JANUARY 4, 2011 Draft Minutes




JANUARY 4, 2011

A Closed Session/Regular Meeting of the Livingston City Council was held on January 4, 2011, in the City Council Chambers with Mayor Espinoza presiding.



Mayor Rodrigo Espinoza

Mayor Pro-Tem Margarita Aguilar

Council Member Frank Vierra

Council Member Theresa Land

Council Member Gurpal Samra

Mayor Espinoza opened the meeting for public comment at 6:01 p.m.

Katherine Schell Rodriguez, P.O. Box 163, Livingston commented that it was not easy to do two jobs even in the best of times. She noted that if you were the Finance Director you had other people breathing down your neck like the City auditor, etc. Ms. Schell Rodriguez stated that Vickie Lewis was doing the best job. She had no reason to question her ethnics, motivation or love of the town and everyone sitting on the other side of the dais needed to do what they could to make her job easier.

The Council adjourned to the City Hall Conference Room for Closed Session at 6:04 p.m. to discuss the following matters:

1. Public Employee Appointment

(Government Code Section 54957)

Title: City Manager

2. Public Employee Performance Evaluation

(Government Code Section 54957)

Title: Acting City Manager


The Council came out of Closed Session and into Open Session and then returned to the City Council Chambers for the Regular Meeting.



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


The pledge of allegiance to the flag was recited.


Mayor Rodrigo Espinoza

Mayor Pro-Tem Margarita Aguilar

Council Member Frank Vierra

Council Member Theresa Land

Council Member Gurpal Samra


Mayor Espinoza announced that the Council had given the Acting City Manager a positive evaluation.






Supervisor John Pedrozo Announcements and Reports.

Supervisor Pedrozo reported the following:

· Reported he would be hosting a Town Hall meeting in the Livingston City Council Chambers on January 13 at 6:30 p.m. He thanked the Council for allowing him to use the building.

· Gave an update on the high-speed rail system and said the situation had become more political than expected.

· Announced that he became the new Chair of the Board of Supervisors today.

City Council Members’ Announcements and Reports.

Council Member Frank Vierra

· No reports.

Council Member Theresa Land

· Reported that at the December 14 Planning Commission meeting, Mr. Serafim Aguiar was denied a Conditional Use Permit and Site Plan/Design Review by a vote of 2-1. The matter will be presented to the City Council on January 18.

· Reported she attended the last skate park meeting that was well attended. The kids had a good time. There were two sites mentioned as possible locations, Arakelian Park and the Livingston Sports Complex. Selection of a location and conceptual design would be considered by the City Council at their February 1 meeting.

Council Member Gurpal Samra

· No reports.

Mayor Pro-Tem Margarita Aguilar

· Wished everyone a happy New Year.

· Announced that a July 4th committee meeting would be held on January 7 at Geneo’s Pizza.

· Reported that the high school was back in session and the elementary school would resume classes on January 10.

· Commented that the Council would be attending a New Mayors and Council Members’ Conference in Sacramento January 19-21.

Mayor’s Announcements and Reports.

Mayor Rodrigo Espinoza

· Wished everyone a belated Merry Christmas and a happy New Year.

· Reported the City had received six applications for the Parks and Recreation Commission and two applications for the Planning Commission.

Acting City Manager Announcements and Reports.

Acting City Manager Vickie Lewis

· Reported that the Request for Proposals (RFP) on utility rates would go out on Friday and then the Council would move forward on the rate study.




Doug Gorman, Operating Engineers Local Union No. 3 (OE3), representing the Livingston Police Officers’ Association read and presented a letter voicing objection to the dismissal of Police Chief Doug Dunford.

Police Officer Alan Cadiente wished everyone a happy New Year, but stated he was very upset about the situation with Chief Dunford. He commented that the City Council was supposed to portray a professional image, but to serve Chief Dunford with dismissal papers during the Toys-for-Tots event was totally disgusting to him.

Lane Clark, President of the Merced County Deputy Sheriff’s Association stated that he and his fellow officers were present tonight in support of Chief Dunford. He noted that he had been in law enforcement for 25 years. He knew about the politics in Livingston and urged the Council to do the right thing and reinstate Chief Dunford.

Keith Polowski, President of the Merced Police Officers’ Association stated a Police Chief must be a person the department could respect and the association stood by Chief Dunford and strongly urged the City Council to reinstate him.

Chris Pickenig, no address given, stated he had been in law enforcement for 18 years and knew Chief Dunford both personally and professionally. He felt Chief Dunford had character and that the City Council had made a serious mistake by letting him go.

Police Officer Daihn Villarreal said he wanted to thank everyone for attending the meeting and also Council Members Land and Samra for attending the department’s Christmas party where he saw more happy people than he had ever seen before. Officer Villarreal stated he was devastated to hear of Chief Dunford’s dismissal. He said since Chief Dunford came to Livingston nine months ago he started an Explorer Program and a Reserve Officer Program and had helped the employees a lot.

Chuck Heist, Merced, stated he felt that what the Council did by dismissing Chief Dunford during the Toys- for-Tots program and in front of all the kids was totally unbelievable and unacceptable.

Debra Lopez, 1543 Monte Cristo Way stated that from what she could tell this City Council was saving money by firing qualified people such as the city manager and the police chief. To the best of her knowledge, they wee qualified and did their jobs well. The severance package is being paid while the City was paying an acting city manager. Ms Lopez commented that whatever this City Council did it would get what it paid for, nothing more, and nothing less. She wanted to know if this City had any more axes to grind so she could prepare herself because it seemed like the City Council had run through employees quickly since the recall election.

Margaret Brown, no address given, commented that on December 9 her daughter received a ticket while being parked in her yard. She asked why the police department was ticketing her when she owned the land.

Police Lt. Chris Soria explained that this was a violation of the City Municipal Code. He started a program a few months ago to start cleaning up some of the neighborhoods because of complaints from the neighbors. This was a fire issue that needed to be taken care of right away.

Myra Bettencourt, 1584 Duke Drive said she almost laughed when she read in the newspaper that the Council knew nothing about the firing of the Police Chief. She noted the Council let a great city manager go and now they had let a chief go. Ms. Bettencourt felt all the Council needed to resign. She was once proud to live here and now she was embarrassed.

Toni Arredondo, no address given, stated that it was an embarrassment to live here. This was the first year she had ever seen Council Members involved with Toys-for-Tots. She had been asked to run for Mayor and things would change if she did. She stated, “We are all extremely tired of you”

Dennis Brusenski, no address given, stated that change is good and the good thing was that the new Chief changed the whole aspect of the police department. He said that rumors fly and someone needed to check somebody’s skeletons before they started imposing administrative leaves.

Brandon Friesen, 929 Opal Court stated that the decision that was made was a disappointment. He said the pressure being placed on the interim city manager was horrible and the sad thing was the loss of a dedicated chief, hired by a search firm, brought in for nine months and then asked to leave with a severance package. Mr. Friesen said you have an interim city manager that made a decision based on what she felt was best for the City based on information that she had and the facts that she presented to herself. He would like to hear from a Council Member that the Council would like to see this as a closed session item. Mr. Friesen added the interim city manager should have never fired the police chief without cause considering that their tenor is short lived. .

John Mucci, 1125 Kensington Drive, Merced stated he was a 20-year employee with the City of Livingston. He wanted the Council to know that they did have an out. It was okay for them to go back and reverse their decision. Mr. Mucci said the employees would look at the Council positively if they went back and reassessed the situation. He added that it had been a great nine months working with Chief Dunford.

Katherine Schell Rodriquez, P.O. Box 163, Livingston stated that some people have said that raising the water rates helped to pay the Chief’s salary. She did not have all of the facts, but there were a lot of rumors to this effect. However, given the voting record of the Council, letting the Chief go did seem to fit a certain pattern.

Luis Flores 707 Almondwood Drive, commented that he was a supporter of the Chief and the citizens still did not know why he was let go. He said that transparency even in small local government doesn’t exist and that was a disappointment to him because he was all about transparency. Mr. Flores said even when he and the Chief disagreed they were able to work things out. He was happy with their interaction and was disappointed that he was no longer with the City.

Public Works employee Ruben Mendoza thanked the Council for buying a street sweeper. He said he also lives here and takes pride in his work.


The Council took a recess at 7:45 p.m. The meeting resumed at 7:53 p.m.


Mayor Espinoza presented the consent calendar agenda.

Council Member Samra asked that items 3, 4, 5 and 6 be pulled for a separate vote as he was not a Council Member at that time.

Council Member Vierra said a correction needed to be made on item #3, the Minutes of the meeting held on September 24. It showed that he was present, but the word absent was placed next to the attendance box and needed to be removed.

Motion: M/S Aguilar/Land to approve items 1, 2, 7, 8 and 9 on the consent calendar. The motion carried 5-0.

1. Resolution No. 2011-1, Authorizing the Acting City Manager to Enter into a Contract with Carollo Engineers for Environmental Assessment Work on the Blueberry Crossing Commercial Project.

2. Resolution No. 2011-2, Approving Authorized Staff Signatories to the California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) for HOME Investment Partnerships Program Funds.

3. Approval of Minutes of Meeting Held on September 24, 2010, as amended.

4. Approval of Minutes of Meeting Held on October 6, 2010.

5. Approval of Minutes of Meeting Held on October 28, 2010.

6. Approval of Minutes of Meeting Held on November 10, 2010.

Motion: M/S Espinoza/Land to approve items 3, 4, 5 and 6 on the consent calendar. The motion carried 4-1 with Council Member Samra abstaining.

7. Approval of Minutes of Meeting Held on December 7, 2010.

8. Approval of Warrant Register Dated December 15, 2010.

9. Approval of Warrant Register Dated December 28, 2010.


10. Resolution No. 2011-___, a Resolution of the City Council of the City of Livingston Filling the Vacancy in the Office of City Treasurer by Appointment.

The agenda item was presented by Mayor Espinoza. Discussion was held concerning the number of persons that expressed interest in filling the vacancy and if the vacancy was opened up to the community.

Council Member Land nominated Marge McFadden to fill the vacancy.

Motion: M/S Land/Espinoza to adopt Resolution No. 2011-3, a Resolution of the City Council of the City of Livingston Filling the Vacancy in the Office of City Treasurer by the appointment of Marge McFadden. The motion carried 5-0 by the following roll call vote:

AYES: Council Members: Aguilar, Espinoza, Land, Samra, Vierra

NOES: Council Members: None

ABSENT: Council Members: None

11. Resolution Authorizing the Acting City Manager to Execute a First Amendment to the

Professional Services Agreement with Bureau Veritas North America, Inc. for Continued Contract Staff Support Services.

Community Development Director Donna Kenney presented the agenda item.

Brandon Friesen, 929 Opal Court asked if the $19,000 shown in the staff report was a cost or a savings to the City. Ms. Kenney said that amount was a cost to the City.

Mr. Friesen asked if because the company did not want to do a contract was why they were going to go hourly. Ms. Kenney gave an explanation.

Acting City Manager Lewis noted the City had been put in the position where it had to make a decision with this group. She said staff had to put together a proposal to get the City through for a short period of time and that was why the contract was month to month.

Council Member Vierra said he was still not clear about the $19,000. He said the City was losing a 20-hour person, but it was going to cost the City more per month. Ms. Kenney explained that the 20-hour Code Enforcement Officer was given to the City as part of the contract and his services did not cost the City any money. She noted that Council Member Vierra was saying it was costing the City more, but it was the actual cost per month.

Acting City Manager Lewis commented this was not the difference. She said the City had already been paying invoices as low as $1,900 and as high as $13,000, so this was basically the fiscal impact.

Council Member Vierra clarified the City would be getting 100% of the building permit fees. Ms. Lewis further explained.

Council Member Samra commented he knew the contract was month to month and asked if the City was going out for Requests for Proposals in the future. Ms. Lewis noted the City was looking at LP2A putting together a proposal for the City that would be less than the costs the Council was looking at tonight.

Motion: M/S Samra/Aguilar to adopt Resolution No. 2011-4, Authorizing the Acting City Manager to Execute a First Amendment to the Professional Services Agreement with Bureau Veritas North America, Inc. for Continued Contract Staff Support Services.

The motion carried 5-0 by the following roll call vote:

AYES: Council Members: Aguilar, Espinoza, Land, Samra, Vierra

NOES: Council Members: None

ABSENT: Council Members: None

12. City Council Review and Consider a Motion to Amend the Minutes for the City Council Meeting Held on August 17, 2010.

Mayor Espinoza presented the agenda item.

Interim City Attorney Sanchez said he thought the Mayor was requesting consideration to amend the Minutes because the text shown after the Closed Session was not actually said at the meeting.

Brandon Friesen, 929 Opal Court stated the language was added to show that the former mayor was not part of the Closed Session.

Interim City Attorney Sanchez noted there was an email from the former city attorney that asked the City Manager to insert the text in the Minutes.

Council Member Vierra commented that if the text was taken out of the Minutes it would appear as if the former mayor was present in Closed Session. Further discussion was held. Council Member Vierra asked if the Minutes were amended could they be brought back to the Council. Mr. Sanchez replied yes.

Mayor Espinoza stated he wanted the Minutes changed because he disagreed with the statement. He felt the former city attorney was putting in words for the former mayor. {Note from TheGardeningSnail: Does that mean that Mayor Espinoza does NOT want the record to show that Mayor Varala was NOT involved in Foster Farms Litigation discussions?}

Katherine Schell Rodriguez, P.O. Box 103, Livingston said that when she read the statement it was obvious to her that it was a legal disclaimer. She said if you took off the quotes and put the text in italics it would just be like all the legal disclaimers.

Julio Valadez, no address given, asked what were Minutes. Interim City Attorney Sanchez said a recap of what happened at the meeting.

Debra Lopez, 1543 Monte Cristo Way said the Mayor was right, the statement was not said at the meeting and she felt it was only a disclaimer noting that the previous mayor did not participate in Closed Session.

Further discussion followed.

Motion: M/S Espinoza/Aguilar to clean up the Minutes and bring them back at the next meeting. The motion carried 4-1 with Council Member Samra abstaining.


The meeting was adjourned by consensus at 8:43 p.m.


City Clerk of the City of Livingston

APPROVED: February 1, 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.


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