NOVEMBER 17, 2006

MEETING MINUTES

SPECIAL MEETING

LIVINGSTON CITY COUNCIL

NOVEMBER 17, 2006

A Special Meeting of the Livingston City Council was held in the City Council Chambers on November 17, 2006. Mayor Friesen opened the meeting at 6:10 p.m.

CLOSED SESSION

ROLL CALL

Mayor Brandon Friesen

Mayor Pro-Tem Frank Vierra

Council Member William Ingram

Council Member Rodrigo Espinoza

Council Member Roy Soria

Also present were Richard Warne, City Manager, and Tom Hallinan, City Attorney.

The Council/staff went into Closed Session at 6:12 p.m. to discuss the following matters:

1. Public Employee Performance Evaluation—Government Code Section 54957.

Title: City Manager Evaluation.

2. Conference with Negotiator—Government Code Section 54957.6.

Agency Negotiator: City Council.

Unrepresented Employee: City Manager.

The Closed Session ended at 7:37 p.m.

OPEN SESSION

The Council/staff came out of Closed Session and into Open Session at 7:38 p.m.

REGULAR MEETING

CALL TO ORDER

Mayor Friesen called the meeting to order at 7:40 p.m.

PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE.

The pledge of allegiance to the flag was recited.

ROLL CALL.

Mayor Brandon Friesen

Mayor Pro-Tem Frank Vierra

Council Member William Ingram

Council Member Rodrigo Espinoza

Council Member Roy Soria

Also present were Richard Warne, City Manager, and Tom Hallinan, City Attorney and twenty plus citizens including Mayor-elect, Gurpal Samra, and Scott Jason, representing the Merced Sun-Star.

CLOSED SESSION ANNOUNCEMENTS

City Council action was announced during Discussion and Potential Action Items.

CITIZEN COMMENTS

There were no citizen comments.

DISCUSSION AND POTENTIAL ACTION ITEMS

Potential City Manager Contract Amendments.

Mayor Friesen said that the City Council gave Richard Warne a positive evaluation and has negotiated amendments to his contract that include:

1. The number of votes of the City Council needed to discharge the City Manager

changed from three Council Members to four Council Members.

2. There would be a cooling off period after an election for nine months during which the City Manager could not be terminated.

3. In the event of termination, the City Council would give the City Manager 90 days notice.

4. Severance pay would increase from six months to twelve months.

Mayor Friesen stated the contract amendments were necessary to assure stability in City government and a smooth transition after the election.

Mayor Friesen commented “the City has employed eight City Managers in the last six years and when we get a good City Manager as we have now we have to keep him.” He added “we have done a lot of work to change City Hall and we want to ensure that there is stability and continuity in City government.”

Gilbert Reyes, 1325 Emerald Drive, asked why the City Council wanted to get rid of the City Manager?

Mayor Friesen explained that the City Council was not going to fire the City Manager.

Council Member Ingram commented that Mr. Warne has done an excellent job as the City Manager and he had given Mr. Warne his word that he would not vote to get rid of him. He did not like the fact that this matter was brought to the Council now and questioned why wasn’t it brought to the Council six months ago?

Kaye Greeley, 1571 Monte Cristo Court, supported the contract amendments. She said she was very proud of what the City Manager has done thus far in the short time he has been here.

She said getting rid of the City Manager would be bad publicity for Livingston and we can’t be another Dos Palos. Referring to Council Member Ingram’s comment about the timing, she questioned why the Council didn’t bring this matter up six months ago?

Martha Nateras, 780 Dwight Way, made it clear that she was pulling away from her position as City Clerk and speaking as a resident. She commented that she agreed with Ms. Greeley and definitely does not want Livingston to become another Dos Palos.

Ms. Nateras added that it is embarrassing for Livingston to be plastered in the newspaper. She said she has been present through City Council meetings and sees how divided the Council is and feels disappointed they behave in this way. The people in the community, she noted, voted for them and felt they could trust them to make decisions for the betterment of the community.

Ms. Nateras further commented that we have a good City Manager who has done a lot in the short time that he has been here and he seems to truly care about our community.

Gilbert Reyes said it was embarrassing that the City Council could not agree on the contract changes and said it is obvious this is happening because Gurpal Samra has been saying that if he is elected Mayor, he would clean house.

Peggy Gibson, an employee of County Bank, spoke in favor of the contract changes. She said that she had been threatened while voting and that she would not allow anyone to harass her the next time she voted.

Mayor Pro-Tem Vierra commented that he was told by a citizen who came to his work, that two City employees indicated the new Council was going to clean house.

Chris Rivera, 1137 Emerald Drive, expressed disappointment with the situation taking place. He said the City Manager has done a good job and obviously has the experience, so why not protect him?

Council Member Soria stated that this Council hired this City Manager and this Council should evaluate the City Manager and that is what we are doing here tonight.

Council Member Vierra commented that he received a call from the City Attorney stating that a certain Council Member had made a threat against him if the Council went through with the meeting tonight. He added that we have had eight people sitting in the City Manager’s seat since the year 2000.

After further discussion on the contract amendments, it was moved by Councilmember Soria, seconded by Mayor Pro-Tem Vierra to approve the amendments to the City Manager’s contract:

1. The number of votes of the City Council needed to discharge the City Manager changed from three Council Members to four Council Members.

2. There would be a cooling off period after an election for nine months during which the City Manager could not be terminated.

3. In the event of termination, the City Council would give the City Manager 90 days notice.

4. Severance pay would increase from six months to twelve months.

The motion carried 3-2 by the following vote:

AYES: Council Members: Vierra, Soria, Friesen

NOES: Council Members: Espinoza, Ingram

ADJOURNMENT

The meeting was adjourned by consensus at 8:02 p.m.

_____________________________

City Clerk of the City of Livingston

APPROVED: December 5, 2006

_________________________

Mayor or Mayor ProTempore

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