A Few Letters, Sun-Star & and Mike McGuire Articles about Livingston Politics (and a few other things Worthy of Note) 2010 – 2011

some of the links to Merced Sun Star Articles may have “expired”: which means, you might have to request a copy from the Merced Sun Star Archives. However, those of you with access to online newspaper data bases should be able to locate a copy that way as well.

Many of the “dead” links can be “recovered” by doing a copy/paste of the Title into your favorite search engine. I’m actually working on that myself, as time allows. Articles with an asterisk * in front of the title have been verified as working as of July 2014.

*Livingston annexation appears on fast track Gallo family wants 334 acres of land to be rezoned for industrial, commercial uses Saturday, Dec. 31, 2011 – JOSHUA EMERSON SMITH — City officials have taken steps toward approving a Gallo family request to annex several hundred acres of land into the city. Proponents argue it would set the stage for luring industry and jobs to the town. However, local residents have already voiced concerns about the possible negative impacts of development in the area.


*Livingston fires water consultantJob not satisfactory, city says; firm blames politics.– Wednesday, Dec. 28, 2011 – MIKE NORTH — The city’s most recent water rate study had a hiccup when officials decided to fire the consultant on the project because of poor performance….However, a consultant at the company said performance wasn’t the issue and that the city parted ways with his organization because of politics…{Note from TheGardeningSnail. What this means is we will be up to CONSULTANT #4 in the whole Prop 218 Utility Rate Study game… Sad smile{insert eye roll here}


Livingston kids reap rewards of police toy drive -Thursday, Dec. 22, 2011- MIKE NORTH — A line of kids stretched along Main Street and meandered into the City Council chambers toward a mountain of presents piled behind Santa Claus on Wednesday.


*Livingston teacher, accused of keeping explosives in classroom, sentenced to 4 years probation – Friday, Dec. 16, 2011 – Livingston students in chloroform incident express regret to court, former instructor. – AMEERA BUTT – A plea agreement was reached in the seven-month case of a Livingston High School chemistry teacher, Japhia Smith Huhndorf, who was placed on four years of felony probation Friday at Merced County Superior Court. *


*Very special donation: Bikes given to Livingston youth as way of remembering organ donor. Monday, Dec. 12, 2011 – VICTOR A. PATTON – Two families united by tragedy have come together to make the holidays a little brighter for poor and disenfranchised children in Livingston. Livingston police on Sunday received 30 BMX bicycles for kids, courtesy of the Millard family from Livingston and the MacKinnon family from Petaluma. *


In the Military: Greg JameroSaturday, Dec. 10, 2011 Merced Sun Star – Greg Jamero, a 2001 graduate of Livingston High School, was commissioned 2nd Lieutenant in the Marine Corps on June 16 at UCLA


*Big-box grocery store coming to Livingston Thursday, Dec. 08, 2011, MIKE NORTH – A new big-box grocery store is coming to town, and city officials think the addition will spur more development in the area. Rancho San Miguel Markets, which has locations in Merced, Stockton, Lodi and Madera, will set up shop in Livingston soon on the northeast corner of B Street and Winton Parkway. *


*Livingston working under tight budget,Thursday, Dec. 01, 2011, Mike North–Despite a budget that doesn’t have much wiggle room for superfluous spending, the city’s 2011-12 fiscal year final budget once again avoided layoffs and crippling cuts to vital services. Arriving several months late, the tight financial plan calls for no furloughs, layoffs or salary reductions, but doesn’t contain any employee merit, cost-of-living or benefit increases. The budget, which was passed during the council’s last meeting, does tap the city’s reserves by $143,000 for the general fund, said Odi Ortiz, assistant city manager and finance director for Livingston. *


*Livingston teacher’s ankle monitor stays, High school chemistry instructor faces multiple felony charges. Friday, Nov. 18, 2011, Ameera Butt–A Merced County judge denied a request by Livingston High School chemistry teacher Japhia Smith Huhndorf to remove the monitoring bracelet from her ankle Thursday. *


*Hearing postponed for Livingston teacher accused of keeping explosives in classroom, Police say Japhia Smith Huhndorf also helped students inhale chloroform, Friday, Oct. 21, 2011, Ameera Butt–The preliminary hearing for the Livingston High School chemistry teacher accused of keeping an explosive compound in her classroom and of helping her students inhale chloroform was moved to December because a witness wasn’t available Thursday morning, according to Deputy District Attorney Monika Saini, who is prosecuting the case. *


*Auditor has mixed report for Livingston, General fund decreases, enterprise funds improve. Wed., Oct. 19, 2011, Mike North–A report by an independent auditor brought good and bad news to Tuesday night’s City Council meeting — some of it reflecting back to another wild year in Livingston. The report shows the city’s general fund balance decreased to $2,151,015 from $3,101,433 over the past fiscal year. Much of the drop is spread across several revenue sources, including property and sales taxes. *


*Newly hired Livingston administrator sued Orange Cove for wrongful termination, Wed. Oct. 12, 2011–Though he carries extra baggage from a critical report about his time in Orange Cove, those who know Ortiz maintain that he’s always performed his job ethically and was targeted by a former employer for exposing wrongdoings by other city officials. *


*Livingston hires new assistant city manager, Tuesday, Oct. 11, 2011, Mike North–Council members approved the hiring of a new assistant city manager/finance director last week to help keep the city’s books in order — but his work history is less than tidy. On a 4 to 1 vote, the council approved hiring 39-year-old Odilon Ortiz Jr. to replace Vickie Lewis, who’s retiring Oct. 31. *


*Livingston upgrades police dispatch, Wednesday, Sep. 21, 2011, Mike North–With the help of some new technology, the Livingston Police Department’s dispatch center is becoming a hub for crime response and prevention. State and department officials approved the changes in June 2010, and final touches are still being done on the remodel, said Deanna Soria, director of professional services for the Livingston Police Department. *


*Livingston to take on two Main Streets, Wed., Sep. 21, 2011, Mike North–In an effort to unite the city, officials approved changing two street names during Tuesday night’s council meeting — Livingston Cressey Road will become North Main Street, and Lincoln Boulevard will become Main Street. Representatives from businesses that will be affected by the change brought forward concerns and praise during the public hearing before the council passed the resolution on a 4-0 vote. Some said the move will make it easier for customers to understand where shops are located, while others think the name change will be more of a hassle. *


*Merced farmers sell land to preserve agriculture, Wed., Sep. 21, 2011, Ameera Butt–Jim and Colette Alvernaz of James C. Alvernaz Farms Inc., which farms sweet potatoes and rye on 211 acres of land on the southern edge of Livingston, just wanted to farm and be left alone. So, a few years ago, they started the process of selling an ag conservation easement on the land his father — Joe "Sweet Potato Joe" Alvernaz — still owns to a land trust. This spring, the 211 acres of farmland was preserved as an easement. Sweet Potato Joe received $1.07 million for the easement sale, according to his son *


*Livingston, Le Grand, Planada get lessons in gardening, Yesenia Amaro, Tuesday, Sep. 20, 2011, Merced Sun Star–A communitywide garden that has been in the works since 2009 in Livingston is finally coming to fruition. People involved in the effort had their first meeting Thursday at the Livingston City Council Chambers, said William Ruth, Livingston resident and pastor of the Lutheran Church *


*Livingston awarded $9 million settlement, Mon, Sep 19, 2011 Mike North, Merced Sun Star — City officials are preparing to implement a sudden windfall of millions of dollars that came from a recent settlement over groundwater contamination….The city received a check for $9 million last week to compensate for 1,2,3-trichloropropane pollution, a highly-toxic chemical that’s filtered into Livingston’s drinking water supply….Filed in 2005, the lawsuit complaint alleged that The Dow Chemical Company, Dow AgroSciences, LLC, Shell Oil Company and Wilbur-Ellis Company are manufacturers, distributors and releasers of TCP and TCP-containing products. *


Livingston chemistry teacher’s hearing moved, Tue, Sep 13, 2011, Ameera Butt, Merced Sun Star: –A judge decided Monday to move a preliminary hearing to next month for the Livingston high school chemistry teacher accused of keeping an explosive compound in her classroom and of helping her students inhale chloroform.


*Livingston’s sport complex keeps evolving, Friday, Sep. 09, 2011; Mike North, Merced Sun Star:–The Walnut Sports Complex is taking shape, and city officials are ushering in more construction in the coming months…A metal-covered picnic shelter, restrooms, metal trellises, sidewalks, utilities and drainage will be the latest additions to the complex, which sits at Dwight Way and Walnut Avenue…The work is expected to be completed in a couple of months if the weather stays favorable…The cost for the work totals $628,000, with $160,500 coming from a Land and Water Conservation Fund Grant, according to city records. *


*Livingston officials review finances, Fri, Aug. 26, 2011, Mike North, Merced Sun Star: — Despite decreasing revenues, city services are expected to stay mostly unchanged as officials pull together the 2011-2012 fiscal year budget….The proposals call for barebones funding for departments….That’s the bad news…The good news is more industrial property and homes will be on the tax rolls for fiscal year 2011-12. Their presence is expected bump up revenue for the city, said Vickie Lewis, assistant city manager and finance director for Livingston. "It makes a considerable difference in the taxes," she said. *


Preliminary hearing set for Livingston teacher accused of keeping explosives, Thursday, Aug. 25, 2011, Ameera Butt, Merced Sun Star:–The Livingston High teacher accused of keeping an explosive compound in her classroom and helping her students inhale chloroform briefly appeared in Merced County Superior Court on Thursday.


*Livingston rakes in high legal costs over past five years, Friday, Aug. 12, 2011, Mike North, Merced Sun Star:–When it comes to the Bizarro World of legal costs for cities in Merced County, those with less tend to spend more.Over the past five fiscal years, Livingston, one of Merced County’s smaller cities, racked up more in legal fees than any other city in the county, spending $3,469,770.15, according to city records. {Note from TheGardeningSnail: I am still waiting for that documentary evidence that a firm, signed agreement between the City of Livingston and Foster Farms, for the installation of Water Meters & Back Flow Devices, existed prior to 2006. So far, no one has volunteered to provide such documentation. One would think, if such documentation existed, it would have been Front Page News in the Sun Star a long, long time ago.} *


Livingston Medical Group gets fed grant to open new medical unit in Hilmar, Wed, Aug 10, 2011, Merced Sun Star:–Rep. Dennis Cardoza (D-Merced) said Livingston Medical Group (LMG) has received a $316,562 federal grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) to open a new medical facility in Hilmar.


*No easy fix for wells in Livingston, Inexpensive treatment of broadly distributed contaminants not an option, Thursday, Aug. 04, 2011, Mike North, Merced Sun Star:–LIVINGSTON — The results from Livingston’s water-well profiling are in… A $22,500 study of wells 8 and 15 has shown that not much can be done with them to reduce contaminants without costly filtration systems… The test results show that 1,2,3-Trichloropropane is evenly dispersed throughout well 8, meaning cheaper treatment alternatives won’t work…In well 15, arsenic — a semimetallic element that can lead to cancer, skin discoloration, nausea, vomiting, partial paralysis and blindness — is evenly spread throughout the well, as is manganese. *


Livingston well tests bring disappointment, Wednesday, Aug. 03, 2011, Mike North, Merced Sun Star:–LIVINGSTON — The results from Livingston’s water-well profiling are in — and they aren’t what city officials were hoping for. …..Despite $22,500 to study wells 8 and 15, not much can be done with them to reduce contaminants without costly filtration systems. Impurities include high levels of arsenic, manganese and 1,2,3 Trichloropropane (TCP).


*Livingston’s new city manager behind the dais for first council meeting Tuesday, Wednesday, Aug. 03, 2011, Mike North: Merced Sun Star—Jose Antonio Ramirez, Livingston’s new city manager, was behind the dais for his first council meeting Tuesday night. …Ramirez is working in Livingston full-time, but said he’s still helping his former city of Firebaugh through the transition period as officials there look for an interim city manager.*


Hearing for Livingston Chemistry teacher delayed, Thursday, July 28, 2011, Ameera Butt, Merced Sun Star:–Japhia Smith Huhndorf, the Livingston High chemistry teacher accused of storing explosive and dangerous chemicals in her classroom, will make her next court appearance on Aug. 25 at the Merced County Superior Court. ..The hearing was delayed until next month because her lawyer, Paul Fromson, was involved in another case Wednesday morning.


Livingston veteran’s service continues, Monday, Jul. 18, 2011, Carol Reiter: Merced Sun Star: Denis Wells joined the Air Force when he was just 17. It was wartime — the Vietnam War was escalating in 1965 — and Wells figured he’d probably be sent to the Indochinese country. He was right.


*Giving back to Livingston — with a bang, Monday, Jul. 04, 2011, Ameera Butt: Merced Sun Star: LIVINGSTON — After a coach helped him in middle school when he couldn’t afford to play football, Julio Valadez decided to help other children. "He said to me, ‘You’re here every day? You want to play?’ and I said, ‘Yes!’ " Valadez recalled. "I got help when I was growing up." Valadez, described by friends as community-oriented and big on teamwork, wants to give back to the town where he was raised by leading events that help children. *

*Livingston manager will stay a little longer, Friday, Jul. 08, 2011, Mike North: Merced Sun Star: LIVINGSTON — Interim City Manager Vickie Lewis agreed Tuesday to delay her retirement to help the town’s new city manager with the transition. Lewis had set a retirement date of July 15, but the incoming city manager — Jose Antonio Ramirez — doesn’t plan on taking the reins until August. *


*Firebaugh leader is new Livingston city manager , Mike North, Published on Sat Jun 18 00:52:04 PDT 2011: Jose Antonio Ramirez, 39, was selected as city manager on a 4-1 vote. He thinks there’s room for Livingston to improve its standing in the Central Valley…Before becoming city manager of Firebaugh, Ramirez was the city manager of Orange Cove in Fresno County at age 28, and was told he was the youngest city manager in California. As the city manager of Firebaugh for the past eight years, Ramirez has earned a base salary of $100,000 a year. *

Livingston Teacher Pleads Not Guilty in Court Published on Wed Jun 1 19:16:15 PDT 2011

Livingston teacher appears in court Published on Sat May 28 01:33:01 PDT 2011

Livingston teacher told detective explosive substance in class was student project Published on Fri May 27 01:58:30 PDT 2011

Sun-Star needs to talk with Livingston High chemistry students Published on Thu May 26 13:14:58 PDT 2011

Police: Explosive compounds found in Livingston High classroom; school evacuated Published on Wed May 25 11:11:44 PDT 2011

Livingston High teacher gave students chloroform, police say Published on Tue May 24 10:42:48 PDT 2011

*Gustine police chief’s status now permanent Published on Tue May 17 – The City Council voted unanimously May 3 to keep Doug Dunford on as the city’s permanent police chief with a two-year contract.  – The former chief of the Livingston Police Department, Dunford was hired as Gustine’s interim chief March 7.

*Livingston Planning Commission minutes on alcohol served by the glass: LivingstonCalif Michael McGuire, May 6, 2011 — City Attorney Sanchez stated that the City Council did not vote on the issue on whether or not they wanted to remove the footnote, but there were comments about considering the removal. That is why the red-lined version in Exhibit A shows taking that footnote out if that is the Planning Commission’s recommendation. He added that the removal of the footnote was not the Planning Commission’s only option; there were other options previously discussed with City staff such as possibly adding a Conditional Use Permit requirement for the sale of alcohol for onsite consumption in restaurants and cafes. *

*Livingston Planning Commission agenda for May 10, 2011: LivingstonCalif Michael McGuire, May 6, 2011 — Item No. 3 – Public Hearings a. Determine General Plan Consistency and Make Recommendation to City Council Concerning Modification of Livingston Municipal Code (LMC) 5-2-3 (1) Agricultural, Table 3 Commercial Zoning Agricultural and 5-6-5 Nonconforming Uses. b. Livingston Municipal Code (LMC) Title 4 Chapter 2 Sign Regulations Review. *

*Livingston sets utility rates committee : Mike North – Merced Sun Star, May 6, 2011 — Council members filled the last open seat on its Utility Rates Stakeholders’ Committee during Tuesday’s meeting, but who’s on the committee was questioned…During an April 5 meeting, the council appointed to the committee Richie King from Foster Farms, Kathy Berkeley from Livingston Union School District and Michael Belluomini from Merced Union High School District.Livingston residents Claire Gehrman and Warren Urnberg were also appointed.The council appointed Albert Arias of Napa Auto Parts on Tuesday. *

*Alcohol limits kept in place in Livingston – : Mike North, Merced Sun Star, May 5, 2011 — While Livingston bars were once known for fights, stabbings and shootings, the disorder ceased and downtown got a little quieter after the City Council adopted the zoning code update Aug. 16, 2005, that created the 1,000-foot rule….Discussion of removing the footnote came after Mike Sperry Jr., who tried to open a medical marijuana dispensary in Livingston last year, proposed reopening the Tequila Club. *

*Livingston council rejects changing bar rules: LivingstonCalif Michael McGuire, May 3, 2011 — A move to make it easier to open businesses that sell alcohol by the glass was rejected 3-2 Tuesday night by the Livingston City Council … While (councilperson) Samra said "the old days of barfights are over," (councilperson) Land countered the old days are over because the city had cracked down on the number of bars allowed downtown. *

*Livingston: How many bottles of beer on the wall? LivingstonCalif Michael McGuire, May 01, 2011–On one side, there are Livingston residents who want a nice place to kick back with friends, listen to music, dance and have a few drinks…On the other side are Livingston residents who fear any change in city policies toward bars could result in a return to the wild days of the 1970s and 1980s when taverns turned downtown Livingston into a violent atmosphere of fistfights, shootings and stabbings.

*Deadline passes to apply for Livingston city manager LivingstonCalif Michael McGuire, May 01, 2011–Candidates had until Saturday to submit applications for the position of Livingston city manager…..The city manager’s position is on the city council’s May 3 closed session agenda, but it appears unlikely a new city manager will be named so soon after the application deadline.

Warne wins Twentynine Palms vote: LivingstonCalif Michael McGuire, Apr. 27, 2011–Richard Warne, who left his Livingston job on March 1, was unanimously voted in Tuesday as the new city manager of Twentynine Palms in San Bernardino County. He’s expected to start work May 2.

*Moving on: Former Livingston city manager gets new job – Mike North – Merced Sun Star, Apr. 27, 2011–Although Warne signed a mutual release agreement to end his tenure in Livingston, several city officials think he was pushed out by the new council after the recall, which was sparked by high utility rate increases.

Richard Warne finds greener pastures Michael McGuire Examiner.com April 23rd, 2011–In Twentynine Palms, the debate is over Warne’s campaign contribution against Proposition 8, which would have legalized same-sex marriages in California.

*Livingston Planning Commission has a vacancy, Saturday, Apr. 23, 201, Merced Sun Star–Another planning commissioner has resigned from his post, but this time there isn’t a political slant to it, he says. Commissioner Alex Gonzalez said he resigned a couple of weeks ago because of a conflict with his college class schedule.

*Livingston eyes bar ban reversal for downtown, Mike North – Merced Sun Star, Friday, Apr. 22, 2011–At least part of the bar scene that was once a lively part of this city along Highway 99 may be coming back.The bars in Livingston were once known for stabbings, fights and shootings, but the mayhem took a break after city officials took a stand six years ago. *

*Bad blood doesn’t spoil award Reporters’ Notebook:Merced Sun Star, Friday, Apr. 22, 2011–Former Livingston Police Lt. Sharon Silva was given a plaque during an April 5 council meeting for her years of service to the city. *

Livingston Parks and Recreation Commission agenda for April 28, 2011: LivingstonCalif Michael McGuire Livingston CA / April 20, 2011–

Livingston Parks and Recreation Commission minutes for March 24, 2011: LivingstonCalif Michael McGuire: Livingston CA / April 20, 2011 —Following are the draft minutes of the March 24 meeting of the Livingston Parks and Recreation, as provided to Examiner.com on Wednesday by city staff.The minutes do not become official until approved by the commission at its April 28 or subsequent meeting.

Court Theater expected to gain formal support of city council: LivingstonCalif Michael McGuire Livingston CA / April 19, 2011 — A resolution formally placing the City of Livingston on record as supporting the Court Theater Project is expected to pass on May 3..At a recent meeting, members of the Court Theater Committee requested city staff draft a resolution affirming the current council supports the reconstruction project.

Lewis to retire from Livingston government: LivingstonCalif Michael McGuire Livingston CA / April 19, 2011 — Victoria Lewis confirmed at Monday’s meeting of the Livingston Court Theater Committee that she will resign soon from Livingston city government.

*Livingston official’s retiring the latest turnover Interim city manager says she’s ready for a break from workload. Mike North, Merced Sun Star,Tuesday, Apr. 19, 2011– The city known for contentious politics, dirty tap water and heated council meetings is preparing for a change of face at City Hall. Interim City Manager Vickie Lewis, who’s been with the city for nearly seven years, is tentatively set to retire July 15. *

Walmart.com at Livingston CA News LivingstonCalif – Michael McGuire Livingston CA / April 18, 2011 Walmart.com on Monday integrated its website with Livingston CA News…With the passage of time, we plan to bring more stores to Livingston CA News to enable readers to shop with price and product comparison.

*Livingston school construction on indefinite hold: Michael McGuire April 15, 2011…The City of Livingston approved a General Plan that reflected the belief the city would grow by leaps and bounds, and the Livingston Union School District purchased land at Peach and Robin avenues for a new school to prevent overcrowding of elementary and middle school campuses. As it turned out, Livingston didn’t grow much. *!

Reapportionment meeting May 3 in Livingston: Michael McGuire April 14, 2011 — Merced County representatives will visit Livingston May 3 to discuss reapportionment, the Merced County Board of Supervisors announced Thursday. The presentation will be made during the regularly scheduled Livingston City Council at 7 p.m. in the council chambers on Main Street.

National VFW chief to make whirlwind tour of California: Michael McGuire April 14, 2011 — Richard Eubank, national Commander in Chief of Veterans of Foreign Wars, will tour California, April 21-May1, the VFW announced Thursday. Accompanying him on the tour is Denis Wells of Livingston, state commander of the VFW.

*Increase the number of bars in Livingston? – Not so fast: Michael McGuire April 13, 2011 — The Livingston Planning Commission on April 12 recommended the city council delete a section in the municipal code “requiring alcohol served by the glass uses to be a minimum of 1,000 feet apart in the downtown commercial district.” *

Livingston Fourth of July vendor applications online: Michael McGuire April 12, 2011 — Applications and instructions for vendors wanting to set up booths at Livingston’s Fourth of July festival are available online, organizers announced Monday..Food booth deadline is June 13 and the deadline for other booths is June 27.

*Peach Avenue water line replacements to cost Livingston $85,000: Michael McGuire April 11, 2011 — Replacement of water lines within areas of Peach Avenue associated with Livingston High School improvements are expected to cost the City of Livingston $85,463.91, according to documents made public Friday by the Merced Union High School District. *!

End in sight for Livingston’s Peach Avenue construction: Michael McGuire April 11, 2011…Most of the project to upgrade Peach Avenue for enlargement of Livingston High School is expected to be complete by May 1, according to Merced Union High School District documents.

Students raise money for Livingston High School sober graduation: Michael McGuire April 10, 2011 …Students lined the four-way stop at Main and B streets to ask for donations, and motorists responded by donating an estimated $1,500 to the effort. Official total was not available at news deadline. The money will help finance an all-night celebration on the LHS campus intended to help seniors have fun but stay out of harm’s way.

Livingston High School wants to build 90-foot cell phone tower: Michael McGuire April 9, 2011 Vista Towers LLC “proposes to build a 90 foot tower that will look like a pine tree, at the northwest corner of the Livingston High School stadium grass parking lot,”

Livingston library celebrates centennial: Michael McGuireLivingston CA / April 9, 2011 The Livingston branch library will be open April 13 and 16 from 10 a.m.-7 p.m. to celebrate the 100th anniversary of libraries in Livingston.

*Livingston explores ‘Reaganism’ to reduce budgets: Michael McGuireLivingston CA / April 9, 2011 According to a city document, areas in which cities will consider joint powers agreements include: *

    • Fire services/functions

    • Water/Wastewater Operations

    • Dispatch

    • Animal Control

    • Economic Development

    • Fleet Sharing.

      *Lawsuit against Livingston dropped Mike North, Merced Sun Star, Thursday, Apr 07, 2011–The giant poultry producer made the decision to drop the lawsuit months ago, but city officials wanted to wait to make sure Foster Farms was dropping the lawsuit for the right reasons, said Randy Boyce, senior vice president and general counsel for Foster Farms. "We have a great deal of confidence that the right things are being done," Boyce said.

      *Yagi denied use of Livingston ag land: April 7th, 2011 – One of the nation’s largest sweet potato growers on Tuesday was denied permission to farm on land it owns in the City of Livingston. –By Mike McGuire

      Sharon Silva honored by Livingston City Council: April 7th, 2011 – Sharon Silva was honored Tuesday by the Livingston City Council. By Mike McGuire

      *Livingston moves closer to setting water rates: Michael McGuireLivingston CA / April 6, 2011 — The steep increases in water rates that resulted in the recall of the mayor and a city councilmember in 2010 is back on Livingston’s agenda..On Tuesday, the city council appointed five to the new Utility Rates Stakeholders Committee, which will have public meetings to suggest how much money the city needs and how much water customers need to pay….Appointed were:

        • Richie King, vice president of chicken operations at Foster Farms;

        • Michael Belluomini, Merced Union High School District;

        • Kathy Berkeley, Livingston Union School District;

        • Warren Urnberg, a former Livingston Planning Commission who served briefly as an interim city councilmember in 2010; and

        • Claire A. Gehrman, a relative newcomer to Livingston.

          *Recall fallout remains on Livingston City Council agenda Published on Wed Apr 6, 2011 – Merced Sun Star – Council members met in a special closed-session meeting Tuesday evening to discuss the city manager position before making some decisions that could affect the city’s water rates. No reportable action was taken during the meeting, but more developments were added to the city’s utility rate saga.

          *Livingston City Council to discuss city manager position in closed session April 5th, 2011 By Mike McGuire According compensation offered for the new city manager includes:

            • A salary in the $130,000 range;

            • Fully paid health insurance for employee and family;

            • PERS Retirement: 2 percent of 55 with City paying both employee and employer’s share. The City does not participate in Social Security, except for the .45 percent deduction for Medicare; and

            • All other benefits may be negotiated with the City Council as part of the initial employment contract with the successful candidate.

              Livingston passes the hat for Fourth of July: April 2nd, 2011 by Mike McGuire Volunteers took their places Saturday at the four stop signs at Main and B streets to ask passing motorists for donations to help finance this year’s Fourth of July celebration in Livingston

              *Livingston gets $378,000 grant to replace trucks Published on Fri Mar 25

              Denny Karr: Livingston turmoil Saturday Mar 19, 2011

              *More change in Livingston; police lieutenant retires Friday Mar 11, 2011

              *Ex-Livingston top cop lands in Gustine Dunford takes over police department on interim basis. Tuesday Mar 8, 2011  – The circumstances that pushed Dunford out of Livingston weren’t the result of his performance, but rather a changing political atmosphere, Greeson said. "It was a new council, they got rid of a long-standing city manager and oftentimes they’re going to want to find their own police chief as they bring in a new city manager," he said. "In all appearances, that’s what that was. I’ve known Doug a long time and I’m familiar with his work, so I know it was nothing performance-related."

              Livingston Fourth of July committee to meet Saturday Mar 5, 2011

              Livingston Library marks centennial Wednesday Mar 2, 2011

              *Livingston officials gain new job titles Wednesday Mar 2, 2011 – During Tuesday’s meeting, the council voted 4-1 to make acting City Manager Vickie Lewis the interim city manager, and voted 4-1 to make interim City Attorney Jose Sanchez the city’s permanent attorney

              Our View: A source of expertise for Valley Saturday Feb 26, 2011

              *Livingston looking at increasing utility rates again Thursday Feb 24, 2011 – The issue of utility rate increases has returned, but council members are hoping to make the process less controversial this time around.

              Livingston Medical Group downsizes Wednesday Feb 23, 2011

              *Livingston asks for participants in utility rate study committee Sunday Feb 20, 2011 – The committee would meet on an as-needed basis, sharing ideas and making recommendations to the City Council about public utility improvements as well as water, sewer and garbage rates

              *Livingston, police chief agree to part ways Saturday Feb 19, 2011

              *Arsenic level in Livingston drinking water found OK Friday Feb 11, 2011 – Well 15, which also has a high level of manganese, has tested at a little less than or at the maximum arsenic contaminant level for the past year. It tested at more than the limit once, but has on average been at the maximum contaminate level, allowing the well to keep pumping

              *Livingston leaders, in private, discuss letting police chief go Thursday Feb 10, 2011

              *Livingston Wolves win first game in new den Saturday Feb 5, 2011

              Lesa Sanchez: Thanks, Mr. North Saturday Feb 5, 2011

              Crime in Livingston continues to fall Friday Feb 4, 2011

              *Reporters’ Notebook: Livingston City Council in hiding? Friday Feb 4, 2011 – During Tuesday’s meeting, Livingston City Council members once again lambasted the Sun-Star for its coverage of their city.

              *Livingston gets first look at new gym Tuesday Feb 1, 2011

              *Livingston Court Theater: Financial constraints hold back restoration plans Wednesday Jan 26, 2011

              *Blogger keeps tabs on Livingston Monday Jan 24, 2011

              *Reporters’ Notebook: A town hall with few townspeople Friday Jan 21, 2011

              Rodrigo Espinoza: Need redevelopment Thursday Jan 20, 2011

              *Livingston antenna signals a new divide Wednesday Jan 19, 2011

              *‘Off the 99’ Podcast: Livingston police turmoil Saturday, Jan. 15, 2011

              *Livingston soldier, wound healing, plans to return to duty in Afghanistan Saturday Jan 8, 2011

              Barbara Ratzlaff: Something stinks Friday Jan 7, 2011

              Kaye Greeley: Support for chief Friday Jan 7, 2011

              *Livingston council gets an earful Wednesday Jan 5, 2011

              *Police chief’s future may come up tonight at Livingston meeting Tuesday Jan 4, 2011

              *Livingston police officers show their support for chief Friday Dec 31, 2010

              *Amid recall, tumultuous year for Livingston Thursday Dec 30, 2010

              *Foster Farms treatment facility now open Saturday Dec 25, 2010 – The city would’ve had to spend a lot of money building a new industrial wastewater treatment facility if Foster Farms hadn’t taken on the project, (Richie) King added. The multimillion-dollar venture took a year-and-a-half to finish but several years to plan, King said.  – As far back as 1998, Foster Farms knew that regulations would be changing, and that the city’s system wouldn’t meet the new standards. – Foster Farms will pay for the cleanup of the city’s old industrial wastewater ponds, he said.

              *Livingston police chief placed on administrative leave Wednesday Dec 22, 2010

              *Saving Christmas: Livingston bands together to collect and wrap toys for kids who might not get any. Wednesday Dec 22, 2010

              Employee pay, council packets available online Friday Dec 17, 2010

              *Livingston City Council appoints treasurer to vacant city clerk position Thursday Dec 9, 2010

              *Livingston eyes cheap way to deal with arsenic contamination in water supply Thursday Dec 9, 2010

              *Livingston city council to consider no pay for no show Tuesday Dec 7, 2010

              *Livingston finances reported better now Saturday Nov 20, 2010

              *Livingston skate park taking shape as thrashers pitch in with ideas Wednesday Nov 17, 2010

              *Dirty, smelly water on tap in Livingston Tuesday Nov 16, 2010

              *Planning Commission member quits in a huff Saturday Nov 13, 2010

              *Livingston seeks input on skate park Saturday Nov 13, 2010

              *Funding street sweeper in Livingston will take some creativity Tuesday Nov 9, 2010 – A new sweeper is needed for the city to comply with state air quality standards and the city’s storm water management plan, which is mandated by the state, said Jim Rightsell, street supervisor for the Public Works Department.

              Sikhs celebrate Diwali, the festival of lights Saturday Nov 6, 2010

              Livingston man’s yard draws curiosity, scrutiny Thursday Nov 4, 2010

              *Espinoza, Livingston’s mayor for two months, wins re-election Wednesday Nov 3, 2010

              *Livingston city manager leaving Monday Nov 1, 2010

              *Livingston reviews city manager’s job – again Friday Oct 29, 2010

              Construction closing part of Peach Avenue Friday Oct 22, 2010

              *Signs of bad blood emerge in Livingston City Council campaign Thursday Oct 21, 2010 

              *Meeting in Livingston takes confrontational turn Tuesday Oct 19, 2010 People showed up at the Portuguese Hall expecting a town hall meeting Sunday.- What they got was nothing but a cool night, a light wind and hot air. – The town hall was hastily cancelled before it ever got under way, and hints of threats kept police officers on their toes.

              Bill Eldridge: Knows Samra Tuesday Oct 19, 2010

              *Livingston adds 5 police officers to department Thursday Oct 14, 2010 

              Former Livingston City Councilman Ingram dies after battle with cancer Tuesday Oct 12, 2010

              *Livingston Council members give up cell phones Saturday Oct 9, 2010

              Livingston’s city manager gets some support Friday Oct 8, 2010

              Getting together and having good times in Livingston at the Fall Street Fair Friday Oct 8, 2010

              Police bounty of bikes given away to children Thursday Oct 7, 2010

              *Questions raised about Livingston’s ability to provide safe water Tuesday Sep 28, 2010

              Warren B. Urnberg: Personal attack by former Livingston mayor Monday Sep 27, 2010

              Livingston gets a jump-start on Fourth of July show Saturday Sep 25, 2010

              Livingston takes back utility rate hike Saturday Sep 25, 2010

              Estela Martinez: Only in Livingston Saturday Sep 25, 2010

              Reporters’ Notebook: School districts keeping it local on job front Friday Sep 24,

              *Already, things are shaking up in Livingston Thursday Sep 23, 2010 

              *After recall election, new leadership takes reins in Livingston Wednesday Sep 22, 2010

              Kaye Greeley: She is disturbed Tuesday Sep 21, 2010

              *Livingston candidates gearing up for heated City Council and mayor’s race Friday Sep 17, 2010 – The November election for mayor will probably be a heated one, but the race for the open council seat is also shaping up for sparks to fly. – Mohani Thiara, who was a co-chair of the "No! On the Recall" campaign, filed her paperwork to run for the open council seat, as did former mayor Gurpal Samra, an outspoken advocate of the recall, and Planning Commissioner and former Councilman Roy Soria.

              *Reporters’ Notebook: Livingston drama has a new chapter Friday Sep 17, 2010 – A former city employee once sued by Foster Farms has now joined forces with the company. Foster Farms recently hired Paul Creighton as its new wastewater treatment operator, said Brandon Friesen, business owner and former mayor. Creighton used to be employed for the city as the public works director and headed up its wastewater plant

              *Livingston council OKs expansion of Foster Farms rendering plant Thursday Sep 16, 2010 –

              Theresa Land: Thanks to citizens — Saturday Sep 11, 2010

              ‘Off the 99’ podcast: Livingston, after the recall Saturday Sep 11, 2010

              *Livingston OKs relocation of wastewater treatment ponds Thursday Sep 9, 2010 – The City Council voted Tuesday to move forward with plans to relocate its wastewater ponds away from the Merced River to prevent future spills.

              Daniel Varella Sr.: Promises kept Saturday Sep 4, 2010 —

              Martha S. Nateras: Nateras’ goodbye Saturday Sep 4, 2010

              Grass getting greener as work at new Livingston park gets done Thursday Sep 2, 2010

              Gloria Mendoza: Congrats to winners Thursday Sep 2, 2010

              Barbara Ratzlaff: Promises kept Thursday Sep 2, 2010

              Recall election: Livingston’s Mayor Daniel Varela and Councilwoman Martha Nateras voted out of office Wednesday Sep 1, 2010

              Kaye Greeley: Begin to heal Wednesday Sep 1, 2010

              Livingston: Now it’s up to voters to decide who stays, goes Tuesday Aug 31, 2010

              Livingston declares war on graffiti vandals Saturday Aug 28, 2010

              Our View: Recall isn’t the way to fix Livingston Saturday Aug 28, 2010

              Accolades: Sue Wells Saturday Aug 28, 2010

              Warren B. Urnberg: He has seen much Saturday Aug 28, 2010

              *Judge: no evidence city of Livingston violated laws in Foster Farms fraud case Friday Aug 27, 2010 – The lawsuit alleges that Warne fraudulently misused city funds, but Judge Brian McCabe of the Merced County Superior Court ruled the attorneys for Foster Farms didn’t provide enough evidence, according to Wednesday’s ruling. -  The claim that "Warne and the city’s auditor admitted improperly using the restricted funds" is "without merit," according to the ruling.

              Schedule for Friday, August 27,. 2010 Friday Aug 27, 2010

              Livingston’s Sue Wells attends national VFW Ladies Auxiliary convention Friday Aug 27, 2010

              Missing signs add to contentious atmosphere of Livingston recall Thursday Aug 26, 2010

              Livingston’s Sue Wells named Outstanding Department President by VFW Ladies Auxiliary Monday Aug 23, 2010

              Livingston officials hope cameras, lights will improve safety, deter crime Monday Aug 23, 2010

              Myra Bettencourt: City attorney pay Saturday Aug 21, 2010

              Livingston councilman questions pay for city attorney Friday Aug 20, 2010

              Livingston authorities reach out with a hot dog to residents Thursday Aug 19, 2010

              *Livingston Council passes city budget on 3-2 vote Thursday Aug 19, 2010

              Barbara Ratzlaff: A good feeling Thursday Aug 19, 2010

              *Livingston moving wastewater ponds to prevent spills into Merced River Wednesday Aug 18, 2010 

              Carlos Viera Racing to host race in Stockton and poker run in Livingston for autism cause Tuesday Aug 17, 2010

              Kaye L. Greeley: Short memory Tuesday Aug 17, 2010

              Our View: If Foster Farms’ plans mean jobs, yes Tuesday Aug 17, 2010

              Richie King: Please, approve Foster Farms expansion Monday Aug 16, 2010

              *Livingston leaders fighting to keep jobs Saturday Aug 14, 2011 –

              Myra Bettencourt: ‘No’ on recall Friday, Aug. 13, 2010

              *Livingston upheaval spreads to commission Thursday, Aug. 12, 2010 – During a Planning Commission meeting Tuesday evening, one member said he’s stepping down from his position, while another made his opinion of the recall known.  – Both take drastically different stances on how the Aug. 31 recall effort against Mayor Daniel Varela Sr. and Councilwoman Martha Nateras has affected Livingston.

              Warren B. Urnberg: Change for better Tuesday Aug 10, 2010

              Our view: Some things go right in Livingston Saturday Aug 7, 2010

              Barbara Ratzlaff: ‘No’ on Livingston recall Friday Aug 6, 2010

              *Livingston mayor to run again in November, despite looming recall Friday Aug 6, 2010

              *Organizations lend legal help to Livingston in Foster Farms lawsuit Thursday Aug 5, 2010 -  City officials think they hold a stronger position in a water rate lawsuit brought last year by Foster Farms after receiving support from some big-name organizations.  – The League of California Cities, California State Association of Counties and the Association of California Water Agencies support of Livingston was disclosed during a City Council meeting Tuesday.

              *Livingston’s sports complex taking shape Tuesday Aug 3, 2010 – As city officials continue to plan the evolving Livingston Sports Complex, two grants are helping the site live up to its expectations — and a larger grant may be just down the road

              *Complaint filed in Livingston recall try Saturday Jul 31, 2010 – As the clock ticks closer to the Aug. 31 recall election, voters on both sides of the issue are preparing to decide the future of their city.  – However, one side has committed some legal slip-ups along the way.

              Daniel Varela Sr.: Two points on recall Saturday Jul 31, 2010

              *For whatever reason, Livingston repairing sidewalks Tuesday Jul 27, 2010

              Tip List: Livingston needs smoother sidewalks Thursday Jul 15, 2010

              *Utility rate increase paying dividends in Livingston Wednesday Jul 14, 2010  – Despite the bad economy, city officials plan to improve public safety and infrastructure, all while avoiding layoffs and furloughs, according to the 2010-2011 proposed budget

              Letter: He’s paid the price Wednesday Jul 14, 2010

              Letter: Check the facts Tuesday Jul 13, 2010

              Letter: Message to youth Saturday Jul 10, 2010

              *Stage set for recall showdown in Livingston Thursday Jul 8, 2010 – With the pressure of a recall election mounting, Mayor Daniel Varela and Councilwoman Martha Nateras announced their "No! On the Recall" campaign Wednesday.

              Our View: Did politics scare off Wal-Mart? Tuesday Jun 29, 2010

              *Wal-Mart drops plans for supercenter in Livingston Thursday Jun 24, 2010 – In a stunning move, Wal-Mart officials said last week they won’t move forward with plans to build a supercenter — and Livingston city officials are still scratching their heads about why they backed out.  – It wasn’t immediately clear why a project that seemed to be moving forward was suddenly derailed. Even local Wal-Mart officials appeared puzzled at the surprise cancellation by corporate higher-ups

              Letter: Thorn in side Thursday Jun 24, 2010

              *Livingston’s ex-mayor says fireworks cancellation a victim of politics Wednesday Jun 23, 2010 – With a recall election around the corner in Livingston, questions have been raised about why the annual fireworks show fizzled out this year.

              *Questions remain to be answered before there’s a skateboard park for Livingston teens Tuesday Jun 22, 2010  – Skateboarders are one kick-flip closer to having a park to call their own — but there are still questions about where it will be built and how much it will cost. – The Livingston City Council decided on a consultant during a June 15 meeting, voting to retain RJM Design Group.

              *Livingston water fee increase stays in effect Friday Jun 18, 2010  – Citizens of Livingston may be stuck with higher water and sewer rates after the Merced County Superior Court threw out a lawsuit Tuesday fighting the rate increase.  – Superior Court Judge Brian McCabe dismissed the Davalos, et al. v. City of Livingston case mainly because the plaintiff failed to file action until after the statute of limitations had expired.

              Our View: A fine mess Livingston finds itself in Wednesday May 12, 2010

              *Livingston looking at hefty bill for special recall elections Friday May 7, 2010 – If the leaders of a recall election in Livingston want to save money, they’ll need to act fast.  – A petition to recall Mayor Pro Tem Frank Vierra from public office was filed with the city Wednesday. – The petitioners will have to follow a series of steps required by state law to see the petitions through to an election. But if each deadline is pushed to its last day, the election would be held sometime between Dec. 21, 2010, and Jan. 18, 2011.

              *Livingston City Council sets recall election date for Aug. 31 Wednesday May 5, 2010 – The citizens of Livingston will hit the election booths on Aug. 31 in a recall campaign to replace Mayor Daniel Varela and Councilwoman Martha Nateras.

              *Date must be set for recall of Livingston mayor, councilwoman Tuesday May 4, 2010 – A petition to recall the two lawmakers was supported by the city’s residents and certified by the county elections officer on April 9. The council must issue an order stating that a recall election will be held not less than 88 days and not more than 125 days after the signatures were confirmed.

              *Livingston council cancels Fourth of July festivities Thursday Apr 22, 2010 – Scratch the Fourth of July in Livingston. – Blame the state of the city’s finances.

              *Livingston payment debate runs well into night Wednesday Apr 21, 2010 – City staff members said by Espinoza pulling those warrants in bulk and holding them for specific council action, vendors weren’t being paid on time for work already performed for the city. This caused not only late fees, but Councilman Frank Vierra pointed out that in some cases garnishments due to be paid for child support out of, say, a city employee’s salary were not paid, impacting those children.

              Letter: Recall laughable Tuesday Apr 13, 2010

              *Two Livingston leaders face recall vote Saturday Apr 10, 2010 – Livingston’s mayor and one council member will face a recall election. – Two out of three recall petitions were certified Friday as having sufficient signatures to qualify for a recall. The petitions attempting to recall Mayor Daniel Varela and Councilwoman Martha Nateras attained 1,038 and 1,027 signatures respectively — more than the 1,017 needed to trigger the recall process.

              With skimpy agenda, Livingston City Council might start meeting just monthly Friday Apr 9, 2010

              *Livingston recall effort just shy of necessary signatures Tuesday Apr 6, 2010  – Merced County Registrar of Voters workers are rechecking three petitions to recall the city’s mayor and two council members this week because all of them appear to have fallen just a few signatures short of qualifying for a recall.  

              *3 appointed to Livingston Planning Commission Wednesday Mar 17, 2010 – The city’s newest planning commissioners are young, male and educated. – By a vote of 4-0, the City Council voted to appoint Luis Flores, 25; Hugo Salgado, 25; and Alex Gonzalez, 27 to the Planning Commission after interviewing six people for three open seats. Councilman Rodrigo Espinoza was absent from the meeting.

              *Livingston scraps advisory committee Thursday Mar 11, 2010 – A Citizens’ Advisory Committee anywhere else might be a yawner, but in a town with often rowdy council meetings — and now a recall of the mayor and two other council members — it too has spawned controversy.

              *Nine apply for Livingston Planning Commission vacancies Wednesday Mar 10, 2010 -  Two resignations and the expiration of a term have created more vacancies on the Livingston Planning Commission than the number of its actual voting members. – The five-member commission is down to two appointed voting members. But business in Livingston hasn’t halted as a result. The city prepared for such a scenario some time ago by adding an alternate who can vote if the commission fails to reach a quorum.

              *Livingston appeals water ruling Friday Mar 5, 2010 -   Residents, who came before the City Council to debate what to do after a judge ruled the city’s controversial water rate plan unconstitutional, were stunned to hear the decision had already been made.

              *Livingston to hold special council meeting at 7 p.m. Thursday–water rates on agenda Tuesday Mar 2, 2010 – The regular Tuesday meeting of the Livingston City Council has been canceled. The council will instead hold a special meeting at 7 p.m. Thursday. – Items on the agenda for discussion are an update on water and wastewater rates and consideration of an ordinance establishing a moratorium on medical marijuana dispensaries

              *Recall effort under way in Livingston Tuesday Mar 2, 2010 – Former mayor Gurpal Samra said the group of about 25 angry residents submitted three separate petitions to recall Mayor Daniel Varela Sr., Councilman Frank Vierra and Councilwoman Martha Nateras. Each of the elected officials voted in favor of Livingston’s controversial, multiyear water rate increase.

              *Judge: Livingston’s water rate hikes unconstitutional Saturday Feb 27, 2010 –The city of Livingston’s controversial, multi-year water rate hike is unconstitutional, a Merced County Superior Court judge declared, as he ordered the city to halt the implementation of that rate increase.

              *Livingston hires new police chief Wednesday Feb 3, 2010 -  With a new police chief in place, Livingston officials expect their community’s public safety to benefit from a man who spent several years working in law enforcement in the Bay Area.  – On a unanimous vote, the City Council approved an employment agreement with Ruben Chavez, who worked as a lieutenant with the San Jose Police Department before working as a lieutenant at the San Jose/Evergreen Community College District Police Department

              *Foster Farms files suit against Livingston Wednesday Jan 27, 2010 -  For the second time in less than a year, Foster Farms is suing the city of Livingston over its utility rate hikes.

              *City of Livingston, Merced Union High School District agree on constructing bridge over Peach Avenue Wednesday Jan 06, 2010 – After nearly seven years of wrangling, the city of Livingston and the Merced Union High School District finalized a tentative agreement on the future of Livingston’s Peach Avenue on Tuesday night.  – In a memorandum of understanding between the two bodies, passed by Livingston’s council, it was agreed that Peach Avenue will stay open along its current route, no private property will be taken and a bridge will be built over the street for Livingston High School students


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