FEBRUARY 2, 2010 Minutes

Note: Except for pumping up the font, some Bolding here and there, and maybe breaking up a few paragraphs to make it easier to read (and a couple font glitches), this is pretty much the same as you would have found on the City Website.

 

CLOSED SESSION/REGULAR MEETING

LIVINGSTON CITY COUNCIL

FEBRUARY 2, 2010

A Closed Session/Regular Meeting of the Livingston City Council was held on February 2, 2010, in the City Council Chambers with Mayor Varela presiding.

CLOSED SESSION

Mayor Varela opened the meeting.

ROLL CALL

Mayor Daniel Varela, Sr.

Mayor Pro-Tem Frank Vierra

Council Member Rodrigo Espinoza

Council Member Margarita Aguilar

Council Member Martha Nateras

Also in attendance were City Manager Richard Warne, Assistant City Manager/Finance Director Vickie Lewis, and City Attorney Jonathan Hobbs.

The City Council went into Closed Session to discuss the following matters:

1. Conference with Legal Counsel—Existing Litigation.

Government Code Section 54956.9(a).

a. Merced County Farm Bureau v. City of Livingston, et al., California Superior Court, County of Merced, Case No. CU151754 [consolidated with Valley Advocates v. City of Livingston, et al, Superior Court, County of Merced, Case No. CU151757].

b. Fernando Davalos et al, v. City of Livingston, et al, California Superior Court, County of Merced, Case No. CV000669.

c. Paul Creighton v. City of Livingston, et al, United States District Court, Eastern District of California, Case No. 1:08-CV-01507-OWWSMS. Page 2 of 20

d. Foster Poultry Farms, Inc. v. City of Livingston, et al, California Superior Court, County of Merced, Case No. CV000752.

e. Foster Poultry Farms, Inc. v. City of Livingston, et al, California Superior Court, County of Merced, Case No. CV000292.

OPEN SESSION

The City Council came out of Closed Session and into Open Session.

REGULAR MEETING

CALL TO ORDER

Mayor Varela called the meeting to order at 7:07 p.m.

PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE

The pledge of allegiance to the flag was recited.

ROLL CALL

Mayor Daniel Varela, Sr.

Mayor Pro-Tem Frank Vierra

Council Member Rodrigo Espinoza

Council Member Margarita Aguilar

Council Member Martha Nateras

CLOSED SESSION ANNOUNCEMENTS

Mayor Varela announced that there were no announcements from the Closed Session.

CHANGES TO THE AGENDA

City Manager Warne requested that one item be added to the City Council Agenda. He stated that the State of California requested the City Council adopt a Resolution Authorizing the City of Livingston to Accept Award Money from the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant Funds (EECBG). This requirement came to the City’s attention after the agenda was published. The grant will provide $77,464 to replace the existing motors on Water Well Numbers 8, 9, 11, 12, and 13. These new motors will save energy and reduce electrical costs in the Water Enterprise Operating Fund. He suggested adding the resolution to the City Council agenda under Item #15. City Manager Warne said that it would take a 2/3 vote of the City Council to add this item to the agenda.

City Attorney Hobbs stated that City Manager Warne was correct and that the City Council could act by a 2/3 vote. Page 3 of 20

Motion: M/S Espinoza/Vierra to add to the City Council agenda a Resolution No. 2010-7, Resolution Authorizing the City of Livingston to Accept Award Money from the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant Funds (EECBG). The motion carried 5-0 by the following vote:

AYES: Council Members: Aguilar, Espinoza, Nateras, Varela, Vierra

NOES: Council Members: None

ABSENT: Council Members: None

 

AWARDS, PRESENTATIONS, APPOINTMENTS AND PROCLAMATIONS

1. Presentation of Proclamation Designating February 2, 2010, as “Rotary Day.”

Mayor Varela presented the proclamation to Community Development Director Donna Kenney, who is also president of the Livingston Rotary Club. Mayor Varela said that the Livingston Rotary Club has had a positive impact on the community and this proclamation recognizes their efforts and sacrifice for the community. Mayor Varela read the proclamation designating February 2, 2010, as “Rotary Day.”

2. Presentation of Recognition Plaque to Ralph Meraz.

Mayor Varela presented a City Recognition Award plaque to Mr. Ralph Meraz. He stated that Ralph Meraz has had a positive impact on the community and he wished to thank him for his many years of service to the City of Livingston.

An unknown resident came to the podium and said that he has known Ralph Meraz since 1966, when he left the U.S. Army and started working for Foster Farms. He started at the bottom at Foster Farms and worked his way up to the top of the organization. He was the personnel manager for Foster Farms for many years. Ralph Meraz always had an open door policy and he was always willing to help other people regardless of where they came from and who they were. He said that he hoped that Ralph Meraz will enjoy his retirement.

Council Member Nateras said that she would like to thank Ralph Meraz for his many years of service. She said that Mr. Meraz was an inspiration to her and helped her when she worked at Foster Farms. When she started working at Livingston High School, she brought Mr. Meraz in to be an advisor to the Livingston High School Partnership Academy. Council Member Nateras thanked Ralph Meraz for his help over the years. She will miss him.

3. Presentation of Heroism Recognition Award to Police Officer Zeus Baldevia.

Lieutenant Chris Soria presented the City of Livingston Heroism Recognition Award. He said that the City Council and the people of Livingston were honoring Officer Zeus Baldevia this evening for a recent act of heroism. On January 24, 2010, Officer Baldevia received a call that a house was on fire. When he arrived at the scene, he found the house fully engulfed in flames. He was told that the house still had a woman inside. Without regard for his personal safety, Officer Baldevia rushed into the house (put his own life in danger) and found the woman on fire. He then pulled her out of the house and put out the (Page 4 of 20) fire with his bare hands, sustaining injuries to himself. It is an honor to have officers like him work for the City of Livingston. Lieutenant Chris Soria presented Officer Zeus Baldevia with the City of Livingston Heroism Award.

4. Presentation of Future Farmers of America.

Mayor Varela introduced and welcomed the students of the Future Farmers of America (FFA). They are doing great things and are always in the paper. The Future Farmers of America (FFA) students introduced themselves and gave a brief overview of their duties in the Future Farmers of America (FFA) Club. They said that this organization teaches students about agriculture and leadership skills. During the last week in February, the City of Livingston will be celebrating Future Farmers of America (FFA) week.

Mayor Varela stated he could not speak enough about the good these students do in the community. They are a tremendous asset to the school and the community. Whenever you see these students with their blue Future Farmers of America (FFA) jackets, please say, “hello” and cheer them on because they really make a difference in our community. Thank you.

Council Member Nateras introduced Melody McCabe, the Future Farmers of America (FFA) advisor at Livingston High School. Melody McCabe expressed appreciation to the City Council for inviting these students to this City Council meeting. She said that Future Farmers of America (FFA) tries to give students the skills they need to succeed in life. These kids are a perfect example of where they can go with their future and what the Future Farmers of America (FFA) can offer them.

ANNOUNCEMENTS AND REPORTS

Supervisor John Pedrozo Announcements and Reports.

None.

City Council Members’ Announcements and Reports.

Council Member Aguilar

• Reported that the Livingston Community Network recently had its first meeting. The Livingston Community Network provides scholarships to Livingston students. The organization will be providing scholarship applications next week to the elementary schools, middle school and high school. Fifth grade students are allowed to qualify for $100 scholarships, middle school students are allowed to qualify for $200 scholarships and Livingston High School students are allowed to qualify for $500 scholarships. Last year the Livingston Community Network gave $6,200 in scholarships, including six-fifth grade scholarships, seven-middle school scholarships and seven-high school scholarships. Page 5 of 20

• Reported attending her son’s graduation from the Cal Fire Academy at Castle Air Force Base. Her son, Adolfo, was one of the 46 students that graduated last Sunday from the academy.

Council Member Espinoza

• Noted that this is the first live televised meeting of the City Council. He thought televising the meeting would make the citizens more aware of what was taking place in their community.

• Stated that he has not received a copy of the draft development agreement for Wal-Mart that he requested in December.

• Reported that a citizen approached him to complain about the Animal Control Officer. He said she is doing a good job, but there are still too many dogs in the community. The citizen that talked to him said that the resident was instructed to catch the dog and the animal control officer would come to pick it up. He thought that this was bad advice. He wanted a report from Lieutenant Soria regarding the activities of the Animal Control Officer. Council Member Espinoza stated that he sees a lot of animals in the City as he drives around.

• Stated that the City Planning Commission has three vacancies. The initial application period ended on January 15. Three people applied by January 15. He later heard that Mayor Varela had extended the application deadline, but thought that this item should have come back to the City Council for discussion. Council Member Espinoza stated that these three people should be entitled to the position. He did not think that Mayor Varela should have extended the deadline.

Motion: M/S Espinoza/Aguilar to place an item on the next City Council meeting agenda to appoint the first three applicants to the Planning Commission.

Mayor Varela stated that when it was brought to his attention that very few people had applied to be on the Planning Commission, he asked the City Manager to extend the application period for another month. He was hoping that more people would apply. Mayor Varela said sometimes you make a decision, and you are damned if you do and damned if you don’t. If we had not extended the deadline, we would have been criticized.

Mike Torres, 1616 Eighth Street, stood up and wanted to raise a point of order. City Attorney said that there was a motion on the floor and the City Council can discuss it and vote on it if they like.

Council Member Espinoza stated that there should have been no extension. It is not fair to the people who submitted their application by the deadline. City Attorney Hobbs said that the City Council should act on the motion on the floor.

The motion failed 3-2 by the following vote: (Page 6 of 20)

AYES: Council Members: Aguilar, Espinoza,

NOES: Council Members: Nateras, Varela, Vierra.

ABSENT: None.

 

Council Member Nateras

• Reported she attended the annual Police Department awards dinner on January 15. She thanked Lieutenant Chris Soria and Lieutenant Sharon Silva for a very well organized evening. This is an annual event where the officer of the year and non sworn professional staff person of the year is honored. She asked Lieutenant Soria and Lieutenant Sharon Silva to congratulate these individuals on her behalf.

• Stated she is organizing Livingston’s first young womens’ conference to be held on March 20. She has invited a number of people to speak at the conference.  

• Reported that the Livingston Relay for Life will be on April 17 at Livingston High School. So far 19 teams have registered.  

Mayor Pro Tem Vierra

• Expressed appreciation for the invitation to attend the annual Police Department awards dinner on January 15.

• Reported a group of students from the Livingston High School Key Club recently went with the Kiwanis Club to cook dinner at the Merced Homeless Shelter. The people in the shelter were grateful for their service and the dinner they provided them. The kids had a great experience and they are still talking about it.

Council Member Espinoza

• Stated that water rates went up by another 55 percent. He asked that This item be placed on the next City Council’s agenda. He said that the City Council had stated they would review the rates after six months.

Mayor’s Announcements and Reports.

• Thanked the Police Department for the outstanding annual awards dinner on January 15. He expressed appreciation to the Police Department for all that they do for the community.

• Reported that he attended a rural community workshop with Community Development Director Kenney and Planning Commissioner Blevins last Thursday. He said it was a great educational experience. The workshop helped them to understand that we have good things in Livingston that many other communities do not have.

• Reported that he received an e-mail from Henry Escobar, superintendent of the (Page 7 of 20) Livingston Union School District, stated that he is going to retire at the end of the school year. His leadership will be greatly missed.

• Introduced Bob Kyper, pastor of the United Methodist Church and the past president of the Livingston Rotary Club. Pastor Kyper presented Amanda Zapelo, a Rotary exchange student from Brazil, to the public and the City Council. Ms. Zapelo is studying dentistry at the university in Brazil. This week she will be in Livingston. She has already visited Modesto, Sonora and Stockton. Today, she visited a dentist office in Livingston to observe dentistry in the United States. Ms. Zapelo will be visiting City Hall and the Livingston museum tomorrow.

Pastor Kyper said that Amanda Zapelo is here with another Rotary exchange student named Breazio, who is studying international relations. Rotary brings people together from across the world to promote goodwill and understanding. Rotary will also be sending students to Brazil to study how they do things in that country.

PUBLIC HEARINGS

None.

CITIZEN COMMENTS

Kendra Bogunrya, Merced, stated that she was representing the League of Women Voters. She is accompanied this evening by Shirley Hulbert, Kathy Webber, and Sally Magnussen. Ms. Bogunrya stated that the League of Women Voters just completed a two-year study of the Merced County Library System. The library study committee consisted of 19 members. She gave an overview of the study and said committee members visited each library and distributed over 600 surveys. She provided paper copies of the study to Mayor Varela and City Manager Warne and electronic copies to the other members of the City Council. The report will be presented to the Merced County Board of Supervisors and all of the City Councils in Merced County.

Kaye Greeley, 1571 Monte Cristo Drive, stated the 2010 U.S. Census forms would be mailed to Livingston residents on March 15, 2010. She encouraged people to fill out the 2010 Census forms and mail them back to the U.S. Census Bureau. There are 10 simple questions on the forms. Ms. Greeley commented that Acorn has nothing to do with the 2010 U.S. Census in Livingston.

City Manager Warne stated that 2010 U.S. Census information is available on the City website, on Channel 2 and on the handouts at the counter at City Hall.

Mayor Varela encouraged the citizens of Livingston to fill out the 2010 Census forms and mail them back.

Mildred Eddens, 1564 Montecito Drive, said she is a senior citizen and has lived in Livingston for five years. She wants something done about the stray dogs in the community. She loves to walk for exercise, but it has been difficult to get away from the stray dogs. She knows that the City Animal Control Officer responds when she is called, but she thought that (Page 8 of 20) the Animal Control Officer needed to be more proactive instead of reactive. She feels that she is at the mercy of these dogs and suggested larger fines for these irresponsible pet owners. Something needs to be done to make them take notice because they infringe upon the freedom of other people in town. Ms. Eddens said she often changes her walking route or goes home to avoid the stray dogs. It is too much for her to fight off these stray animals. She asked the City Council to do something. The dogs make a mess on other peoples’ lawns and property. We need to enforce the animal laws on the books.

City Manager Warne said stray animals are a problem in the community. It was reported at the annual Police Department Awards banquet on January 15 that Kristen Lucas, the Animal Control Officer, picked up over 400 dogs last year. He said that Ms. Eddens should let the City know if there is a particular location where stray animals congregate. He thanked her for her comments and said the City looked forward to working with her to address this problem.

Ms. Eddens said that the City needed to be proactive in patrolling for stray dogs. She stated that Prusso Street and F Street constantly have stray dogs.

Council Member Espinoza asked for a copy of the animal control ordinance so he could see the fines for stray animals.

City Manager Warne stated that the animal control ordinance is in the Livingston Municipal Code and Council Member Espinoza already has a copy of it. City Manager Warne said staff can provide additional information if requested.

Mayor Pro Tem Vierra asked if the animal control ordinance could be placed on a future agenda so that the City Council can revisit it. City Attorney Hobbs said that the City Council can review the ordinance. Changes desired by the City Council would need to be prepared by the City Attorney’s office and then it would take two meetings (a first reading and second reading of the ordinance) before the ordinance would be changed.

Mayor Pro Tem Vierra asked if the City Council wanted to review the ordinance. Council Member Espinoza said that he wanted to review the fines. 

City Attorney Hobbs said that he would have to review the ordinance and State law to determine the parameters of the City Council.

Motion: M/S Espinoza/Vierra to place the animal control ordinance on the agenda for a future City Council meeting. No vote taken, but Mayor Varela asked that the ordinance be included in a future City Council agenda.

Mercedes Millan, 1069 Olds Avenue, said the Livingston High School expansion is taking place. She stated it is not the buildings that make a school, but what takes place inside the buildings. She said we need to start from the inside if we are going to have better schools and keep the students focused on learning. It is not the buildings that are important, but how many children pass the State tests. Parents need to be involved so that change can take place inside the schools.

Mayor Pro Tem Vierra said that some people have the misunderstanding that the City Council voted to spend $2.5 million for the Livingston High School expansion. The expansion is being funded by Merced Union High School District bonds that were voted on and approved by 70 percent of the Livingston voters. Page 9 of 20

Ms. Millan stated people have told her that someone was going to help her children this year. Mayor Pro Tem Vierra said each school has a Site Council made up of parents, teachers and school administrators. He talked to Vice-Principal Bravo about the situation at Livingston High School. He was going to give Ms. Millan’s name to Mr. Bravo if he had her permission to do so. Mayor Varela said that he understood that Ms. Millan had concerns. He has approached some people in the community to see if we can do some type of outreach for some of our boys and girls that are struggling.

Ms. Millan stated that the City cannot do everything for everyone. Some parents are struggling with gangs and drugs. She said that she is trying to bring change to the schools, but no one listens to her. We need to get together as parents.

Council Member Nateras asked Ms. Millan if she had gone to a Merced Union High School District Board meeting. She replied that she had been to the Board meeting and visited with the Livingston High School Principal three times. The high school principal is not from this community and his children attend Turlock High School. Let’s get some people together to make a difference in the community.

Mayor Pro Tem Vierra said that Livingston has two School Districts, the Merced Union High School District and the Livingston Union School District. Each one has a Board of Trustees.

Ms. Millan stated that she had talked to both of them. They both told her that they could not do anything. It was up to the parents. She was told that the community was small and change was possible by working with community members.

Mario Mendoza, 1421 Brandy Court, said that Mayor Pro Tem Vierra stated that he is concerned about public safety. Yet, Mr. Mendoza has been told by some people that Mayor Pro Tem Vierra voted to cut $1 million from the Police Department and the Fire Department budgets in order to reconstruct the Court Theater. If the City is trying to save a landmark, why did it remove several buildings from the downtown to build Rite Aid? Mr. Mendoza told Mayor Varela that no one said anything at the last City Council meeting about extending the deadline for Planning Commission applications beyond January 15.

Mr. Mendoza said that his next comments were directed toward Council Member Nateras and Mayor Pro Tem Vierra. He said that both of them had previously excused themselves from discussions regarding Peach Avenue. Later it was suggested that they did not have a conflict of interest on issues relating to the school. He thought that the definition of the conflict of interest was any inconsistency between the interest of the person and the interest in their performance of their official duties as public officials.

City Attorney Hobbs said that at the last City Council meeting, he stated that Council Member Nateras and Mayor Pro Tem Vierra do not have any conflicts of interest on the

Peach Avenue issue. This is because there is an exception under State law for the salaries of government employees. Both of them could have excused themselves if they felt it was appropriate, but they are not required to under State law. There was no violation of the law by either of them in this case.

Page 10 of 20

Mr. Mendoza asked if the law was a State law or Federal law.

City Attorney Hobbs stated that it was a State law under Government Code 1090 et. seq. It is also a Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) regulation.

Julio Valdez, no address given, said that Mayor Varela said that he had an open door policy, but he had not called Mr. Valdez. Mayor Varela said that he did not have his number and asked Mr. Valdez to get one of his business cards and to call him. Mr. Valdez said that his number was on the video tape.

Mr. Valdez stated he did not think it was right that Mercedes Millan spoke more than three minutes. If you allow her to speak longer, you need to allow everybody else to speak longer.

City Attorney Hobbs said that the time of the speaker stops when the City Council asks questions or answers them. 

Teresa Land, 995 Hilltop, said she was at the November 17 meeting at the Portuguese Hall when Mayor Varela stated that he would be contacting people attending the meeting. She later saw him at the high school and gave him her phone number. Mayor Varela has not called her. She thought that he did not have an open door policy and that he was not respectful. Mayor Varela said that he would call her tomorrow at 6:00 p.m.

Anna Maria Galvan, 880 Wycliffe Drive, made a statement in Spanish. She appreciated Mayor Pro Tem Vierra’s efforts to help the family that lost their home in the fire and is glad that he is back at the City Council meetings. She also commented about the number of stray animals, abandoned vehicles and employees not working as hard as they should. Mr. Serafin Luis asked that Ms. Galvan’s comments be translated into English. Mayor Varela provided a summary of the comments by Ms. Galvan in English.

Warren Urnberg, 1331 Eighth Street, said that this is the first time that the Planning Commission application deadline has been extended. The City Council had three vacancies and three applicants. He thought that the City Council should have interviewed these applicants before extending the deadline. He thought that Mayor Varela exceeded his authority when the deadline was extended.

CONSENT CALENDAR

Mayor Pro Tem Vierra presented the Consent Calendar.

5. Resolution of the City Council of the City of Livingston Authorizing the City Manager to Enter into an Agreement with the California Department of Parks and Recreation to Receive Grant Funding from the Land and Water Conservation Program for the Livingston Sports Complex for Construction of Restrooms and a Picnic Shelter.

6. Waive Second Reading and Adopt Ordinance No. 585, an Ordinance of the City Council of the City of Livingston Amending Title 2 (Government Organization) Chapter 3 (Citizens’ Service Committee) of the Livingston Municipal Code Relating to the Organization and Duties and Responsibilities of the Citizens’ Service Committee.

Page 11 of 20

7. Resolution of the City Council of the City of Livingston Approving the Employment Agreement Between the City of Livingston and Douglas D. Dunford for Employment as Police Chief.

8. Resolution Authorizing Designated Signatures for City Bank Accounts. 

9. Approval of Minutes of Meeting Held on November 17, 2009.

10. Approval of Warrant Register Dated January 14, 2010.

11. Approval of Warrant Register Dated January 27, 2010.

Council Member Espinoza requested that Agenda Item Numbers 6, 7 and Warrant Numbers 69740 and 69750 from Item Number 11 be pull from the Consent Calendar for separate discussion.

Motion: M/S Varela/Aguilar to approve Consent Calendar items 5, 8 and 10. The motion carried 5-0 by the following vote:

AYES: Council Members: Aguilar, Espinoza, Nateras, Varela, Vierra

NOES: Council Members: None

ABSENT: Council Members: None

The City Council discussed Agenda Item Number 6.

Council Member Aguilar said that this ordinance amendment has been prepared by Council Member Nateras and City Manager Warne. The new Citizens’ Service Committee replaces the Citizens’ Advisory Committee (CAC) and will consist of 11 members along with some non-voting youth members. This committee will help with community projects such as Relay for Life and Red Ribbon activities. The ordinance states that there is no fiscal impact because City Manager Warne states that any project they undertake and any money they spend will need to be approved by the City Council. Council Member Aguilar said the committee will cost the City in the future. There are currently no members on the Parks and Recreation Commission. We need to take into consideration committees that are already in place.

Council Member Aguilar said that the Recreation Department budget was $353,345, including salaries and maintenance and operations expenditures. This is a lot of money without a committee. Who is in charge of that money? This is something we need to focus on. We budget money to pay for these committees. The Planning Commissioners are allocated $215,858 in the FY2009-2010 budget, including wages and maintenance and operations expenses. This is a lot of money and we are arguing who is going to be on the Planning Commission. The City Council needs to think about this. This is why she pulled this item from the Consent Calendar. This committee will cost the City money.

Mayor Varela opened the meeting for public comment at 8:25 p.m.

Luis Flores, 707 Almondwood, concurred with Council Member Aguilar’s comments. The Parks and Recreation Commission has been inactive for a long time. Adding another committee will be a waste of money. The City Council is extending the Planning (Page 12 of 20) Commission application deadline until they get the members that they want. He said that the Citizens’ Service Committee was a silly invention by Council Member Nateras. Community

Development Director Kenney came to the podium to correct Council Member Aguilar regarding the budget of the Planning Commission. Council Member Aguilar retracted her statement and said that the $258,000 she quoted was for the entire Planning Department and not the Planning Commission.

Mayor Varela closed this agenda item to public comment at 8:27 p.m.

Council Member Nateras said she wanted to explain why she proposed changes to the ordinance. When she was elected to the City Council, she attended two meetings of the Citizens’ Advisory Committee (CAC). All she heard from the committee members were negative comments and complaining. There was nothing positive that came out of the Citizens’ Advisory Committee (CAC) meetings. In addition, she thought that a Citizens’ Service Committee would allow the youth at the high school to be engaged in community service. This community service would provide opportunities for the youth of the community to make a positive contribution to Livingston and help them with their community service requirements for high school graduation. She wanted to know the cost of the Citizens’ Advisory Committee (CAC) and if they had a budget.

City Manager Warne stated that none of the citizen committees have a budget, including the Citizens’ Advisory Committee, Citizens’ Service Committee, Planning Commission and Parks and Recreation Commission. If any of these committees would like to do a project, they would need to have it approved by the City Council. In these cases, there would be a staff report and the fiscal impact of their proposed project that would be clearly outlined to the City Council. Therefore, there is no fiscal impact of the ordinance itself.

Council Member Nateras said that this committee will only help the community. The committee could help with the Livingston Community Network Multi-Cultural Festival, the Fall Street Fair and the July 4 Celebration. She thought that this revamped committee would be more proactive and do more positive things in the community.

Council Member Espinoza said there have been a couple of citizens that have tried to join the Citizens’ Advisory Committee (CAC). He said that Council Member Nateras was trying to add youth to the committee and exclude these individuals. The Citizens’ Advisory Committee (CAC) was very political. Council Member Espinoza said that they spent their time attacking people in the community and going after people with the Code Enforcement Officer. This is not the way to run a City.

Council Member Nateras said that no one is being excluded from the Citizens’ Service Committee.

Motion: M/S Espinoza/Aguilar NOT to Waive the Second Reading and NOT to Adopt Ordinance No. 585, an Ordinance of the City Council of the City of Livingston Amending Title 2 (Government Organization) Chapter 3 (Citizens’ Service Committee) of the Livingston Municipal Code Relating to the Organization and Duties and (Page 13 of 20) Responsibilities of the Citizens’ Service Committee. The motion failed 3-2 by the following vote:

AYES: Council Members: Aguilar, Espinoza

NOES: Council Members: Nateras, Varela, Vierra

ABSENT: Council Members: None

 

Motion: M/S Nateras/Vierra to Waive the Second Reading and Adopt Ordinance No. 585, an Ordinance of the City Council of the City of Livingston Amending Title 2 (Government Organization) Chapter 3 (Citizens’ Service Committee) of the Livingston Municipal Code Relating to the Organization and Duties and Responsibilities of the Citizens’ Service Committee. The motion passed 3-2 by the following vote:  

AYES: Council Members: Nateras, Varela, Vierra

NOES: Council Members: Aguilar, Espinoza

ABSENT: Council Members: None  

The City Council discussed Agenda Item Number 7. Council Member Espinoza said this item is being hidden in the Consent Calendar. The City is in the process of hiring a Police Chief and he is glad the Police Department is going to have a full-time Police Chief. He said that the hiring process was illegal. The hiring of the executive search firm was approved by the previous City Council. The current City Council did not approve the use of an executive search firm. Things were done behind the backs of the City Council. It could have been brought forward and approved on a 3-2 vote. It is sad that this has become a political circus. He hoped that the new Police Chief will do a good job. Council Member Espinoza said he does not like the way the City Council has been working. 

City Manager Warne asked the City Attorney if he or the City did anything illegal. It has

been suggested by Council Member Espinoza that something was done illegally.

City Attorney Hobbs said that nothing has been done illegally. It is his understanding that the contract for the executive search firm was approved in an open meeting by the City Council. Council Member Espinoza concurs that the decision to hire the executive search firm was approved by the City Council. No additional action is needed. The City Council can take additional action if they wanted to, but they are not required to do it. He said that he does not find anything illegal here.

Council Member Aguilar said that she is happy that the City of Livingston has a new Police Chief. The Consent Calendar is a place where you put things that you do not discuss in detail. She thought that the citizens need to be able to at least ask questions. The citizens need to speak their mind. The new Police Chief is going to patrol the City streets.

Mayor Varela stated that the Police Chief recruitment has been on every City Council agenda for the last three months. The citizens know that he is coming. Chief Dunford was here yesterday to meet all the members of the City Council and regretfully Council Member Aguilar was not there to meet him.

Page 14 of 20

Council Member Espinoza said that the new Police Chief will be making $124,000 a year. He reports to the City Manager. There is eight months of severance pay in his contract if he is fired for any reason by the City Manager. Council Member Espinoza said that Chief Dunford is currently the Police Chief of Escalon and is doing a good job. He has a Bachelor’s degree and a Master’s degree.

Mayor Varela said that the day-to-day operations of the City are under the direction of the City Manager. He is the one that makes the selection and appointment of the Police Chief. This is the process and this is what other communities do. There is nothing different here and we are getting the leadership we need in the City of Livingston. Rather than be negative, we should be celebrating his appointment.

Someone in the audience asked how long was the term of the Police Chief’s contract.

City Manager Warne stated that the contract is indefinite. He can resign at any time and the City can terminate him at any time.

Mayor Varela opened this agenda item for public comment at 8:44 p.m.

Mike Torres, 1616 Eighth Street, asked who discusses his termination with him if he is fired.

Mayor Varela said that the new Police Chief is an at-will employee. City Manager Warne said that he will have an annual performance evaluation.

Mr. Torres asked if his salary is capped. City Manager Warne responded that his salary may be adjusted on an annual basis after an evaluation by the City Manager.

Council Member Espinoza said that the Police Chief is an at-will employee of the City Manager. He can adjust the salary of the Police Chief.

Mr. Torres asked who advises the City Manager regarding salary adjustments.

City Manager Warne stated that the Police Chief can be granted a salary adjustment based on his performance and the financial condition of the City.

Mike Torres asked who will evaluate the performance of the Police Chief. Is it the City Council or the City Manager?

City Manager Warne said that, by ordinance, he evaluates all department heads.

Council Member Espinoza asked if this was a conflict of interest because the City Manager has the right to be a certain percentage above the Police Chief. If the Police Chief’s salary is adjusted, he gets an adjustment.

City Manager Warne responded that this was not true. The only people that can approve an increase to his salary are the City Council Members.

Mike Torres asked about the background of the new Police Chief.

City Manager Warne said that the information regarding the new Police Chief is in the agenda packet. We went through a very extensive and recruitment process to find someone that was technically competent and had the necessary leadership and management skills. We also looked for someone that had the appropriate interpersonal skills and had a track record of working effectively with other City departments, other (Page 15 of 20) staff members and citizens. After going through this entire process, City Manager Warne believes that Livingston has someone who meets these qualifications.

City Manager Warne said that Douglas Dunford has extensive law enforcement experience. He worked for the Los Angeles County Sheriffs Department, Turlock Police Department, and the Burrlington Northern Railroad Police Department, where he was a Captain. He has been serving as the Police Chief of Escalon since 2002. During the intensive background investigation, “we sliced him, diced him and checked him out.” All kinds of people were interviewed and everything about him is very positive. Douglas Dunford is going to make an effective Police Chief for the City of Livingston. City Manager Warne recommended that the City Council approve his employment agreement. This employment agreement is consistent with the employment agreement of the previous Police Chief and consistent with the benefits that are currently enjoyed by other police management personnel.

Mike Torres asked how many hours a month will he work.

City Manager Warne said that he will work more than 40 hours per week. Douglas Dunford is someone that will be very visible in the community. He has a Bachelors Degree in business and a Masters Degree in leadership. All of his officers in Escalon comment that he is an effective leader, manager and mentor. City Manager Warne said that he is confident that he is the right person for the job. He thought that, as Mayor Varela has said, we should be celebrating the appointment of Douglas Dunford and welcoming him into the community. He will start on March 1. He will be presented to the public and the community at the first City Council meeting in March.

Mike Torres asked, “How old is he?”

Mayor Varela said that we cannot talk about that right now. You will meet him at the City Council meeting in March.

Ralph Mull, 1445 First Street, said that this is his second City Council meeting and it seems to be going better than the first City Council meeting he attended. He congratulated the City on picking a great Police Chief. Mr. Mull lived in Escalon and knows Douglas Dunford. He said that he has served in Escalon for eight years and asked if we are going to get at least five years of service from him. If we are going to give him a severance package, he should be willing to make a long-term commitment. He would like to see Douglas Dunford make it here and thinks he will be good for the community and our Police Department.

City Manger Warne said that severance pay will only be paid if there is an involuntary separation of Chief Dunford. If Chief Dunford retires or quits, there is no severance pay. We did ask him that question because we wanted to be sure that we did not hire someone who considers Livingston a stepping stone to another position. This is a mature and seasoned individual. He has the law enforcement background, technical skills and community skills to be an effective Police Chief.

Mayor Varela closed this agenda item to public comment at 8:53 p.m. 

Motion: M/S Vierra/Nateras to approve the Resolution of the City Council of the City of Livingston Approving the Employment Agreement Between the City of Livingston and

Page 16 of 20

Douglas D. Dunford for Employment as Police Chief. The motion carried 5-0 by the following vote:

AYES: Council Members: Aguilar, Espinoza, Nateras, Varela, Vierra

NOES: Council Members: None

ABSENT: Council Members: None

The City Council discussed Agenda Item Number 11. Council Member Espinoza said that he objected to paying Warrant Number 69740 for $37,000 to Kronick, Moskovitz, Tiedemann & Girard for legal fees and Warrant Number 69750 for $5,000 to Bob Murray and Associates for police chief recruitment services. He objected to paying any legal fees relating to the lawsuits filed by Foster Farms.

Motion: M/S Espinoza/Aguilar NOT to pay Warrant Number 69740 for $37,000 to Kronick, Moskovitz, Tiedemann & Girard and Warrant Number 69750 for $5,000 to Bob Murray and Associates. The motion failed 3-2 by the following vote:

AYES: Council Members: Aguilar, Espinoza

NOES: Council Members: Nateras, Varela, Vierra

ABSENT: Council Members: None

 

Motion: M/S Vierra/Varela to Approve the Warrant Register dated January 27, 2010 and to pay Warrant Number 69740 for $37,000 to Kronick, Moskovitz, Tiedemann & Girard and Warrant Number 69750 for $5,000 to Bob Murray and Associates. The motion passed 3-2 by the following vote:

AYES: Council Members: Nateras, Varela, Vierra

NOES: Council Members: Aguilar, Espinoza

ABSENT: Council Members: None

DISCUSSION AND POTENTIAL ACTION ITEMS

12. Resolution Approving Submittal of a Grant Application to the State of California

Department of Parks and Recreation Office of Grants and Local Services (OGALS) for a Proposition 84/Statewide Park Development and Community Revitalization Grant to Support Recreational Additions to the Livingston Sports Complex.

City Manager Warne stated that the City is in the process of submitting a Proposition 84 park grant application for improvements to the Livingston Sports Complex. The Livingston Sports Complex Master Plan was recommended by the City Parks and Recreation Commission and Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC) on March 27, 2007. The environmental document was approved on April 7, 2009. The City is applying for $5 million in Proposition 84 grant funds to construct the baseball complex, concession stand, restrooms, walking path and lighting. The State of California Department of Parks and Recreation will make a decision in September 2010. We recommend that the City Council approve this resolution so that the grant application can be submitted.

Council Member Espinoza said that everything is not negative. This is great for the community and will bring us the money to improve the Livingston Sports Complex and give a place for the community’s children to go.

Page 17 of 20

Mayor Varela opened this agenda item for public comment at 9:03 p.m.

Ralph Mull, 1445 First Street, asked if the facility will be open to the public. Alvernaz Field is closed to the public. He wants to know if the facility will be locked.

City Manager Warne said that the facility will be open to the public and will not be locked. There may be a curfew at 11:00 p.m. for public safety purposes. These facility improvements will allow the City to enhance the boys’ and girls’ baseball programs. We will also be able to expand our adult softball program. This is an example of being prepared and planning ahead by the City Council and staff. We have a Livingston Sports Complex Master Plan and a completed environmental document. We can now take advantage of grant and other funding opportunities.

Ralph Mull said that he wants to be sure that it will be open to the public. There is no use of having a recreation complex if the people cannot use it.

Julio Valdez said that he wanted to congratulate the Mayor and the City Manager on this grant application. He wants to apologize to anyone that thinks that he was being rude. He said that he is not all negative, but is frustrated with some of the decisions that have been made. He apologized to Mayor Varela and City Manager Warne and everyone else in the room. He said that he respects the decisions that have been made.

Luis Flores, 707 Almondwood, asked where the community garden was located.

City Manager Warne said that the grant application and recreation facility improvements will not affect the community garden.

Luis Flores asked when the Wal-Mart Environmental Impact Report (EIR) is going to be completed. City Manager Warne responded that the environmental document will include the entire Blueberry Crossing development in addition to the Wal-Mart Supercenter. Mr. Flores asked if it would be completed before the end of the fiscal year. City Manager Warne said that he hoped it would be completed sometime this Spring. Staff is pressing the consultants to get it finished.

Mayor Varela closed the public comment portion of this agenda.

Council Member Nateras thought that this was a great project.

Motion: M/S Vierra/Espinoza adopting the Resolution Approving Submittal of a Grant Application to the State of California Department of Parks and Recreation Office of Grants and Local Services (OGALS) for a Proposition 84/Statewide Park Development and Community Revitalization Grant to Support Recreational Additions to the Livingston Sports Complex. The motion passed 5-0 by the following vote:

AYES: Council Members: Aguilar, Espinoza, Nateras, Varela, Vierra

NOES: Council Members: None

ABSENT: Council Members: None

Page 18 of 20

Mayor Varela said that there was a ground breaking ceremony yesterday for the basketball courts at the Livingston Sports Complex. This is going to be a great project.

13. City Council Guidance on Rental of City-Owned Home.

City Manager Warne stated that the City owns a house and currently rents it to a City employee. On June 9, 2007, the City Council approved a rental agreement by unanimous vote that included Mayor Samra, Council Member Espinoza, Council Member Ingram, Council Member Soria and Council Member Vierra. This agreement leased the house for $900 per month. The rent included the water, sewer and garbage fees. The lessee paid for the electric service, natural gas service and any other utilities. The current renter has provided the City Council with a survey of comparable homes showing utilities included in the rent. You can see from the survey that the current rent of the City-owned house with utilities is more or less comparable. Staff is here to take the City Council’s guidance. The City Council has the authority to make changes to the rental agreement with 30 days notice to the renter.

Council Member Aguilar said that she thought that the current rent of $900 per month was fine, but thought the renter should pay the water, sewer and garbage fees.

City Manager Warne said that the water, sewer and garbage fees are included in the current rent. So what you would be doing is raising the rent.

City Attorney Hobbs said the initial six-month lease has expired and the renter is renting the house on a month-to-month basis. The lease can be amended, as City Manager Warne has said, with a 30-day notice. The tenant has the option to accept or reject that change.

Council Member Espinoza said that he is sorry to put a City employee in the middle of this. He voted to approve the original lease, but the water, sewer and garbage rates were not an issue at the time. The citizens are requesting us to change the lease. The monthly rent of $900 is fine, but the utilities need to be paid by the renter, especially when we have people paying $300 per month on their utility bills. 

Council Member Nateras asked if it was customary for the owner to pay the utilities.

City Manager Warne said that it depends and landlords do it both ways. When the initial rent was set, a survey was done that included rentals owned by Council Member Espinoza. The consensus of the City Council was that the $900 per month with the water, sewer and garbage rates included was appropriate.

Council Member Espinoza said that $60 at the time was not a “big deal.” Now with the rate increase, the renter needs to pay for all the utilities.

Motion: M/S Espinoza/Aguilar that the lease for the City-owned house be amended so that the renter paid for all the utilities. The motion passed 5-0 by the following vote:

AYES: Council Members: Aguilar, Espinoza, Nateras, Varela, Vierra

NOES: Council Members: None

ABSENT: Council Members: None

Page 19 of 20

Mayor Varela asked Council Member Espinoza if he knew someone that is paying $300 for City utilities every month. Council Member Espinoza said that he forgot to bring a copy of the bill, but would bring it tomorrow to City Hall. The bill shows the person using 112,000 gallons in November when it was raining.

Mayor Varela said that we have had some people that have had high water bills caused by water leaks on their property. If a person has a problem or thinks that their bill is not correct, they need to bring it to the attention of the City. Mayor Varela told Council Member Espinoza that he needed to be careful about his comments, especially when he suggests that the average person is paying $300 per month for utilities.

Council Member Espinoza said that he would like the City to review this resident’s utility bill.

City Manager Warne said that he is not aware of anyone paying a $300 City utility bill. There have been many cases where people claim in the public meetings that they are paying hundreds of dollars in City utility bills. However, when staff checks the bill, they are not paying what they report in the public meeting. One person stood at the podium at City Council meeting and said that he had been billed for 40,000 gallons of water in one month. He said that this was impossible because there were only two people in the house. When the Public Works Department went out to the property, they found that the person’s sprinkler system was coming on every hour. There are a lot of situations like that. If there is a problem, the City will check it out. There has been a lot of misinformation about what people are paying. We would like to have the opportunity to at least check it out. If it is true, that is fine. However, in many cases the resident has a problem on their property or they have a water leak or they are constantly running their sprinklers. We will work with them to correct their problems.

Council Member Espinoza said that he has seen part-time employees checking water meters. He thought that only full-time employees with experience should be checking water meters. He asked the City Attorney to check to see if part-time employees can read the water meters.

14. City Manager Announcements and Reports.

None.

15. Resolution Authorizing the City of Livingston to Accept Award Money from the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant Funds (EECBG).

City Manager Warne stated that the grant will provide $77,464 to replace the existing motors on Water Well Numbers 8, 9, 11, 12, and 13. These new motors will save energy and reduce electrical costs in the Water Enterprise Operating Fund.

Motion: M/S Vierra/Varela to approve the Resolution Authorizing the City of Livingston to Accept Award Money from the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant Funds (EECBG). The motion passed 5-0 by the following vote: (Page 20 of 20)

AYES: Council Members: Aguilar, Espinoza, Nateras, Varela, Vierra

NOES: Council Members: None

ABSENT: Council Members: None

ADJOURNMENT

The City Council meeting was adjourned at 9:23 p.m.

__________________________________

City Clerk of the City of Livingston

APPROVED:

_____________________________

Mayor or Mayor ProTempore

The written meeting minutes reflect a summary of specific actions taken by the City Council. They do not necessarily reflect all of the comments or dialogue leading up to the action. All meetings are digitally recorded and are an official record of the meeting’s proceedings. Digitally recorded verbatim minutes are available, upon request, and may be obtained at Livingston City Hall.

2 thoughts on “FEBRUARY 2, 2010 Minutes

  1. Pingback: Political Climate Change, City Council, « Thegardeningsnail's Weblog (because not every critter is hiding under a rock…)

  2. Pingback: A Blood Drive, A City Council Agenda, and A Couple More Repeals/Re-does « Thegardeningsnail's Weblog (because not every critter is hiding under a rock…)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s