Fireworks, Politics, Resignations, Recreation, and a Mid Year Budget Review–February, 2015

Livingston, CA – 03/22/2015

So the 4th of July has formally asked they would like to come under the City Umbrella just like the Recreation Commission: to have a sand alone committee of sorts..so that has to be figured out. I know Legal Council will help out. That’s something they would like. One, because they would like to get the full support of the City every year. Excerpted from Comments and Discussion of future agenda items by Former City Manager Jose Antonio Ramirez – January 20 2015 City Council Meeting: beginning about 19:52 minutes in. 

What we’re requesting is that we have the exact support or similar support as the Sweet Potato Festival. I don’t see what the difference is. I would like to see that support. Where, when you go to the Sweet Potato Festival, you see all staff is on hand. Every person from Recreation to Public Works’….so that’s what we’re looking for: the same type of support. Julio Valadez – Chair – July 4th Committee – Ibid.

Julio, I have a comment Since I know that you guys want to come under the City. But I think we already have a Recreation commission. And I think currently we only have 1 or 2 Commissioners on that. If you guys join the Recreation Commission, you guys could take on the Fireworks because the Commission is already-we don’t have to go through the process of doing a new commission. So we need more people on the Commission and the Fireworks would be part of Recreation. Which is part of, you know, you guys could take that on. That’s just an idea. If you guys want to. Mayor Rodrigo Espinoza – Ibid

So why might the July 4th Committee want to come “under the umbrella” of the City? or join the Recreation Commission? More on that a little later, but first.

YOU WOULDN’T KNOW IT BY THE TITLE
on the City’s Website, but there is an important informational meeting about the City’s Water Delivery System this Tuesday.

Water Workshop

As part of the settlement agreement with California River Watch, the City is obligated to provide additional information about the state of our Water System, and what the City is doing to address our Water Quality Issues.

Now..a brief look at some of the Agenda items covered during FEBRURARY’S City Council Meetings. As of the date of this posting, written minutes have yet to be prepared. However, if you would like to view an archived video of the meeting, you can do so by CLICKING HERE. You can also go to City Hall and request a Copy of the Meeting Videos.

The FEBRUARY 3, 2015 CLOSED SESSION included

  • 2 Cases of Potential Litigation

  • Continued discussion about the City Manager Recruitment

  • Another Discussion about Labor Negotiations with All Represented City Employees

During OPEN SESSION on FEBRUARY 3:

1. Mayor Rodrigo Espinoza Presented Key to the City plaques to members of Grupo Musical Los Kinos

2. There was a Report on United Front Security and Patrol Security Company Seeking a Business License.

3. The Minutes of Meeting Held on December 16, 2014 were approved.

4. The Warrant Register Dated January 29, 2015 was approved. Except for one check issued in payment for Radio Advertising for the 4th of July Celebration. Although Interim City Manager Odie Ortiz stated the payment had been “approved by management”, Mayor Espinoza stated he wanted that check “held” until he had more time to talk to the Chairman of the July 4th Committee. (My best guess is “management” meant prior City Manager Jose Ramirez)

5. A Resolution appointing Odilon Ortiz as Interim City Manager was approved.

6. A Resolution Approving the continuation Ruben Chavez for the Position of Police Chief was adopted.

7. The Council filled the Vacant seats on the Livingston Planning Commission after ACCEPTEING THE RESIGNATION of Planning Commission Chair Luis Flores. Mario Mendoza was appointed to finish Flores’ term: which ends in December of this year. Ananan Bath was appointed to the other vacancy: which is a 4 year term.

As Reported in the Merced Sun Star –

 “After Flores resigned, Commissioner Mario Mendoza – who was seeking another term on the commission – was appointed to finish Flores’ term. Newcomer Adanan Bath was appointed to the other vacancy.

Bath last year pulled filing papers to challenge Samra in his re-election bid in November. Bath ended up not running against Samra.

Mendoza, however, did challenge Samra but lost by about 300 votes.”

This means the person who “changed his mind” about challenging  Samra for office was appointed to a 4 year term on the Planning Commission.  The person who didn’t drop out of the race was given what was left over of Mr. Flores’ term.

8. The Council Accepted and Authorized the Temporary Outsourcing of City’s Street Sweeping Services to Gilton Solid Waste. According to the Mayor, this needed to be done because the engine on the Street Sweeper was “blown”.

9. The Council Discussed  Changes to the DTC Zone. There are Residential Homes located in the Downtown Commercial Zone. That means those homes are “non conforming uses” which has created a whole host of problems for those people who want to keep their house as a “house” and not convert it into a “business”.

There was discussion about how there would need to be some planning work involved in “fixing” the problem while at the same time avoiding “spot zoning”

10. The Council Discussed Changing the City Logo Slogan from “The Last Stop” to “Sweet Potato Capital of the World.” It seems some people think “The Last Stop” means a place where you go to retire and/or die. I guess most people have forgotten that Livingston had “The Last Stop” Light on HWY 99: before the realignment was done. Maybe such things aren’t relevant in “today’s world”.

11. The Discussion Item: “Twelve Acres of Industrial Land at the Max Foster Sports Complex” was Continued to a Future Meeting. From what I understand, there may be a dispute between the City of Livingston and a Developer over how much of a Reimbursement is due to the Developer.

The FEBRUARY 17, 2015 CLOSED SESSION included:

  • 1 case of Potential Litigation

  • A Conference about Labor Negotiations regarding All Represented and Unrepresented City Employees

During The Regular Meeting FEBRUARY 17, 2015 :

Mayor Espinoza and Council Person Mendoza were absent

1. An Item placed on the Agenda by Mayor Rodrigo Espinoza & Council Member Arturo Sicairos to Present and discuss idea of possible Sister City relationship with the State of Jalisco, Mexico. The consensus of the Council seemed to be it would be a great idea to adopt Zapotlanejo as a Sister City: perhaps via the Sister City Program International.

2. The Warrant Register Dated February 12, 2015 was Approved.

3. A Resolution of the Successor Agency to the Redevelopment Agency of the City of Livingston Approving the Recognized Obligation Payment Schedule (ROPS 15-16A) Pursuant to Health and Safety Code Section 34177 for Period July through December 31, 2015 was adopted.

Well 12 - 13 - 1- - 17 - 184. A Resolution Approving the Initial Study and Mitigated Negative Declaration for Improvements to Municipal Well No. 17 was adopted. New well site equipment and improvements will include an estimated 2,000 gallons per minute capacity

5. A Resolution Approving the Purchase of Equipment from Tesco Controls, Inc. for the Well No. 13 and Well No. 17 Projects, without Competitive Bids  was approved.

Well 8 - 9 - 11 - 156. A Resolution Approving a Contract with Forsta Filters for the Supply of Three Self-Cleaning Filters to remove Sand from Wells No. 9 and Well No. 11B was approved. This was done because the previous vender could not meet delivery times as previously expected. This expense was not in the Budget: an emergency situation created by the drought.

7. The City Council Directed Staff to Approve the Installation of a Varible Frequency Drive on Turbine #1 at the Waste Water Treatment Plant. According to Staff, by installing the Variable Frequency Drive, the City would Save on energy costs in the long run.

8. There was another Review/Discussion/Direction of the Annual Fireworks Booth Selection procedures. Members from both the July 4th Committee and Livingston Youth Football were in attendance and talked about why their Organizations should qualify for “the council pick”.

9. A Resolution Approving the Recommended 2014-15  City of Livingston Mid-Year Budget Revisions was adopted. Although Interim City Manager Ortiz said it looked like the City was seeing a Recovery, Mayor Pro Tem Samra stated “Yes. It is good news. But we’re not ready to open the Credit Card.”

ADJOURNMENT

Now, let me tell you a Brief TALE ABOUT FIREWORKS BOOTHS,  THE SWEET POTATO FESTIVAL and THE RECREATION COMMISSION

Once upon a time, the way I remember it, the City was in charge of putting on the July 4th Celebration: fireworks and all. Then there came the year of The-Run-Up-To-The-Recall. And, somehow, in the middle of all that, the order for the fireworks didn’t get put in in time.

It was as if the Conspiracy Theory Comet from Hell had struck: because of all the blame throwing and finger pointing. (I did do some checking on my own, and after asking for a General Ledger Report and looking it over, It looked to me like donations to the July 4th EVENT did NOT get booked into the July 4th ACCOUNT. But were booked into an account called Special Events. Near as I can tell it was just an honest mistake. But one that did not help calm the blamethrowing of the time. But I digress…)

A group of people banded together to, at least try, to see that the tradition of the July 4th Celebration wasn’t lost forever. Some people quit after the first year. Others kept on, year after year: rounding up donations and doing what needed to be done to meet the goal of Celebrating our Nation’s Independence Day with the Biggest and Best celebration possible.

In 2011, a new City Manager was hired. He thought it would be a Grand Idea to for the City to Revive the long dormant Sweet Potato Festival.

And stick it straight into the same week as the July 4th Celebration of 2012.

Which had some people I talked to scratching their heads about the timing. What were we celebrating that week? Our Nations Independence or Sweet Potatoes?

Later, there was the whole flap about the City “losing money” on the Sweet Potato Festival and the July 4th Committee having “money left over” after paying expenses.

Certain members of the City Council seemed to feel that the July 4th Committee should fork over their “excess” to cover the City’s “losses”.

Which, had some of us scratching our heads when we first heard about it. They way we understood it, the July 4th Committee was not organized as a fundraiser for the Sweet Potato Festival. It was organized to Plan and Organize an Event the City was no longer Planning and Organizing.

And any money “left over” after expenses would be rolled over to the following year.

As far as the Sweet Potato Festival was concerned, my understanding of the goal, from listening to the City Manager , was to at least break even: if there was any money “left over” after expenses, that would go towards funding other City Events.

Then in 2014, (as reported in the Merced Sun Star) Members of the Livingston Fourth of July Committee appealed to the City Council during its regular meeting  …..asking for help to pay off $5,441.14 of unpaid bills from the nonprofit’s annual fireworks show and festival.”

I can distinctly remember the “then” City Manager saying that management would take a look at the expenses involved to see which ones the City could “justify” paying on behalf of the July 4th Committee. (After all, it was a “City” event of sorts: with free admission to all)

So my guess is the “prior” City Manager, Jose Ramirez, approved the check for payment that Mayor Espinoza decided to “hold up”.

But IF YOU WANT THE CITY’S FULL SUPPORT, (and money for the Fireworks Show) how about joining the Recreation Commission? That was the suggestion made to members of the July 4th Committee, by Mayor Rodrigo Espinoza at the January 20th, 2015 City Council Meeting. According to the Mayor, this would solve two problems at the same time:

  • Getting enough members on the Recreation Committee to actually HAVE meetings on a Regular Basis – and –

  • Helping out with fundraising etc. for the 4th of July Celebration

The Logic going something like this: The Recreation Commission is already an Established Commission of the City. One of the tasks of the Recreation Commission is to promote activities That Benefit The Community. The July 4th Celebration is an Activity That Benefits The Community.  The are not enough members on the Recreation Commission. Therefore:

  • IF enough members of the July 4th Committee joined the Recreation Commission in order t0 make it a Functioning Commission,

  • THEN they could get “support” from the City

The response from some of the members of the July 4th Committee was that they are already very busy with activities that benefit the community, and really just don’t have the time to take on the additional responsibility: especially if the only reason to do so was to get “the support” from the City for an event that benefits the City As A Whole.

This is the way I see what has been happing so far.

  1. The City can issue up to 5 Fireworks Booth Permits. The City Council rewrote the Fireworks Ordinance so it could have the ability to grant a Fireworks Boots to up to two (2) Non Profit Organizations of its choice – making it possible to “Council Pick” Livingston Youth Football  and one other Non-Profit organization. That would put “everybody else” into a lottery for the remaining 3 booth permits.

  2. “Someone” got his nose out of joint when the July 4th Committee wouldn’t fork over their “profits” to bail out the Sweet Potato Festival’s “losses” one year and decided “since you wouldn’t donate your profit to the City, don’t bother asking the City to help you.

  3. And we won’t choose you for “Council Pick” for a Fireworks Booth Either. We’ll “choose” Livingston Youth Football, but you get thrown into the raffle like the other applicants.

  4. To Bad, So Sad, if you don’t get a Fireworks Booth

  5. Too Bad, So Sad if you “lose money” on putting on the July 4th Celebration.

  6. BUT “we” want a Recreation Commission that has meetings. So if you join the Recreation Commission, we will be willing to spiff you some “help” that way.

  7. BUT..Members of the July 4th Committee “reject” the offer to “obtain help” by joining the Recreation Commission.

  8. HOWEVER..The City Manager, recognizing the July 4th Event as a City Wide Event, as one of his last official acts before leaving at the end of January, 2015, authorizes the payment for the Radio Advertising. (It had to be either Jose or Odie: who else could be the “management” who could approve that check?)

  9. AND That check is “held up” by the Mayor at the very next Council Meeting

At this point, I will let you draw whatever conclusions you wish. I can say that “The Saga Continues”. The next chapter will continue when we meet again to look at What Happened in March, 2015.

More on the February Happenings in Livingston can be found by going to the links below:

For the February Police Department Update, click on the following link – LPD Update 2_3_2015

For relevant Sun Star Articles, see below.

Livingston manager’s last day brings some employees to tears BY RAMONA GIWARGIS, The Merced Sun Star – 02/01/2015 – Mayor Pro Tem Gurpal Samra said Friday was a “sad day” for Livingston. It will be hard to replace Ramirez, he said, but the city will hire a recruitment organization to interview prospective candidates. While the City Council makes the final hiring decision, Samra said this method will “keep the process fair” and discourage favoritism.

Livingston police chief’s contract renewed for 3 years BY RAMONA GIWARGIS – The Merced Sun Star – 02/04/2015 –  Livingston Police Chief Ruben Chavez will continue working for the city another three years, the City Council determined unanimously this week

Chinese exchange students make friends in Livingston – BY THADDEUS MILLER – The Merced Sun Star – 02/08/2015 – About 50 students from China spent a couple of days here last week, visiting with others their age, sharing music and practicing their English. – The visit was the first edition of an exchange program, or “sisterhood,” that Livingston Middle School hopes to continue with Beijing Runfeng School, according to principals from both schools.

Livingston council talks fireworks stands and midyear budget – BY RAMONA GIWARGIS – The Merced Sun Star – 02/18/2015 – The battle over fireworks booths in Livingston has begun. – The city is accepting applications from nonprofits interested in selling safe-and-sane fireworks in July, officials announced at a City Council meeting Tuesday. Although the application period just opened, two groups – the Fourth of July Committee and Livingston Youth Football – were already appealing to the council Tuesday to choose them.

Livingston planning commissioner resigns over conflict of interest worry – BY RAMONA GIWARGIS – 02/22/2015 – The Merced Sun Star – The chairman of Livingston’s Planning Commission voluntarily resigned after elected officials threatened to have him removed because of a potential conflict of interest.

Livingston police arrest seven known gang members – SUN-STAR STAFF – 02/25/2015 – Seven known gang members have been arrested in Livingston since Saturday, according to police. – Three of those arrests came Tuesday when Livingston police and Merced County probation officers searched a home in the 1500 block of Seventh Street, finding a loaded 12-gauge shotgun hidden in a wall with other weapons, and more than five grams of methamphetamine, police Chief Ruben Chavez said.

Arsenic, TCP and Salmonella; Lawsuits and Politics; A Look Back at 2014 and A City Council Agenda

LIVINGSTON CALIFORNIA – 2/01/2015

A Livingston public works employees union recently questioned the mayor’s friendly relationship with Mendoza, in addition to accusing Mendoza of harassment.– Espinoza, however, said his friendship with Mendoza had nothing to do with him getting invited to China. “We’ve been friends, and we talk once in a while, but that didn’t play a part,” the mayor said. from Livingston council questioned over China trip – Ramona – Merced Sun Star – 12/03/2014

“There is an urgent need to have Well 16 back on-line in the near future to meet the City’s water demands that will likely increase in the Spring and Summer.” From STAFF REPORT -  Resolution Approving an Agreement with Shannon Pump for Sampling and Repairs to Well 16, Making Findings Supporting that Award of Such Agreement is Exempt from Competitive Bidding Requirements and Authorizing the City Manager to Execute the Agreement. MEETING DATE: February 18, 2014

Approximately 18,267 sq. ft of land is needed to locate the treatment facilities at the existing Well No. 8. The adjacent property (APN 024-020-023 and 029) is owned by Foster Farms.  From  STAFF REPORT  AGENDA ITEM: Resolution Authorizing the Purchase of Land Needed for the Installation of Water Treatment Facilities at the City Water Supply Well No. 8, Approval of the Appraisal Report Prepared by The Thomas Wilkins Company, and Authorizing the City Manager to Execute the Agreement with Foster Farms for the Purchase of the Land.  MEETING DATE: May 21, 2013

One of the city’s largest water wells previously plagued by a major contaminant now runs with a new filtration system, city officials announced this week…….The upgraded well, located on Livingston Cressey Road, near the Foster Farms plant, was chosen because water drawn from it contains high levels of TCP contamination, said Livingston Mayor Pro Tem Gurpal Samra…. The well pumps 1,200 gallons of water per minute to the city, with the majority used by Foster Farms. Livingston water well receives $2.3 million filter system – Ramona Giwargis – The Merced Sun Star – 12/30/2014

Without Livingston, there is no Foster Farms, and without Foster Farms, there is no Livingston. Those were the words of Mayor Pro Tem Gurpal Samra as he explained the company’s impact on the city. Samra joined Mayor Rodrigo Espinoza and Councilman Arturo Sicairos in presenting Foster Farms CEO Ron Foster with a commemorative key to the city Tuesday night. From Livingston city officials present Foster Farms with key to city – Ramona Giwargis – Modesto Bee -07/16/2014

This is not an all inclusive discussion of everything that happened in Livingston during 2014. It is only a brief look at what I consider some of the more significant historical and political happenings in the City of Livingston.

preparing-to-take-down-the-marqueeCOURT THEATER IS DEMOLISHED – Another sad chapter in Livingston’s History has ended with the destruction of the Court Theater.  In 2001, the City had purchased the Court Theater with the high hopes of restoring the Theater and transforming it into a Cultural Arts Center . In 2005, the City received a Community Development Block Grant: which it used to complete Architectural Drawings in 2008.

But between trouble getting enough additional financing, accusations in 2010 that Police and Fire Department budgets were cut to finance the project, and the deterioration of the relationship between City Council Members, the Court Theater Committee in 2011, it became pretty clear the Court Theater Project was doomed.

The City was able to salvage some of the Grant Money it had received by getting permission from the State to use these funds for improvements at Gallo Park.

The City also made attempts to save the Theater’s Marquee, Ticket Booth, and Sign.

WITHOUT LIVINGSTON, THERE IS NO FOSTER FARMS, AND WITHOUT FOSTER, THERE IS NO LIVINGSTON – In a previous post, I talked about the Symbiotic and Sometimes Dysfunctional Relationship between Foster Farms and the City of Livingston. Since Foster Farms is the largest consumer of water in Livingston: using at up to 66% of the water produced from Livingston’s wells, it can’t help but have a large influence on the size and condition of Livingston’s Water Delivery System.

Most of you remember that 2013 ended with Foster Farms coming under intense scrutiny due to an outbreak of antibiotic resistant Salmonella. This continued into 2014 as Livingston braced for fallout from an idled Foster Farms .  Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro reacted to the closing of the plant due to roaches as “long overdue.”: pushing for action against the company. Three days after federal inspectors shut it down Foster Farms got the OK to reopen plant only to shut it down again a day after reopening in order to expand safety procedures.

As the number sickened by salmonella outbreak rose to 430, according to government reports Foster Farms reopened the plant after a 10-day closure. And while Salmonella cases continued to grow, Foster Farms noted progress with it’s safety and prevention efforts

By April salmonella cases linked to Foster Farms, were reported to have grown to 524 people in 25 states and Puerto Rico.

May 2014 brought a couple of interesting developments. In Virginia, Foster Farms, in conjunction with Marketing & Planning Specialists LP, filed a federal lawsuit claiming the EPA improperly applied the Clean Water Act on land they wish to develop. In California, Foster Farms blamed and sued its exterminator for cockroaches.

The Months of June saw Foster Farms celebrating its 75th anniversary.  Meanwhile, in Congress, Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) and Rep. Louise M. Slaughter (D-N.Y.) introduced a bill called the Pathogens Reduction and Testing Reform Act: which would require the USDA to recall meat, poultry and egg products contaminated by pathogens that cause serious illnesses or death and that are also resistant to two or more classes of antibiotics commonly used to treat human illnesses

In July, Foster Farms received the Key To The City of Livingston from Livingston’s Officials;  issued its first voluntary chicken recall since 2013 salmonella outbreak ; updated the recall to include additional "use or freeze by" and "best by" dates; and sued its insurance companies for recall reimbursement in ‘cockroach infestation’ “arguing that the forced closure of a plant earlier this year by the government and subsequent destruction of chicken amounted to a recall”.

By July 31, The Center for Disease Control said the salmonella outbreak appeared to be over. In September Foster Farms recalled chicken from Louisiana due to possible contamination by Listeria.

In October Ron Foster announced he would step down as Foster Farms President and CEO.

In November, a billboard scrutinizing Foster Farms was set up: an indication that Foster Farms still has a ways to go before things settle down to “business as usual.”

WITHOUT LIVINGSTON’S WATER, WHAT WOULD BECOME OF FOSTER FARMS?

Impact on Foster Farms

Without the “low cost” water coming from Livingston’s wells, there would be no Foster Farms as we know it today. I’ve already mentioned the Symbiotic and Sometimes Dysfunctional Relationship between Foster Farms and the City of Livingston and how Foster Farms is the largest consumer of Livingston’s water.

In 2014, The City of Livingston purchased land from Foster Farms, in order to have enough room to install a TCP Filtration system on a well that sends most of it’s water to Foster Farms. 

I have also noted that, in the long run, Foster Farms would need to address an issue much larger than cockroaches and salmonella: that of having enough water that meets State and Federal Drinking Water Standards.

It is no secret, to those who have been paying attention, that Livingston’s Water Delivery system has been degrading over time. Arsenic levels have been rising and Foster Farms had to shut down at least 1 shift in February 2013 due to problems with water quality

In December, 2013, California River Watch served the City of Livingston with a 60-Day Notice of Violations and Intent to File Suit alleging various violations of the federal Safe Drinking Water Act. This was followed up with a Complaint against the City in the United States District Court, Eastern District of California, Case No. 1:14-CV-00437-AWI-MJS. In June 12, 2014, this was followed by a 90-Day Notice of Violations and Intent to File Suit alleging various violations of the federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act. 

A Settlement Agreement and Release was signed in September 2014. Some of the agreed upon actions to be taken by the City include:

  • Well 13Install and operate wellhead treatment for Arsenic at Well No. 13 no later than June 1, 2016.

  • Continue monitoring for Arsenic at Well No. 13 consistent with federal Safe Drinking Water Act and California Safe Drinking Water Act requirements.

  • Well 8-9(b) Install and operate wellhead treatment for 1,2,3 Trichloropropane (“TCP”) at Well No. 8 no later than January 1, 2015.

  • Within six (6) months after the Effective Date of the Agreement, post on its website information regarding the City’s efforts to address TCP in drinking water.

  • on a semi-annual basis, provide inserts in its utility bills that provide information on efforts to address TCP.

  • update its website and the utility bill inserts, as needed, to reflect current
    information.

In January, Governor Brown had declared a drought emergency, and urged residents to reduce water consumption by 20 percent

Shortly thereafter, the Livingston City Council voted to ban outside watering on certain days of the week. “City leaders said the plan has been in the works the past few years, but was given a new sense of urgency after the governor declared a drought on Friday.”

Well 16In February, the Livingston council approved an urgent contract for repairs at Well #16 

In April, the City Council voted to begin the Proposition 218 Process for Water rate increase. Notices about Livingston rate increases went out the following Friday .  Meetings were held at which the new Rate Structure was discussed

In June the Livingston council approved utility rate increases and also approved a contract for emergency repairs to a damaged main pipe at the wastewater treatment plant . It should be noted that the Water Rate Increases adopted by the City of Livingston assume that Grants and Low/No Interest Loans from the State Drinking Water Revolving Loan Fund will fund the majority of Repairs/Upgrades to Livingston’s Wells and Water Delivery System over the next 5 years: any loans to be paid back over the next 20 to 30 years.

In September, the City received a Notice of Violation from the Water Board regarding the Domestic Wastewater Treatment Plant for not meeting certain testing and reporting requirements.

Well 8-9Well 11 - 15In November, there was discussion about wells #11 and #9 having been taken offline because of sand causing problems with Foster Farms: overwhelming their filters.

By the end of December, the TCP Filtration System on Well #8 was up and running; and the City Council approved the purchase of Arsenic Filtration equipment to be eventually installed on Well #13. As I mentioned earlier, installing filtration on both of these wells was covered in the Settlement Agreement between the City of Livingston and California River Watch.

BUDGETS,  CONCESSIONS, AND DEFICITS

Although the 2013/2014 Fiscal Year began back in JULY 2013, the Budget for that year wasn’t adopted until March 2014. This budget included salary reductions and other concessions from employees

The 2014/2015 Fiscal Year was barely over in June before the Budget for the Next Year Fiscal year was predicted to be $146,000 in the hole. Employees were again asked for a 7 percent pay cut: which was rejected.

In JULY a Memorandum of Understanding and a Side Letter Concessions Agreement between the City of Livingston and the City of Livingston Management and Confidential Employees Association was adopted. Terms included:

  • One furlough day per month

  • 1% pay decrease effective July 1, 2014 – June 30, 2015

  • $100 per month medical contribution per member

  • freezing 40 hours of vacation cash outs.

In August, the City Council adopted a budget which included a deficit of $44,000. The Council also considered the topic of planning fee increases. The leader of the Public Works Employees union expressed frustration over the way labor negotiations were being handled

A Resolution Approving a Successor Memorandum of Understanding Between the City of Livingston and the Livingston Police Officers’ Association (LPOA) OE3 Unit for the Period of January 1, 2015 through June 30, 2015 was approved in December of 2014.

A Memorandum of Understanding for the AFSCME Public Works and Parks Employees Unit for the period July 1, 2014 through June 30, 2015 was not approved until January 2015 and included one (l) furlough per month, freezing 20 hours of vacation cash­ outs effective July 1, 2014 through June 30, 2015 and contributions of $75 per month towards medical insurance premiums.

MAYOR’S TERMS, “POLITICS”, FIREWORKS, AND “FAVORITISM”

IN JANUARY, the Livingston City Council approved a ballot measure which would EXTEND THE MAYOR’S TERM of office from two years to four: in order to maintain “institutional knowledge” on the council according to Mayor Pro Tem Gurpal Samra, who had placed this item on the Agenda.

A previous ballot measure in 2006, Measure C, had asked Livingston voters if they wanted their mayors to have a two year or a four-year term. By about 66 of the vote, the term for mayor was limited to two-years. In 2006, voters said “no” to a 4-year term for mayor. Voters said “no” again in 2014. Voters said “no” again in 2014

IN JANUARY, The Council also discussed changing the way Fireworks Booth Permits were distributed by the city. Directions given to Staff was to include language in an Ordinance that would allow the City Council the ability to award the “COUNCIL’S CHOICE” to the Livingston Youth Football Organization for (2) CONSECUTIVE YEARS.  According to Youth Football Coach and City Council member Jim Soria, he had placed the Item on the January 21, City Council Agenda. According to Council Member Soria, the recent death of Mike Coronado created a Special Circumstance which justified giving Youth Football priority other non-profit organizations.

There was another discussion of the proposed Ordinance on February 18, and March 04: along with a fair share of criticism, replete with allegations of favoritism.

The actual Issuance of Permits to Sell Safe and Sane Fireworks took place on April 15th. Although Mayor Pro-Tem Samra made a motion to put all applications in a lottery,  Council Member Jim Soria’s “push to award a fireworks stand to a nonprofit for which he volunteers proved successful” by a 2-1 vote.

Allegations of “favoritism” was not limited out to just the handing out of Fireworks Booth Permits.  One of Livingston’s unions alleged acts  sexual harassment were committed by the City’s Public Works Supervisor.   “the union began receiving numerous complaints about his leadership, leading to a vote of no confidence signed by 11 employees in May” in addition to (allegations that) “Mendoza has an inappropriate relationship with Mayor Rodrigo Espinoza, allowing the mayor to have preferential treatment on projects related to his property.”

And although Mayor Espinoza claimed favoritism was not a factor when he picked who would travel with him to China , it couldn’t prevent questions from being raised. Public Works Supervisor Ruben Mendoza also went on the trip: in addition to Council Member Jim Soria, and City Manager Jose Ramirez. According to the Mayor Espinoza “I got invited through a friend and former mayor of Lathrop,” and was asked to invite 10 other people.

2014 WAS AN ELECTION YEAR with two seats “up for grabs” on the City Council, and also had it’s fair share of controversy.  A photograph circulated by Mayor Pro-Temp Gurpal Samra elicited claims of “dirty politics” and slander by by his opponent: Planning Commissioner Mario Mendoza. 

THE CITY MANAGER ANNOUNCED HIS INTENTION TO RESIGN during a Special City Council Meeting in DECEMBER. According to the City Attorney, the Report out of Closed Session, as stated by the City Attorney, was as follows:

Tonight in Closed Session, the City Manager informed the City Council that he is resigning from his employment with the City.  Mr. Ramirez has elected to resign to pursue personal and professional opportunities outside of the region.

The City Council on a vote of 4-0-1 (Council Member Mendoza was not present) has accepted the City Manager’s resignation and has agreed to waive the 60 days’ notice provision in the City Manager’s contract. 

The City Manager’s last day of employment with the City will be January 31st

Mr. Ramirez has expressed his willingness to continue to assist the City with current projects and to assist in the City’s transition to a new City Manager.  The City will be working with Mr. Ramirez to accomplish this

And now, on to the

CITY COUNCIL REGULAR MEETING AGENDA

FEBRUARY 3, 2015

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 February 3, 2015, 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 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 Council Chambers 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(d)(2))

Number of Cases: 2

4. Public Employee Appointment

(Government Code Section 54957)

Title: City Manager

City Manager Recruitment

5. Conference with Labor Negotiator(Government Code Section 54957.6)

Labor Negotiator: Interim City Manager Odi Ortiz Employee Organizations: All Represented City Employees

Regular Meeting

CALL TO ORDER Next Resolution Number: 2015-3

Next Ordinance Number: 623

Pledge of Allegiance.

Roll Call.

Changes to the Agenda.

AWARDS, PRESENTATIONS, APPOINTMENTS AND PROCLAMATIONS

1. Mayor Rodrigo Espinoza – Presentation of Key to the City plaques to members of Grupo Musical Los Kinos for their continuous contributions to the Livingston community.

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.

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.

2. Report on United Front Security and Patrol Security Company Seeking a Business License.

3. Approval of Minutes of Meeting Held on December 16, 2014.

4. Approval of Warrant Register Dated January 29, 2015.

DISCUSSION AND POTENTIAL ACTION ITEMS

5. Resolution Appointing Odilon Ortiz as Interim City Manager and Approving a Second Amendment to the Employment Agreement between the City of Livingston and Odilon Ortiz.

6. Resolution Approving the First Amendment and Restatement to Agreement for Employment between the City of Livingston and Ruben Chavez for the Position of Police Chief.

7. Vacancies and Appointments to the Livingston Planning Commission.

8. Council Accept and Authorize Temporary Outsourcing of City’s Street Sweeping Services with Gilton Solid Waste.

9. Discussion Regarding Changes to the DTC Zone.

10. Discussion Item: Consideration of Changing the City Logo Slogan from “The Last Stop” to “Sweet Potato Capital of the World.”

11. Discussion Item: Twelve Acres of Industrial Land at the Max Foster Sports Complex.

ADJOURNMENT

A Really Long “5 Minutes”, A Plan to Reopen the Tequila Club?, And a Couple of Meeting Agendas

"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."-Poet and philosopher George Santayana

…Shambaugh…applied in Livingston…for a full-time job in the eight-officer department. .As part of the tiny staff, he’d often be left alone to cruise Livingston ‘s streets at midnight, relying on county or Atwater officers for backup. ….Nearly every evening there’d be a stabbing, assault or shooting, often in the Main Street bars…. City councils and managers worked to eliminate the troublesome bars by restricting alcohol licenses and cracking down on the boozing and brothels. Excerpted from LIVINGSTON OFFICER ENDS LONG CAREER – COMMUNITY OUTREACH A KEY ACHIEVEMENT IN 30 YEARS ON FORCE  Modesto Bee, The (CA) – Wednesday, July 25, 2007 By SCOTT JASON, MERCED SUN-STAR

The condition was not placed in the municipal code for no reason. For at least 15 years, Livingston went through an era of being a violent community, directly as the result of too much alcohol flowing freely in the downtown….Closing the problem bars was a nightmare for city, state, regional and federal agencies. In those days, anyway, closing a bar was almost impossible unless you could find enough wrong with the structure of the building to order it torn down. Excerpted from “Increase the number of bars in Livingston? – Not so fast: ” Livingston CA / April 13, 2011 – By Mike McGuire

A downtown bar must hire licensed security guards to protect patrons and also must bring on new employees to clean up trash left in a nearby parking lot, the city’s Planning Commission ordered Tuesday night. ..Club Tequila faces the new restrictions after several complaints filed against the business by police and neighbors over the summer. ..Now, the bar must keep licensed security guards inside its premises, build a well-lit smoking area outside, and make sure bottles don’t drift into the neighboring Rite-Aid parking lot. Excerpted from ‘Livingston bar told to increase its security”  Merced Sun-Star, The (CA) – Wednesday, October 13, 2004 by Adam Ashton

Members of the Merced-Mariposa Narcotics Task Force and Livingston Police Department went into the bar Friday night after receiving several calls about drug-related troubles in the area. " Livingston has had some problems, and this will help," said Gary Welch, assistant commander of the task force. "We’ve had complaints on and off for several months." Excerpted from “COCAINE SALES PROBED” Modesto Bee, The (CA) – Wednesday, February 21, 2001

Officials..shut down The Oasis (757 Academy) and El Latino (430 Main St.) nightclubs in Livingston for..alleged labor law violations. .The Oasis was reportedly fined $15,000 while the El Nuevo Latino was hit with a $32,000 penalty..Excerpted from “FOUR AREA TAVERNS CLOSED DOWN FOR ALLEGED LABOR LAW VIOLATIONS” – Modesto Bee, The (CA) – Tuesday, September 30, 1997  – Alex Valdez,

A man who allegedly fired a shotgun inside a rural Livingston bar Sunday night was arrested and being held on $250,000 bail – Excerpted from “SHOTS FIRED IN BAR ; MAN ARRESTED’  Modesto Bee, The (CA) – Tuesday, November 28, 2000

Before We Get to the Main Event

They Just Keep Getting Younger and Younger

So….What ever happened to the “chum-bait” in Delta Bravo Sierra Land? You’ll just have to click on over to find out.

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

Speaking of Things “Military”

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

Some Livingston 4th of July Committee Updates

Meetings of the Livingston 4th of July Committee are scheduled for the 2nd and 4th Monday of each month @ 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

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

How About Some More Local News 

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

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

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

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

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

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

So the Planning Commission thinks 1,000 ft. between Establishments that sell Alcohol by the Glass is too much…

As reported by Mike McGuire, the Planning Commission voted to recommend doing away with the section in the municipal code “requiring alcohol served by the glass uses to be a minimum of 1,000 feet apart in the downtown commercial district.”

Actually, the discussion that night sounded less like a discussion of the pros and cons of changing the Zoning Code and more like a discussion of “this is what I plan to do by reopening the Tequila Club; and how good it would be for Livingston-As-a-Whole to reopen the Tequila Club;  land anyone who is worried “the bigger picture”, like, about other Bars Opening in the Downtown or anyone who is concerned about the Downtown slipping back into “the bad old days” before the 1,000 foot requirement was added to the Zoning Code just needs to go crawl under a rock and keep your worries to yourself.

And going on and on and on and way, way, way, Way over the “usual 5 minutes” a person is given to Make-Their-Comment and Pitch-Their-Point-Of-View at-Planning Commission in the process…

Now, I want to make sure I am understood here…If someone wants to re-open the Tequila Club, and has a Business Plan, and a “How To Be A Good Neighbor plan”, I could be more than willing to hear it out. I’m not “blanketly against” a business person who might want to Open a “Blues Club that sells Alcohol By The Glass” in the Downtown Area, provided the Applicant for the Conditional Use Permit can show that his/her head is screwed on straight.

But don’t “pooh-pooh” my (or others) concerns about just doing away with the 1,000 ft restriction on Alcohol by the Glass sales and expect me to grab the existential pom-poms and start cheering “Go-Go! Do it! Do it! Oo-ah!”

Besides, the Planning Commission Agenda Item that night was not about any one particular Applicant’s Project, but was (supposed to be) about the Pro’s and Cons of changing the wording in the Zoning Code.

In other words speaking not about what any one Bar/Club would do for Livingston, but what changing the Zoning Code would do to the Downtown Area and Livingston as a whole.

And offer some kind of reasonable alternatives about “how far apart they should be”: 900ft? 800ft? 600ft? 200ft? Side-By-Side? what?

Any limits? No limits? Side-By-Side will be A OK? Just where are we going with this?

After all, just how many Bars/Clubs/etc. packed into the Downtown Area would be good for Livingston as a Whole?

That conversation seemed to have been avoided like the plague. Instead, the consensus sounded more along the lines of “Any business is good business. Who cares what it is…”

Back in “the Bad Old Days” a Conditional Use Permit alone didn’t provide enough “controls” to close problem bars. Federal agents were all over town from time to time trying to find ways to get rid of them. Cops would patrol kitchen areas trying to find health code violations. The building inspector went over bars with magnifying glasses, and it took about 15 years or so for Livingston to get rid of the problem, which was largely an out-of-towner problem.

The patrons causing problems were not primarily Livingston folks, so "doing something good for the people of Livingston" constituted shutting down the bars, not making it convenient for them to stay open.

One would think it would behoove the members of the Planning Commission to take a few lessons from Livingston’s History before trying to totally overhaul its future.

And Now On To…

MEETING AGENDA
COURT THEATER COMMITTEE
APRIL 18, 2011
REGULAR MEETING: 5:00 P.M.

Notice is hereby given that the Court Theater Committee will hold a Regular Meeting on
April 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. The Regular Meeting will begin
at 5:00 p.m. The agenda shall be as follows:

1. Call to Order
2. Approval of Minutes – Regular Meeting of March 21, 2011
3. Approval of Treasurer’s Report
4. Old Business
A. Court Theater Project Update
B. Garden Tea Party – September 17, 2011
5. New Business
6. Other
7. Adjournment

CITY COUNCIL REGULAR MEETING AGENDA

APRIL 19, 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 April 19, 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. Conference with Legal Counsel – Potential Litigation

(Government Code Section 54956.9)

Number of Cases: 1

Regular Meeting

CALL TO ORDER Next Resolution Number: 2011-26

Next Ordinance Number: 590

Pledge of Allegiance.

Roll Call.

Closed Session Announcements.

Changes to the Agenda.

AWARDS, PRESENTATIONS, APPOINTMENTS AND PROCLAMATIONS

1. Presentation – Arakelian Park Facilities Upgrade Project – Jasmin Bains, Senior Accountant and Nanda Gottiparthy, City Engineer.

ANNOUNCEMENTS AND REPORTS

Supervisor John Pedrozo Announcements and Reports.

City Council Members’ Announcements and Reports.

Mayor’s Announcements and Reports.

Interim City Manager Announcements and Reports.

City Staff 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.

2. Approve Resolution of Intent Concerning Agriculture Within City Limits, Livingston Municipal Code (LMC) 5-2-3 (1), Commercial Use Classifications, Agriculture.

3. Approval of Minutes of Meeting Held on March 15, 2011.

4. Approval of Warrant Register Dated April 13, 2011.

DISCUSSION AND POTENTIAL ACTION ITEMS

5. Resolution in Support of Merced Irrigation District’s New Exchequer Dam Spillway Modification and Increased Water Storage Project.

6. Resolution Approving a Reimbursement Agreement with the Merced Union High School District for Removal and Replacement of the Transite Water Pipeline on Peach Avenue and Authorizing the Interim City Manager to Execute the Reimbursement Agreement.

7. Resolution Accepting the Proposal Submitted by Self-Help Enterprises to Provide Grant Services Related to the Housing Components of the Home Investment Partnership Program (HOME), the State Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Program and CalHOME Housing Rehabilitation Program, Awarding a Professional Services Contract to Self-Help Enterprises and Authorizing the Interim City Manager to Execute an Agreement for Professional Services.

8. Resolution Approving Contract Amendment No. 4 for PMC to Complete the Environmental Analysis of the Domestic Wastewater Treatment Plant and Authorizing the Interim City Manager to Sign the Amendment.

9. Resolution Providing Staff Direction: Authorize the Interim City Manager to Enter into an Agreement with WC³ for Contract Support Services or Direct Staff to Distribute Requests for Proposals (RFPs) for Contract Staff Support Services.

10. City Council to Provide Staff Direction for the Livingston Senior Citizens Center Lease Renewal.

ADJOURNMENT

And Don’t Forget The

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 2006

How They Voted in 2007

How They Voted in 2008

How They Voted in 2009

How They Voted in 2010 (not quite up to date, but I’m workin on it)

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

2009-2010 Merced County Grand Jury Final Report

Increases, Updates, Expansions, and Consequences

The Draft EIR for the Domestic Waste Water Treatment Plant just came out late Friday afternoon.

 

I hope the Council has their existential raincoats handy, because there is sure to be a storm of controversy over this one. (and the stormin over the proposed Water, and Wastewater rate increases hasn’t cleared yet)

 

While we’re on that subject….

 Former Mayor Samra stated on April 1st of this year:

“I don’t think anybody can deny that there needs to be rate adjustments,”… “However, I don’t feel that the way they are proposing this is the right way to go.” [1]

At the last City Council Meeting he:  “wondered whether some of the capital projects that are tied to the rate hike were needed at all. Was the expansion of the wastewater treatment plant needed, he asked, if the current plant’s capacity is still not met?”[2]

Good Question…

He oughta know…folks were asking him questions just like that one less than a year ago.

My, My…How soon we forget

I would like to take this opportunity to remind former Mayor Samra that he was “in charge” during the debate over the 2025 General Plan Update. He heard (among other things) more that one warning that the population projections in the plan would not play out as proposed and that expansion of the wastewater treatment plant was not really necessary.

The Council was begged repeatedly to scale back the scope of the plan into something that would approximate reasonable population projections for the years 2010-2050.

One of the major criticisms logged against the 2025 General Plan Update was that it was based upon population growth figures that were artificially inflated and/or unreliable

Some of the local farmers were worried about how the City’s growth would affect them personally. They had LOTS of questions!

And they weren’t too thrilled with the answers they were getting.

Even the Planning Commission wasn’t too crazy about The General Plan as written.

Since all other “Plans (like Waste Water Treatment Plant expansions) would be dependent upon reliable population growth estimates, one would THINK you’d want reasonable population growth numbers to base your “Plans” on.

But, despite the warnings about inflated population growth figures (and other concerns), The General Plan was adopted with a 5/0 vote by the City Council

So now we are dealing with the ramifications of that 5/0 decision.

There’s even a lawsuit or two.

I hope that if Mr. Samra, or any other former council person, wishes to continue harping about “the way things are being done” about Rate Increases, or suddenly feels that any Domestic Wastewater Treatment Plant Expansion should be postponed (in contrast to those who have been against such a project from the “get go”), he would be honest enough to preface his comments with a statement about how his voting record has contributed to the mess we’re in now.


[1]Merced Sun Star, Wednesday April 01, 2009 “Water, sewer rate hike meets opposition from some Livingston users Could vote down proposition.” By JONAH OWEN LAMB

 

[2] Merced Sun Star, Wednesday, May. 06, 2009 “Livingston council delays decision on water rates – again”  By JONAH OWEN LAMB