 5, 2002, the Livingston City Council approved a motion to buy the theater for $115,000.

    In April 2002, the City purchased the property from the Theodore family in hopes of restoring it to its former glory.

    On January 15, 2002, the City Council established the Livingston Court Theater Committee and appointed Committee members on February 5, 2002.

    In 2004, the building was evaluated by a structural engineer (Pelton Engineering) which determined, at that time, that the building structure was in general good condition, but the interior needed "proper rehabilitation."

    The planned renovation efforts involved six phases: 1) roof repair, 2) clean up, 3) interior demolition, 4) refurbishment, 5) new construction and expansion of north side 6) new construction and expansion of south side. The architects estimated costs totaled $2,350,000.00.

    In 2004, the City applied for four grant applications (CDBG Planning and Technical Assistance Grant, California Cultural and Historical Endowment, and Roberti-Z’Berg­ Harris Nonurbanized Open Space and Recreation Grant Program) to assist the City with design and renovation costs associated with the Court Theater Renovation Project.

    In July 2005, the City was awarded a Community Development Block Grant in the amount of $500,000.00 from the State of California Housing and Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) General/Native American Allocation Program.

    The Marquee is downI’m going to interrupt the Staff Report at this point to add a few more details. ….In Fiscal Year 2008, the City used its Community Development Block Grant (CDBG)  to complete the architectural drawings for the Court Theater renovation. It also applied for another $1 million Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) and a low-interest loan from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to help provide funds for the Court Theater Restoration Project. Total cost of the Court Theater restoration was estimated at that time to be $7,652,672. (2008-2009 Budget p. 344)

    By February, 2010, the Court Theater Project had become caught up in the turbulent politics of “Run Up to the Recall About Water Rates”: with the accusation being that $1 million dollars had been cut from the Police and Fire Department Budget in order to finance the Project.

    By May of 2011, the Court Theater Committee did not feel that they had the Council’s support for the project when they went out to do fundraisers and they  just wanted to know if this project was something the Council wished to continue and asked for an official Resolution of Support. During the City Council discussions, the Committee was taken to task by Mayor Pro-Temp Margarita Aguilar for the “perks” the Committee was receiving: Thing like, being referenced on the City’s Web Page. Having Published Agendas and meetings in the City conference Chamber. Things of that sort.

    In contrast, Council Member Samra stated the intent of this resolution was to give moral support. He went on to state the Council needed to make a decision on what to do with the project and not place the blame on the committee and suggested that if the Council’s desire was to eliminate the project, then they should deny the resolution and bring back the project for a decision on what to do with the building.

    A Motion to Deny Approval of the Resolution of Support was made by Council Members Land and Aguilar: and failed by a 2-3 vote. A Motion to Approve the Resolution of Support was made by Council Members Samra and Vierra: and passed 3-2.

    By December 2011 there were discussions about changing the scope of the project, because finding sources of funding was becoming increasingly difficult.

    On January 17, 2012, the City Council unanimously adopted a Resolution Accepting Submittal of a Proposition 84 Grant Application to Construct the New Court Theater, Office Buildings and Downtown Parking Structure; Prepare a Downtown Master Plan and Form-Based Zoning Code; and Provide Passive Recreation Activities at the Merced River. 

    I also remember the City hiring a Professional crews to clean up the Pigeon droppings and cover the roof with a tarp in an effort to stave off more damage. (I don’t remember exactly when. I just remember seeing the workers dressed up in white Hazmat type suits)

    Returning to the Staff Report, we find

    The City spent some of this money on permits and design work but was unable to start the work.

    The State has since asked for reimbursement of grant proceeds. The City entered into a repayment plan to pay back $147,000 per year for three consecutive years.

    The Livingston Court Theater is in a state of disrepair and is no longer structurally sound. The building appears to be in imminent threat of falling and is considered unsafe. The building now serves as a nesting area for pigeons and has now accumulated a significant amount of pigeon waste.

    In the City’s efforts to look ahead and examine downtown revitalization efforts, it is considering various options to restoring a vibrant downtown. One option is deconstruct the theater to make room for other possible options, including a new theater project that preserves the integrity of the old architecture design and integrates new technologies available for a theater and auditorium use.

    Will they be able to save the ticket boothFrom what I understand, the City planned to save the marquee, ticket booth, and Court Sign. I went out the day the marquee came down and was informed that because of corrosion and other structural issues with the sign, City workers would be unable to take the sign down. …It is still hoped that the sign can still be saved….

    American FlagTHE LIVINGSTON-DELHI VFW AND LADIES AUXILIARY are very proud to announce that their entry into the Patriot’s Pen Essay Contest not only won first place at the District level but has gone on to win first at the State Level.  ….Lenna Foster is a sixth grade student at St. Anthony’s school in Atwater California.  We are very proud of Lenna and look forward to seeing her in Sacramento at the Voice of Democracy Banquet on Friday, January 18th. 

    We wish to thank the three teachers for encouraging their students to enter the contest and for their promotion of patriotism in their students. 

    Our thanks also go to the parents of the students for all of the encouragement they gave to all of those who entered the contest.  Each of the students are winners in our opinion.  The judging was very difficult with so many excellent essays to read.

    HamburgerVFW FAMILY HAMBURGER NIGHT….. Join us for the VFW Hamburger Night, Thursday, January 30, 2014, from 5-7 pm at the Livingston Veterans Memorial Building, 1605 7th Street, in Livingston. The public is invited, and you do not have to be a member to attend.

    You will be able to enjoy hamburgers, cheeseburgers, fish sandwiches, chicken sandwiches, hot dogs and chili. The sandwiches include your choice of homemade salads. Price ranges from $2.00 to $4.50 per meal. All proceeds go to help support our community programs.

    If you need more information on any of our events, contact Denis Wells at (209) 394-2059 or visit our website at www.vfwlivingston.com.

    “CAN FOSTER FARMS OVERCOME COCKROACH CONTROVERSY?” Was a question posed in the Modesto Bee recently.

    You might have already read about the Livingston Plant being shut down for a couple of days while Management devised a plan to rid of the little pests.

    You might already know about the Outbreaks of Salmonella that the Centers for Disease Control have attributed to Foster Farms.

    You may have heard about how this series of events has attracted the attention and ire of  “Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro – former chairman, and current ranking member, of the U.S. House subcommittee responsible for funding the federal Agriculture Department.” 

    And you may have already heard the news that Foster Farms “voluntarily” “shut down its largest poultry plant in Central California on Sunday, two days after federal inspectors lifted a suspension for cockroach infestation.The company (saying) fresh chicken production at the Livingston facility was put on hold for several days to expand safety procedures.” (ht Mike McGuire)

    Foster Farms’ Salmonella and Cockroach Problems are big ones to be sure: problems that have made national headlines and have surely damaged Foster Farms “bottom line”.  But in my view, foster Farms has an ever bigger problem to deal with, if it is going to survive and thrive in Livingston.

    And that problem has to do with Livingston’s Water

    Because without enough Water that meets Drinking Water Standards, Foster Farms cannot process chickens, and Clean/Sanitize the processing plant.

    The Foster Farms Plant in Livingston uses 65%-to 66% of the water produced by The City of Livingston’s wells.

    Anyone who has been following Livingston’s Water Quality Issues over the last few years KNOWS there are problems with the Groundwater and Water Delivery System which must be addressed or companies like Foster Farms, or that brand new Motel 6 and Restaurant that’s supposed to be coming, are going to end up NOT HAVING ENOUGH OF THE WATER they want/need to operate at peak efficiency.

    I only conclude that if Foster Farms cannot get enough water that meets State/Federal Drinking Water Standards than Foster Farms Production and Sanitization Procedures will suffer.

    As will the residents of the City of Livingston

    But, the Livingston just does not have enough money to fix all the known problems with the Water Delivery System by itself.

    And a part of that reason is, since the last time Water Rates were raised in 1995,  City Councils Past did not raise them again Incrementally-Over-the-Years so the City could properly address issues with the Water System as they came up. (Either because they could not understand the issues, or for Political Reasons did not want to understand. IMHO)

    So when Water Rates WERE finally raised in 2009, the amount was such a shock to residents that some of them mounted a Recall Effort. They believed that Water Rates shouldn’t be raised “that much”:  because there were No-Real-Problems-To-Fix, therefore, there was no real need for those increases.

    ((By the way, the Recall Proponents also said the Rates were raised “the wrong way”: by a 3/2 vote of the council instead of at least a 4/1 Supermajority.))

    And some residents sued because they believed that Water Rates shouldn’t be raised that much because there were No-Real-Problems-To-Fix. Therefore there was no real need for those increases.

    ((By the way, the residents who sued said Rates were raised the wrong way: by a 3/2 vote of the council instead of at least a 4/1 Supermajority.))

    And Foster Farms also sued because they said "The increased rates cannot be justified because they are intended to pay for unrelated city activities to generate unlawful surpluses, not to provide water service to the city’s residents." And “the company will be negatively impacted by the city’s July 7 resolution”

    ((By the way, Foster Farms said the Rates were raised the wrong way: by a 3/2 vote of the council instead of at least a 4/1 Supermajority.))

    And after that, Foster Farms Sued AGAIN alleging (among other things) “… that to fill deficits (in the Water Enterprise Fund, the City Manager), commingled restricted funds meant for specific uses, such as water services, and failed to inform citizens of this fact, in violation of state law”

    (Translation: “you weren’t collecting enough in rates – so you took money from other funds to cover the deficit in the Water Enterprise Fund”)

    And yes..a whole bunch of money got spent in litigation

    (A little side note here. When the City of Atwater raised it’s Water Rates a few months back: it did so by a 3/2 vote of the City Council. Go figure…)

    After the Recall Effort was successful in 2010, those “illegal”, “unwarranted”, and “unnecessary” Water Rates were rolled back to 1995 levels.

    So…what came next…after that long period of time in which There-Were-No-Real-Problems-To-Fix?

    For one thing, control of the whole “raising water rates” process ended up firmly in the hands of Recall Proponents: some of whom now sit on Livingston’s Utility Rates Stakeholders Committee, the Planning Commission and City Council.

    And…. since then, Foster Farms has had to shut down at least one shift because of Water Quality Problems. 

    And the California Department of Health has given Livingston a long list of stuff it says needs fixing. 

    (Translation: You have several problems and potential problems you need to address)

    And after THAT, The California Department of Health gave Livingston a COMPLIANCE ORDER for failing the Maximum Contaminant Level for ARSENIC! 

    (Translation: You have too much Arsenic in your water. That is a problem you must address)

    The Kenedy Jenks Report, commissioned by the City Council, was released. It states in part, “The combination of challenges leaves the City exposed to water rationing if existing demands repeat the 2010 and 2011 water use levels. Loss of Wells 12 and 14 would be catastrophic and without Well 16 operating the City would be unable to meet existing water commitments without implementation of water conservation measures”. “City of Livingston Feasibility Analysis for a Sustainable Water Treatment Strategy”, Executive Summary, Page V, Kennedy Jenks Consultants, July 12, 2013

    (Translation: There are Problems with the Water and Water Delivery System that must be addressed)

    Livingston’s Utility Rates Stakeholders Committee, which has the task of advising the City Council about Things-That-Affect-Water-Rates has been informed that “there is no available water for future growth, and that Livingston is “out of compliance for (water) capacity”. 08-19-2013 Utility Rate Stakeholders Committee Meeting , 12-02-2013 Utility Rate Stakeholders Committee Meeting 

    (Translation: There are BIG Problems with the Water and Water Delivery System that must be addressed)

    But now… unless the City can now pull off some kind of miracle, pay off the deficit in the Water Enterprise Fund, and get a whole lot of Grant and Low Interest Loan Money from the State/Feds, there will not be enough money to fix all the Arsenic, Manganese, and TCP-1,2,3 problems the City must address.

    And if Foster Farms would have been “negatively impacted” by “Higher Water Rates”, just how “negatively impacted” will they be when the water they pull from Livingston’s Water System NO LONGER MEETS STATE/FEDERAL DRINKING WATER STANDARDS?

    And THAT news goes National.

    Then what?

    Especially given Ritchie King, a VP at Foster Farms, is a “voting member” of Livingston’s Utility Rates Stakeholders Committee. (Signed copy of actual Resolution available upon request)

    And Now On To The

    LIVINGSTON PLANNING COMMISSION REGULAR MEETING AGENDA TUESDAY, JANUARY 14, 2014 7:00 P.M.

    CITY COUNCIL CHAMBERS, 1416 C STREET, LIVINGSTON

    Members of the public are advised that all pagers, cellular telephones and any other communication devices be put on vibrate mode or turned off during the Planning Commission meeting.

    Call to Order: 7:00 PM

    Roll Call – Chairperson/Commissioners Pledge of Allegiance

    Item No. 1- Consent Agenda

    All matters listed under the Consent Agenda are considered routine by the Planning Commission and will be adopted by one action of the Commission unless any member of the Commission wishes to remove an item for separate consideration.

    a. Action Meeting Minutes from the December 10, 20 13, Planning Commission Regular Meeting.

    Item No. 2 – Public Comment

    a. Members of the Audience – At this time, any person may comment on any item that is NOT on the Agenda. PLEASE STATE YOUR NAME AND ADDRESS FOR THE RECORD. While the Planning Commission encourages participation from the audience, no more than five (5) minutes are allowed per discussion item. Topics not considered urgency matters may be referred to City Staff and/or placed on the next agenda for consideration and/or action by the Planning Commission.

    Item No. 3 – Public Heariugs

    a. Site Plan/Design Review 2013-04. Motel 6 has applied for a Site Plan/Design Review application to develop a 27,852 sq. ft. 75-room, 3-story motel and pad for a proposed future restaurant on a 2.43 acre parcel located at 100 N. Del Rio Avenue and 110 N. Del Rio Avenue, Livingston, generally located on the north side of Joseph Gallo Drive, west of Winton Parkway on property zoned Highway Service Commercial (C-3), APN 022-010-016.

    b. Zoning Ordinance Text Amendment 2014-0 l , Various clarifications and corrections to the Livingston Municipal Code, Title 5, Zoning Regulations. Review and approve clarifications to various references in the Livingston Zoning Regulations.

    Item No. 4 – Reports

    a. Planning Commission

    b. City Staff

    Item No. 5 -Adjournment to regular meeting on February 11, 2014.

    In compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, if you need special assistance to participate in this meeting, please contact the Community Development Department at (209) 394-8041,

    Ext. 112. Notification 48 hours prior to the meeting will enable the City to make reasonable arrangements to assure accessibility to this meeting.

    Members of the public who have questions regarding any agenda item may comment on that item before and during consideration of that item when called upon by the Planning Commission Chairperson.

    All actions of the Livingston Planning Commission can be appealed to the Livingston City Council by filing an appeal, in writing and paying the appropriate fees, with the City Clerk.