So You Think You Can Govern in 2012 (and a City Council Agenda)

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).

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.

Well, Elections (and a Recall) have come and gone. Out with some old. In with some new and then some.

And like before, there are now people on the council who clearly don’t bother to read the material in their Agenda Packets, don’t really seem to know the difference between a “Commission” and a “Department”; are increasingly openly hostile towards City Staff, question the competence and intelligence of the City’s Part Time Work Force; don’t know what an Auditor is for; don’t understand the significance of the long term effect of what they are voting on; and/or are just “there” for God only know what reason.

So here we are, only a few weeks away from another General Election and again there are Candidates for Office who have hardly ever shown up for City Council meetings or Planning Commission meetings.

And 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 we are working on, what, the THIRD (?) Water, Garbage, and Sewer Rate Study since 2007: with the 4th Consultant in a row (Bergman, Raftelis, Bartle Wells, and now HEC)

AND, once again, it looks like we won’t be tackling the Next round of Proposition 218 hearings until well after the General Election.

AND, AND, AND, from the Preliminary Numbers I have seen so far, I think some people will be unpleasantly surprised as just how high those Rate Study Numbers will be. (Damn! I hope I’m wrong on this one!)


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 brief, 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 .

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.

And now on to the


OCTOBER 16, 2012



Notice is hereby given that the City Council will hold a Regular Meeting on October 16, 2012, 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 5:30 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.


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 Hall Conference Room 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(b)(2)]

Number of Cases: 4

4. Conference with Labor Negotiator

(Government Code Section 54957.6)

Agency Negotiator: City Manager Jose Antonio Ramirez

Employee Organizations: All Represented City Employees

Regular Meeting

CALL TO ORDER Next Resolution Number: 2012-67

Next Ordinance Number: 600

Pledge of Allegiance.

Roll Call.

Closed Session Announcements.

Changes to the Agenda.

{Note from TheGardeningSnail: as of the date of this posting, I have not had enough time to break the Agenda Packet into individual pages like I usually do. What I have done is not which pages of the Agenda Packet apply to the Agenda Items Below. You can see a copy of the Agenda Packet by CLICKING HERE. }


1. Presentation: Turlock Scavengers – Solid Waste Services.

2. Presentation: Mid Valley Disposal – Solid Waste Services.

3. Presentation: Regional Transportation Plan and Sustainable Communities Strategy Introduction, Matt Fell, Transportation Manager, Merced County Association of Governments.



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.

CITY COUNCIL FUTURE AGENDA ITEM REQUESTS. {Note from TheGardeningSnail: Here’s a new Item for You. Just in time for the November Elections.}



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.


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. {Pages 4-8} Resolution for the Acceptance of the Cal Fire Station #96 Vertical Air Flow ExhaustRemoval System Project, Authorizing the City Clerk to File a Notice of Completion with the Merced County Recorder’s Office and Authorizing the City Manager to Release Performance and Materials Bonds and Make Final Payment of Retention Monies to Tri-Phase Electric, Inc.

5. {Pages 9-27} Authorize the City Manager to Execute a Professional Services Agreement with the Local Government Commission. {Note from TheGardeningSnail: looks like we are hiring another consultant with this: a “community planning” consultant. Interesting.}

6. {Pages 28-282} Resolution Adopting the 2011 City of Livingston Emergency Operation Plan.


7. {Pages 283-287} Resolution Authorizing the Purchase of a Security Surveillance Camera System that Implements High-End Video Analytics and a License Plate Recognition System.

8. {Pages 288-370} 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 and Authorizing the City Manager to Execute the Agreement. {Note from TheGardeningSnail: the cost of these filters don’t come cheap. But without them, the City cannot use Well #16 (Kishi). Right?}



Author: thegardeningsnail

Local Politics fanatic. Often spending hours researching the historical background to current issues; reading through City Council and Planning Commission Agenda Packets. Some people can spend hours playing online video games. I can spend hours looking up old newspaper articles online..... One of my favorites quotes is from the "Dune Saga"..."Belief can be manipulated. Knowledge is dangerous"

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