SPECIAL MEETING/CLOSED SESSION
LIVINGSTON CITY COUNCIL
OCTOBER 28, 2010
A Special Meeting/Closed Session of the Livingston City Council was held in the City Council Chambers on October 28, 2010, with Mayor Espinoza presiding.
CALL TO ORDER
Mayor Espinoza called the meeting to order at 6:00 p.m.
PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE
The pledge of allegiance to the flag was recited.
CHANGES TO THE AGENDA
Katherine Schell Rodriguez, PO Box 163, Livingston addressed a rumor in regard to City Well #15 located near Starbucks alleging that all the City had to do was shut down Well #15 and use Well #16 instead. She asked for clarification about Well #16 having a larger arsenic problem than Well #15. In addition she asked if Well #16 was used as a replacement for Well #15 wouldn’t it cost about $100,000 to $130,000 a year to operate it in addition to other costs such as a possible rate study, system operation, maintenance and adherence to State regulations. Ms. Schell Rodriguez asked that with the current deficit spending wasn’t it past time to send out a Request for Proposals? She noted that this Council had moved very fast on other things, so what the reason for the delay?
Debra Lopez, 1543 Monte Cristo Way stated that Ms. Land had her wish fulfilled after stating that Mr. Warne’s days were numbered. Ms. Lopez said she had asked Mr. Espinoza on several occasions how much was spent on litigation in regard to the first lawsuit that the Council withdrew and she had yet to receive an answer. She had also asked if she could be assured of affordable water rates with a substitute enterprise fund and no one on the Council wanted to answer. Ms. Lopez said she could only assume the Council had no clue so was unable to answer her questions. She stated that the Council Members ran for office to serve this City and keep it running smoothly and they were following through with that. Ms. Lopez further stated the Council to date had failed to do their jobs, violated the public’s trust and were not taking care of the business at hand.
Myra Bettencourt, 1584 Duke stated that as Council Members she could not place her faith in anyone of them because they were proving they had no knowledge of what was going on at the dais. She commented that the Council cancelled Tuesday’s regular meeting because there weren’t enough items for the agenda and then suddenly they schedule a special meeting for tonight. Ms. Bettencourt spoke in regard to the closed session item pertaining to the employment contract for City Manager Richard Warne. She noted this was costing about $600 per hour for attorney fees and yet Mr. Espinoza and Ms. Aguilar delayed payment for former City Attorney Hobbs because they felt the City was paying him too much money which was the same amount they are now paying Mr. Sanchez. She added the City was now paying more than double because it wanted to get rid of the best City Manager Livingston had ever had.
Estella Martinez, P.O. Box 381, Livingston commented that people in town were saying that the Council was getting rid of the City Manager because his salary was too high. Ms. Martinez said she assumed that the Council had done their homework and were comparing the salaries, qualifications and experience of other City Managers. She added that the Council had the opportunity to do research and suggested the Council have a town hall meeting and share the information with the citizens.
CLOSED SESSION COMMENTS
Debra Lopez, 1543 Monte Cristo Way said she wanted to put in her vote of confidence for the City Manager. She commented that he was hired by the City Council to do a job and as far as she was concerned he had done that. Ms. Lopez noted that the City Manager had brought more grant money into this City than anybody had seen in years, and she didn’t know why the Council felt the need to blame him for the ills this City was now faced with. She stated that prior Councils did not act on the need to raise water rates, and then finally someone said we have to do increase rates. Ms. Lopez added that no one on the Council would stand up and say let’s get self sufficient with the money. She stated that one would think that by stopping the lawsuits the legal fees would have stopped, but the money had already been spent and there was no savings. Ms. Lopez noted that for years Foster Farms had received everything they wanted from the City until the City Council said “wait a minute” and the City Manager said everyone should be treated equally in this town.
Rick Soria, 1526 Main Street stated that Foster Farms didn’t run the City Council. Foster Farms had provided a lot of jobs for the City, unfortunately the economy was bad. He said the community was diverse, but with the current economy the town is struggling. Mr. Soria noted that the community needs jobs and Foster Farms could provide jobs and he hoped the City Council found someone to fill the City Manager’s position who really wanted to bring something to Livingston.
Estella Martinez, P.O. Box 381, Livingston said she would like to see a comparison on salaries and that this information be made available to the citizens. She told the Council not to make a mistake and do things that lead to rumors. She expressed concern with the deficit spending and for the safety of the City if services were cut. She noted there was a lot of drug activity in the City and if there were no safety measures what were the citizens going to do with their kids if there was no recreation. Ms. Martinez told the Council not to make this a personal issue. She added that Foster Farms provides a lot of jobs in the community, but at what cost. She questioned how many of Foster Farms’ personnel were hurting and noted that many of the citizens are employees and they were paying and subsidizing the water for Foster Farms. Ms. Martinez added that the citizens don’t have anything against Foster Farms, but they are paying a lot of money to subsidize their water fees.
Myra Bettencourt, 1684 Duke Drive commented that Mr. Warne did an excellent job in getting the water study done and bringing it before the Council and his staff worked very hard as well. She stated that it made her ill to see what this Council was doing to the City. Ms. Bettencourt noted that the City was not going to have any new businesses because of what was going on. She said Starbucks would be closing and they had closed for one day already. Ms. Bettencourt further commented that she would want businesses coming to this town and would not get rid of the City Manager because he had been doing a great job. She added that Mr. Urnberg was against the City Manager and that was why the current Council picked him to be on their side.
Katherine Rodriquez PO Box 163, Livingston asked how many lawyers did it take to negotiate a contract that past Mayors have been able to negotiate and why did it take a high priced lawyer to negotiate a contact that past Mayors have been able to negotiate. She stated that one had to wonder why one Mayor could negotiate a contract and a second Mayor could renegotiate it, but the present Mayor couldn’t negotiate it and had to pass it off to an attorney. Ms. Schell Rodriguez said when it came to the enterprise funds there are two ways that the people end up paying. Either directly through their bill or indirectly through cash that is taken from the general fund because it goes to the enterprise fund, it does not go to the fire department, police department or recreation department. She stated just think of the long list of items that the fire department and recreation department had wanted and the things that citizens that have come to the podium and asked for that could have been provided if the money had not been taken from the general fund and got funneled to the enterprise funds.
CLOSED SESSION: (Adjourn to City Hall Conference Room)
The Council went into Closed Session to discuss the following matters:
1. Conference with Labor Negotiators: Jose M. Sanchez, Interim City Attorney
and Adam U. Lindgren, Special Counsel.
Pursuant to Government Code Section 54957.6.
Unrepresented Employee: City Manager.
2. Conference with Legal Counsel – Existing Litigation.
Government Code Section 54956.9(a).
a. Foster Poultry Farms, Inc. v. City of Livingston, et al, California Superior Court, County of Merced, Case No. CV000752.
The Council came out of Closed Session and into Open Session.
CLOSED SESSION ANNOUNCEMENTS
Interim City Attorney Sanchez stated that there was no reportable action.
The meeting was adjourned by consensus at 8:10 p.m.
City Clerk of the City of Livingston
APPROVED: January 4, 2011
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.