So You Think You Can Govern in 2016

A politician thinks of the next election. A statesman, of the next generation. James Freeman Clarke

Historically, Livingston City Council elections have been rather sedate. Over the past 15 years or so, however, the campaigns have become filthy and juvenile. – Mike McGuire – Editor of the Livingston Chronicle from 1984-1996

One of the more challenging things about being a city councilman is learning change takes time. You can’t achieve everything you want overnight. You won’t win every battle. Small victories and steps lead to success. Learn to be patient. – Alex McCabe – Council member: June 2015 to present.

Air gaps are used in places where silicon chips are manufactured because arsenic and other poisonous chemicals are used, Boyce said.  "(With arsenic) one part per billion could kill you," he said. "You use an air gap because the threat is so significant." – Randy Boyce: Foster Farms General Council – Thursday Jul 13th, 2006Foster Farms in Livingston Threatened with Water Shut-off by City; Judge to Decide – Original Article by Merced Sun Star – Reposted by Indybay.org (Emphasis, mine)

The city’s arsenic levels exceeded the state’s maximum contaminant level of 0.010 parts per million numerous times in 2009, 2012 and 2013, according to the court documents. The latest levels were recorded as 0.013 parts per million April 9 and 0.011 parts per million April 30.  – MAY 15, 2014 – Nonprofit sues Livingston over drinking water –By Ramona Giwargis

"Belief can be manipulated. Knowledge is dangerous" Paul "Muad’Dib" Atreides of the Dune Series

Livingston CA – First Published 10/29/2016.
Postscript date: 01/28/2017

Here we go again, just a few short days away from another General Election.

Time for another chapter in the twisty saga of our own City Council and the goings on at City Hall: which includes the never ending discussion about What’s-In-Our-Water and Will-It-Eventually-Hurt-You.

What I have learned over the years is that the answer to those questions often depends upon which council member/or lawyer is talking, and what political or financial outcome s/he is seeking at the moment. Case in point: whether or not 1 Part-Per-Billion of Arsenic can kill you.

Livingston has wells that produce water with Arsenic levels that exceed 0.013 Parts Per Million. If you convert 0.o13 Parts Per Million into Parts Per Billion, you get 13 Parts per Billion.

The State/Federal Maximum Contaminant Level for Arsenic is 10 Parts Per Billion. However, depending on who you talk to, or what the litigation is about, the Arsenic levels in Livingston’s water may or may not be an issue or may or may not make you sick.

Anyway….back to my main point.

Every couple of years I take advantage of The Story Teller’s License as I sit at my laptop and write. What results is not an All Inclusive History of Everything That Happened over the Last Few Years. It’s just my general Kvetch about the way I see “Politics” playing out every couple of years or so in Livingston.

With a few references to the consequences thereof….

If you look over in the Right Hand Margin of this Blog, you will find plenty of links to loads of information about the continuing discussion about How-Much-Arsenic-Can-Hurt-You, and others such as:

  • The Recall, and Water Rates,

  • The Utility Rates Stakeholders Committee and the boatloads of money Restudying Livingston’s Water Quality Issues for the umpteenth time.

  • Notices of Violation from the State about the Old Industrial Waste Water Treatment Plant,

  • Arsenic Levels in the Drinking Water

  • The Water Rate Increase that was finally passed

  • How the City is asking the State for money to help fix several Problems with the Water Delivery System because these Items will not be paid for by Water Rates.

  • The impact of the Drought

  • The relationship between Foster Farms and The City

  • Multiple lawsuits against the City

  • And so on

When I wrote the first “So You Think You Can Govern”, I’d been somewhat of a local political junkie for a couple of years prior to the 2008 Elections and I was concerned about the number of candidates whose faces I hadn’t recalled having seen at City Council meetings (or Planning Commission meetings, or Citizens Advisory Committee meetings when they still had them).

At the time, it was already clear to me that there were sitting Council Members who did not bother to read the material in their Agenda Packets, did not understand the significance of the long term effect of what they were voting on, were incapable of stringing together a coherent sentence, and/or were just “there” for reasons of their own.

I was also concerned that some of the people seeking to replace them didn’t have a clue as to what they would be getting themselves into. Livingston was going through several changes; had been on the “back end” of at least one very expensive lawsuit; was already enmeshed in a long, drawn out expensive mess of a General Plan Update and had already been through at least one Water Rate Study.

The General Election of 2008 came and went.And although there was a Council Meeting or two where everyone seemed to be willing to hold hands and sing Kumbya, it didn’t take to terribly long thereafter before the Political Cat Fighting began.

Well, the Recall Election of 2010 came and went: Theresa Land (Recall Candidate) displaced Martha Natares as Council Person and Council Person Rodrigo Espinoza, (Recall Candidate), displaced Daniel Varela as Mayor. Warren Urnberg, (Recall Supporter), was appointed as Temporary Council Member until the results of the General Election 0f November 2010 were tabulated.

Gurpal Samra, (Recall Proponent), won that “temporarily filled” Council Seat during the General Election in November of 2010 and Rodrigo Espinoza also kept his seat as Mayor.

And, as before, there were people on the council who clearly didn’t bother to read the material in their Agenda Packets, didn’t really seem to know the difference between a “Commission” and a “Department”; were even more openly hostile towards City Staff,  didn’t seem to know what an Auditor was for; didn’t understand the significance of the long term effect of what they were voting on, were incapable of speaking in coherent sentences; and/or were just “there” for God Only Knows what reason of their own.

Budget Variance - 2013-2014 Proposed Budget

And, as you can see from the graph above, Livingston’s financial situation started going to Hell in a Hand Basket. Rapidly.

The Elections of 2012 came and went. Mayor Pro Temp Margarita Aguilar had decided not to run again for office. Council Person Frank Vierra, also decided against running for another term on the Council.

During the Campaign of 2012, it became clear that relationships between some of the once Staunch Allies Of The Recall had begun to fray. Council Person Teresa Land, who had campaigned heavily for the Recall and Recall Committee backed candidates, found that she no longer had the support of those she had helped gain office.

Mayor Espinoza, instead, joined forces with Arturo Sacairos.  As Reported in the Merced Sun StarBefore the election, Espinoza released fliers endorsing himself and several other local candidates, including contenders for the Livingston council, city clerk, city treasurer, county supervisor, assembly and congress. Everyone he endorsed won.…….Espinoza put out the flier jointly with Sicairos, who said the flier might’ve helped him win, since a lot of Livingston voters look for guidance around election time”

{Before we go further, let’s take a brief Side Trip to map out a few familial relationships while we are here.

  • The City Clerk, Tony Silva is City Council Member Arturo Sacairos’, Father-in-law.

  • The City Treasurer, Maria Riberio, is the City Clerk’s Sister}

So three “newcomers” took their places as City Council Members, with Rodrigo Espinoza as Mayor and Gurpal Samra as Mayor Pro Temp. {and with 3 members of the same family holding the positions of City Clerk, City Treasurer, and City Councilperson}

And there were still those on the council who clearly didn’t bother to read the material in their Agenda Packets, didn’t really seem to know the difference between a “Commission” and a “Department”, didn’t understand the significance of the long term effect of what they were voting on, were incapable of speaking in coherent sentences; and/or were just “there” for God Only Knows what reason of their own.

And although most of that crop of newly Elected Officials didn’t “beat up” on City Staff quite as much as Previous Council Members did, it seemed mainly because there was fewer “City Staff” to browbeat or blame for the City’s ills. Most of those who had openly suffered the Wrath-of-Council-Members-Past were either replaced, retired, fired, or otherwise laid off due to a “reorganization” dictated by an ever shrinking budget.

Then came General Election of 2014 and it became clear that relationships between the core of the Recall Coalition had fractured even further. Mario Mendoza: Treasurer of the Recall Committee, (and brother to Council Person David Mendoza) tried to unseat Mayor Pro Temp Gurpal Samra. As usual, Things got “just a tad” ugly in the process. (Adanan Bath also took out papers to run against Gurpal, but pulled out of the race and ended up being appointed to the Planning Commission)

After the election, the City Council consisted of the following:

  • Rodrigo Espinoza (Mayor),

  • Gurpal Samra (Mayor Pro-Temp),

  • David Mendoza (Brother of Mario Mendoza)

  • Arturo Saciaros,

  • Jim Soria. 

2014 – 2016 did not lack for it’s share of political/financial turmoil and Water Quality Issues:

  • There was the flap about Favoritism and how Fireworks Booth Permits should be distributed.

  • Due to circumstances beyond his control, Council Member David Mendoza had to resign and was eventually replaced by Alex McCabe.

  • The City Manager bailed by January 2015, and was was eventually “replaced” by a New City Manager who only managed to last a couple of months.

  • Same with Livingston’s Public Works Directors. They seemed to come and go even more quickly than the City Managers did.

  • And although “adjustment” to water rates, was eventually adopted, many necessary repairs and upgrades to the Water Delivery System were expected to be paid for through State/Federal Grants and loans.

  • Well #16, a well designed initially to be a “back up well”, eventually was pressed into “full time” service while Well #14 was removed from service (Temporarily?) due to high TCP levels.

In the past, the “official” City Council mantra about Water Quality was, “We’re aware. Everything is fine. It may be “brown” sometimes but it’s Nothing to Worry about here. If anyone says different, they’re just making trouble”

More recently it has become “Nothing really new here. No surprises, really. We’re just in the same troubles as everyone else, because of the Drought.”

But, It’s been One emergency well repair after another. Even Foster Farms has recognized that it was in it’s best interest to help out the City with a repair or two in order to keep the water flowing. It is also worthy of note that the first well upgraded with a TCP Filtration System was a well used primarily to help deliver water to Foster Farms.

Remember that Settlement the City Received from Dow Chemical Company, from the lawsuit started back in 2005 over elevated levels of TCP in Livingston’s water? That has been dipped into several times over the years for “water related” projects. (Not all of them TCP related) There is still a boatload of work to be done to upgrade and repair our Water Delivery System. A recent Staff Report indicates that if things go as indicated on the State/Federal level, ALL of our well will be Out Of Compliance with the new TCP-1,2,3 Maximum Contaminant level slated to go into effect early next year.

So.. here we are, only a few short days away from another General Election. This time, for the office of Mayor and THREE council seats. Mario Mendoza is giving it another try. So is Adanan Bath. Alex McCabe and Arturo Sacairos are both trying to hang on to their seats for another term. As usual there are the “political newbies” to add to the Mix: Wapinder Kang – Livingston Police Officer; Jason Roth – Service Advisor; Juan Aguilar, Jr. – Firefighter/Social Worker. (If I have linked to the Wrong Facebook pages – please let me know!)

Jim Soria is on the Ballot for Mayor. (Mayor Espinoza has Moved On to The Board of Supervisors) There is also a Write in Candidate for Mayor: Rosalinda Ruiz

Once again we have Candidates for Office who have hardly ever shown up for City Council meetings since the last election.

And we are still looking for a new City Manager……

And we are still looking for a new Public Works Director…..

And there is still Litigation in progress: on more than one front. When the new Maximum Contaminant Level for TCP finally goes into affect, I would not be surprised if there was even more litigation in Livingston’s future.

And we have still not yet fixed that mess of a General Plan Update that has already cost the taxpayers of the Livingston hundreds of thousands of dollars in Court Fees, Attorney’s fees, Consultant’s Fees, and wasted Staff Time. Although it seems to have been set aside for the moment.

The Council Meeting which would have taken place on November 1st has been canceled. Looks to me like EVERYTHING is being placed on hold until after the the Elections.

"Dirty Politics" seems to have become the Norm, not the Exception in Livingston. If you have lived here long enough, you know what I mean. Although this time around, there doesn’t seem to be quite as much heartburn about Political Signs this year as in years past.

I’ve heard about a few sign’s being stolen, but no general uproar over the signs on City Property/Right of ways, and similar locations.  In years past, that had been a BIG deal with certain candidates.

I guess it just depends on whose running.

Or whose not…..

I said it before, and I’ll say it again now, the Ethical and Effective Council Member of the 21stCentury will need to be more than just a person who sits behind a dais and votes “yes or no”. S/he must be able to comprehend, analyze and distinguish between a multitude of competing interests, knowing that all decisions made will have implications for the future.

S/he must recognize that the issues facing Livingston won’t just impact those living within “the City”. There are those outside the City Limits and Sphere of Influence that are as important to the cultural and economic health of Livingston as those who live “inside”.

An ethical and effective Council Person must be fully aware of present needs, and yet have an eye for the future consequences of any and all actions taken, votes cast, and directions given to City Staff in the present. S/he must understand both the “the Time Value of Money” and the “Money Value of Time”: spending both taxpayers dollars, and City Staff time wisely and well.

I have included a partial list of terms any competent council person should be aware of, understand, and able to use in a complete,coherent sentence.

For anyone who REALLY wants to be knowledgeable about how City Government works, I would strongly suggest s/he get out a dictionary, do an Internet Search, or talk to someone at City Hall about any of these terms/concepts s/he may never have heard of before. Granted, it’s only an abbreviated list: an “Introduction to 21st Century City Government 101” so to speak, but at least it would give you an idea of the kinds of stuff you would need to know so you don’t end up sounding like a damn-fool every time you open your mouth .

POSTSCRIPT TO THE ELECTIONS OF 2016 (January 2017) After all the votes were counted, Jim Soria won the Mayor’s seat by a significant margin. As for the Council seats: that’s where things got a little more “complicated”. Results for the race for Council were as follows:
2016 Council Election Results

Which meant

  • That Juan Aguilar Jr. was elected for a four year term

  • That Wapinder Kang was elected for a four year term, and

  • That Arturo Sacairos was elected for a two year term.

  • Alex McCabe was in 4th place

  • Mario Mendoza placed 5th

  • And so on down the line

However, it was discovered that Wapinder Kang could not be sworn in as Councilmember and keep his job with the Livingston Police Department. According to Government Code 53227.  (a) An employee of a local agency may not be sworn into office as an elected or appointed member of the legislative body of that local agency unless he or she resigns as an employee.  If the employee does not resign, the employment shall automatically terminate upon his or her being sworn into office.

Council Member-Elect Kang chose to remain as a Livingston Police Officer: opening up a vacancy on the Council. On January 17, 2017, the Council appointed Alex McCabe fill the Vacancy.

Because the seat became “vacant” during the first half of what would have been a 4 year, State Law will only allow Mr. McCabe to hold office until an individual is elected to complete the term at the next general municipal election (November 6, 2018).

Which will mean, next time around, there will be 4 seats on the Council up for grabs.

  • Mayor – Currently held by Jim Soria

  • 3 Council Members – Currently held by Gurpal Samra, Alex McCabe and Arturo Sacairos

PRIMARY DRINKING WATER STANDARDS address health concerns. (Things in the water that can make you sick or kill you if you drank enough of it over time)

SECONDARY DRINKING WATER STANDARDS – (things that make the water look and smell yucky, but might not necessarily make you sick or kill you)established to address issues of aesthetics (discoloration), not health concerns. In California secondary MCLs (Maximum Contaminant Levels) are enforceable.

UNREGULATED CONTAMINANTS – Chemicals and stuff which do not yet have a Maximum Contaminant Level. (emphasis on “yet”) There is ongoing testing So the The Environmental Protection Agency can decide whether or not these contaminants occur often enough and at high enough levels to warrant further attention and/or regulation. (In other words, the Government is still debating the science about how much of that stuff will make you sick or kill you over time.)

ARSENIC – : a semi-metal element in the periodic table. It is odorless and tasteless. It enters drinking water supplies from natural deposits in the earth or from agricultural and industrial practices.

CHROMIUM – 3 An Essential Trace Mineral, not to be confused with it’s deadlier cousin: Chromium – 6.

CHROMIUM – 6:  Chromium-6, or hexavalent chromium, is a naturally occurring metal. It is also used in several industrial processes. Chromium-6 has been known to cause cancer in humans when inhaled. In scientific studies in laboratory animals, chromium-6 has also been linked to cancer when ingested (Think “Erin Brokovich”)

MANGANESE: Manganese is a pinkish-gray, chemically active element. it is one out of three toxic essential trace elements, which means that it is not only necessary for humans to survive, but it is also toxic when too high concentrations are present in a human body. When people do not live up to the recommended daily allowances their health will decrease. But when the uptake is too high health problems will also occur. (Not getting enough? You get sick. Getting “too much”? You get sick)

TCP – 1,2,3:  TCP-containing fumigants were used extensively by farmers in the production of a large variety of crops from the 1950s through the mid-1980s. In California, these fumigants (known by the trade names D-D and Telone) were among the most widely used pesticides in the history of the State, second only to sulfur…. In 1999, 1,2,3-TCP was added to the list of chemicals known to the state to cause cancer (Livingston sued Dow Chemical and netted about $9.5 million dollars to put towards removing the TCP from our Drinking Water )

mg/L: Milligrams per liter or Parts Per Million.

ug/L: Micrograms per liter or Parts Per Billion, (ppb).

Parts per Billion, (ppb) – Imagine 13 drops of ink in one of the largest tanker trucks used to haul gasoline. That would be 13 Parts Per Billion of ink.

MCL: Maximum Contaminant Level – The highest level of a toxic substance allowed in Drinking Water. The Health & Safety Code §116365(a) requires California Department of Public Health to establish a contaminant’s MCL at a level as close to its PUBLIC HEALTH GOAL (PHG) as is technologically and economically feasible, placing primary emphasis on the protection of public health

  • If a toxic substance is higher than the Maximum Contaminant Level using a 4 QUARTER AVERAGE, a water purveyor has to figure out a way of reducing that number down to below the MCL, and/or come up with another source of water to deliver to it’s customers.

  • The Maximum Contaminant Level for Arsenic currently stands at 10 Parts Per Billion

  • We have at least 2 wells that are over the limit of 10 Parts Per Billion and others that are really close to going over that limit.

4 QUARTER AVERAGE: As is this example.

  • If quarterly testing for arsenic at Well A produced the following results in Parts Per Billion: 8.5, 9.9 , 10, 11

  • The 4 Quarter Average would be 9.85 Parts Per Billion.

RANGE: The Lowest and the Highest. Using the Above as our example,

  • The Range would be 8.5 – 11 Parts Per Billion

NOTIFICATION LEVEL – The level at which the State of California says the public needs to be notified about a contaminant in the Drinking Water

.
  • The Notification Level for TCP – 1,2,3 is 0.005 ug/L( 0.005 Parts per Billion)

  • I’m not to crazy about decimals. So to “get rid” of the decimal, we move the decimal 3 places to the right and get 5 Parts per Trillion.

  • According to the Report by Kennedy Jenks, a significant number of Livingston’s wells produce water with TCP ABOVE the Notification Level.

Parts per Trillion (ppt):– Imagine 5 drops of detergent in enough dishwater to fill a string of railroad tank cars ten miles long. That would be 5 Parts Per Trillion of detergent.

RESPONSE LEVEL – The level of contamination at which the State of California says a well “should” be removed from service because of a potential threat to Public Health.

PUBLIC HEALTH GOAL –  Concentrations of drinking water contaminants that pose no significant health risk if consumed for a lifetime, based on current risk assessment principles, practices, and methods.(Translation: levels low enough that you should die of old age before any of that stuff would make you really sick or kill you)

1,2,3, TCP

Industrial

A-1 Zoning

Industrial Wastewater

AB 1234

Infrastructure

Allowed Use

Joint Use

Assessed Property Values

LAFCO

Audit

Light Industrial

Audit Report

Litigation

Bank Owned Properties

Long-Term Debt Obligations

Benefit Assessment District

Low Density Residential

Breach of Contract

MAGPI

Brown Act

Master Plan

Budget

Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL)

California Public Records Act

MCAG

Capital Improvements

Medium Density Residential

Capital Projects Fund

Memorandum of Understanding (MOU)

Cash Pool

Mitigated Negative Declaration

Centralized Water Treatment

Mixed Use

CEQA

Modified Accrual Method of Accounting

Citizens Advisory Committee

Municipal Code

Citizens Service Committee

Notice of Action

City Limits

Notice of Violation

City Manager Form of Government

Notice of Preparation (NOP)

Closed Session

Notification Level

Code

Nuisance Abatement

Code Enforcement Officer

Obligation Payment Schedule

COLA

Open Meetings Law

Commercial

Open Session

Commission

Open Space Reserve

Common Sense

Operating Deficit

Community

Operation and Maintenance

Community Commercial

Ordinance

Community Development Block Grant

Percolation ponds

Community Facilities District

Permitted Use

Community Service

Planning Commission

Community Values

Prevailing Union Wage Law

Community Vision

Primary Drinking Water Standards

Confidentiality

Proposition 218 Hearing

Conflict of Interest

Public Comments

Consent Calendar

Public Document Request

Constituent

Qualified Audit Opinion

Contract

Quorum

Cooperation

Recusal

Department

Redevelopment Area

Development Impact Fees

Reflective Listening

Detection Level

Regional Sewage Treatment Facility

Domestic Wastewater

Response to the Grand Jury

Easements

Restricted Fund

Education Revenue Augmentation Fund (ERAF)

Retainer

Enterprise Zone

Revenue

Environmentally Superior Alternative

Revenue Sharing

Errors and Omissions

right-of-way

Excused Absence

Secondary Drinking Water Standards

Expenditure

Serial Meeting

Fiduciary Funds

Shared Use

Fiduciary Responsibility

Site Design Review

Fiscal Impact

Special Planning Area

Fiscal Year

Special Revenue Fund

Fixed Assets

Sphere of Influence

Form 700

Strike expense

Fund

Successor Agency to the Redevelopment Agency

Fund Balance

Tax Sharing Agreement

General Fund

The Illegal 42′ Sewer Pipe

General Plan

 

Generally Accepted Accounting Principals (GAAP)

Union

Government Accounting Standards Board (GASB)

Unqualified Audit Opinion

Government Code

Unrestricted Fund

Grand Jury Report

Urban Reserve

Grievance

Warrant Register

Hearing

Wellhead Treatment

Heritage Tree Ordinance

Work in Lieu

High Density Residential

Workers Compensation

Highway Commercial

One last thing. Please Mr./Ms. Council People of the future: when you do speak, please finish your first sentence before beginning a totally different one. Trying to follow some of the rambling trains of thought I hear regularly at Council Meetings gives me a headache.

Thank You.

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So You Think You Can Govern in 2012 (and a City Council Agenda)

When I wrote the first “So You Think You Can Govern”, I’d been somewhat of a local political junkie for a couple of years prior to the 2008 Elections and I was concerned about the number of candidates whose faces I hadn’t recalled having seen at City Council meetings (or Planning Commission meetings, or Citizens Advisory Committee meetings).

At the time, it was already clear to me that there were sitting Council Members who did not bother to read the material in their Agenda Packets, did not understand the significance of the long term effect of what they were voting on, and/or were just “there” for reasons of their own.

I was also concerned that some of the people seeking to replace them didn’t have a clue as to what they would be getting themselves into. Livingston was going through several changes; had been on the “back end” of at least one very expensive lawsuit; was already enmeshed in a long, drawn out expensive mess of a General Plan Update and had already been through at least one Water Rate Study.

Well, Elections (and a Recall) have come and gone. Out with some old. In with some new and then some.

And like before, there are now people on the council who clearly don’t bother to read the material in their Agenda Packets, don’t really seem to know the difference between a “Commission” and a “Department”; are increasingly openly hostile towards City Staff, question the competence and intelligence of the City’s Part Time Work Force; don’t know what an Auditor is for; don’t understand the significance of the long term effect of what they are voting on; and/or are just “there” for God only know what reason.

So here we are, only a few weeks away from another General Election and again there are Candidates for Office who have hardly ever shown up for City Council meetings or Planning Commission meetings.

And we are STILL working on that mess of a General Plan that has already cost the taxpayers of the Livingston hundreds of thousands of dollars in Court Fees, Attorney’s fees, Consultant’s Fees, and wasted Staff time.

And we are working on, what, the THIRD (?) Water, Garbage, and Sewer Rate Study since 2007: with the 4th Consultant in a row (Bergman, Raftelis, Bartle Wells, and now HEC)

AND, once again, it looks like we won’t be tackling the Next round of Proposition 218 hearings until well after the General Election.

AND, AND, AND, from the Preliminary Numbers I have seen so far, I think some people will be unpleasantly surprised as just how high those Rate Study Numbers will be. (Damn! I hope I’m wrong on this one!)

{Sigh!}

I said it before, and I’ll say it again now, the Ethical and Effective Council Member of the 21st Century will need to be more than just a person who sits behind a dais and votes “yes or no”. S/he must be able to comprehend, analyze and distinguish between a multitude of competing interests, knowing that all decisions made will have implications for the future.

S/he must recognize that the issues facing Livingston won’t just impact those living within “the City”. There are those outside the City Limits and Sphere of Influence that are as important to the cultural and economic health of Livingston as those who live “inside”.

An ethical and effective Council Person must be fully aware of present needs, and yet have an eye for the future consequences of any and all actions taken, votes cast, and directions given to City Staff in the present. S/he must understand both the “the Time Value of Money” and the “Money Value of Time”: spending both taxpayers dollars, and City Staff time wisely and well.

I have included a brief, partial list of terms any competent council person should be aware of, understand, and able to use in a complete, coherent sentence.

For anyone who REALLY wants to be knowledgeable about how City Government works, I would strongly suggest s/he get out a dictionary, do an Internet Search, or talk to someone at City Hall about any of these terms/concepts s/he may never have heard of before. Granted, it’s only an abbreviated list: an “Introduction to 21st Century City Government 101” so to speak, but at least it would give you an idea of the kinds of stuff you would need to know so you don’t end up sounding like a damn-fool every time you open your mouth .

1,2,3, TCP Industrial
A-1 Zoning Industrial Wastewater
AB 1234 Infrastructure
Allowed Use Joint Use
Assessed Property Values LAFCO
Audit Light Industrial
Audit Report Litigation
Bank Owned Properties Long-Term Debt Obligations
Benefit Assessment District Low Density Residential
Breach of Contract MAGPI
Brown Act Master Plan
Budget Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL)
California Public Records Act MCAG
Capital Improvements Medium Density Residential
Capital Projects Fund Memorandum of Understanding (MOU)
Cash Pool Mitigated Negative Declaration
Centralized Water Treatment Mixed Use
CEQA Modified Accrual Method of Accounting
Citizens Advisory Committee Municipal Code
Citizens Service Committee Notice of Action
City Limits Notice of Violation
City Manager Form of Government Notice of Preparation (NOP)
Closed Session Notification Level
Code Nuisance Abatement
Code Enforcement Officer Obligation Payment Schedule
COLA Open Meetings Law
Commercial Open Session
Commission Open Space Reserve
Common Sense Operating Deficit
Community Operation and Maintenance
Community Commercial Ordinance
Community Development Block Grant Percolation ponds
Community Facilities District Permitted Use
Community Service Planning Commission
Community Values Prevailing Union Wage Law
Community Vision Primary Drinking Water Standards
Confidentiality Proposition 218 Hearing
Conflict of Interest Public Comments
Consent Calendar Public Document Request
Constituent Qualified Audit Opinion
Contract Quorum
Cooperation Recusal
Department Redevelopment Area
Development Impact Fees Reflective Listening
Detection Level Regional Sewage Treatment Facility
Domestic Wastewater Response to the Grand Jury
Easements Restricted Fund
Education Revenue Augmentation Fund (ERAF) Retainer
Enterprise Zone Revenue
Environmentally Superior Alternative Revenue Sharing
Errors and Omissions right-of-way
Excused Absence Secondary Drinking Water Standards
Expenditure Serial Meeting
Fiduciary Funds Shared Use
Fiduciary Responsibility Site Design Review
Fiscal Impact Special Planning Area
Fiscal Year Special Revenue Fund
Fixed Assets Sphere of Influence
Form 700 Strike expense
Fund Successor Agency to the Redevelopment Agency
Fund Balance Tax Sharing Agreement
General Fund The Illegal 42′ Sewer Pipe
General Plan Triple flip
Generally Accepted Accounting Principals (GAAP) Union
Government Accounting Standards Board (GASB) Unqualified Audit Opinion
Government Code Unrestricted Fund
Grand Jury Report Urban Reserve
Grievance Warrant Register
Hearing Wellhead Treatment
Heritage Tree Ordinance Work in Lieu
High Density Residential Workers Compensation
Highway Commercial

One last thing. Please Mr./Ms. Council People of the future: when you do speak, please finish your first sentence before beginning a totally different one. Trying to follow some of the rambling trains of thought I hear regularly at Council Meetings gives me a headache.

Thank You.

And now on to the

CITY COUNCIL REGULAR MEETING AGENDA

OCTOBER 16, 2012

CLOSED SESSION: 5:30 P.M.

OPEN SESSION: 7:00 P.M.

Notice is hereby given that the City Council will hold a Regular Meeting on October 16, 2012, at the City Council Chambers, 1416 C Street, Livingston, California. Persons with disabilities who may need assistance should contact the Deputy City Clerk at least 24 hours prior to this meeting at (209) 394-8041, Ext. 121. Any writings or documents pertaining to an Open Session item provided to a majority of the members of the legislative body less than 72 hours prior to the meeting shall be made available for public inspection at Livingston City Hall, 1416 C Street. The Open Session will begin at 7:00 p.m. The Closed Session will be held in accordance with state law prior to the Open Session beginning at 5:30 p.m. The Closed Session will be held at the City Council Chambers located at 1416 C Street. The agenda shall be as follows:

Closed Session

1. Call to Order.

2. Roll Call.

CLOSED SESSION

A “Closed” or “Executive” Session of the City Council or the Livingston Redevelopment Agency may be held in accordance with state law which may include, but is not limited to, the following types of items: personnel matters, labor negotiations, security matters, providing instructions to real property negotiators, conference with legal counsel regarding pending litigation. The Closed Session will be held in the City Hall Conference Room located at 1416 C Street, Livingston, California. Any public comment on Closed Session items will be taken before the Closed Session. Any required announcements or discussion of Closed Session items or actions following the Closed Session will be made in the City Council Chambers, 1416 C Street, Livingston, California.

3. Conference with Legal Counsel – Potential Litigation

[(Government Code Section 54956.9(b)(2)]

Number of Cases: 4

4. Conference with Labor Negotiator

(Government Code Section 54957.6)

Agency Negotiator: City Manager Jose Antonio Ramirez

Employee Organizations: All Represented City Employees

Regular Meeting

CALL TO ORDER Next Resolution Number: 2012-67

Next Ordinance Number: 600

Pledge of Allegiance.

Roll Call.

Closed Session Announcements.

Changes to the Agenda.

{Note from TheGardeningSnail: as of the date of this posting, I have not had enough time to break the Agenda Packet into individual pages like I usually do. What I have done is not which pages of the Agenda Packet apply to the Agenda Items Below. You can see a copy of the Agenda Packet by CLICKING HERE. }

AWARDS, PRESENTATIONS, APPOINTMENTS AND PROCLAMATIONS

1. Presentation: Turlock Scavengers – Solid Waste Services.

2. Presentation: Mid Valley Disposal – Solid Waste Services.

3. Presentation: Regional Transportation Plan and Sustainable Communities Strategy Introduction, Matt Fell, Transportation Manager, Merced County Association of Governments.

GRANT ANNOUNCEMENTS

ANNOUNCEMENTS AND REPORTS

Supervisor John Pedrozo Announcements and Reports.

City Staff Announcements and Reports.

City Manager Announcements and Reports.

City Council Members’ Announcements and Reports.

Mayor’s Announcements and Reports.

CITY COUNCIL FUTURE AGENDA ITEM REQUESTS. {Note from TheGardeningSnail: Here’s a new Item for You. Just in time for the November Elections.}

PUBLIC HEARINGS

CITIZEN COMMENTS

This section of the agenda allows members of the public to address the City Council on any item NOT otherwise on the agenda. Members of the public, when recognized by the Mayor, should come forward to the lectern, and identify themselves. Comments are normally limited to three (3) minutes. In accordance with State Open Meeting Laws, no action will be taken by the City Council this evening. For items which are on the agenda this evening members of the public will be provided an opportunity to address the City Council as each item is brought up for discussion.

CONSENT CALENDAR

Items on the Consent Calendar are considered routine or non-controversial and will be enacted by one vote, unless separate action is requested by the City Manager or City Council Member. There will be no separate discussion of these items unless members of the City Council or City Manager request that specific items be removed.

4. {Pages 4-8} Resolution for the Acceptance of the Cal Fire Station #96 Vertical Air Flow ExhaustRemoval System Project, Authorizing the City Clerk to File a Notice of Completion with the Merced County Recorder’s Office and Authorizing the City Manager to Release Performance and Materials Bonds and Make Final Payment of Retention Monies to Tri-Phase Electric, Inc.

5. {Pages 9-27} Authorize the City Manager to Execute a Professional Services Agreement with the Local Government Commission. {Note from TheGardeningSnail: looks like we are hiring another consultant with this: a “community planning” consultant. Interesting.}

6. {Pages 28-282} Resolution Adopting the 2011 City of Livingston Emergency Operation Plan.

DISCUSSION AND POTENTIAL ACTION ITEMS

7. {Pages 283-287} Resolution Authorizing the Purchase of a Security Surveillance Camera System that Implements High-End Video Analytics and a License Plate Recognition System.

8. {Pages 288-370} Resolution to Award a Contract to Filtronics, Inc. of Anaheim, California for Goods and Services Provided to Change Out the Arsenic Removal Media for the Well 16 Arsenic Removal Treatment System and Authorizing the City Manager to Execute the Agreement. {Note from TheGardeningSnail: the cost of these filters don’t come cheap. But without them, the City cannot use Well #16 (Kishi). Right?}

ADJOURNMENT

“Carding” Public Comments, Last Minute Cancelations, And a Couple of Audits and Meeting Agendas

1. Conference with Labor Negotiator

(Government Code Section 54957.6)

Agency Negotiator: City Manager Jose Antonio Ramirez

Employee Organizations: All Represented and Unrepresented City Employees.

Excerpted from Closed Session: October 18, 2011 City Council Meeting Agenda (Which was Canceled by the way-the Closed Session Part)

Have you noticed how Closed Sessions about Negotiating with the Employee Organizations are getting canceled: almost on a regular basis?

hmmmmm..….More on that later..but first let’s check into Delta Bravo Sierra Land.

Just a Little Give and Take Don't Ya KnowAn Angry Bird and a Colonel UAR-From Jag--this could get even more interistingWhy Do I Sense Someone Is About to Get Another Arse Chompin'

Where will this little adventure end? You never know when it’s Delta Bravo Sierra Land!

There’s Strange..and then there’s Army Strange: courtesy of Damon Shackelford: furious scribbler of military cartoons. {He’s on Facebook too! and even has his own Comic Book!!!}

clip_image004[5]

Help Give the Lil Guys and Gals and even better place to play!

In 2006 the city purchased the storm drain basin (4 lots) next to the park and filled it in with the intent of making it a park to service the ball park participants and their families. Since then, Lil Guys and Gals field has been a ball park used for many years by the residents of Livingston.

The Recreation Commission determined in 2011 to take on the park as a project. The commission wanted to involve the community and let them help bring this project to reality. By purchasing a stepping stone the community not only provides the financing for the park, but in turn places a personal monument in the park for years to come.

Recreation Tri TipStones will be sold until there are enough sales to cover the completion of the park. The Commission’s goal is Summer of 2012.

Once you have purchased a stone you will be called by the Recreation Department for an appointment to make/create your stone. 

If you are interested in creating a Memorial Stone and/or participating in one of the many work days that will take place to upgrade the park, call the Recreation Office at 394-8830 for more information.

And Don’t forget that Tri-Tip Dinner! Proceeds go to help the Park!

Breakfast with the VFW

The Livingston/Delhi Veterans of Foreign Wars and Ladies Auxiliary Breakfast will be served on October 30, 2011, at the Livingston Veterans Memorial Hall, located at 1605 7th Street, in Livingston. Adults can eat for $6.00, and the children under 12 for eat for $4.00. Breakfast consists of Pancakes, French Toast or Biscuits and Gravy; served with Eggs cooked to order, Hash Browns, Sausage or Ham and Coffee and Juice. Breakfast will be served from 8 am to 12 pm.

Rummage-Sale_thumb1Ladies Auxiliary Rummage Sale
The next Ladies Auxiliary Rummage Sale will be held November 30 and December 1-2 , 2011. If you have anything to donate contact Denis or Sue Wells and let us know where and when you would like someone to pick the items up.

VETERANS DAY PARADE This November in Livingston

Mark your calendar! The Livingston/Delhi Veterans of Foreign Wars #8327 and Ladies Auxiliary will be hosting the Annual Veterans Day Parade in the City of Livingston on November 11, 2011, at 11:00 am.

If you wish to have an entry in the parade, for an entry form contact Denis Wells at (209) 394-2059..

VOICE OF DEMOCRACY CONTEST

American FlagAre you a 9th through 12th grade student?

Could you use a scholarship of up to $30,000 from the Veterans of Foreign Wars?

The Voice of Democracy Contest is an Audio Essay contest that gives the students who are enrolled in the 9th through 12th grade in a public, private or parochial school, or home study program, (excluding foreign exchange students, students older than 19 years, and former State Voice of Democracy winners) the opportunity to express their opinion in a three to five minute audio (cassette tape or CD) on the theme, ‘Is There Pride In Serving In Our Military?’.

The first place winner at the local level (Livingston VFW) will be awarded $100, a ‘Liberty Jacket’ and a certificate: Second Place $75.00 and a Certificate, Third Place, $50.00 and a Certificate. All entries receive a Certificate of Participation.

From the local level the winners will move on to District, State and then National, and there are prizes at each level.

The national first-place winner receives a $30,000 scholarship paid directly to the recipient’s American university, college or vocational/technical school. Other national scholarships range from $1,000- $16,000 and the first-place winner from each (State) VFW Department wins an all-expense-paid trip to Washington, D.C.

Essay and entry forms are due to the Post Commander, Denis Wells, no later than November 1, 2011.

Complete rules and entry forms can be obtained from Denis or Sue Wells at 394-2059 or at www.vfw.org.

PATRIOT’S PEN CONTEST

Uniforms from 1776 to Iraqi Freedom Photo Courtesy of US ArmyThe Patriot’s Pen Essay contest gives students who are enrolled in the 6th, 7th and 8th grades, in public, private, parochial school or home study program, the opportunity to express their opinion in a written essay of 300 to 400 words, on the patriotic theme ‘Are You Proud of Your Country?”.

The first place winner at the local level (Livingston VFW) will be awarded $100, a ‘Liberty Jacket’ and a certificate: Second Place $75.00 and a Certificate, Third Place, $50.00 and a Certificate. All entries receive a Certificate of Participation.

From the local level the winners will move on to District, State and then National, and prizes are awarded at all levels.

Annually, roughly 112,000, students from grades 6-8, enter to win one of several savings bonds totaling $1.2 million, as well as an all-expense-paid trip to Washington, D.C. for the National first place winner.

Essay and entry forms are due to the Post Commander, Denis Wells, no later than November 1, 2011.

Complete rules and entry forms can be obtained from Denis or Sue Wells at 394-2059 or on line at www.vfw.org.

NATIONAL YOUNG AMERICAN CREATIVE PATRIOTIC ART CONTEST

Photo courtesy of army_milAttention 9th through 12th grade students!

The Ladies Auxiliary to the Veterans of Foreign Wars is the sponsoring the National Young American Creative Patriotic Art Contest.

The first place winner at the local level (Livingston VFW) will be awarded $100, a ‘Liberty Jacket’ and a certificate: Second Place $75.00 and a Certificate,Third Place, $50.00 and a Certificate. All entries receive a Certificate of Participation.

The winning artwork will be eligible for State competition, and from there, to the National competition, where the winning artists can receive scholarships of up to $10,000.

Entries are due by March 1, 2012. Students must have crafted their entries during the 2011-2012 school year – and this must be verified by a teacher’s signature on each entry form. If a student used the U.S. Flag in his or her work, the flag’s depiction must conform to the Flag Code.

Partial contest rules: Artwork must be on paper or canvas and must be 8 inches by 10 inches to 48 by 24 inches, not including mats. Watercolor, pencil, pastel, charcoal, tempera, crayon, acrylic, pen-and-ink or oil may be used. Digital art may be used, but must be on paper or canvas; no computer discs will be accepted. Do not frame entries. Submit canvas entries on stretcher frames. Other entries must be matted on white. Do not use color mats. In matting, use heavy paper to reinforce the back. Mounted and floating mats may also be used.

Complete rules and entry forms can be obtained from Denis or Sue Wells at 394-2059 or on line at www.lavfw.org.

Donita "Sue" Wells
Ladies Auxiliary VFW 8327-13
Secretary Treasurer
1159 2nd Street — Livingston CA 95334-1204
(209) 394-2059 — Cell (209) 648-4668
Fax (209) 394-9199 — Email
denisue@gvni.com

The 2011-2012 Draft Budget for the City of Livingston has been Published.

And you still have time to look it over before the Council “talks about it” in Open Session. The nice thing about a PDF file is the handy dandy search box at the top. Just type in what your interested in and the computer will find it for you. CLICK HERE to see it

If You’ve Been a Regular City Council Meeting Agenda Watcher

you’ve noticed this Brand Spankin’ New Addition to City Council Meeting Agendas:

CITIZEN COMMENTS – NOTE: Public Comment/Speaker Cards are now available on the back table of the City Council Chambers. Please fill out the appropriate card and submit to Meeting Recorder.

and some of your may be wondering “What the Heck?” and “Whose Idea Was This?”

And I can think of a few Recall Supporters whose very first reaction to the idea might well be “Card? You mean I have to fill out a stinkin Card if I want to say something during a Council Meeting?”

This could be fun!

You see…while the use of Comment Cards to “speed the process of Public Comments along and/or “give people who don’t like to speak in public” an alternative to “speaking publically” isn’t necessarily a violation of the Brown Act and/or the First Amendment, so long as EVERYBODY has to use them..

Using those cards to limit “who gets to talk about what and when” is a whole nuther ball game.

So is “letting friends/supporters” of Council Members have their say, but “forgetting” to let “the other side” have their say too. (oops! where did that card go! we bad!)

Which means…. all those other folks who have complained in the past about  other City Council persons “not wanting to listen to the people” will have to show up to the meetings in time to fill out those cards too!

Just like everybody else…

Come to think of it..Which could get real “interesting” come Prop 218 Hearing time

And the next Election Cycle Smile

If You’ve Been a Regular City Council Meeting Agenda Watcher, You’ve also noticed

that negotiations with the City Employees Bargaining Units seem to be dragging on just a “tad”: matter of fact, Closed Sessions Items about this have been canceled at least twice.

Last year, Extensions of MOU’s (Memorandum of Understandings) with the vast majority of Employee Bargaining Units was adopted by a 5-0 vote of the City Council at the July 6, 2010 Council Meeting as the following Consent Calendar Items:

6. Resolution No. 2010-35, Approving an Extension of the Current Memorandum of Understanding Between the City of Livingston and the City of Livingston Clerical Employees Association.

7. Resolution No. 2010-36, Approving an Extension of the Current Memorandum of Understanding Between the City of Livingston and the City of Livingston Management and Confidential Employees Association.

8. Resolution No. 2010-37, Approving an Extension of the Current Memorandum of Understanding Between the City of Livingston and the Livingston Police Officers’ Association.

9. Resolution No. 2910-38, Approving an Extension of the Current Memorandum of  Understanding Between the City of Livingston and the City of Livingston Public Works and Parks Employees Unit.

10. Resolution No. 2010-39, Approving an Extension of the Current Memorandum of Understanding Between the City of Livingston and the Livingston Supervisory Employees Association.

11. Resolution No. 2010-40, Approving an Extension of the Current Understandings Between the City of Livingston and the City of Livingston Unrepresented Employees not Associated with any City Bargaining Union.

And If memory serves me correctly, nobody got a raise (or if they did, it wasn’t much of one – correct me if I’m wrong – Please)

Sooooooo….last year, it was all “done” by July…let’s see…July, August, September, October, November?, December?

And don’t try to tell me it’s because “we just hired a New City Manager” and a “New Assistant City Manager Either” either…

Unless the Council has had it’s collective head up a very dark place, they all knew the Fiscal Year ended on June 30th and they had an Acting City Manager who has been here way long enough to have at least gotten the process started!

Which Reminds Me

If you would like a “brief snapshot” of what has been on the City Council’s Plant for the past few months, you can go to my  2011 CITY COUNCIL Agendas and Meeting Minutes Page.

There, you will find links to Agendas, Draft Minutes, Staff Reports, Resolutions, Ordinances and other “back up documentation”. No…it’s not “everything-everything-everything, but it’s enough to give you a good idea about “where we’ve been” and where we might be going in the future.

Speaking of Agendas, on to the

REDEVELOPMENT AGENCY MEETING AGENDA

OCTOBER 18, 2011

CITY COUNCIL CHAMBERS

6:45 P.M.

Notice is hereby given that the Livingston Redevelopment Agency will hold a Regular Meeting on October 18, 2011, in the City Council Chambers, 1416 “C” Street, Livingston, California. Persons with disabilities who may need assistance should contact the Deputy City Clerk at least 24 hours prior to this meeting at 394-8041, Ext. 121. Any writings or documents pertaining to an open session item provided to a majority of the members of the legislative body less than 72 hours prior to the meeting, shall be made available for public inspection at Livingston City Hall, 1416 “C” Street. The Regular Meeting will begin at 6:45 p.m. The agenda shall be as follows:

Regular Meeting

CALL TO ORDER Next Resolution Number: 2011-2

Roll Call.

Changes to the Agenda.

CITIZEN COMMENTS – NOTE: Public Comment/Speaker Cards are now available on the back table of the City Council Chambers. Please fill out the appropriate card and submit to Meeting Recorder.

This section of the agenda allows members of the public to address the Redevelopment Agency on any item NOT otherwise on the agenda. Members of the public, when recognized by the Chair, should come forward to the lectern, and identify themselves. Comments are normally limited to three (3) minutes. In accordance with State Open Meeting Laws, no action will be taken by the Redevelopment Agency this evening and all items will be referred to staff for follow up and a report. For items which are on the agenda this evening, members of the public will be provided an opportunity to address the Redevelopment Agency as each item is brought up for discussion.

PRESENTATIONS

1. City of Livingston Redevelopment Agency – Independent Auditor’s Report and Financial Statements June 30, 2011.

CONSENT CALENDAR

2. Approval of Minutes of Special Meeting of August 23, 2011.

ADJOURNMENT

clip_image0024

CITY COUNCIL REGULAR MEETING AGENDA

OCTOBER 18, 2011

CLOSED SESSION: 6:00 P.M.

OPEN SESSION: 7:00 P.M.

Notice is hereby given that the City Council will hold a Regular Meeting on October 18, 2011, at the City Council Chambers, 1416 C Street, Livingston, California. Persons with disabilities who may need assistance should contact the Deputy City Clerk at least 24 hours prior to this meeting at (209) 394-8041, Ext. 121. Any writings or documents pertaining to an Open Session item provided to a majority of the members of the legislative body less than 72 hours prior to the meeting shall be made available for public inspection at Livingston City Hall, 1416 C Street. The Open Session will begin at 7:00 p.m. The Closed Session will be held in accordance with state law prior to the Open Session beginning at 6:00 p.m. The Closed Session will be held in the City of Livingston City Hall Conference Room located at 1416 C Street. The agenda shall be as follows:

Closed Session

1. Call to Order.

2. Roll Call.

CLOSED SESSION

A “Closed” or “Executive” Session of the City Council or the Livingston Redevelopment Agency may be held in accordance with state law which may include, but is not limited to, the following types of items: personnel matters, labor negotiations, security matters, providing instructions to real property negotiators, conference with legal counsel regarding pending litigation. The Closed Session will be held in the City Hall Conference Room located at 1416 C Street, Livingston, California. Any public comment on Closed Session items will be taken before the Closed Session. Any required announcements or discussion of Closed Session items or actions following the Closed Session will be made in the City Council Chambers, 1416 C Street, Livingston, California.

1. Conference with Labor Negotiator

(Government Code Section 54957.6)

Agency Negotiator: City Manager Jose Antonio Ramirez

Employee Organizations: All Represented and Unrepresented City Employees.

Regular Meeting

CALL TO ORDER Next Resolution Number: 2011-67

Next Ordinance Number: 598

Pledge of Allegiance.

Roll Call.

Closed Session Announcements

Changes to the Agenda.

AWARDS, PRESENTATIONS, APPOINTMENTS AND PROCLAMATIONS

1. City of Livingston – Independent Auditor’s Report and Financial Statements June 30, 2011 and City of Livingston Local Transportation Development Act Fund – Independent Auditor’s Report and Financial Statements June 30, 2011.

GRANT ANNOUNCEMENTS

ANNOUNCEMENTS AND REPORTS

Supervisor John Pedrozo Announcements and Reports.

City Staff Announcements and Reports.

City Manager Announcements and Reports.

City Council Members’ Announcements and Reports.

Mayor’s Announcements and Reports.

PUBLIC HEARINGS

CITIZEN COMMENTS – NOTE: Public Comment/Speaker Cards are now available on the back table of the City Council Chambers. Please fill out the appropriate card and submit to Meeting Recorder.

This section of the agenda allows members of the public to address the City Council on any item NOT otherwise on the agenda. Members of the public, when recognized by the Mayor, should come forward to the lectern, and identify themselves. Comments are normally limited to three (3) minutes. In accordance with State Open Meeting Laws, no action will be taken by the City Council this evening. For items which are on the agenda this evening members of the public will be provided an opportunity to address the City Council as each item is brought up for discussion.

CONSENT CALENDAR

Items on the Consent Calendar are considered routine or non-controversial and will be enacted by one vote, unless separate action is requested by the City Manager or City Council Member. There will be no separate discussion of these items unless members of the City Council or City Manager request that specific items be removed.

2. Waive the Second Reading and Adopt Ordinance No. 596 of the City Council of the City of Livingston Amending Livingston Municipal Code (LMC) Title 4, Chapter 2, Relating to Signage.

3. Waive the Second Reading and Adopt Ordinance No. 597 of the City Council of the City of Livingston Amending Livingston Municipal Code (LMC) 5-3-16-1 (A)(1) Setback Exceptions Concerning Small Doorway Covers.

4 Resolution Supporting the California Air Resources Board’s Leadership in Promoting Clean and Efficient Motor Vehicles, Energy Independence, Zero Emission Technologies and Improved Quality of Life in California.. it {Note from TheGardeningSnail – yep..I know you’ll also get the warrant register, meeting minutes, and TIGER Grant stuff if you click on this link..but hey…}

5. Approval of Minutes of Meeting Held on October 4, 2011.

6. Approval of Warrant Register Dated October 12, 2011.

DISCUSSION AND POTENTIAL ACTION ITEMS

7. Resolution Approving Submittal of a Grant Application to the Department of Transportation TIGER 3 Discretionary Grants. {Note from TheGardeningSnail: there was nothing in the Agenda Packet I downloaded over the weekend about this item…but I did find This, and This, And This from the Federal Register, that you might find interesting…I got Part 2 of the Agenda Packet downloaded on Tuesday…so if you go to Item 4 above and click on that, then go to page 67 of the PDF File…you’ll find it. I may have time later this week to break it up into it’s own individual page..but this is the best I can do at the moment.}

ADJOURNMENT

And there is also the

2011 CITY COUNCIL Agendas and Meeting Minutes

Police Chief Recruitment City of Livingston

2012-2012 City of Livingston Draft Budget

The “Mission of the Utility Rate Stakeholders Committee” Series

The “Brief History of How We Got Into This Mess” Series

A Few Letters, Sun-Star & and Mike McGuire Articles about Livingston Politics (and a few other things Worthy of Note) (The links here go all the way back to the 2008 Election Cycle)

The 1995 Water Rate Resolution (Do you see anything in there that says “Industrial”?)

California Department of Health Sept. 2010 Letter on Water System Funding

Well #15 Enforcement Letter & Staff Report

Well #15 Manganese Enforcement Letter Discussions

How They Voted in 2011 (Granted, it’s a Work in Process, but there are links to things there you might be interested in.)

How They Voted in 2010

How They Voted in 2009

How They Voted in 2008

How They Voted in 2007

How They Voted in 2006

City Council Draft Meeting Minutes for 2010

City Council Draft Meeting Minutes for 2009

City Council Draft Meeting Minutes for 2008

City Council Meeting Minutes for 2007

City Council Meeting Minutes for 2006

City Council Meeting Minutes for 2005

City Council Meeting Minutes for 2004

2010-2011 Merced County Grand Jury Final Report

2009-2010 Merced County Grand Jury Final Report

2008-2009 Interim Reports Merced County Civil Grand Jury Postscript to FY2007/2008 Grand Jury’s Report On The City of Livingston

2007 2008 Merced County Grand Jury Final Report

2006-2007 Merced County Grand Jury Final Report

 

Skate Parks, Grand Jury Reports, A New Asst. City Manager, and A City Council Agenda

After 35 years in and out of public service, Sen. Dianne Feinstein finally got something named after her — a skateboard park in the tiny Central Valley farming town of Orange Cove, about 20 miles outside Visalia. – DiFi’s the bomb in tiny Orange Cove / Central Valley town honors Dem senator for her generous attention

Grand Jury Intro

2009-2010 Fresno County Grand Jury Report #10 (Pgs. 181-187) and Sanger Herald

Records and interviews show the city spent lavishly on a park that today, 2 1/2 years after it opened, is hardly used. The park has, however, caught the attention of state auditors, who wonder why the city can’t account for some of the costs.They Built A BMX Park And No One Came

Jose Antonio Ramirez, who was Orange Cove’s city manager from 2000 to 2003, and Alma Lopez-Guerra, who was in charge of the city’s day care center from 2001 to 2004, said they, too, were frustrated with Lopez’s grip on city government. They said their attempts at reform were met with resistance and they eventually resigned -  Ibid    

"I came across unethical activity and very unprofessional accounting practices, which were signs of corruption," Ortiz said. "City officials would violate city procedures, policies, municipal code and state law." – Ibid

In the end, the park cost about $800,000 to build — including the city’s share of about $300,000. One contractor who worked on the project and who has helped build other BMX parks said most comparable projects cost about $100,000. – Ibid

Grand Jury Conclusion 1

2009-2010 Fresno County Grand Jury Report #10 (Pgs. 181-187) and Sanger Herald

 

Can of WormsWhat do Skate Parks, Grand Jury Reports and a New City Manager / Assistant City Manager have in common?

It’s a whale of a tale to tell you lad. A whale of a tale  or two.  A tale that begins in the tiny town of Orange Cove: full of allegations of waste, fraud and just plain ole fashioned “dastardly doings” and “shady shenanigans”: replete with links to “famous names” like Senator Dianne Feinstein, comedian Paul Rodrigues (and his skateboarding son), and a few “not so famous names” like our own Brand New City Manager and Assistant-City-Manager-To-Be.

I’ll go into a few more details later. (You know what they say about “opening that can of worms”) But first…lets check in on Delta Bravo Sierra Land.

Boing-Boing Just In and OutSome Critters Never LearnOne Mini-Chomp Coming Up

And there is much more to the story, and even more to come. You can find out about “what happened in between” by going to Delta Bravo Sierra Landyourself and looking around.

There’s Strange..and then there’s Army Strange: courtesy of Damon Shackelford: furious scribbler of military cartoons. {He’s on Facebook too! and even has his own Comic Book!!!}

Breakfast with the VFW

The Livingston/Delhi Veterans of Foreign Wars and Ladies Auxiliary Breakfast will be served on October 30, 2011, at the Livingston Veterans Memorial Hall, located at 1605 7th Street, in Livingston. Adults can eat for $6.00, and the children under 12 for eat for $4.00. Breakfast consists of Pancakes, French Toast or Biscuits and Gravy; served with Eggs cooked to order, Hash Browns, Sausage or Ham and Coffee and Juice. Breakfast will be served from 8 am to 12 pm.

Rummage-Sale_thumb1Ladies Auxiliary Rummage Sale
The next Ladies Auxiliary Rummage Sale will be held November 30 and December 1-2 , 2011. If you have anything to donate contact Denis or Sue Wells and let us know where and when you would like someone to pick the items up.

VETERANS DAY PARADE This November in Livingston

Mark your calendar! The Livingston/Delhi Veterans of Foreign Wars #8327 and Ladies Auxiliary will be hosting the Annual Veterans Day Parade in the City of Livingston on November 11, 2011, at 11:00 am.

If you wish to have an entry in the parade, for an entry form contact Denis Wells at (209) 394-2059..

VOICE OF DEMOCRACY CONTEST

American Flag Are you a 9th through 12th grade student?

Could you use a scholarship of up to $30,000 from the Veterans of Foreign Wars?

The Voice of Democracy Contest is an Audio Essay contest that gives the students who are enrolled in the 9th through 12th grade in a public, private or parochial school, or home study program, (excluding foreign exchange students, students older than 19 years, and former State Voice of Democracy winners) the opportunity to express their opinion in a three to five minute audio (cassette tape or CD) on the theme, ‘Is There Pride In Serving In Our Military?’.

The first place winner at the local level (Livingston VFW) will be awarded $100, a ‘Liberty Jacket’ and a certificate: Second Place $75.00 and a Certificate, Third Place, $50.00 and a Certificate. All entries receive a Certificate of Participation.

From the local level the winners will move on to District, State and then National, and there are prizes at each level.

The national first-place winner receives a $30,000 scholarship paid directly to the recipient’s American university, college or vocational/technical school. Other national scholarships range from $1,000- $16,000 and the first-place winner from each (State) VFW Department wins an all-expense-paid trip to Washington, D.C.

Essay and entry forms are due to the Post Commander, Denis Wells, no later than November 1, 2011.

Complete rules and entry forms can be obtained from Denis or Sue Wells at 394-2059 or at www.vfw.org.

PATRIOT’S PEN CONTEST

Uniforms from 1776 to Iraqi Freedom Photo Courtesy of US Army The Patriot’s Pen Essay contest gives students who are enrolled in the 6th, 7th and 8th grades, in public, private, parochial school or home study program, the opportunity to express their opinion in a written essay of 300 to 400 words, on the patriotic theme ‘Are You Proud of Your Country?”.

The first place winner at the local level (Livingston VFW) will be awarded $100, a ‘Liberty Jacket’ and a certificate: Second Place $75.00 and a Certificate, Third Place, $50.00 and a Certificate. All entries receive a Certificate of Participation.

From the local level the winners will move on to District, State and then National, and prizes are awarded at all levels.

Annually, roughly 112,000, students from grades 6-8, enter to win one of several savings bonds totaling $1.2 million, as well as an all-expense-paid trip to Washington, D.C. for the National first place winner.

Essay and entry forms are due to the Post Commander, Denis Wells, no later than November 1, 2011.

Complete rules and entry forms can be obtained from Denis or Sue Wells at 394-2059 or on line at www.vfw.org.

NATIONAL YOUNG AMERICAN CREATIVE PATRIOTIC ART CONTEST

Photo courtesy of army_mil Attention 9th through 12th grade students!

The Ladies Auxiliary to the Veterans of Foreign Wars is the sponsoring the National Young American Creative Patriotic Art Contest.

The first place winner at the local level (Livingston VFW) will be awarded $100, a ‘Liberty Jacket’ and a certificate: Second Place $75.00 and a Certificate, Third Place, $50.00 and a Certificate. All entries receive a Certificate of Participation.

The winning artwork will be eligible for State competition, and from there, to the National competition, where the winning artists can receive scholarships of up to $10,000.

Entries are due by March 1, 2012. Students must have crafted their entries during the 2011-2012 school year – and this must be verified by a teacher’s signature on each entry form. If a student used the U.S. Flag in his or her work, the flag’s depiction must conform to the Flag Code.

Partial contest rules: Artwork must be on paper or canvas and must be 8 inches by 10 inches to 48 by 24 inches, not including mats. Watercolor, pencil, pastel, charcoal, tempera, crayon, acrylic, pen-and-ink or oil may be used. Digital art may be used, but must be on paper or canvas; no computer discs will be accepted. Do not frame entries. Submit canvas entries on stretcher frames. Other entries must be matted on white. Do not use color mats. In matting, use heavy paper to reinforce the back. Mounted and floating mats may also be used.

Complete rules and entry forms can be obtained from Denis or Sue Wells at 394-2059 or on line at www.lavfw.org.

Donita "Sue" Wells
Ladies Auxiliary VFW 8327-13
Secretary Treasurer
1159 2nd Street — Livingston CA 95334-1204
(209) 394-2059 — Cell (209) 648-4668
Fax (209) 394-9199 — Email
denisue@gvni.com

The 2011-2012 Draft Budget for the City of Livingston has been Published.

And you still have time to look it over before the Council “talks about it” in Open Session. The nice thing about a PDF file is the handy dandy search box at the top. Just type in what your interested in and the computer will find it for you. CLICK HERE to see it

Now…..I’m Going to Invoke the Story Teller’s License Here

To tell you just a little bit about a City Manager, a Chief Financial Officer, a “mismanaged Skate Park Project”, allegations of illegalities, and a Grand Jury Report.

And…as Story Teller (as opposed to “newsperson”) I am giving myself permission to ramble a tad. 

No…..I cant give you all of the “allegations and legal woes” involved (even though an anonymous friend or two has helped with the research over the weekend. OK…helped A LOT with the research). 

It’s just that: the more we dig, the more we find, which leads to even more digging and even more finding…..and we just gotta quite somewhere if we’re ever going to get this post done before the next Council Meeting takes place.

Ready? Here we go…

Once upon a time, there was a little town named Orange Cove and it’s Mayor: Victor Lopez, who was the Mayor for many years. Mayor Lopez had somewhat of an unsavory reputation among some people, but he also had the reputation for bringing in the “big bucks” with the help of “big friends” like Dianne Feinstein.

Along comes a City Manager named Jose Ramirez, who became the City Manager of Orange Cove from 2000 to 2003.  According to the tale, he ended up butting heads with the Mayor, who was pretty much used to doing what he (the mayor) wanted to do, when he wanted, and how he wanted. Mr. Ramirez eventually resigned because he was “frustrated with (the Mayor’s) grip on city government”.

Well…after Mr. Ramirez left Orange Cove, he went to Firebaugh and eventually from there to Livingston.

Then Along came Odilon Ortiz, who became the finance manager of Orange Cove from November 2005 until he was fired in June 2007. The City Manager at the time (Bill Little: now deceased) said Mr. Ortiz had “a bad attitude”. Mr. Ortiz claimed he was fired for pointing out issues of waste, mismanagement and outright fraud in the City’s Financial doings. Things like:

  • city officials to ignoring normal contract bidding rules,
  • being ordered to NOT issue 1099’s or W2’s for the Mayor’s Son Victor Jr.
  • and a whole host of other things (one might consider sleazy, unsavory, and downright rude to the taxpayers who were ultimately footing the bill)

Mr. Ortiz sued the City of Orange Cove for retaliatory termination: (which didn’t turn out to well for Mr. Ortiz in the Courts of Legal Opinion).

However, a Grand Jury Investigation into the financing and building of the Dianne Feinstein BMX Park seems to bear out most  of the allegations of waste, fraud, mismanagement, and or ineptitude that Mr. Ortiz had been trying to bring to light…(and had been fired for doing so)

It ended up that Bill Little, the city manager and the man who allegedly told Ortiz NOT to issue 1099s or W2s for the Mayor’s son, Victor Lopez, Jr. was killed after leaving a City Council meeting when a big rig “crossed his path”,

Mayor, Victor Lopes ended up under investigation for threatening the current Police Chief and has been quoted as having said things like: “you don’t know what kind of people I haveYou better watch your back.”

Victor Lopez Jr., was arrested for a methadone operation and found in possession of a controlled substances when his house was raided. He was also arrested for a Parole Violation after he was witnessed "…..checking the layout of the police station, the timing of the gates, how long they stay open, which cars they believe to be police vehicles.".

David Lopez, the Mayor’s other son that Mr. Ortiz was told to keep quiet about in regards to earnings from the City, was arrested for assaulting his wife,.

The state of California refused to pay any of the $ 400,000 + grant money which had been previously awarded for the BMX park, due to discrepancies and irregularities in the expenses associated with its construction and operation and the Grand Jury told the City of Orange Cove to get it’s act together big time.

Mayor Lopez eventually lost his most recent election to a garbage truck driver in November 2010, and two of the city council members lost their seats as well.

However, though his connections with Paul Rodriguez (the comedian) , was able to secure a job as the Secretary of the California Latino Water Coalition (CLWC):(Some might find it interesting to note that Paul Rodriguez Jr. (the comedian’s son) is a Professional Skateboard/BMX competitor and that when Victor Lopez Jr (the Mayor’s son). was arrested, he (Victor Lopez Jr.) was renting the home of Paul Rodriguez Sr. (the comedian)

And, the Former City Manager of Orange Cove, Jose Ramirez has now chosen Former Orange Cove CFO Mr. Odilon Ortiz to be the next Chief Financial Officer of of Livingston.

Small World. Isn’t it? And now on to the

CITY COUNCIL REGULAR MEETING AGENDA

OCTOBER 4, 2011

CLOSED SESSION: 6:00 P.M.

OPEN SESSION: 7:00 P.M.

Notice is hereby given that the City Council will hold a Regular Meeting on October 4, 2011, at the City Council Chambers, 1416 C Street, Livingston, California. Persons with disabilities who may need assistance should contact the Deputy City Clerk at least 24 hours prior to this meeting at (209) 394-8041, Ext. 121. Any writings or documents pertaining to an Open Session item provided to a majority of the members of the legislative body less than 72 hours prior to the meeting shall be made available for public inspection at Livingston City Hall, 1416 C Street. The Open Session will begin at 7:00 p.m. The Closed Session will be held in accordance with state law prior to the Open Session beginning at 6:00 p.m. The Closed Session will be held in the City of Livingston City Hall Conference Room located at 1416 C Street. The agenda shall be as follows:

Closed Session

1. Call to Order.

2. Roll Call.

CLOSED SESSION

A “Closed” or “Executive” Session of the City Council or the Livingston Redevelopment Agency may be held in accordance with state law which may include, but is not limited to, the following types of items: personnel matters, labor negotiations, security matters, providing instructions to real property negotiators, conference with legal counsel regarding pending litigation. The Closed Session will be held in the City Hall Conference Room located at 1416 C Street, Livingston, California. Any public comment on Closed Session items will be taken before the Closed Session. Any required announcements or discussion of Closed Session items or actions following the Closed Session will be made in the City Council Chambers, 1416 C Street, Livingston, California.

3. Public Employee Appointment

(Government Code Section 54957)

Title: Assistant City Manager/Finance Director

4. Conference with Legal Counsel – Potential Litigation

(Government Code Section 54956.9)

Number of Cases: One

5. Conference with Labor Negotiator

(Government Code Section 54957.6)

Agency Negotiator: City Manager Jose Antonio Ramirez

Employee Organizations: All Represented and Unrepresented City Employees.

Regular Meeting

CALL TO ORDER Next Resolution Number: 2011-65

Next Ordinance Number: 596

Pledge of Allegiance.

Roll Call.

Closed Session Announcements

Changes to the Agenda.

AWARDS, PRESENTATIONS, APPOINTMENTS AND PROCLAMATIONS

1. Presentation by Bob Kalman, Environmental Management Services (EMS), Water and Wastewater Collection Systems Services Provided to the City of Livingston by EMS.

GRANT ANNOUNCEMENTS

ANNOUNCEMENTS AND REPORTS

Supervisor John Pedrozo Announcements and Reports.

City Staff Announcements and Reports.

City Manager Announcements and Reports.

City Council Members’ Announcements and Reports.

Mayor’s Announcements and Reports.

PUBLIC HEARINGS

2. Introduce and Waive the First Reading of an Ordinance of the City Council of the City of Livingston Amending Livingston Municipal Code Title 4, Chapter 2, Relating to Signage.

3. Introduce and Waive the First Reading of an Ordinance of the City Council of the City of Livingston Amending Livingston Municipal Code (LMC) 5-3-16-1 (A) (1) Setback Exceptions, Concerning Small Doorway Covers.

CITIZEN COMMENTS

This section of the agenda allows members of the public to address the City Council on any item NOT otherwise on the agenda. Members of the public, when recognized by the Mayor, should come forward to the lectern, and identify themselves. Comments are normally limited to three (3) minutes. In accordance with State Open Meeting Laws, no action will be taken by the City Council this evening. For items which are on the agenda this evening members of the public will be provided an opportunity to address the City Council as each item is brought up for discussion.

CONSENT CALENDAR

Items on the Consent Calendar are considered routine or non-controversial and will be enacted by one vote, unless separate action is requested by the City Manager or City Council Member. There will be no separate discussion of these items unless members of the City Council or City Manager request that specific items be removed.

4. Resolution Rejecting All Bids for Cal Fire Station #96 Vertical Air Flow Exhaust Removal System and Authorizing the City Manager to Re-advertise for Bids.

5. Approval of Minutes Held on September 20, 2011 (Special Meeting).

6. Approval of Minutes Held on September 20, 2011 (Regular Meeting).

7. Approval of Warrant Register Dated September 28, 2011.

DISCUSSION AND POTENTIAL ACTION ITEMS

8. Resolution of the City Council of the City of Livingston Approving Employment Agreement Between the City of Livingston and Odilon Ortiz Jr. for his Employment as Assistant City Manager/Finance Director.

ADJOURNMENT

And don’t forget the

Police Chief Recruitment City of Livingston

2012-2012 City of Livingston Draft Budget

The “Mission of the Utility Rate Stakeholders Committee” Series

The “Brief History of How We Got Into This Mess” Series

A Few Letters, Sun-Star & and Mike McGuire Articles about Livingston Politics (and a few other things Worthy of Note) (The links here go all the way back to the 2008 Election Cycle)

The 1995 Water Rate Resolution (Do you see anything in there that says “Industrial”?)

California Department of Health Sept. 2010 Letter on Water System Funding

Well #15 Enforcement Letter & Staff Report

Well #15 Manganese Enforcement Letter Discussions

How They Voted in 2011 (Granted, it’s a Work in Process, but there are links to things there you might be interested in.)

How They Voted in 2010

How They Voted in 2009

How They Voted in 2008

How They Voted in 2007

How They Voted in 2006

City Council Draft Meeting Minutes for 2010

City Council Draft Meeting Minutes for 2009

City Council Draft Meeting Minutes for 2008

City Council Meeting Minutes for 2007

City Council Meeting Minutes for 2006

City Council Meeting Minutes for 2005

City Council Meeting Minutes for 2004

2010-2011 Merced County Grand Jury Final Report

2009-2010 Merced County Grand Jury Final Report

2008-2009 Interim Reports Merced County Civil Grand Jury Postscript to FY2007/2008 Grand Jury’s Report On The City of Livingston

2007 2008 Merced County Grand Jury Final Report

2006-2007 Merced County Grand Jury Final Report

Politics, Climate Change, City Council, and the Police Chief

 “I do not believe that the solution to our problem is simply to elect the right people. The important thing is to establish a political climate of opinion which will make it politically profitable for the wrong people to do the right thing. Unless it is politically profitable for the wrong people to do the right thing, the right people will not do the right thing either, or if they try, they will shortly be out of office.”– Milton Friedmam

At least dogs don't smile before they bite you in the butt Excerpt of a comment by TheLittleTrainThatCould – Livingston police officers show their support for chief, Merced Sun Star

Translation: The Chief is Toast, so don't  bother showing up to the meeting yourself. Just Suck it up and move along. From Livingston police officers show their support for chief, Merced Sun Star

Milton Friedman wasn’t talking about just Lil Ole Livingston, but

He’s gotta point about Political Climates influencing what politicians do (or don’t do). I was thinking about things like Climate, and Storms, (of both the Natural and Political kind) while I was out in the flower bed pulling weeds. Seems like the weather outside is not the only thing a mite stormy and threatening…

If you have been closely following Livingston Politics for the last couple of years or so, especially just before, during and after the Recall, you get the feeling that the Current Political Climate has been pretty damn inhospitable to certain members of the  Previous Administration and is determined to uproot/starve out/cause the extinction of/whatever of much of voted on or approved by said Prior Administration.

Examples of which include the Roll Back of Water Rates (and the Deficits that are now back on the rise), the Abandoning of the Appeal in the Appellate Court (after the Briefs were in and it was just a matter of waiting for the Ruling); and getting rid of the City Manager, City Attorney, Chief of Police, and possibly anyone else associated with “the previous” administration.

And the message from Recall Supporters like starlifter, is that anything the Newly Reconstituted Council does along those lines is totally A-OK with them.

In a little bit, we’ll talk about how the current Political Climate and the recent decision to place the recently hired Police Chief on Administrative leave but first let’s check in on a couple things that happened over the last few weeks in Delta Bravo Sierra Land….

Oh Those Ranger Games

Rack Um Up Rudolph

Before we get to the Main Event, a few other things that happened in December

Livingston’s Police Department helps make Christmas Cheery for some Livingston Children

The Livingston Police Department hosted this year’s Toys for Tots program, as has been the tradition for the past 10 years, said John Mucci, the public service officer who oversees special projects for the department.

More than 600 kids signed up for the program this year, which is about 200 more than last year, Mucci said.Saving Christmas: Livingston bands together to collect and wrap toys for kids who might not get any. Wednesday Dec 22, 2010

The Livingston Police Department has a long and generous history when it comes to the children of the community. Bike Rodeos, Coats for Kids, Community Block Visits (including BBQ Hot Dogs on the Grill with the Fire Department providing the water fun) are only a few of the many projects the Livingston PD has taken on to bring comfort and joy into the lives of Livingston’s Children.

After Chief Dunford took over as chief, many of these traditions were continued.

Let’s pray they continue to continue…..

Looks like the City is finally out of the business of treating Foster Farms’ Industrial Waste Water

The Foster Farms Industrial Waste Water Treatment Plant is up and running. According to Foster Farms officials:

…they spared no expense to ensure the facility was top of the line. They said that it doesn’t just meet, but exceeds, water quality standards. Foster Farms treatment facility now open Saturday Dec 25, 2010 – Merced Sun Star

Water Quality Issues have been a bone of contention between the City, Foster Farms, and the California Regional Water Quality Control Board since at least 1999.

The California Regional Water Quality Control Board (RWQCB) staff inspected the industrial wastewater treatment plant on November 15, 1999, and conducted sampling of existing groundwater monitoring wells to assess the level of groundwater caused by Foster Farms… the California Regional Water Quality Control Board issued a Notice of Violation (NOV) to Foster Farms and the City of Livingston with an inspection report on January 12, 2000…..On August 4, 2000, the California Regional Water Quality Control Board issued a Notice of Violation of Waste Discharge Requirements (WDR) Order No. 79-209. (City of Livingston 2010-2011 Adopted Budget pg. 588)

On October 26, 2006, the California Regional Water Quality Control Board issued a Cease and Desist Order (CDO) No. R5-2006-0112 containing findings that waste constituents discharged from the existing industrial wastewater treatment plant had caused nitrate levels in shallow groundwater to exceed applicable Water Quality Objectives (WQOs) contained in the Water Quality Control Plan for the Sacramento River and San Joaquin River Basins in violation of Order 79-209.(Ibid. pg. 591)

What to do about such things as building a new Industrial Wastewater Treatment Plant, cleaning up groundwater contamination and sludge, and keeping the Regional Water Quality Control Board “happy” ended up being resolved as part of a comprehensive settlement agreement between the City of Livingston and Foster Farms.

On November 13, 2007, a comprehensive settlement agreement between the City of Livingston and Foster Farms became effective. The settlement agreement requires Foster Farms to assume responsibility for constructing the new wastewater treatment plant. …Foster Farms will clean up the current industrial wastewater treatment plant when decommissioned, including the current groundwater contamination and sludge at the existing wastewater treatment plant to the satisfaction of the Regional Water Quality Control Board (RWQCB). …..Once the existing plant site is cleaned up, the land will revert back to public use for the citizens of Livingston.The agreement also required Foster Farms to install water meters at its property line to ensure that all water going on the property is accounted for and billed. These meters were installed in May 2008…. A 1997 option agreement permitting Foster Farms to acquire the City’s property for $1,000 per acre has also been voided. (City of Livingston 2010-2011 Adopted Budget pgs. 55-56)

So..Foster Farms builds it’s own new Waste Water Treatment Plant and cleans up the site of the old one; and the citizens of Livingston get “their” land back for public use. (Whether or not the Council can figure out what “the right thing” do use this land for is a whole nuther question. Just sayin…)

 

City Council Agenda Packets are Online Now

Yes. You have to go to the City’s Web Site and click away until you get to the City Council Agenda Packets page. And, Yes. An Agenda packet is one huge PDF Image File. Which means the “handy dandy search box” is useless (at least for me it is) and you have to scroll through every(dratted)thing to find what you are looking for.

But it sure beats having to trudge down to City Hall during Business hours. Don’t it? 😉

Livingston Gets A New City Clerk

Treasurer Tony Silva will be the new City Clerk. As reported in the Merced Sun Star:

The clerk position was vacated by Donna Barnes when she moved from Livingston to Atwater. The person occupying the position must live in the city. – Livingston City Council appoints treasurer to vacant city clerk position

If he can type at least as well as the two previous City Clerks, and is willing to type away for as many hours as a Council Meeting might last…Then good for him!

Three Cheers for "Equal Pay for Equal Work and Equal Work for Equal Pay"!

It’s about time we had some men willing to sit behind the Dais and use their typing skills in service to the community. We’ll be looking forward to seeing him take his appointed place behind the podium with hands ready at the keyboard.

Good Luck Tony! (And happy note-taking) 😉

Now that Tony Silva has “moved up” to the City Clerk position, that means the Council will now need to fill the position of Treasurer..any suggestions?

What’s BESST for Well #15

In late May, 2009 the California Department of Public Health issued an Enforcement Letter for Failure to Comply with Secondary Drinking Water Standard for Manganese in Well #15.

In addition to high Manganese levels, Well #15 has also been testing close to the Maximum Contaminate Level (MCL) allowed by law for Arsenic. As reported in the Merced Sun Star

Well 15 has tested just below or at the maximum arsenic contaminant level for the past year, said Kathryn Reyes, Public Works superintendent. It tested over the limit once but has on average been at the maximum contaminate level, allowing the well to keep pumping.Livingston eyes cheap way to deal with arsenic contamination in water supply Thursday Dec 9, 2010

Which kinda begs the question: What are we going to do about Well #15? Filtration Systems don’t come cheap and the Water Enterprise Fund is over a million dollars “in the hole”.

At the December 07, 2009 City Council Meeting, there was a Presentation by BESST, Inc. on Water Well Profiling, well diagnostics and well modification to remediate water quality issues.

Will Well Profiling lead to a lower cost solution to Well #15’s Manganese/Arsenic issues? Well see…

 

Climate Change aint Just In Nature

You know the old saying about opening a can of worms and ending up needing a bigger can? Same thing. From Livingston police officers show their support for chief, Merced Sun Star

Unless you have been on another planet or hiding under a rock for the last week or so, you have already heard about the Chief of Police being placed on Administrative Leave, the members of the PD rallying to his support, and the associated, turbulence, rumors, accusations, verbal brickbats and Bru-Ha-Ha going on in the Comment Section of the Merced Sun Star.

In this post, I am not so much going to focus on the rumors of “who got pulled over by a Police Officer and complained” or “who got passed over for promotion and complained” or “who is just generally pissed off at who and complaining”.

I’m gonna talk a little bit about the Political Climate in Livingston that is fueling this Local Super-Storm (or Tempest in a Teapot – you pick) of Accusations and Acrimony.

Think about it like this….

In Nature, there are Climates that favor the growth and development of living things like Rattle Snakes, Gila Monsters, Cactus and Scorpions. There are other Natural Climates that favor the growth and development of Bear, Deer, Pine Trees and Ducks.

A Cactus will not survive in the Arctic; neither will a Polar Bear survive in the middle of the Mojave Desert.

In like manner, there are "Political Climates" that favor the Career Growth and Development of "Political (and "not so political") Animals" of varying kinds. The Public Record in Livingston indicates that, even before the Recall, there was opposition to the hiring of Chief Dunford. This opposition came from both from sitting Council Persons and from vocal Recall Supporters. A few examples;

Council Member Espinoza stated we are spending over $15,000 to recruit a Police Chief. He said the person serving as acting Police Chief is doing a good job. She is capable, and so we should not be spending all this money. December 01, 2009 City of Livingston Draft Minutes

Council Member Aguilar said that many people might have the education, but do not have the experience of Lieutenant Silva. She would rather have a Police Chief that is known in the community and has been here for some period of time. Some people look good on paper, but do not have the background of Lieutenant Silva. It is nice to see her around. She does not see why we cannot keep her and allow her to get the education degrees to keep her job. Council Member Aguilar has not heard anything negative about Lieutenant Silva. – Ibid

Council Member Espinoza said that the City Manager makes the decision on the appointment of the Police Chief. He said that he did not know the City Manager was hiring the new Police Chief, and said that the City Manager did not come to the City Council about this issue. He said that the economy is bad and the Interim Police Chief should be given the chance. – Ibid

The City Council discussed Agenda Item Number 7. Council Member Espinoza said this item is being hidden in the Consent Calendar. The City is in the process of hiring a Police Chief and he is glad the Police Department is going to have a full-time Police Chief. He said that the hiring process was illegal. The hiring of the executive search firm was approved by the previous City Council. The current City Council did not approve the use of an executive search firm. Things were done behind the backs of the City Council. It could have been brought forward and approved on a 3-2 vote. It is sad that this has become a political circus. He hoped that the new Police Chief will do a good job. Council Member Espinoza said he does not like the way the City Council has been working. Feb 02, 2010 City of Livingston Draft Minutes

Council Member Espinoza asked if this was a conflict of interest because the City Manager has the right to be a certain percentage above the Police Chief. If the Police Chief’s salary is adjusted, he gets an adjustment. – City Manager Warne responded that this was not true. The only people that can approve an increase to his salary are the City Council Members. – Ibid.

City Manger Warne said that severance pay will only be paid if there is an involuntary separation of Chief Dunford. If Chief Dunford retires or quits, there is no severance pay. We did ask him that question because we wanted to be sure that we did not hire someone who considers Livingston a stepping stone to another position. – Ibid

What the city should of done is waited until the economy had improved a little more. It already has a perfectly competent interim-chief and a large enough force with the fastest response time in Merced County. Kudos for that. They really should of waited patiently for the right person with the right experience and preferrably from larger City. As the City grows it will need such a person…. Exerpted from a comment by KarmaLivingston hires new police chief 02/03/2010 – Merced Sun Star

We are paying a lot for water. The money you are collecting from us is being used to pay for a new police chief who used to make less money where he lived before than what he is now making here. He is making $10,000 more here than where he lived before. Escalon is bigger than Livingston. You shouldn’t charge us more for our water use so that you can pay the new chief of police $10,000 more….You now have a new chief of police and you are paying him more money. Where is that money coming from if you say that if you don’t increase our water rates, you will not have money to make improvements in the county and city?….Is the City Manager going to pay that extra $10,000 that was offered to the new chief of police? A chief of police is not going to be smarter if you pay him more. I don’t think that is right.Excerpted from a Public Comment: April 20, 2010 City Council Meeting Draft Minutes

As you can see from the above comments, the hiring of Chief Dunford became entangled in the whole “Water Rate Increases which fueled the Recall Drive Paradigm”. (Some early indicators of a potentially dramatic Political Climate Shift, ya think?)

This city manager needs to go and will as soon as the recall goes through. And it will!! The people will prevail!!! It’s already in motion and is just a matter of time now…..This mayor and city manager think they can do whatever they want, whenever they want. Enjoy it while you can, things will change very soon.Exerpted from a comment by Starlifter:  Recall effort under way in Livingston  3/2/2010 -  Merced Sun Star

Now, given that Recall Supporters promised a whole bunch of changes would take place as soon as the Recall was successful, it’s really not too farfetched to think Chief Dunford got caught up in all the Promised-Post-Recall-Changes-That-Would-Take-Place.

After all, within hours (minutes?) of taking office, members of the Newly Reconstituted Livingston City Council began a quick series of late night, and Special Meetings in which they started rapidly “undoing” some of what had already been “done” by the Prior Council.

City of Livingston Meeting Minutes and Recall Related comments in the Sun Star indicate  that the "Political Climate" in Livingston was becoming increasingly inhospitable to the Career Growth and Development of Chief Dunford". (He was hired during that Previous Administration after all, remember?)

Given the on the record statements by certain members of the Council and prominent Recall Supporters, it is reasonable to conclude Chief Dunford has been scorched by the very same Political Winds that fueled the Recall, the exit of the City Manager and City Attorney, the Roll Back of Water Rates (and the Deficits that are now back on the rise), and the Abandoning of the Appeal in the Appellate Court (after the Briefs were in and it was just a matter of waiting for the Ruling).

No..we don’t have all the facts. Yes…most of what we have is rumor and supposition. But given the track record of the Current Council members and their supporters (both in word and deed), it is reasonable and logical to say that the “letting go” of Chief Dunford fits into an already proven pattern of Council Person behavior.

What next? Well…here’s one theory

The Council still hasn't figured out what to do about getting a new City Manager yet.  If they did start an Official Recruitment of any kind, I bet the Executive Search Firm would want their money "up front".From Livingston just another town removing top cop Friday Dec 24, 2010 – Merced Sun Star

More on this Topic after Tuesday’s City Council Meeting

CITY COUNCIL REGULAR MEETING AGENDA

JANUARY 4, 2011

CLOSED SESSION: 6:00 P.M.

OPEN SESSION: 7:00 P.M.

Notice is hereby given that the City Council will hold a Regular Meeting on January 4, 2011, at the City Council Chambers, 1416 C Street, Livingston, California. Persons with disabilities who may need assistance should contact the Deputy City Clerk at least 24 hours prior to this meeting at (209) 394-8041, Ext. 121. Any writings or documents pertaining to an Open Session item provided to a majority of the members of the legislative body less than 72 hours prior to the meeting shall be made available for public inspection at Livingston City Hall, 1416 C Street. The Open Session will begin at 7:00 p.m. The Closed Session will be held in accordance with state law prior to the Open Session beginning at 6:00 p.m. The Closed Session will be held in the City of Livingston City Hall Conference Room located at 1416 C Street. The agenda shall be as follows:

Closed Session

A “Closed” or “Executive” Session of the City Council or the Livingston Redevelopment Agency may be held in accordance with state law which may include, but is not limited to, the following types of items: personnel matters, labor negotiations, security matters, providing instructions to real property negotiators, conference with legal counsel regarding pending litigation. The Closed Session will be held in the City Hall Conference Room located at 1416 C Street, Livingston, California. Any public comment on Closed Session items will be taken before the Closed Session. Any required announcements or discussion of Closed Session items or actions following the Closed Session will be made in the City Council Chambers, 1416 C Street, Livingston, California.

1. Public Employee Appointment

(Government Code Section 54957)

Title: City Manager

2. Public Employee Performance Evaluation

(Government Code Section 54957)

Title: Acting City Manager

Regular Meeting

CALL TO ORDER Next Resolution Number: 2011-1

Next Ordinance Number: 590

Pledge of Allegiance.

Roll Call.

Closed Session Announcements.

Changes to the Agenda.

.

AWARDS, PRESENTATIONS, APPOINTMENTS AND PROCLAMATIONS

ANNOUNCEMENTS AND REPORTS

Supervisor John Pedrozo Announcements and Reports.

City Council Members’ Announcements and Reports.

Mayor’s Announcements and Reports.

Acting City Manager Announcements and Reports.

PUBLIC HEARINGS

CITIZEN COMMENTS

This section of the agenda allows members of the public to address the City Council on any item NOT otherwise on the agenda. Members of the public, when recognized by the Mayor, should come forward to the lectern, and identify themselves. Comments are normally limited to three (3) minutes. In accordance with State Open Meeting Laws, no action will be taken by the City Council this evening. For items which are on the agenda this evening members of the public will be provided an opportunity to address the City Council as each item is brought up for discussion.

CONSENT CALENDAR

Items on the Consent Calendar are considered routine or non-controversial and will be enacted by one vote, unless separate action is requested by the City Manager or City Council Member. There will be no separate discussion of these items unless members of the City Council or City Manager request that specific items be removed.

1. Resolution 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 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.

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.

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.

DISCUSSION AND POTENTIAL ACTION ITEMS

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.

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.

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

ADJOURNMENT

 

 

 

 

 

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Abandoned Meetings, Canceled Meetings, Special Meetings and Meetings in Limbo

During a time of rapid change and special council meetings, Livingston, oddly enough, cancelled its regular City Council meeting scheduled for Tuesday (10/19/2010). A message from City Clerk Donna Barnes dated Oct. 12 noted it was because of a lack of urgent agenda items. Mayor Rodrigo Espinoza couldn’t provide much of a reason Thursday as to why a meeting would be cancelled when the city is in such serious transition. He was on vacation in Mexico. Excerpted from Reporter’s Notebook – Merced Sun Star – 10/15/2010

People showed up at the Portuguese Hall expecting a town hall meeting Sunday. (10/17/2010) What they got was nothing but a cool night, a light wind and hot air… Excerpt from Meeting In Livingston Takes Confrontational Turn – Merced Sun Star – 10/19/2010

Always speak the truth. Think before you speak and write it down afterward. – Advice from the Red Queen to Alice in Alice Through the Looking Glass.

Before we dive into the main Topics at hand How bout we first check in with Lucky the Rabbit and his best bud C.J. from Delta Bravo Sierra, courtesy of Deltab5 –furious scribbler of Military Cartoons….

Lucky if the call don't drop Hey Hey CJs away

Want more..than click here to head over to Delta Bravo Sierra. While you’re there, don’t forget to check out the links to the other Worthy Websites of a Military Nature on his site.

What will happen when CJ gets home and gets to see his family once again? While we don’t exactly know (yet) I wouldn’t be surprised if it goes something like it did with these “Tough Little Boys” (who grew up to be dads) in this video.

Since you’re here already how about a slightly different definition of “tough” before we move on to the…

General Fund Taxpayer Subsidy Update

In my last post, for purposes of this discussion, I used some percentages calculated from 2009 as a reliable basis upon which to determine Water Usage over the last few years (and in the future-because of the meters, you know…)

And we looked at the implications of not collecting enough in Fees to Run the System: Forcing the General Fund to Make up the Difference.

As a bit of a review, we looked at the reported, Accumulated Deficit in the Water Enterprise Fund as of September 27, 2010 which was $1,108,914. We dropped that into the handy dandy percentage calculator and saw what came out.

Water System Statistics 2009 Deficit Calculations

And saw that Over a Million Dollars ended up sucked from the General Fund to Shore up the Water Enterprise Fund because Council’s Past, for whatever reason, did not raise them incrementally over the years. That’s over a Million Dollars that could have bought a whole lot of stuff for the Police, Fire, and Recreation Department.

And if you allocated that Deficit on the basis of billions of gallons used, just who seemed to have the Lions Share of responsibility for that Deficit?

Now that Water Rates for Everyone have been rolled back to 1995 levels, the “Unintended Subsidies” are growing again. Take a look at the chart below.

Deficit Calculations for Oct 19 2010

The Total Accumulated Deficit in the Water Enterprise Fund grew from $1,108,914 to $1,178, 866. (rounded to the nearest dollar.) That is an increase of $69,952 in less than one month: $69,952 worth of cash that still has to come from SOMEWHERE! (Like the General Fund)

And that is just the Water Enterprise Fund Alone. Let’s take a look at the Total Deficits in the Water, Waste Water, and Sanitation Funds as of  October 19, 2010.


Fund #2100 Water Enterprise Fund         $1,178,865.88
Fund #2101 Domestic WW Enterprise Fund 
504,944.29
Fund #2103 Sanitation Enterprise Fund   
    492,983.04
                             Total for the Above  $2,176,793.21

That’s a heck of a lot of cash to be sucked from the General Fund over time. Cash that could have been used for the Police, Fire, and Recreation Dept. Heck, we may even have been able to have built a new Fire Station had the Enterprise funds not sucked so much cash from the General Fund.

Since we are on the Subject of Accumulated Deficits

Am I saying that these numbers are 100% to the penny as of the day this was posted (or the day you happen to be reading this)? Certainly not.  But they do indicate the trends of who benefits most and who benefits least whenever Cash Is Drained from the General Fund to shore up the Water Enterprise Fund.

If you look at the Deficit Numbers on a bi-weekly or Monthly Basis, the amount of Accumulated Deficits will bobble up and down. As fees are collected the number will drop. As bills are paid, the number will rise. The important thing to track is the overall direction those Deficits are trending as a whole over time.

Increases in Deficits over time means fees aren’t even covering basic Daily Operating Costs: resulting in ever increasing amounts of cash sucked away from the General Fund.

With no Cash Reserves being built up for those large Replacement, Repair, and Regulatory Compliance Costs that will need to be addressed sooner or later.

If the trend over time is “flat”, that means fees are just barely covering Basic Daily Operating Costs. But the City still will have no “wiggle room” in the Enterprise Funds to fund those large Replacement, Repair, and Regulatory Compliance Costs that are heading our way.

If the trend over time is decreasing, it still doesn’t mean the City is in a good financial position overall yet. If there is not enough cash to fund the Basic Daily Operating Costs of the Enterprise Funds and Replacement, Repair, and Regulatory Compliance Costs associated with the Enterprise Funds and provide for all the other bills the City has….

You can see the problem. Can’t you???

Call it what you like: Intended-Discounts, Unintended-Discounts, Tax-Payer-Subsidies, Indirect-Payments, Cash-Sucked-from-the-General-Fund, Less-For-Fire/Police/Recreation, Whatever you want to call it. No matter WHO is on the council and WHO is the City Manager, the fact remains that Deficit Spending in the Enterprise Funds should be addressed before even greater amounts of Cash are sucked away from the Fire, Police, and Recreation Departments.

Shouldn’t addressing the City’s Financial Situation (before it gets really REALLY bad) be highest on the Council’s Priority List?

I’m beginning to wonder. No Council Meetings about redoing the budget so far. Instead we had 

Canceled Meetings in October

The Regular City Council Meeting for October 19th was canceled: reason given that there were “no urgent” items. Besides, Mayor Rodrigo Espinoza was reportedly vacationing in Mexico.

The Planning Commission Meeting for October was also canceled due to “no urgent” items.

(Gee..do you remember when some folks were just absolutely LIVID when Council Meetings were canceled “for lack of urgent items”. Now canceled meetings don’t even seem to be worth a yawn.)

Although there were no “urgent” reasons for an October 19th Council Meeting (like maybe getting a New Rate Study Going). His Honor the Mayor did make it back from Mexico just in time to be present for an…

Abandoned Meeting (or When a meeting turns out to be not a meeting at all)

Must have been an “October/Halloween is coming” thing… the story about what the October 17th meeting at the Pentecost Hall was supposed to be about “shape shifted” faster than a character in a Twilight Movie..

The fliers that went out called it an “informational TOWN HALL MEETING” for “ANY registered voter who has questions (to) come get THE FACTS!”

But the person who said he organized and paid for the event didn’t seem happy at all about the number and nature of “the registered voters” who actually decided to show up.

And rather than “go on with the show” and present those answers to those who might have had questions, he canceled the meeting. 

After it was canceled (and most everyone cleared out) the meeting was said to have been about bringing a junior boxing program to Livingston.

OK..fine. A junior boxing program is something I sure would have been jazzed to hear about. So If that’s what the meeting was all about, then why cancel it?

Was it just consternation over the presence of a few of those dratted “trailer ladies” in the audience? Cheese-Louise! What the heck stops a person from going to the front of the audience and saying. “Ladies and gentleman, do I have some good news for you that I am really excited about! I just talked to representatives of Rep. Dennis Cardoza and I hope you will be as excited about this information as I am.”

Then just get on with the presentation and answer questions afterward….

But it didn’t work out that way and now that future meetings such as this one will be moved to a private residence, I doubt if any of “the trailer ladies” et. al. would be allowed to attend: not even the ones who have the interest, time, and/or training, that might be useful at a junior boxing program.

So…When does a meeting for “any registered voter” who wants to get their questions answered turn out NOT to be a meeting for “any registered voter” who wants to get their questions answered?

Guess it depends upon what one’s meaning of “is” is.

Go figure..

Special Meetings

So October 17 Regular City Council meeting was canceled because there were no “urgent” items to be considered. (I guess Deficit Spending doesn’t count as an “urgent ”item in this New Council’s vocabulary and most of what they feel needs to get done gets done at Special meetings anyway)

But there were 2 Special Meetings during the Month of October. A Special Meeting on October 6th (Re-negotiating the City Manager’s contract and discussing the Foster Farms Lawsuit in Closed session) and another Special Meeting on October 28th (Re-Negotiating the City Manager’s contract and discussing the Foster Farms Lawsuit in Closed Session).

Since we are on the topic of Special Meetings. Do any you Remember how BEFORE the Recall, just who exactly became absolutely LIVID if a Tuesday City Council meeting was canceled and there was a Special Meetings on any other Day but Tuesday?

Do you Remember all the talk about how important it was to have those Regular Tuesday meetings and how awful it was when they were canceled? But Change was on the way! The Recall would usher in A New day of Open, Ethical, government with Regular Meetings regularly held on regularly scheduled Tuesdays so all “the people” would know when to show up.

Not quite workin’ out that way so far. Is it?

Which kinda begs another question. Why would a Tuesday’s City Council Meetings be canceled and instead there be Special Meetings any other day but Tuesday? Is it because.

A. The Mayor is being lead around like a castrated bull with a ring in his nose by a city manager who does whatever he wants.

B. The Mayor doesn’t want to have to hear from some disgruntled citizens (as Starlifter would have put it) so he has meetings on any day but Tuesday in hopes they don’t show up cuz he doesn’t have the “testicular fortitude” necessary to answer their questions. OR is the Answer

C. There are occasionally those legitimate reasons for having a meeting any day but Tuesday’s Regular City Council Meeting Day.

Note: Individual answers to the above may vary depending upon which Mayor is being discussed at the moment and also depending upon whether the person giving the voted “yes” or “no” on the Recall. Just sayin….

Well, so far we have talked about a Canceled Meeting, some Special Meetings and even an Abandoned Meeting. As of the date of this posting, it looks like the November 2, 2010 City Council Meeting is a Meeting in Limbo. Neither “officially” on or off.

I went by City Hall about 7pm on Saturday (had a few errands to do). Checked the window where all the notices go. No Meeting Agenda posted. No notice of Cancelation either.

Checked the City’s Website. Nope. Nothin there either. No Agenda. No Cancelation Notice.

I’m no lawyer, but…..if there is going to be a Regular City Council Meeting on Tuesday, shouldn’t the Agenda be up already?

Or is it just going to be “officially” canceled at the last minute?

Yes. I know that November 2nd is Election Day. But as far as I know that hasn’t been a major obstacle before. The meeting could just be moved somewhere else: like to the VFW Hall. Granted, it would take a little advanced planning. But it’s been done before.

At this point, I just can’t help but wonder. Will there be a last minute Tuesday-Regular-Meeting-Cancelation/Special-Meeting-on-another-day announcement come Monday? or Tuesday?

Guess we’ll just have to wait and see…..

While we’re waiting, you can catch up on some reading if you’d like

The 1995 Water Rate Resolution (Do you see anything in there that says “Industrial”?)

California Department of Health Sept. 2010 Letter on Water System Funding

Well #15 Enforcement Letter & Staff Report

Well #15 Manganese Enforcement Letter Discussions

How They Voted in 2007

How They Voted in 2008

How They Voted in 2009

How They Voted in 2010 (What I have so far)

A Few Letters & Sun-Star Articles about Livingston Politics (and a few other things Worthy of Note)(The links here go all the way back to the 2008 Election Cycle)

City Council Meeting Minutes for 2004

City Council Meeting Minutes for 2005

City Council Meeting Minutes for 2006

City Council Meeting Minutes for 2007

City Council Draft Meeting Minutes for 2008

City Council Draft Meeting Minutes for 2009

City Council Draft Meeting Minutes for 2010

2006-2007 Merced County Grand Jury Final Report

2007 2008 Merced County Grand Jury Final Report

2008-2009 Interim Reports Merced County Civil Grand Jury Postscript to FY2007/2008 Grand Jury’s Report On The City of Livingston

Special Meetings, Seasoned Citizens, Trailer Trash, Agendas, Cancellations and More Politics of “Shut Up!”

"Belief can be manipulated. Knowledge is dangerous" Paul "Muad’Dib" Atreides of the Dune Series

Ridicule is man’s most potent weapon-Saul Alinsky

Ah! Arrogance and stupidity all in the same package! How efficient of you…I’ve tried to help you. You’ve refused to listen. There you are..I will get you the information you asked for and that is the end. Good luck with your mission gentlemen. I only hope that in your stumbling around, you do not wake the dragon..Londo Mollari to General Lefcourt-Babylon 5-“In the Beginning”

Finally, good to see out with the old and in with the new… It’s about time the old folks pass the reigns to the new generation with hopes of a much better Livingston than we have today….The monte cristo future trailer trash park should of never been built. Condos should of been built instead. So many errors on have been passed and look at the City now. Exerpt from a comment by Karma Nine apply for Livingston Planning Commission vacancies

This thing about the water rates. We’re all intelligent, even the trailer community. – Citizen Comment – September 24 Special City Council Meeting.

You people from the trailer community don’t have anything to worry about cause you don’t have (long to live). – Citizen Comment – September 24 Special City Council Meeting.

As a resident of Livingston I attended last nights meeting. There was a comment made about the seniors living in the Monte Cristo Adult Community. They were called a gang, and had not long to live. We are not a gang we are just a "group" of concerned senior citizens Jamesc  Livingston Takes Back Utility Rate HikeMerced Sun Star

I agree with you Jamesc, concerning the rude comments made by two individuals who support Rodrigo, Margarita and Theresa. ..I thought about my elderly parents and how I pray that they live to be over 100 years old. Rodrigo sat there like a lump on a log and said nothing until one of the ladies cried out in humiliation. I do need to mention, however that the teacher and council woman Margarita Aguilar did give her 2 cents concerning the matter. However, I was just as shocked at her response she explained to the listeners how she knows younger people who are wiser than the elderly. Well, that may be true, but all she did was encourage the rude behavior of her supporters. I suppose it’s understandable after all she did not want to hear the elderly or anyone else stand up to hold her, Rodrigo and Margarita accountable for the horrible decisions they’re making to appease their voters. Excerpts from comment by  gray11 Livingston Takes Back Utility Rate Hike 

I did not attend the meeting,but it just sounds like a no brainer. The vote is a joke, I have seen Rodrigo Espinoza at meetings- …How can you lower water rates without reviewing a budget? Where is the money coming from to put in place lower rates? Where has the money from the rate hikes gone? Here is the deal people water prices everywhere are going up. Laughing stock of California we will be… Time to move….blue72 Livingston Takes Back Utility Rate Hike 

 

No, Mr. Frodo. Fobbit’s don’t live in Middle Earth

I don’t know about you, but before we dive into some more “Serious Stuff” I NEED a small dose of humor. So this time, I’m leading off with one of the latest "toons” from one of my favorite Military Scribblers, deltab5 (who graciously gave me permission to use it here)

Delta Bravo Sierra and the French Possum It’s like the man says “There’s Strange..and then there’s ARMY Strange”. For more of Damon Shackelford’s unique take on Army life and all that goes with it, click HERE The site even has a “Military Dictionary” in case you’ve never heard of such things as Fobbits,  So go have a Look-See…

Just before we get serious, one more thing 

Once upon a time, I wrote a post about Trolls, Frauds, Wingnuts and Flamers and talked about how “Trolls” really don’t want to have a Rational Discussion, they just want to Insult, Name-Call, and Bully (or make the “other side” Shut-Up). One person actually went to the trouble to Identify and Classify some of the Sub-Species of the Troll Family.

CLICK HERE if you’d like to read up a bit about some of these "noxious pests” (If ONLY I could draw. {sigh} what I could do If I could just draw things like the “Tyrant-a-Saurus Vex”, The “Honey Tongued Spite Viper”, the“Bile Throated Blame Thrower”, and the “Ramble Mouthed Truth Bender” {double sigh})

Speaking of Trollish Behavior

Now that Daniel Varela and Martha Nateras have been recalled, Looks like some of the Recall Supporters have decided to turn the full measure of their scorn and ridicule onto a different set of targets. Although taking verbal pot shots at the Monte Cristo Adult Community started well before the final stages of the Recall, now that Daniel Varela and Martha Nateras are no longer available for verbal target practice, some Recall Supporters have chosen to lob their their comment grenades at some of our more Seasoned Citizens “on the other side” of the Recall Issue.

If their intent was to cow “the trailer ladies” and their friends into quiet submission, I have a feeling it only had the opposite affect. If anything, it has most likely got them even more “riled up”.

Riled up because they view such comments as “not having long to live” as a veiled threat and an attempt to intimidate them into “shutting up”. (Actually, there is a bit of a question about whether or not the “speaker” said “only going to live afew more years.” or actually said “only going to live 2 more years” – as of this moment, I haven’t checked the audio. But either way, would YOU like someone stating you didn’t have much longer to live? – And during a City Council Meeting? Just sayin.)

It looks to them (and others) that instead of directly responding to questions about the future financial health of the City, the members of the “new council” allow their supporters to attack their age, address, and intelligence.

I don’t think “The Monte Cristo Gang” (as they have been labeled) is going to give up on speaking up.

Even if it means listening to another lecture by an Elementary School Teacher on the New Meaning of “Respect”.

Now on to some Serious Stuff

City Council Votes to Abandon Appeal during late night Closed Session

Despite most of the work being done, money spent and recent support from The League of California Cities, California State Association of Counties and the Association of California Water Agencies, the new council still directed the city attorney to drop the appeal. Already, things are shaking up in Livingston Thursday, Sep. 23, 2010 Merced Sun Star

Had the previous administration announced a meeting to make important decisions 3 days after being sworn in, I wonder what Rodrigo and Margarita would have told all those in attendance. I can already hear them saying, "There is something going on here, we and the community need to know when these decisions were made."-Excerpt from a comment by
gray11 Already, things are shaking up in Livingston Thursday, Sep. 23, 2010

Will they discuss my refund? I’m still waiting for it. Oh wait, where will hey get the money for that and where will they get the money to get all the equipment etc to make sure our water is cleaner? theres food for though. orangecrush Already, things are shaking up in Livingston Thursday, Sep. 23, 2010

On Tuesday, September 21, 2010 the newly reconstituted Livingston City Council voted to abandon the the Appeal of the Foster Farms lawsuit.

This decision took place during a Closed Session Meeting that lasted until appx. 11:00pm.

Before going into Closed session, the Council took public comment. Although a couple people argued in favor of just dropping the case, others made the point that the work had already been done, the briefs already turned in and it was just a matter of time before the Appeals Court Ruled anyway.

At the end of the meeting, it was announced to the handful of people in attendance, (Surprise!) that the Appeal would be abandoned and that there would be a Special Meeting on Friday September 24th, 2010 although no specific details of what would be on the Agenda was given at the time .

Which led to some..

Change Ramping up into High Gear

What was displayed at last night’s council meeting clearly shows that these people do not know what they’re doing. …On the one hand, newly elected Theresa Land with little information can calmly make HUGE decisions pertaining the overall budget of our city, and on the other hand, Margarita who has been there for almost 2 years is always asking for more time to go over the documents before voting. Excerpts from a comment by gray11 Saturday, Sep. 25, 2010 Livingston takes back utility rate hike

I did not attend the meeting,but it just sounds like a no brainer. The vote is a joke, … How can you lower water rates without reviewing a budget? Where is the money coming from to put in place lower rates? Where has the money from the rate hikes gone? Here is the deal people water prices everywhere are going up. Laughing stock of California we will be… Time to move…. Exerpts from a comment by blue72  Saturday, Sep. 25, 2010 Livingston takes back utility rate hike

To the dismay of some, and the joyful glee of others, the City Council voted 4-1 At the Special Meeting (Surprise!) to Rescind all the Rate Hikes and begin the process of the Deficit Spending. (Didn’t Foster Farms sue the city once already saying such Deficit Spending was “mismanagement”?)

OK…so the Rates were Rolled back before a New Water Study was even begun. Now What kind of thought out change is that?

A High Rate of Change That Even Has the State Concerned

"It is important for the city to understand that if the city violates any of the drinking water regulations as a result of having insufficient funds to properly operate and maintain the water system, our department will take the appropriate enforcement actions," the letter declared

As of Monday, the city’s water deficit is $1,108,913.89, the wastewater deficit is $519,957.98 and the sanitation deficit is $455,531.63, according to city records. – Excerpts From Tuesday, Sep. 28, 2010 Questions raised about Livingston’s ability to provide safe water – Merced Sun Star.

Our city leaders have failed the citizens from the year 2000 forward. Each council until 2006 put their heads in the sand and did nothing to correct the issues; they borrowed from the general fund to just keep the system operating. Money used for future planning was never set aside. Up until last Friday night the City actually had a means to address the questions you raised. Now it is a mystery of what will happen next. – Excerpt from a comment by makingsense Tuesday, Sep. 28, 2010 Questions raised about Livingston’s ability to provide safe water 

Well…Looks like some of the residents in Livingston aren’t the only ones concerned with whether or not the City will be able to fund necessary improvements to Infrastructure and Compliance with State Mandates. While some people question why the Health Department would even be interested in such things a a Recall Election in Livingston, the Letter from the Health Department also says:

Health Department Letter IHealth Department Letter II

Translation: Dude! We gotta make sure you guys take in enough money to get the Job Done! 

OK…Now What’s the Council Gonna Do? 

They may not have literally awaken a Dragon, but it doesn’t seem like the State has been caught napping…and its starting to growl.

to be continued…

To read the complete letter from the California Department of Health Click HERE

BUT WAIT! Before We Get to the Agenda, Some of that History that is 100% Karma Disapproved (You know…Some of that “oh so dangerous” knowledge I’m just supposed to Shut Up About)

A 1995 Resolution on Livingston’s Water Rates

California Department of Health Sept. 2010 Letter on Water System Funding

How They Voted in 2007

How They Voted in 2008

How They Voted in 2009

How They Voted in 2010 

A Few Letters & Sun-Star Articles about Livingston Politics (and a few other things Worthy of Note)(The links here go all the way back to the 2008 Election Cycle)

City Council Meeting Minutes for 2005 (Updated)

City Council Meeting Minutes for 2006

City Council Meeting Minutes for 2007

City Council Draft Meeting Minutes for 2008

City Council Draft Meeting Minutes for 2009

City Council Draft Meeting Minutes for 2010

Well #15 Enforcement Letter & Staff Report

Well #15 Manganese Enforcement Letter Discussions

2006-2007 Merced County Grand Jury Final Report

2007 2008 Merced County Grand Jury Final Report

2008-2009 Interim Reports Merced County Civil Grand Jury Postscript to FY2007/2008 Grand Jury’s Report On The City of Livingston

And Now, On to the

CITY COUNCIL REGULAR MEETING AGENDA

OCTOBER 5, 2010

CLOSED SESSION: 6:30 P.M.

OPEN SESSION: 7:00 P.M.

Notice is hereby given that the City Council will hold a Regular Meeting on October 5, 2010, at the City Council Chambers, 1416 C Street, Livingston, California. Persons with disabilities who may need assistance should contact the Deputy City Clerk at least 24 hours prior to this meeting at (209) 394-8041, Ext. 121. Any writings or documents pertaining to an Open Session item provided to a majority of the members of the legislative body less than 72 hours prior to the meeting shall be made available for public inspection at Livingston City Hall, 1416 C Street. The Open Session will begin at 7:00 p.m. The Closed Session will be held in accordance with state law prior to the Open Session beginning at 6:30 p.m. The Closed Session will be held in the City of Livingston City Hall Conference Room located at 1416 C Street. The agenda shall be as follows:

Closed Session

A “Closed” or “Executive” Session of the City Council or the Livingston Redevelopment Agency may be held in accordance with state law which may include, but is not limited to, the following types of items: personnel matters, labor negotiations, security matters, providing instructions to real property negotiators, conference with legal counsel regarding pending litigation. The Closed Session will be held in the City Hall Conference Room located at 1416 C Street, Livingston, California. Any public comment on closed session items will be taken before the closed session. Any required announcements or discussion of closed session items or actions following

1. Conference with Real Property Negotiator.

Government Code Section 54956.8.

Property: Assessor’s Parcel Numbers: 047-617-009, 047-617-010, 047-617-011, 047-617-012,

and 047-617-013, also known as Lots 31, 32, 33, 34, and 35.

Negotiating Parties: Richard N. Warne, City Manager and Roy Val Dorst, Legacy Homes.

Under Negotiation: Price, Terms of Payment

2. Conference with Real Property Negotiator

Government Code Section 54956.8

Property: Assessor’s Parcel Numbers: 022-093-002 and 022-093-003 also known as Davante Villas Unit 1, Lots 144 and 145.

Negotiating Parties: Richard N. Warne, City Manager and Steve Spencer, New America Homes.

Under Negotiation: Price, Terms of Payment.

Regular Meeting

CALL TO ORDER Next Resolution Number: 2010-59

Next Ordinance Number: 590

Pledge of Allegiance.

Roll Call.

Changes to the Agenda.i

AWARDS, PRESENTATIONS, APPOINTMENTS AND PROCLAMATIONS

1. Presentation by JKB Energy of Possible Installation of Solar Energy System at Domestic

Wastewater Treatment Plant.

CITY COUNCIL REORGANIZATION

2. Discuss and Make City Council Appointments to City Boards, Commissions, Committees

a. Board Member/Alternate to Merced County Association of Governments (MCAG) Governing Board.

b. Representative/Alternate to Central Valley Division League of California Cities (CVDLCC).

c. Board Member/Alternate to Merced County Economic Development Corporation

(MCEDCO).

d. Representative/Alternate to Special City Selection Committee of the San Joaquin

Valley Air Pollution Control Board.

e. City Council Liaison to Livingston Planning Commission.

f. City Council Liaison to Livingston Court Theater Committee.

ANNOUNCEMENTS AND REPORTS

Supervisor John Pedrozo Announcements and Reports.

City Council Members’ Announcements and Reports.

Mayor’s Announcements and Reports.

PUBLIC HEARINGS

CITIZEN COMMENTS

This section of the agenda allows members of the public to address the City Council on any item NOT otherwise on the agenda. Members of the public, when recognized by the Mayor, should come forward to the lectern, and identify themselves. Comments are normally limited to three (3) minutes. In accordance with State Open Meeting Laws, no action will be taken by the City Council this evening. For items which are on the agenda this evening members of the public will be provided an opportunity to address the City Council as each item is brought up for discussion.

CONSENT CALENDAR

Items on the Consent Calendar are considered routine or non-controversial and will be enacted by one vote, unless separate action is requested by the City Manager or City Council Member. There will be no separate discussion of these items unless members of the City Council or City Manager request that specific items be removed.

3. Approval of Minutes of Meeting Held on May 4, 2010.

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

5. Approval of Warrant Register Dated September 30, 2010.

DISCUSSION AND POTENTIAL ACTION ITEMS

6. Discussion of City Council Cell Phone Policy.

7. City Manager Announcements and Reports.

ADJOURNMENT

(What!?!? No Discussion Item on Council Guidance for a New Rate Study? Anyone out there want to Keep Count of how many days between the time the New Council Was Sworn in and a New Rate Study is Presented?)

BTW I hear the Next Planning Commission Meeting is being canceled. More on that on my next post.