A New Council Member, A New City Manager, A Contract Public Works Director Gone, A Case of Umbrella Envy and A Missed Water Reduction Goal.

LIVINGSTON CA, 08/19/2015

This town has been so wonderful to me. Like many others, I went through an economic hardship in 2010 and had to start over. Livingston is one of those places where the American Dream is still alive and allows any person who’s willing to work for it, to achieve what they want to achieve. – Alex McCabe -  June 09, 2015 City Council Meeting

I’m gonna go ahead and comment on the Umbrellas. The Umbrellas, again, I said it at a Council Meeting, the past City Manager is the one that, right before he left, he spent the money and bought the umbrellas without telling the council. So he put them on the front on the corner. and the ones over there. So, without telling us, he bought them and we have them now. Mayor Rodrigo Espinoza 06/09/2015 Special City Council Meeting

You know, I don’t know what they are doing. They’re not doing their job. – Mayor Rodrigo Espinoza06/16/2015 City Council Meeting

Given the … action of the court to Vacate any finding of guilt, for the misdemeanor charge, changing the plea to Not Guilty, and dismissing the claim and ordering it to be expunged, we, ah, are confident that Mr. Duque is qualified for the position and will be an excellent City manager. Thank You. – – Mayor Rodrigo Espinoza – Report out of Closed Session – 08/04/2015 City Council Meeting.

It seems a few people are upset about a few Umbrellas in the Downtown Commercial District. More on that a little later. But first…

At the 06/09/2015 City Council Meeting, ALEX McCABE WAS SELECTED to serve out of the rest of David Mendoza’s term on the City Council. During the Interview that evening, candidates for the position were asked questions such as:

  • What have you accomplished?

  • Why do you want to be on the Council?

  • What are your 5 top Priorities?

  • What do you think the Council is doing wrong? 

  • How do you feel about Growth?

  • How do you feel about the Street Fair?

  • What is your position on Staffing Levels: especially Public Safety?

Since you can read a Transcription of the Interviews by CLICKING HERE, I am not going to them all on this page. For those of you who might be interested, here is  Mr. McCabe’s answer to the question about his 5 TOP GOALS/PRIORITIES:

    • 1) Water Quality. Working with the Council and what ever jurisdictions and groups to make sure we reach our Goals on Water Quality.

    • 2) Focus on continuing to educate the public. We’re going to continue to see backlash as our rate increases over time. I’d like to be there to make sure that we are properly educating the public when it comes to our water issues.

    • 3) Do what I can to improve the overall economic or business systems here in Livingston. We have a lot of outdated codes that we can (do) that would make us more appealing to Local Businesses. Right now we’re always fighting for the businesses and people can choose Turlock, they can choose Atwater, they can choose Delhi, or they can choose Livingston. I don’t want us loosing on economic dollars because we have some antiquated codes that are preventing us from moving on or streamlining our process for business. In general, we are a very business friendly place. But we do have some things that limit us that we should address in the future.

    • 4) Continuing to bring all the cultures and groups in the community together. Right now, we have the 4th of July and … the Kite Festival are great examples of where we can see all of the cultures in our community coming together as one. And I’d like to do whatever I can to spur that, or to encourage that participation from all the groups in Livingston.

    • 5) Focus on my experience when it comes to producing budgets, when it comes to making the hard decisions; when dealing with the Unions and Union Negotiations. My district is Teamsters and I have experience when it comes to Union Negotiations and budgets: and just making those hard decisions. All of you up there know there’s going to be hard decisions to make over the next few years as we see ourselves continue to come out of this Economic crisis..and you’re not going to please everyone, be everyone’s fan. And I’m OK with that. I’ve had to experience that and go through that already.

    A NEW CITY MANAGER WAS CHOSEN by the City Council at the 07/21/2015 City Council meeting. But it didn’t take long before questions were raised about his background after The Merced Sun Star reported “he (had) filed for bankruptcy and was charged with a felony about a decade ago.”

    A subsequent article in the Sun Star reported that “the city decided to ask Duque to complete a “live scan,” a digital fingerprinting process that the Livingston Police Department uses for city employees.” 

    At the 08/04/2015 City Council Meeting, Mayor Rodrigo Espinoza made the following announcement:

    Closed Session Announcements. I have, I have, ah, something from the Council to read. At the last City council meeting, we appointed Eddie Duque as City Manager with a starting date of September 30th.

    Subsequent to us appointing Mr. Duque, it was brought up to our attention that he had a misdemeanor conviction in 2002 and he had filed for Chapter 13 Bankruptcy in 2004. This information was not in the background check done by the recruitment firm we hired to help us with the City manager recruitment.

    This was all reported in the Merced Sun Star articles. Unfortunately, often times reporters decide not to include all the facts.

    What the news articles did not include was that Mr. Duque went back to court in 2007 to address the misdemeanor conviction. In 2007, the Los Angeles County Superior Court ordered that the finding of the guilt in the 2000 action be set aside and vacated and the plea of Not Guilty be entered.

    The court dismissed the complaint. The court further granted the Petition for Expungement.

    We are doing our Due Diligence and have ordered a Live Scan Background Check to be done by the Police Department. We are currently waiting for results.

    Given the 2000 {should be 2007? TGS} action of the court to Vacate any finding of guilt, for the misdemeanor charge, changing the plea to Not Guilty, and dismissing the claim and ordering it to be expunged, we, ah, are confident that Mr. Duque is qualified for the position and will be an excellent City manager. Thank You."

    LIVINGSTON MISSED WATER REDUCTION GOALS for the Month of June. As Reported in The Merced Sun Star Livingston fell well below its target of 32  percent, the board’s numbers showed. The city has conserved 3 percent…Gurpal Samra, Livingston’s mayor pro tem, said the numbers are skewed, because Foster Farms is the city’s biggest water user. He said the poultry producer uses at least of 65 percent of the city’s total.

    The Goal was 32%. The actual “savings” was 3%.

    Because Foster Farms uses at least 65% of the water produced by Livingston’s wells.

    I’ve asked the Council, more than once, “How are we supposed to meet State Water Reduction Goals when Foster Farms uses most of the water?” and “What will happen if we don’t meet those goals?” The answer I have gotten include vague references to how Industry will have to do it’s part and that Foster Farms is aware of the problem and working on the problem.

    At the 08/19/2015 City Council Meeting, we were told there had been a meeting with the Water Board and that Livingston has applied for a wavier.

    And that the City is continuing to work with Foster Farms. But, no real details on what that means.

    UmbrellasTHE CASE OF “UMBRELLA ENVY?” Before we jump into the Topic At Hand, I want to first point out the little “technical detail” that this discussion took place at a Special City Council Meeting and that “Discussion about City Owned Umbrellas” was not on the Meeting Agenda for that evening. Most of the time, If you want to talk about something that is not listed on the Special Meeting Agenda, you are told to hold your comment until a Regular Meeting.

    HOWEVER……. those of us who have been following the Council over the years, have seen that particular “rule” bent, depending upon who was doing the “commenting”.  

    Umbrellas IIDuring “Citizens Comments”at the June 09, 2015 Special Council Meeting , Planning Commissioner, (and Candidate-for-the-Vacant-Spot-on the Council), Warren Urnberg said he had a question about The Umbrellas.

    After some discussion by the Mayor Pro Tem and the City Attorney and Mayor Espinoza about how they were NOT going to talk about The Umbrella Situation (it being a Special City Council Meeting) Mayor Espinoza decided he was going to talk about it anyway.

    And off the discussion went: about stolen umbrellas and stenciled umbrellas, and stapled umbrellas; which umbrellas were in a “good” place, and which umbrellas were in a “bad place”, (and whose fault that was); and who actually paid for the umbrellas.

    IF YOU CLICK HERE, you can read a Transcrition of the whole thing for yourself.

    My Take…from reading what was said, and between the lines thereof, is this:

    • Before the City Manager left, Wells Fargo donated enough money to buy some Umbrellas and tables, so the Community could have some shaded places to sit in the Down Town

    • According to the Mayor, the money was spent without notifying anyone on the Council.

    • Some of the Umbrellas were put in the City Owned Temporary Park Area where the Court Theater used to be

    Some of the Umbrellas were put on the City Owned lot across the street from Klairs

    • Which is only a few paces from the City Hall Chambers

    • And is also on the same lot a Taco Truck is located (which is renting space from the City)

    • Because the umbrellas are on the same lot as the Taco Truck, some merchants believe the City spent City money buying umbrellas for the Taco Truck and complained to the Mayor about it, because they want umbrellas too

    • Which is the Former City Manager’s fault – Blame him.

    The City Council Approach to Employee Motivation

    AFTER FOUR RECRUITMENT TRIES, and four failures to find a “suitable” person for the Permanent Position of Public Works Director for the City of Livingston, the City Contracted  with Mountain View Environmental Services. Terms of the Contract were for 6 months to 1 year: 4 days a week.

    However, the ink was barely dry on the contract before it was canceled on July 17, 2015. 

    The “New Guy” had only been on the job a few days, and barely finished his first Report in Open Session before the Mayor and Pro-Temp launched into a series of complaints about broken sprinklers and “employee negligence”, at the June 16, 2015 City Council Meeting.

    IF YOU SIFT THROUGH EVERYTHING THAT WAS SAID that night, and throw out all the repetition, the “Complaints” By the Mayor and Pro-Temp could be succinctly distilled into the following:

    • A) All the Parks (and City Hall) look bad because sprinklers don’t work.

    • B) Sprinklers aren’t fixed because employees don’t notice.

    • C) A & B happens every Summer

    • D) It’s all because of Employee Neglect.

    The Response by the Contracted Public Works Director (Who has only been on the job 16 days, more or less) is:

    • A) You’re right. I noticed that too and we’re already getting sprinklers fixed.

    • B) I’ve discussed it with my people, made a few changes, and will continue to work on that over the next week or so.

    • C) It won’t this time

    • D) I already have some plans. We’ll work the plans and I will monitor the results.

    However, Mr. Johnson’s contract was canceled on the 17th of July: only a few “work days” later.

    MY TAKE ON THIS

    Communications Experts will tell you that only a small % of any message is actually contained in the words themselves: most of the “real” message is in the body language and the tone of voice used by the Speaker.

    If you go to the City Website and actually listen to what was being said, and how it was said, you will likely come up with the same conclusion I did: That was not just a simple list of grievances about brown grass: it was a very public “fanny whipping” of Public Works employees. The kind that contains the very real threat of someone (or more than one someone) getting fired.

    The amount of time between the “Council Rant about Brown Grass” and the Cancelation of the contract, doesn’t seem to give enough time to ensure that, not only are all the sprinklers getting fixed: but the grass is getting greener, and Public Works Employees are getting everything else “done” that is on their “to do list”.

    I can’t help but wonder if there is something else at play here. After all, the last Public Works Director in Livingston “disappeared”: after months of telling Council about how repairs and upgrades to the City’s Water Delivery System would not come cheap.

    This one lasted only a few days. Recruitment #5, has been put “on hold”: at least until the New City Manager takes over in Late September.

    In addition, at the 08/19/2015 City Council Meeting, it was confirmed that a “minor adjustment” in Part Time Employees had taken place.

    You can probably guess what that means.

    FOR MORE ON ISSUES AFFECTING LIVINGSTON

    State fell far short of water-saving target; Merced’s use fell 15 percent – By Fenit Nirappil – 05/05/2015 – The Associated Press – Californians conserved little water in March and local officials were not aggressive in cracking down on waste, state regulators reported Tuesday as they considered tough measures to force savings amid a continuing drought.—The State Water Resources Control Board received the update as it considers sweeping mandatory emergency regulations to protect water supplies in the parched state.—Brown has argued that the voluntary targets in place since early 2014 have been insufficient and that Californians need a jolt to take conservation seriously.

    Livingston councilman resigns – 05/06/2015 – By Thaddeus Miller – The Merced Sun Star – The Livingston City Council accepted the resignation of one of its members Tuesday and set into motion an effort to appoint his replacement before July.—Councilman David Mendoza officially submitted his resignation by email on April 30, interim City Manager Odi Ortiz said during the council meeting this week.—The council directed city staffers to advertise for a replacement during the next 30 days with the intention of doing interviews and picking a replacement by June 29. The replacement would serve out the rest of Mendoza’s term, which ends next year.

    Livingston looks to reduce water use, step up enforcement – 05/08/2015 – By Thaddeus Miller – The Merced Sun Star – The water restrictions in Livingston will tighten on Monday after a vote by the City Council this week to enact an “urgency” ordinance.—The council unanimously approved the new restrictions and the implementation date with two separate votes of 4-0. Councilman David Mendoza resigned on April 30, so the council has an open seat.—Unlike a typical ordinance, which takes two readings and a 30-day period to become law, an urgency ordinance becomes law immediately.—Under the new rules, residents will now be able to water only two days a week rather than three. The city had no time-of-day restrictions on sprinkling of outdoor plants and grass, but the new ordinance prohibits outdoor watering between 9 a.m. and 8 p.m.—The water board on Tuesday began considering new regulations to enhance savings. Modesto, Merced, Oakdale, Ripon and Atwater face the biggest reduction of 36 percent. Riverbank, Turlock and Livingston face 32 percent reductions and Ceres is looking at a 28 percent cut.

    Ex-police officer from Merced County charged with assault – 05/29/2015 – Thaddeus Miller – The Merced Sun Star – A former Livingston police sergeant has been accused of felony assault by a public officer for an incident in 2012, when he allegedly shoved a handcuffed man’s face into the ground, the Merced Sun-Star has learned…

    Foster Farms launches organic, antiobiotic-free chicken lines – 06/01/2015 – By John Holland – The Modesto Bee – Foster Farms on Monday announced its first lines of organic and antibiotic-free chicken.–The company said it is now the West’s largest producer of organic chicken, made without the use of synthetic fertilizers or pesticides on feed, and the antibiotic-free version, which avoids the use of drugs that might become resistant to diseases affecting humans.

    Livingston council appoints new member – 06/10/2015 -  Thaddeus Miller – The Merced Sun Star – The Livingston City Council appointed a new member to the board Tuesday, filling the position left empty in late April by a councilman who resigned. – With a 3-0 vote, the council appointed Alex McCabe, 33, to fill the seat vacated by former Councilman David Mendoza, who resigned after he moved out of the city.

    New Livingston city manager acknowledges domestic violence conviction, bankruptcy – 07/21/2015 – Thaddeus Miller – The Merced Sun Star – The Livingston City Council unanimously hired its next city manager Tuesday. A Sun-Star review of public records shows he filed for bankruptcy and was charged with a felony about a decade ago. – It remains unclear exactly what the council members knew about Eddie Duque’s past or what process was used to vet the 20 applications they reviewed for the position.

    Livingston expects first budget surplus in four years – 07/22/2015 – Thaddeus Miller – The Merced Sun Star – The Livingston City Council on Tuesday adopted its 2015-16 budget, which reflects its first surplus in four years. – With general fund revenues of $5.18 million and expenditures of $4.86 million, the city projects a surplus of about $320,000. The council approved the budget with a 4-0 vote as Councilman Jim Soria was absent.

    A look at Livingston’s city manager recruitment – 07/23/2015 – Thaddeus Miller – The Merced Sun Star – A background check on the new Livingston city manager did not report a criminal charge or bankruptcy filing from a decade ago, city officials said Thursday, opening up questions about the vetting process for a highly paid public employee. – The recruitment process conducted during the past several months was completed by Los Gatos-based William Avery & Associates Inc. The city agreed to pay the firm $16,400, and to cover expenses up to $6,000, according to a copy of the contract.

    Merced County cities miss targets as state water use falls in June – 07/30/2015 – Thaddeus Miller – The Merced Sun Star – Livingston fell well below its target of 32 percent, the board’s numbers showed. The city has conserved 3 percent…Gurpal Samra, Livingston’s mayor pro tem, said the numbers are skewed, because Foster Farms is the city’s biggest water user. He said the poultry producer uses at least of 65 percent of the city’s total.

    Honor Flight to get $10,000 donation from Livingston 4th of July group -  08/04/2015 – The Merced Sun Star – The Livingston 4th of July Committee planned to donate $10,000 to the Central Valley Honor Flight during Tuesday’s City Council meeting, a month after having one of its most successful events. – Julio Valadez, committee chairman, said this year’s 4th of July three-day event gathered almost 60,000 people, about 20,000 more than usual. This year’s success, he said, was due in big part to the venue change.

    Merced County officer charged with assault on paid leave – 08/13/2015 – Thaddeus Miller – The Merced Sun Star – A Livingston police officer, who has been accused of felony assault by a public officer for an incident in 2012, is on paid administrative leave, the Merced Sun-Star has learned.

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    “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

    Cell Phone Towers, CUP’s, A New City Manager, and a City Council Agenda.

    June 26, 2011 Update! Given the recent “discussions” about what the Utility Stakeholders Committee’s purpose and mission is, I have gone back and transcribed the April 05, 2011: Discussion of Utility Rate Stakeholder Committee Member Appointments  You can click on the link here to get Councilmembers own words on the subject. There’s also a little commentary of my own.

    June 22, 2011 Update! Item #2 from the Regular Meeting Consent Calendar  was continued to the Special City Council Meeting on Thursday, June 23, 2011 as indicated at the bottom of this post.

    The Agenda for the June 23, 2001 Parks & Recreation Commission has also been added to the end of this post.

    The monte cristo future trailer trash park should of never been built. Condos should of been built instead. Excerpt from a comment by Karma Original Source Nine apply for Livingston Planning Commission vacancies – Merced Sun Star

    So the surname Varela is what got him elected?  Wonder what Karma thinks about surnames like Aguilar, Espinoza, and Land. Like they're chopped liver? You're kidding me right? Original Source With skimpy agenda, Livingston City Council might start meeting just monthly – Merced Sun Star

    “ALL YOU SO CALLED EDUCATED, WELL INFORMED INDIVIDUALS sure look bad with your noses full of dung. You think you are well informed and it’s the contrary. You are ill informed and base your hate on heresay……. It appears that the educated person forgot his manners or wasn’t taught any by his ignorant parents who also happen to be rancheritos and have a cactus implanted on their forehead. You also have one deeply implanted and no matter how hard you try to appear non-rancherito you will only appear more like an ignorant, uncultered and mannerless individual. Listen to yourself before you spew venom.” excerpted from a comment by Karma Original Source Grass getting greener as work at new Livingston park gets done Merced Sun Star

    Karma vs Whistle 2

    A person cant even wish a guy good luck without Karma finding fault with it

    From: Firebaugh leader is new Livingston city manager, by Mike North, Merced Sun Star, Saturday, Jun. 18, 2011

    Remember the Old Timer’s expression about “The Pot Calling the Kettle Black”?  or “With Friends Like These, Who Needs Enemies?” Hold that thought. We’ll expand on that idea a little more later. But first…let’s check in on Delta Bravo Sierra Land.

    image There’s Strange..and then there’s Army Strange: courtesy of Damon Shackelford: furious scribbler of military cartoons. {He’s on Facebook too! :-)}

    VFW Breakfast in June

    pancakes The Livingston/Delhi Veterans of Foreign Wars and Ladies Auxiliary Breakfast will be served on June 26, 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.

    If you need more information on the Breakfast, Family Hamburger Night, or if you would like to become a member of the Post or Auxiliary, contact Denis or Sue Wells at (209) 394-2059.

    Family Hamburger Night Thursday June 30, 2011

    Hamburger Join us for the VFW Hamburger Night, Thursday June 30, 2011. Meals will be served from 6-8 pm at the Livingston Veterans Memorial Building, 1605 7th Street, in Livingston. The public is invited, and you do not have to be a member to attend.

    You will be able to enjoy hamburgers, cheeseburgers, fish sandwiches, chicken sandwiches, hot dogs and chili. The sandwiches include your choice of homemade salads. Price ranges from $1.50 to 3.50 per meal. All proceeds go to help support our community programs.

    If you need more information on any of our events, contact Denis or Sue Wells at (209) 394-2059 or visit our website at www.vfwlivingston.com.

    RUMMAGE SALE

    Rummage Sale The Livingston/Delhi Ladies Auxiliary VFW #8327 will be holding a Gigantic Rummage Sale on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, August 3rd, 4th and 5th, at the Delhi Veterans Hall, Located at 9799 Stephens Street in Delhi. We have items too numerous to mention here, come by and see us. The sale hours will be 8-5 on Wednesday and Thursday and 8-4 on Friday. Everything on Friday will be $1.00 per bag (we furnish the bag) or half price if it is too big to fit in a bag. If you have any questions, please call Sue Wells at 394-2059. All proceeds from the sale will go to fund our many programs. All monies will stay within our own community.

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

    Livingston 4th of July Festival

    The following is courtesy of Julio Valadez, Chairman of the Livingston July 4th Committee.

    livingstonfireworks After a one year absence, the Livingston 4th of July Festival and Fireworks show is back!

    The event will start at 1pm at Memorial Park with Entertainment, kiddie rides, and food and crafts booths and will end with the biggest Fireworks Show in the valley.

    The committee is currently looking for anyone that would like to be part of the Entertainment. If you are a band, a dance group, or other type of entertainment group, and would like to participate, please call Julio Valadez at 209-277-1402.

    If you are interested in being a vendor for this event applications can be picked up at City Hall or call David Blevins at 209-777-1223 and an application can be mailed to you.

    Spaces are filled on a first come first serve basis. Booth Fees are $75.00 or $60.00 for Non-Profit groups. Health Permits are required for all Food Vendors. Application Deadlines are as follows: Food Booths June 13, 2011, all others due June 27, 2011.

    You can also get more information and print vendor applications on the Committee’s website: www.livingston4thofjuly.com

    Meetings of the Livingston 4th of July Committee will be Mondays @ 7pm: Geno’s Pizza in Livingston.  For more information, or to make a donation, you can contact the Committee Chair: Julio Valadez @ 209-277-1402 or jvaladez@livingston4thofjuly.com

    At Last Week’s Planning Commission Meeting

    The Commission took up the topic of the Permitting and Review process for Brand New Cell Phone Towers, and the Addition of Additional Antennas to Already Existing Cell Phone Towers . It seems that because of a “glitch” in the Code, putting in a Brand New Cell Phone Tower only needed a Conditional Use Permit (CUP), while Adding Antennas to an already existing tower required a Site Design Review and CUP.

    Translation: Adding antennas to a new tower meant having to get “permission” from BOTH the Planning Commission AND the City Council..

    Whereas a Brand New Tower only needed “the permission” of the Planning Commission. (Making an existing tower taller also only needs a Conditional Use Permit. but that’s not the topic of this post.)

    Sounds kinda backwards, doesn’t it?

    The Planning Commission had to decide: should they

    1. Make it “even” by making both kinds of projects go through the Site Design Review (With both Commission and Council “taking a look at it”)
    2. Make it “even” by having both kinds of projects require only a Conditional Use Permit (Bypassing the City Council unless there was an Appeal)
    3. Have New Towers go through the “stricter” Site Design Review (going before both the Commission and City Council) while allowing the addition of new antennas with only a CUP (going before only the Planning Commission) 

    The Planning Commission voted to adopt “Option 2”, which would mean, if agreed to by the City Council, that the decision to allow the installation of a Brand New Cell Phone Tower would not need review and approval of the City Council. (Unless someone appealed the decision)

    Speaking of Appeals

    The Planning Commission voted to recommend changing “the rules” about who can appeal a decision of the Planning Commission. Currently, only the property owner or project owner involved, can appeal to the City Council if the Planning Commission decides “against them”.

    The Commission voted to change “the rules” so “any interested party” could appeal a Planning Commission decision.

    There was a little bit of discussion of what “any interested party” meant and whether an “interested party” headquartered in another State could somehow “gum up the works” in Livingston so to speak by filing appeals against projects here for whatever reason.

    But the Asst. City Attorney for the Planning Commission didn’t seem to have any heartburn about it…

    During the evening’s discussions, the Commission (at least the “younger” members) made it pretty clear they felt they were perfectly capable of making decisions (like approving or not approving the placement of Brand New Cell Phone Towers) without the City Council having to have a final say on the matter.

    We’ll see what the Council thinks about that feeling,

    And those decisions…. 

    When “Good Luck” Turns into “Good Grief!”

    By now, most of you have already seen the article in the Merced Sun Star about the appointment of a New City Manager for the City of Livingston.

    Holy ad hominem Batman! Karma, one of the leading voices of the Recall Movement (in the Comment Section of the Merced Sun Star) really went to war against the some of comments in this one.

    Even against the lady who merely wished the guy good luck and said he was gonna need it.

    Maybe my perspective is skewed but Personally, “good luck, he is going to need it” would be an appropriate comment: given everything we’ve been through lately.

    But judgmental? Wishing the guy luck and saying he’s gonna need it: ‘specially with all the craziness that has happened around here is being judgmental?

    Hmmm…So, Karma believes a plain and simple “Good luck. He’s gonna need it” is “judgmental”.

    Yeah Right. Like Karma’s always been the lofty and noble example of how to present oneself as a paragon of tolerance, virtue and open-mindedness: with the highest of moral authority when it comes pointing out the moral lapses of others. {eye-roll}

    Give..me..a..break.

    Karma may have conveniently “forgotten” those prior references to trailer trash, dung in the nose, and somebody being elected only because of a surname, etc., etc. ad-nauseam. 

    But some of us around here haven’t.

    Given everything this town has been through in the last few months, any new City Manager is gonna need more than just “good luck”. Having the patience of Job, the wisdom of Solomon, and the hide of a rhino probably wouldn’t hurt either.

    And at the moment, looks to me like the only one really making a fool out of him/herself is Karma.

    I’ll let pmtmz and BelindaSilva have the last few words, at least in this post, on Livingston’s new City Manager.

    This is good and good luck Mr Ramirez

    And now, on to the..

    CITY COUNCIL REGULAR MEETING AGENDA

    JUNE 21, 2011

    OPEN SESSION: 7:00 P.M.

    Notice is hereby given that the City Council will hold a Regular Meeting on June 21, 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 agenda shall be as follows:

    Regular Meeting

    CALL TO ORDER Next Resolution Number: 2011-42

    Next Ordinance Number: 591

    Pledge of Allegiance.

    Roll Call.

    Changes to the Agenda.

    AWARDS, PRESENTATIONS, APPOINTMENTS AND PROCLAMATIONS

    ANNOUNCEMENTS AND REPORTS

    Supervisor John Pedrozo Announcements and Reports.

    City Staff Announcements and Reports.

    Interim City Manager 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.

    1. Waive the Second Reading and Adopt Ordinance No. 590 of the City Council of the City of Livingston Amending Livingston Municipal Code (LMC) 5-6-5 (C), Nonconforming Uses of Land, Concerning Nonconforming Agriculture Uses.

    2. Resolution Approving Submittal of a Grant Application to the State of California Department of Parks and Recreation Office of Grants and Local Services (OGALS) for a Prop 84/Statewide Park Development and Community Revitalization Grant to Support Recreational Additions to Arakelian Park.

    3. Approval of Minutes of Meeting Held on June 7, 2011.

    4. Approval of Minutes of Meeting Held on June 10, 2011.

    5. Approval of Minutes of Meeting Held on June 15, 2011.

    6. Warrant Register Dated June 15, 2011.

    7. Warrant Register Dated June 15, 2011 (Direct Towing).

    DISCUSSION AND POTENTIAL ACTION ITEMS

    8. Approve Resolution of Intent to Amend, Repeal or Replace Sections of Livingston Municipal Code (LMC) 5-3 and 5-7 that are Necessary to Implement Programs in the 2009-2014 Housing Element.

    ADJOURNMENT

    June 22, 2011 Update! Item #2 from the Consent Calendar above was continued to the Special City Council Meeting on Thursday, June 23, 2011 as indicated below

    {Note from TheGardeningSnail: This item was originally on the Tuesday, June 21 Consent Calendar but was moved to this special meeting date. The link to the original Staff Report and Resolution can be read by clicking here.}

    CITY COUNCIL MEETING AGENDA

    SPECIAL MEETING

    JUNE 23, 2011

    OPEN SESSSION: 4:00 P.M.

    Notice is hereby given that the City Council will hold a Special Meeting on June 23, 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 24 hours prior to the meeting shall be made available for public inspection at Livingston City Hall, 1416 C Street. The Special Meeting will begin at 4:00 p.m. Members of the public may address the City Council concerning any item described in this notice and agenda before consideration of that item. No City business other than that described in this notice and agenda shall be considered by the City Council.

    Special Meeting

    CALL TO ORDER Next Resolution No. 2011-43 Next Ordinance No. 591

    Pledge of Allegiance.

    Roll Call.

    Changes to the Agenda.

    CITIZEN COMMENTS

    This section of the Special Meeting agenda allows members of the public to address the City Council on any item 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, the City Council is prohibited from taking action on any item not on the agenda.

    Please note that under California Government Code section 54954.3(a) (The Brown Act), Special Meeting agendas need only provide an opportunity for members of the public to directly address the legislative body concerning any item that has been described in the meeting agenda before or during consideration of the item. The public will have an opportunity to comment on matters not on the agenda at regularly scheduled Council Meetings.

    DISCUSSION AND POTENTIAL ACTION ITEMS

    1. Resolution Approving Submittal of a Grant Application to the State of California Department of Parks and Recreation Office of Grants and Local Services (OGALS) for a Prop 84/Statewide Park Development and Community Revitalization Grant to Support Recreational Additions to Arakelian Park.

    ADJOURNMENT

    PARKS AND RECREATION COMMISSION

    MEETING AGENDA

    JUNE 23, 2011

    REGULAR MEETING: 7:00 P.M.

    Notice is hereby given that the City of Livingston Parks and Recreation Commission will hold a Regular Meeting on June 23, 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. The Regular Meeting will begin at 7:00 p.m.

    The agenda shall be as follows: (Members of the public are advised that all pagers, cellular telephones and any other communication devices be put on vibrate mode or turned off during the Parks and Recreation Commission Meeting).

    1. CALL TO ORDER

    2. PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE

    3. ROLL CALL

    4. APPROVAL OF MINUTES – Regular Meeting of May 26, 2011

    5. PUBLIC COMMENTS

    6. LIL GUYS PARK DESIGN – Jacquie Benoit, Recreation Superintendent /Kathryn Reyes, Public Works Superintendent

    7. FUNDRAISING IDEAS FOR LIL GUYS PARK – Jacquie Benoit, Recreation Superintendent

    8. SPORTS SCHOLARSHIPS – Jacquie Benoit, Recreation Superintendent

    9. COMMISSIONERS REPORTS

    10. STAFF REPORTS

    11. FUTURE AGENDA ITEMS

    12. ADJOURNMENT – Next Regular Meeting of July 28, 2011, at 7:00 P.M.

    NOTE: If any Recreation Commissioner is unable to attend the meeting, please contact

    Jacquie Benoit at 394-8830 or 564-6992 or Betty Cota at 394-8041, Ext. 121.

    And Since Your Hear Anyway

    The “Mission of the Utility Rate Stakeholders Committee” 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)

    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

    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