February 15, 2011 Discussion: Utility Rate Stakeholders Committee

Legal Disclaimer for purposes of Legal Disclaimerness.

This is the closest thing to a word-for-word transcription that you’re probably ever gonna get. Although I left out most of the “ums”, “ahs”, and other “fillers” I left in most of the gaffs in grammar, fractured phrases, disjointed sentences, and other slight “verbal incoherencies” that came out of mouths that night.

And I’ve also inserted the occasional (?) in those places where I wasn’t quite sure what the heck they were saying.

So…if you think I’m adding, or subtracting verbiage that makes your favorite speaker sound like s/he doesn’t know how to put together a complete coherent sentence, or finish one thought before rambling on to another, I suggest you get your own copy of the Video, go to 54:09 minutes in, and listen for yourselves. I think you’ll find my rendition to be pretty darn accurate.

I’ve also taken the liberty to underline, bold, and otherwise emphasize certain words and phrases that I feel are exceptionally important and helps get the point across.

And I’ve even stuck in a little commentary here and there.

We will begin with Councilperson Samra’s opening statements.

Begin Transcription:

Council Person Samra: First of all, when we started this session of the council, I think this council made a strong commitment to resolve our water quality issues and this is another step in achieving that goal.

As was mentioned earlier, we received RFP’s for a Rate Study and to go along that, what I’m asking the council to do is to form a Stakeholders Committee.

Now, I brought this idea up originally back in 2007 when I was the Mayor at the time, and of course, events in the City changed that. So I was not able to do this.

The purpose of this is there is a lot of people with a lot at stake on how we accomplish this, how we calculate the costs and everything.

So, to just have the Council and a couple decide, I don’t think it works that well for the community because this is a, could be a potential large investment of the community and the citizens, in the infrastructure that we all own together. Not the City, not the Council, not the City Manager, but the city as a whole: the entire 14,000 people.

And to have a Stakeholders, it brings in some representatives from the Business Community, the School Districts, from Citizens, from there, at the table to work with our Public Works, and to work with the Consultants, in figuring out what we need to do, where we do it, and see if anybody else has a different or varying ideas to do this.

So what I’m asking the Council and I’m, hoping we can get this done, but if we can’t then elect to have it at the next meeting, is to form a 5 to 6 people Stakeholder’s (committee) aside from the 2 Sub-Committee which the Vice-Mayor and I are, on the Sub-Committee, to work with Mrs. Reyes and with our City Engineer and with the consultants to move the first part of it.

So, because its hard to get the entire Council to sit at all of the meetings because of conflicts and there’s a lot of small tedious amount of work to be done (?), so this is the way to move the process forward and to get it done as quickly as possible because we do have to get this done and addressed.

So, I’m not sure if the Council is wanting to put this on right now.

Mayor Pro-Tem Aguilar: Council member Samra, so what you’re asking right now, for the public to understand is that you would like us to direct the staff to put together some kind of advertisement to promote the whole idea of a Committee?

Council Person Samra: What I’m asking the Council, and 3 of us can do this, this time. We’re not appointing any people to sit on there right now, is to basically do an advertisement for the Business Community, for the Educational Community, the School Districts because they’re also one of the large users too, and Citizens at large that would want to participate in the early process to work with the city Staff and with our Consultant, to hear the issues, find the solutions, and have different ideas that we may not think of. That way, we all work on this together. So I’m asking that we give the direction to the Staff to put this out on Channel 2, on the City Web-Site so if interested persons can submit their names to be considered on the Stakeholders Committee.

{By the way. Did you notice those verbs: Work, Hear, Find, and the phrase “have different ideas”? Sounds like this committee will have some quite a bit of influence influence as to what ends up in the reports that will be discussed at a future Proposition 218 Hearing. Anyway, after Councilperson Samra finished speaking, the meeting was opened to the public for comment. I asked the following questions: }

  • Would it be an official committee with official by laws, rules and regulations like the other Committees have:With official Agendas, posted 72 hours before a meeting and official minutes minutes open to the public afterward?
  • Or is this going to be something more like a free-for-all, where who ever shows up, can show up?

And Council Person Answered as follows.

Council Person Samra: What I’m looking for is not an official, more like an ad-hoc committee. MCAG, others, do it with their transportation needs. They have people to come and bring ideas or suggestions. Basically all it is, is to work with them: the staff and the sub-committee just to bring in some more ideas we may not have thought of or solutions..

But, basically what it is. That’s all. It’s not an official committee, its an ad-hoc committee.

{So it’s not an “official” committee, but it will “work with” the Staff, Councilperson Samra, and Mayor Pro-Tem Aguilar on the “water issue”. Have I got that right?}

Mayor Pro-Tem Aguilar: Actually I think with this brought forward its just a way of getting residents involved being that this had been an issue prior the things that happened in our local Government and we just want to make sure that the doors are open. Residents feel and they Know that they are part of this decision making. 

I think a lot of issues had to do with the economy, the financial status, you know, medical situations, families living with families in order to make ends meet. And, in a way, they feel and they know they are part (of it). We are taking their voice is heard and I think that is where we’re going with this.

Council Person Samra: And that’s where we’re going is this is to show the people that everything that we’re discussing: the rate structure, whatever comes forward, the suggestions ideas is gonna be done in front of the people. Everybody, anybody can attend. It’ll be done.

Not the council, not the (?) won’t have input in the beginning. Its just basically to get the first part to work with our consultant to move this idea forward and get this done.

Mike Torres: If you’re going to have 5 members, I know its just on the drawing board right now. But will you have educators that have back experience with water situations? Are you gonna give them the information on past reviews on the water or all the past?

How much information will this 5 people be able to (?) to work on? Are they gonna get educated?

Are you going to get Educators. How are you going to pick the 5 people?

Common people? People who want to volunteer and sign up? Are you going to pick from them?

How much information are they gonna have from the past reviews and programs that they had already that we paid people to do this stuff?

Council Person Samra: My intention is the people, the education, cuz when I say Education, I mean Schools obviously, OK? Schools have particular needs and we want their input in the beginning on what’s the issues they have just basically to get different sectors of the community involved in the process early on.

So we don’t come up here in a meeting and say, OK, we’re ready to do this and everybody’s saying we never, you know, just to get everybody together in the beginning.

And to get the Education Community and Citizens-at-large, Business Community involved is to hear their concerns up front, and hear ideas from them as well.

Cuz everybody brings in some ideas and I think its very important that we involve the broadest groups we can out there early on, no at the tail end, but in the front end of the process.

Mike Torres: How long do you figure maybe with the committee whatever is gonna report progress on whatever you guys are doing?

Council Person Samra: Well, I don’t want to put an artificial deadline.

Mayor Pro-Tem Aguilar: Thank-you Mr. Torres. You had great questions. I just want to let the residents know that Town Hall Meetings will continue, the procedures that we had before but in (?) and this committee will make decisions and help make/find ways to make it reasonable and affordable and I think all these businesses, schools and residents are affected by whatever the council does as a whole.

So therefore, any final decisions, once all the dialoguing goes around and we bring it forward will be voted by the Council as a whole in Open Session. So nothing will be, you know, approved within the committee without bringing it to us where you guys, the citizens are able to respond.

That I just want to make sure you understand that, that there is a final vote here and along with our persons doing the report and the analyzing and estimations and all that other good stuff.

So there is a time period (the following couple of seconds have no sound) more comments from the residents? (none) Then we’ll close it at 8:07. Bring it back to the council. Would you like to make a motion?

Council Person Samra: I’m just asking the council direction to the staff to go ahead and advertise on Channel 2 and City Website and get the word out and have people come back by our next council meeting cuz I believe we’re gonna be looking at the RFP’s probably the first meeting in March. So get this committee, if the council authorizes it and appoints it, sitting at the same time we authorize the RFP’s. That way the committee’s ready to go once the consultant’s on board so we can start the process as soon as possible.

City Attorney Sanchez: I think that council member (?) no motion has been made as far as we’re still discussing the direction. One of the things is that we will look at, that is, if the council approves, and directs staff to move forward with this at the next council meeting. Obviously, there’s no selection process in place yet.

Depending on the response from the Community of the members that want to be involved. At that point, I think that we’ll have a better idea of what type of selection process and also different dates as far as moving forward and a little more details about how this is gonna move forward. This is just to get the ball rolling and to get this process on to the next Council Meeting and to have the selection process or the advertisement started.

Just for the record, the point that Council Member Samra made about the committee, it being an ad-hoc committee. It’s not a standing committee. Therefore, the posting and the Brown Act Open Meeting laws wouldn’t apply. But the City would still be advertising and making sure people knew that these meetings were going on. I think the Idea here is to be very transparent and to talk at those sub-committee levels and than bring it back to the Town Hall Meetings and open it up to the public for comments before a decision is made.

Mayor Pro-Tem Aguilar: I would make a motion to move forward directing the staff to go ahead and do the advertisement needed.

Council Person Samra: And I will second that motion.

(End Transcription: By the way, the motion passed 3-0 with Council Person Vierra and Mayor Espinoza both absent)



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