June 07, 2011 Discussion of Utility Rate Committee Meeting

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 “verbal 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, and/or changing verbiage in a way 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 28:19 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 main point across.

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

This discussion took place during Councilpersons Reports and began with Councilperson Vierra.

Begin Transcription:

Councilperson Vierra: I just have one and I’d like to ask the question – I was out of town on Thursday, I think it was, and I had called to talk to somebody and I was told that was a Stakeholders meeting on that day and it started at 4 o’clock.

First of all, I’m not sure that the people of Livingston understand that the Stakeholders meeting is Water Rate discussions and I was under the impression, and if we read the newspaper Mr. Councilman Gurpal, transparency – That’s what I keep hearing all the time.

And I heard this first meeting was being held. And you assured me at the last meeting that I would be at all these meetings, sitting in the back room and that I would hear what was being said.

I didn’t hear a word that this meeting even happened until somebody told me halfway through the meeting.

When is the community going to know these meetings are being held and why was the first one kept a Secret? I don’t understand that.

Mayor Espinoza: I know that council member Samra and Mayor Pro-Tem Aguilar are appointed for that committee. So just wanna (?)

Councilperson Samra: The reason was, I was talking to Katheryn, Superintendent of Water Works, she says that for the first meeting she wanted to get the people together so they understand some things.

It was not, there was no discussion. It was just giving information about what the wells are and everything else. The next meeting we will have, we will publish. We haven’t had any dates set up yet. So we were just giving information to them.

Councilperson Vierra: Wouldn’t it be good for us to hear that information too?

I already talked to the attorney. He said these meetings did not have to be open, but, because they were an ad-hoc committee. The the thing is – we had a Recall Election because we were told that transparency wasn’t there. We’re starting off at the very first Water Meeting  – non-transparency.

Mayor Espinoza: I’d just say this was just for information so…

Councilperson Vierra: I don’t care if it was just for information or not.

Mayor Pro-Tem Aguilar: I’d like to speak on that. I’ll go ahead and give a little more information. Just like Council member Samra had mentioned, we did have our first meeting.

Just like any committee that starts together they kinda wanna have a feel for the members. This is the first time that some of these residents have come together and are actually part of this, so transparency is being made, Mr. Vierra.

We do have a set time. We sat and thanks to Kathryn Reyes and Connie they provided a binder for all the stockholders that were present at the time.

Our consultant was not available at that time. We’re gonna schedule another one so we can meet everyone and we hadda feel, a overview of what exactly we’re coming together for. Nothing was discussed other than what the binder contained. So there was really nothing to share, other than it’s just for us to meet each member. There’s a few that were missing. Even then, we didn’t, we weren’t able to touch base with everyone.

{Just a little commentary here. Nothing to share? Like no one else would be interested in that information that was in the binders handed out to committee members? And what’s with this “a few that were missing”? How many is a few from what, 6? Wouldn’t the public at large have a right to know just who exactly shows up to this things anyway?}

But yes, we are holding these meetings, Stakeholder meetings and they, its my understanding that they do not need to be open to the public.

{Ah huh…here we go. First not every person who applied to get on the committee was put on the committee because the meetings would be open to the public anyway. Now it’s “they do not need to be open to the public”. Gee, wasn’t the Recall supposed to usher in a New Era of Transparency: in which the Council went over and beyond the Bare Minimums of “law” and demonstrated ever increasing amounts of Transparency and Openness to the pubic?}

We are reporting out once we start talking more in depth in regards to the costs and expenditures that we’re gonna have to implement in order to raise the water rates. And I believe Vickey is also questioned a little bit why we’re having them so soon being that her finance numbers are not available at this time.

Our next meeting will include those numbers. Therefore we are able to kind of analyze what are the expenses and how we’re going about raising the water rates.

So believe me, Mr. Vierra, once we get those numbers from Vickey, our Finance Director and our Interim City Manager, we will let you know what the numbers are and either Council Member Samra or I will report, or maybe even one of the other persons who participated in the meeting.

But it is being, you know, we’re not hiding anything.

We started off in a very good way by allowing residents to be part of this, which is a big ole plus and a half or double plus I should say compared to what it was before. OK?

So we are moving forward and we’ll not leave you out in the dark. We will not throw numbers at you like they were thrown before. We will take you into consideration every time we meet and we will report out. Thank you, Mr. Vierra.

Mayor Espinoza: Thank you. Any more comments We’ll go to Teresa Land.

{At this point, Council Person Land gave a series of announcements and thanks to contributors to community events. Since she did not touch on the Stakeholders Committee meeting issue, I’m not including the text of her comments here. After she finished speaking, Mayor Espinoza then called on Councilperson Samra.}

Councilperson Samra:  Thank-you Mr. Mayor. I was gonna report about that Stakeholders but Mr. Vierra beat me to the punch as it were. Just to add on to it, that the Stakeholders, you know, to get to know the people. City Manager wasn’t there. And There was no Consultants.

It was just so the people can have the information they can take with them, their binders and even I got to there at the tail end of it. I didn’t even attend the entire meeting.

It was just (?) so they could get the information and be ready for it. OK? I think we’re done with this. Thank-you.

End Transcription

{After Councilperson Samra finished speaking, it was the Mayor Pro-Tem’s turn, than the Mayor’s. But since neither of them talked about the Stakeholder’s meeting at this point, I’m not including the text of their comments here.}


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