A Lingering Lawsuit, Another Canceled Contract, A Couple Marijuana Plants, and a Draft Tax Measure

It’s a shame the way we’ve been going through City Managers: Warren Urnberg – excerpted from Public Comments – 01/05/16 City Council Meeting

“I don’t think our Community needs it.” Councilmember Jim Soria – 01/05/16 Council Meeting. Excerpted from Medical Marijuana Ordinance Discussion

I’d like to approve what we have here (and) make adjustments – Councilmember Alex McCabe – 01/05/16 Council Meeting. Excerpted from Medical Marijuana Ordinance Discussion

“How do we take care of people with legitimate needs?” Mayor ProTemp Gurpal Samra – 01/05/16 Council Meeting. Excerpted from Medical Marijuana Ordinance Discussion

“…The California Transportation Commission…has removed the Livingston Widening Northbound and also the Livingston Widening Southbound from your projects list. You now have no Regional Projects” – Mike Valata – Mayor of Los Banos. Excerpted from Public Comment – 03/01/16 City Council Meeting

Perry is charged with assaulting Dwight Larks, a 39-year-old real estate agent living in Livingston at the time, during a supervised handover of Lark’s child as part of a custody arrangement with the child’s mother….According to a civil lawsuit filed by Larks, he and the child’s mother had a disagreement over the details of the exchange. Excerpted from Judge dismisses one of three charges against Livingston police officer – Merced Sun Star – 03/10/16

Livingston, CA 04/18/2016

So…there was a disagreement over the details of a Custody Exchange. That’s putting it mildly. More on that a little later. But first.

MAYOR RODRIGO ESPINOZA has decided to try to displace John Pedrozo as District 1 County Supervisor. As of the date of this posting, I’ve seen several large Pedrozo campaign signs around town. But, only a couple so far for Espinoza. And although John Pedrozo has gone on the record as agreeing that Public Safety is of the uttermost importance in Merced County, I’m not so sure Mr. Espinoza’s stated opinion of the Sherriff’s Department would be earning him any “favorability points” with law enforcement.

THE MERCED COUNTY ASSOCIATION OF GOVERNMENTS (MCAT) is floating the ides of a 1/2 cent SALES TAX  ballot measure to be placed on the November Ballot: with the proceeds used for “transportation” related projects. Some members of local government are concerned that most of the proceeds from such a measure would not stay in the Local Jurisdiction in which they were raised. There is also the concern that the draft, as currently written, does not include a guaranteed list of local projects.

EX: The following two items were provided to me by the Mayor of Los Banos

  • Draft 1/2 Cent Transportation Sales Tax Measure Expenditure Plan  – This includes language that was eliminated from the current draft being pitched to local leaders and the public. According to the mayor, the language in black is the MCAG approved language. The red language includes the modifications Los Banos proposed (and was denied by the MCAG Board) to protect the Westside/Eastside share.  Please pay close attention to page 12, “Amendments To The Expenditure Plan”, this section allows MCAG to change the funding allocations. Note the red language under that section. It would have protected the original amounts for the Westside/Eastside by stating that it would have to go back to the voters for any changes. This 30 year tax measure will be on the November 2016 ballot and needs a 66 2/3 voter approval rate for it to pass.

  • Deletion of Livingston HWY 99 Widening Projects

THE LAST STOP? OR JUST A REST STOP? Those of you have been following the goings on in Livingston have already noticed there seems to be a problem attracting and KEEPING qualified staff in certain positions. For some reason, some people just don’t stick around for very long: they’re gone before the ink has barely dried on their contracts.

The latest to “pass through” Livingston on the way to Other Things was Gabriel Gonzalez:  who entered into an interim short-term professional services agreement with the Acting City Manager on January 19, 2016: For an amount not to exceed $10,000. According to the February 02, 2016 Staff Report, this was necessary because:

Due to recent transition in management position(s), there is a significant need for temporary administrative support in public works, finance/accounting and in general City management functions until such positions are addressed. This temporary support is much needed to fulfill the upcoming deadlines and priorities.

At the February 02, 2016 City Council Meeting, an Amendment to that agreement was approved by Council which converted the agreement into a

temporary (6 months to 1 year) administrative support in the following areas: oversight of public works; general administrative support to interim city manager. General functions will include assistance with general operations, annual budget, contract and policy review, organizational and functional analysis…..with option to extend another six (6) months, at the City Manager/Interim City Manager’s discretion

compensation under the amended agreement shall be at an hourly rate of $80 and the total contract amount shall not exceed $135,000.

Mr. Gonzales was hired by the City of Gilroy as their City Manager barely over a month later.

And another one gone after a short stop in Livingston…..

While he was here, Mr. Gonzalez advised the City Council that they should consider creating a new position at City Hall: just for the sole purpose of keeping up with State Storm Water Regulations.

Click on the following link to see Mr. Gonzalez’s Municipal Separate storm Sewer System (MS4) INFORMATIONAL update–And Proposed Administrative Position.

MARIJUANA ORDINANCE adopted.

In December of Last Year, the Planning Commission discussed a Proposed Ordinance which would do the following:

  • allow cultivation of up to six plants of marijuana.

  • ban indoor cultivation.

  • eliminate the size requirement for a detached structure and to allow green houses. 

  • Prohibit gas products, including without limitation, C02, butane, propane and natural gas or generators within the structure."

  • delete a setback requirement.

  • to allow deliveries

AT THE CITY COUNCIL MEETING on January 5, 2016.

  • The city attorney “announced that current State legislation has a deadline of March 1, 2016, for cities to establish a land use policy for cannabis activities. If cities do not meet this deadline, they will defer to the State’s regulations and policies”

  • “Merced County Fire Marshall Morgan noted that there are some safety concerns with the code… The Fire Department recommends that indoor grows in detached structures require an electrical permit and maintain minimum set-backs of either 10 or 15-feet (to prevent fires from spreading from one structure to the other).”

  • Merced County Sheriff’s Department representative Ray Framstad gave a PowerPoint presentation on cannabis activities (mainly large grows) and discussed some of the challenges that it posses on law enforcement (such as electrical fires, vandalisms, burglaries, shootings, etc).

COUNCIL MEMBER’S OPINIONS ranged from Council Member Jim Soria: who favored a complete ban to Council Member Alex McCabe: who made a motion banning all commercial cannabis activities, but giving residents (with proper medical approval) the right to grow six cannabis plants outdoors. Mr. McCabe’s motion failed for lack of support.

A second Motion was made by Mayor Pro-Temp Gurpal Samra: which would ban all commercial activities but allow Qualified Patients and Primary Caregivers to grow a maximum of two plants. This motion passed 3-2. Council Members Soria and McCabe both voted “no” but for different reasons.

Community Development Block Grant ApplicationTHERE WAS A PUBLIC HEARING – at City Hall on March 29, 2016 and lasted from about 11am to nearly 1pm. The purpose of the Hearing/meeting was to Brainstorm Ideas for the next Community Development Block Grant Application.

The Initial list of projects to be recommended include the following:

  • Planning Activity Projects–

    • Policy Updates to the General Plan that would facilitate Walkable Communities.

    • A Wastewater percolation study.

    • Water Studies

  • Public Improvement Activities

    • Finish the Pipeline Replacement Project

    • Refurbish/Repair the City’s Water Storage Tank

    • Construction of a Dewatering Facility at the Domestic WasteWater Treatment Plant

  • Public Facility Projects Fire Station –

    • Living Quarters and possible expansion of the facility

  • Public Service Part Time

    • Code Enforcement Officer: Focusing on Health and Safety issues such as Weed Abatement, Watering Restrictions, and Zoning and Building Issues.

ALSO ON THE AGENDA FOR JANUARY – MARCH, 2016

January 05, 2016

Approval of Minutes of Meeting Held on January 5, 2016. (Amended)

1 Resolution Approving Site Plan / Design Review 2015-3 to Construct a Building Containing an Office, Dressing Room, and an Apartment at the Guru Nanak Sikh Mission, 884 “B” Street, Livingston, CA.

2 Ordinance of the City Council of the City of Livingston Amending Title 5, Chapters 2, 3, 5 and 7 of the Livingston Municipal Code Prohibiting Commercial Marijuana ( Cannabis) Activities, Regulating Delivery of Medical Marijuana, and Regulating the Cultivation of Medical Marijuana Including Establishing Exemptions for Cultivation by Qualified Patients and Primary Caregivers.

3 Approval of Warrant Register Dated December 10, 2015

4 Approval of Warrant Register Dated December 23, 2015.

5 City Council to Provide Direction for Appointment to the Planning Commission.

JANUARY 19, 2016

(Approval of Minutes of Meeting Held on January 19, 2016.)

1 Waive the Second Reading and Adopt Ordinance No. 626 of the City Council of the City of Livingston Amending Title 5, Chapters 2, 3, 5 and 7 of the Livingston Municipal Code Prohibiting Commercial Marijuana (Cannabis) Activities and Regulating the Cultivation of Medical Marijuana Including Establishing an Exemption for Cultivation by Qualified Patients and Primary Caregivers.

2 Resolution of the City Council of the City of Livingston Authorizing Delegation of Authority to the Interim City Manager Regarding Industrial Disability Retirement Applications.

5 Approval of Warrant Register dated January 13, 2016.

6 Appointment of City Representative to the Merced County Mosquito Abatement District Board of Trustees.

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

8 Downtown Beautification Project/Street Improvements.

FEBRUARY 02, 2016

2 Resolution Rescinding Resolution No. 2015-10 and Authorizing the City Manager to Execute Documents, Approve Claims for Reimbursement and Represent the City as Required by the State Water Resources Control Board as Part of the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (DWSRF) Application.

3 Approval of Warrant Register Dated January 27, 2016.

4 Resolution of the Successor Agency to the Redevelopment Agency of the City of Livingston Approving the Recognized Obligation Payment Schedule (ROPS 16-17 A & B) Pursuant to Health and Safety Code Section 34177 for the Period of July 2016 through June 30, 2017

5 Resolution Approving a First Amendment to the Professional Services Agreement with Gabriel A. Gonzalez and Authorizing the Interim City Manager to Execute Amendment.

FEBRUARY 16, 2016

6 Approval of Warrant Register Dated February 11, 2016.

Municipal Separate storm Sewer System (MS4) INFORMATIONAL update–And Proposed Administrative Position

7 Resolution Approving a Rental Agreement for Sludge Dewatering Equipment.

8 Resolution Approving Emergency Purchase of New Police Facility HVAC Unit.

9 Resolution of the City Council of the City of Livingston Approving the Recommended 2015-16 City of Livingston Mid-Year Budget Revisions.

10 City Council to Provide Staff Direction on Creation of a New Corporate Seal (Logo).

FEBRUARY 23, 2016 JOINT MEETING BETWEEN THE CITY COUNCIL AND PLANNING COMMISSION SPECIAL MEETING

MARCH 01, 2016

1 Introduce and Waive the First Reading of Ordinance No.___, of the City Council of the City of Livingston, Amending Title 5, Chapters 3, 6 and 7 of the Livingston Municipal Code Relating to Housing.

2 Approval of Warrant Register Dated February 24, 2016.

3 Request to Join an Amicus Brief to the U.S. Supreme Court Supporting the President’s Executive Action on Immigration (Texas v. United States).

4 City Council to Provide Direction for Appointment to the Planning Commission.

The MARCH 15, 2016 Council Meeting was canceled at the last minute because too many Council Members were “ill”. Had the meeting gone forward as originally scheduled, these are some of the topics that would have been discussed.

1 Presentation – Representatives of the Modesto Chapter of the Citizens Climate Lobby, Kathy Conroto, Bill Anelli, Jerry Jackman, Jody Strait, Richard Anderson and David Rivada will give a slide show they presented at the February 2nd Modesto City Council meeting at which the Council voted for a Resolution endorsing a federal revenue-neutral carbon fee and dividend legislation. This fee increases the cost of fossil fuels, but then returns those fees to American households as a dividend, and therefore, favors a national shift to non-greenhouse gas emitting renewable energy sources.

3 Presentation: Marjorie Kirn, Executive Director of the Merced County Association of Governments (MCAG) on the proposed Transportation Expenditure Plan which outlines a flexible approach to spending more than $450 million of new revenue to address the region’s transportation needs over three decades. Half of the funding will go directly to our local governments for local transpiration needs. The remaining funds will be used for funding for projects of regional benefit, as well as transit.

The following two items were not included in the Council’s Agenda Packets. They were sent to me by the Mayor of Los Banos and are included here for those of you who are interested in more information on the subject)

4 Waive the Second Reading and Adopt Ordinance No. 627, of the City Council of the City of Livingston, Amending Title 5, Chapters 3, 6 and 7 of the Livingston Municipal Code Relating to Housing.

7 Approval of Warrant Register Dated March 11, 2016.

8 Resolution Approving a Professional Services Agreement between the City of Livingston and Patti Dossetti, Dossetti Consulting.

10 City Council to Consider Adoption of a Resolution Making an Appointment to Fill the Vacancy on the Planning Commission.

11 Council Direction to Consider Supporting the Regional Efforts via a Cooperation Memorandum of Understanding within the Merced Groundwater Sub-Basin to Comply with the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act.

12 Resolution Declaring that One Council Office Subject to Election at the November 2016 General Election Shall Only Serve a Two Year Term in Order to Evenly Stagger City Council Seats Subject to Election in the Future (California Government Code Section 34906).

IT’S NEARLY 4 YEARS AND COUNTING since a dispute over a Custody Exchange began a chain of events resulting in Felony Charges against a Police Officer and a Lawsuit against the City.

According to the Complaint for Damages and Demand for Jury trial filed on behalf of Dwight Larks, on or about May 21, 2012, the mother of Lark’s child, and two members of the Livingston Police Department showed up at Mr. Larks residence and

“permitted (the) mother to unlawfully enter and trespass upon the residence of Plaintiff and she removed (the child) from the custody of the Plaintive in a manner not authorized by any Order of the Court” Case No CVM014537, P.5 – lines 3-5

The Complaint For Damages also states that, the actions of the the officers involved resulted in Mr. Larks sustaining

“among other injuries, laceration of his head, concussion, injury to his left shoulder, left wrist, neck and right leg, and has suffered pain in all those areas…..P7 – lines 13-15

The Claim for Damages also states that, on the day of the incident, Mr. Larks had turned on the recorder of his cell phone and that the terms of a prior court order included the following:

“a court order requires that all custody exchanges take place at a neutral, public location, specifically identified in bold print as: Livingston Police Department” Governmental Claim of Dwight L. Larks, P.3

The Complaint for Damages and Demand for Jury Trial was filed with the Merced County Superior Court on March 19, 2013. (Yes, I do have a copy.)

According to reports in the Sun Star, Mr. Larks was initially cited for resisting arrest and violating a court order. But, no case against him was ever filed “for lack of evidence”. However, the felony case against one of the Officers involved in that 2012 Custody Exchange continues.

I’m betting the Civil Case against the City will also continue to drag on in some kind of “legal limbo” until well after the legal wrangling over the Felony Case is settled.

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Fireworks Booths and Council Picks, Flushing Away the Brown Water, A Water System Update, and a Brief Look at March, 2015

Livingston, CA – 04/22/2015

If it’s yellow, let it mellow. If it’s brown, flush it down. – A little ditty I remember from the last time California had a major drought.

(RE SAND FILTERING EQUIPMENT wells 9 & 11) As you know, we purchased equipment, sand filtering equipment, that should be here later this month. We also met with Foster Farms. The and Foster Farms will be working together. Foster Farms actually offered to install those for the City So that will be a win-win: saves time. So we don’t have to go through all the bidding things and all of that. Livington City Engineer, March 03, City Council Meeting, appx 13:03

(Re: CITY MANAGER RECRUITMENT) The recruitment firm that is helping us now is Avery and Associates, who also helped us the last time around with the Recruitment. They are preparing the ad that…they’re showing us different drafts to post on their website and on different publications…The goal is to have the filing deadline close April 24th. Livingston City Attorney, March o3, City Council Meeting, appx 21:13

(RE: Well #15 and REIMBURSEMENT AGREEMENT WITH GALLO) That is currently being negotiated. We’re working with representatives from Gallo. I think we/re doing a good job on compromising on some issues. As far as timeline, I don’t have an exact date that it will go to the Planning Commission. But I know its around the corner because their eager to get moving as well with some of their developments. .Livingston City Attorney, March 03, City Council Meeting, appx 22:06 

(RE: HYDRANT FLUSHING TO RESOLVE BROWN WATER PROBLEMS) I just want to make a comment about the brown water. I think there’s issues but I think that we have to go back to the hydrant flushing because we still have a system that needs to be flushed: the ends in the system. —–We have to, I think, direct the City Manager to again to make some time with employees so we can do a rotating around town, especially in the areas where water sits longer and the brown stuff accumulates and I think that’s where it needs to be flushed more often so that we don’t get the brown water.—–It always was a problem and I think we used to do it in the past. In the past I addressed it to the City Manager. But now I’m gonna stress again to out current Interim that we need to devise a plan. —–With a plan I think a couple times a month to do a rotating flushing of the hydrants. Especially on the West side of the city is worst.—–Stuff close to Foster Farms, inside the City, Foster Farms pulls a lot of water so its cleaner.—–But on the West side, there’s more standing water and people get more dirty water, or brown water. —–So I think as long as we rotate the flushing, people will get cleaner water. So we’ll work on that. Mayor Espinoza, March 03, City Council Meeting, appx. 31:10

(RE: HOW THE JULY 4TH COMMITTEE SHOULD JOIN THE RECREATION COMMISSION) I just think that as Recreation they can work on any projects. Especially right now that the 4th of July needs a lot of help. They can always focus on helping the 4th of July. so I think I’ll try to get some more people on here and to encourage people from all over the Community and I’m challenging our Council members as well. Hopefully 30 days will be good. Mayor Espinoza, March 03, City Council Meeting. Appx 1:02:02

 

Page 1As part of the settlement agreement with California River Watch, on March 31, 2015, the City held a workshop about the state of our Water System, and what the City is doing to address our Water Quality Issues. Although the purpose of the workshop was to address issues specific to Livingston, the discussion often drifted into other areas: such as the recent controversy over Water Transfers out of Merced County and the “insanity of wells going in everywhere”.

Page 6Those of us who have lived here a while, and are paying attention, know that Livingston has had it’s abundance of WATER SYSTEM CHALLENGES for years: complaints about Dirty, Smelly, brown water being one of them.

At the March 03 City Council Meeting, in response to a Residents Comments about BROWN WATER, the Mayor made a lengthy statement about how we needed to get back to Flushing The System on a Regular Basis.

Now, those of you who have lived here a while already know that LIVINGSTON’S BROWN WATER PROBLEM is a topic that has come up Over, and Over and Over Again for years. The records I have so far show complaints about Dirty, Smelly Water go back to as early as 2006 and the City has had a history of paying residents claims for damages to clothing caused by the “dirty, brown water”

And how the “Usual Remedy” is to “flush the system”: opening up a hydrant and letting the water run, and run, and run, and run, until it is no longer “brown”.

If its clear, drink it dear. If its Brown, flush it down…… the Street.

Here’s a brief history taken from just a few examples from City Council Meeting Minutes

March 18, 2014: City Manager Ramirez Thanked Paul Avila, Battalion Chief, CAL FIRE, who is working very closely with the City Engineer on implementing a fire hydrant flushing program and exercising of valves. He said they will be assisting the City with fire hydrant flushing throughout the year because the City has been having issues with red water. They have divided the City into quadrants for hydrant flushing due to manpower.

In MARCH 18, 2014, there was a Presentation by Paul Avila, Battalion Chief, CAL FIRE – Fire Hydrant Flushing Program.

Mr. Lou gave a presentation about the flushing program, the City water system and the purpose of the program. CAL FIRE is assisting public water agencies by implementing this program.

Which would

· Maintain safe and reliable drinking water for the community

and

· Address customer complaints

via the

Implementation of regular maintenance of the system

and that the

Program will use conventional flushing

1) System wide flushing

2) Spot flushing for specific cases

3) City will target dead-end sections of the system to ensure proper recirculation of any stagnant water within the pipes.

· Flushing Plan

– Systematic flushing of the entire water system once per year of the four zones

– Flushing duration shall last 5-10 minutes

– Flushing shall occur during non-peak hours, 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

In addition

Mario Gouveia, City Engineer said his office works in conjunction with the Fire Department and the Fire Department has the lead on this program with the support of Public Works.

In APRIL 15, 2014, Mayor Espinoza advised community residents that if they are having problems with brown water to let the water run and then call City Hall to have someone come out to flush the system.

The City Manager (Jose) Ramirez said the City has different types of pipes throughout town and two-thirds of the pipes have been addressed and the other third is being looked at in the hopes of finding some type of funding. The City Engineer came up with a map to divide the City into quadrants to make it easier for the Fire Department that is helping with the fire hydrant flushing program.

At the JUNE 03, 2014 City Council Meeting   there was a Presentation by Larry Bergman, Fire Captain, Merced County Fire/Cal Fire: Fire Hydrant Flushing Program. – Captain Bergman gave a presentation discussing Merced County Fire/Cal Fire’s efforts in flushing-out the City’s fire hydrants. Captain Bergman explained that this process has started off smoothly and that he expects to complete this project in approximately 3 weeks. City Manager Ramirez stated this program was organized by a team of professional engineers who are primarily concerned with the performance of the fire hydrants. In particular, they are looking at elements like water pressure, valve access, and things of that nature.

So…it seems the City is committed to its “flushing” program as a means of “cleaning out” the brown water. But with the States recent mandate for Water Providers to cut consumption by at least 25%, just how long will Livingston be able to just “flush” it’s brown water troubles away”?

Now..a brief look at some of the Agenda items covered during the MARCH 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 MARCH 3, 2015 CLOSED SESSION included

  • 1 Case of Potential Litigation

  • Continued Labor Negotiations with All Represented and Unrepresented City Employees

  • Continued Discussion of City Manager Recruitment

During OPEN SESSION on MARCH 3:

1. The Resolution Approving the Sun Valley Estates Site Plan/Design Review (2015-1) Located Southwest of the Intersection of Peach Avenue and Main Street. Was Approved.

There was a question about whether or not Livingston had adequate water for additional housing. In response Mayor Espinoza mentioned about Fersenius having gone out of business and the City Engineer stated “That’s another “cush” that the city didn’t take into account” (when the “will serve” letter for the project was issued)

CONSENT CALENDAR

2. The Minutes of Meeting Held on December 22, 2014. Was approved

3. The Minutes of Meeting Held on January 6, 2015. Was approved

4. The Minutes of Meeting Held on January 20, 2015. Was Approved

5. The Warrant Register Dated February 26, 2015 Was Approved.

DISCUSSION AND POTENTIAL ACTION ITEMS

6. The City Council discussed Appointments to the Parks and Recreation Commission. During the Discussion, the Recreation Director explained that as of the deadline, only 3 people had applied. Although there is interest by members of the community to work on specific neighborhood related projects, there doesn’t seem that much interest in being on the Recreation Commission itself. It was decided to advertise for another 30 days in hopes of rounding up a few more applicants and the Mayor stated that members of the City Council should start asking people to apply.

7. The Resolutions Required by the State Water Resources Control Board as Part of the DWSRF Application. Were Approved

8. A Resolution Awarding the Wastewater Treatment Plant SCADA System Upgrade and Integration Project to Tesco Controls. Was Approved.

ADJOURNMENT

The MARCH 17, 2015 CLOSED SESSION Included discussions about:

  • 1 Case of Potential Litigation

  • Continued Labor Negotiations with All Represented and Unrepresented City Employees

ANNOUNCEMENTS AND REPORTS

CITIZEN COMMENTS

During the OPEN SESSION of MARCH 17, 2015:

CONSENT CALENDAR

1. Approval of Warrant Register Dated March 12, 2015. Was approved.

DISCUSSION AND POTENTIAL ACTION ITEMS

2. The Resolution Accepting Completion of the Joseph Gallo Park Improvements and Authorizing the City Clerk to Record a Notice of Completion with Merced County was approved.

3. The Resolution Accepting Bid for City of Livingston Well #13 Arsenic Removal Treatment from TNT Industrial Contractors, Inc Was Approved. The equipment had already been purchased from Loprest. This item was for the installation. The City is hoping to get either a grant or 0% interest loan from the State to cover the costs. In the meantime, the City will be tapping the TCP Settlement funds until a funding agreement is issued by the State.

4. The Issuance of Permits to Sell Safe and Sane Fireworks took place. As some of you might remember from last year, the City Council rewrote the Fireworks Ordinance in order to have the ability of awarding a FIREWORKS BOOTH PERMIT to up to 2 (two) Non-Profits via “Council Pick”. At the time, it was stated that the motivation for the changes to the ordinance was to allow the Council to “give” a FIREWORKS BOOTS PERMIT to the Livingston Youth Football Organization for two (2) consecutive years.

According to Youth Football Coach and City Council member Jim Soria, he had placed the Item on the January 21, 2014 City Council Agenda: partly in memory of Mike Coronado.  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. 

After the Ordinance had been rewritten, and it came time for FIREWORKS BOOTH PERMITS to be “divvied up” in 2014, the Council awarded a Fireworks Booth Permit to the Livingston Youth Football organization and threw all the other applicants into the Lottery. 

This year, “Council Pick” went to Livingston Youth Football for the second year in a row; and to the July 4th Committee. (Who did not join the Recreation Commission BTW).

In regards to the “fairness” of Livingston Youth Football receiving a booth permit two years in a row, Mayor Espinoza stated: I myself personally promised that I would try to help them with my votes because of Michael Coronado. He was a great man. He helped the community and supported the Youth Football. So I say for two years will be able to have the booth. This is sometimes it doesn’t seem fair but the High School had it for a lot of years: they had different programs and it didn’t seem fair to a lot of people that also. I think that to help the youth that Michael Coronado did himself most of his life. So I think they deserve that.

ADJOURNMENT

A Lawsuit Continues, Another Sad Good-By; and A City Council and Court Theater Committee Agenda

The water has been brown to red since the late 60′s to mid 70′s. The old pipes in certain parts of town have never been replaced. Every new city manager that came in and left, did nothing to remedy this. . Excerpt from a Comment by Karma on “Dirty Smelly Water On Tap in Livingston” – Merced Sun Star (emphasis mine)

Should’ve, would’ve, could’ve but didn’t. Yes it’s true, past councils did not raise water rates in small increments when they should have. We can’t go back and it is what it is now. That doesn’t mean we should make up for it ten-fold now. This city manager needs to go and will as soon as the recall goes through. And it will!! The people will prevail!!! Exerpt of a comment by Starlifter, Recall effort under way in Livingston Merced Sun Star

“We are paying a lot for water. The money you are collecting from us is being used to pay for a new police chief who used to make less money where he lived before than what he is now making here. …You shouldn’t charge us more for our water use so that you can pay the new chief of police $10,000 more….You now have a new chief of police and you are paying him more money….” Excerpted from a Public Comment: April 20, 2010 City Council Meeting Draft Minutes (emphasis mine)

“In the 60’s, people took acid to make the world appear weird. Now the world is weird: people take prozac to make it normal!”Soledad Chavez

‘Toffler aRecall. But rgues that society is undergoing an enormous structural change, a revolution from an industrial society to a "super-industrial society". This change will overwhelm people, the accelerated rate of technological and social change leaving them disconnected and suffering from "shattering stress and disorientation" – future shocked. Toffler stated that the majority of social problems were symptoms of the future shock. In his discussion of the components of such shock, he also popularized the term "information overload."’ From Future Shock – Wikepedia

Nah…this post isn’t a Macro-Commentary about about Society-In-General. But I will say that, on a more Micro-Level, some of the members of our City Council are sure having trouble keeping their information, facts,“stories” straight.

Side note. By the way. Did you notice how MUCH Starlifter and Karma had to say before the Recall. But now don’t seem to have much of anything to say about happenings in Livingston NOW? Not even a “good job” to the Volunteers doing good things for the City of Livingston. It’s like they have decided to shut up and crawl under a rock.

Weird huh?

Speaking of “Weird”. Let’s Check in on the latest happenings in Delta Bravo Sierra Land.

Ooo  Somebody got one heck of an arse chewin!

Um…how did the “lowly” specialist end up losing his arse? Guess you’ll have to go to Delta Bravo Sierra Land yourself to find out. {Wouldn’t worry too much ‘bout the specialist though. It is a cartoon world. Tails can grow back. 🙂 }

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

Upcoming Events Worth Keeping in Mind

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..

Family Hamburger Night Thursday July 28, 2011

OOOOOOOOH 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.

VFW Breakfast in July

pancakes The Livingston/Delhi Veterans of Foreign Wars and Ladies Auxiliary Breakfast will be served on July 31, 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.

Community Blood Drive in August

The next Community Blood Drive will be held at the Livingston Veterans Memorial Hall, 1605 7th Street, Livingston, on August 4, 2011 from 3-7 pm. Donate a pint of blood and receive a coupon for a FREE pint of Baskin-Robbins Ice Cream and a coupon for a meal hosted by the Livingston/Delhi Veterans of Foreign Wars and Ladies Auxiliary. For more information call Denis or Sue Wells at 394-2059 or visit our Website at http://www.vfwlivingston.com. Walk-ins are always welcome.

Veteran’s of Foreign Wars Ladies Auxiliary RUMMAGE SALE

Don't You Just LOVE a 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.

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. The second and third place winners will receive $75 & $50, ‘Liberty Jackets’ and Certificates, respectively. 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 and a trip to Washington D.C. The least they can win at the National Level is $2,000.00. 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. The second and third place winners will receive $75 & $50, ‘Liberty Jackets’ and Certificates, respectively.

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

The National first place winner receives a $10,000 U.S. Savings Bond plus an all expense paid trip to Washington D.C. for himself/herself and a parent or guardian.

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 Livingston-Delhi Auxiliary is offering a first-place prize of $100 and an “Eagle Liberty” jacket and a certificate. Second place is $75 and an “Eagle Liberty” jacket and a certificate and third place winners will receive $50 and an “Eagle Liberty” jacket and a certificate. 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

A Few News Stories and Other Items of Interest

Livingston veteran’s service continues, Monday, Jul. 18, 2011, Carol Reiter: Merced Sun Star

Denis Wells joined the Air Force when he was just 17. It was wartime — the Vietnam War was escalating in 1965 — and Wells figured he’d probably be sent to the Indochinese country. He was right. Read more

Giving back to Livingston — with a bang, Monday, Jul. 04, 2011, Ameera Butt: Merced Sun Star

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

Livingston manager will stay a little longer, Friday, Jul. 08, 2011, Mike North: Merced Sun Star

LIVINGSTON — Interim City Manager Vickie Lewis agreed Tuesday to delay her retirement to help the town’s new city manager with the transition. Lewis had set a retirement date of July 15, but the incoming city manager — Jose Antonio Ramirez — doesn’t plan on taking the reins until August. Read more

‘Widow Penalty’ Victims Finally Allowed Back in US, July 16, 2011 Associated Press and Military.com

NEW YORK — As suddenly widowed newlyweds, Olga Ledezma and Miwa Neal might have expected sympathy. But that’s not what they got from U.S. immigration officials, who declared them unwelcome.

Because they’d been married less than two years, their pending applications for permanent residency were nullified. Ledezma, whose husband was killed by a drunk driver in Denver, was ordered to leave the U.S. and eventually deported, while Neal – widow of a U.S. soldier – was told she could not immigrate to Florida from Japan with their infant son.

Widely viewed as cruel and unnecessary, the widow penalty was eliminated by Congress two years ago after being repeatedly challenged in court. Both Ledezma and Neal, after years of legal wrangling, were able to settle in the U.S. within the past two months and restart the process of seeking citizenship.

To Read More: Click on the Link Above

Rest in Peace Mr. Lenker

John (Lenker) passed away peacefully surrounded by family on June 23, 2011, at age 73 in Bellevue, Washington. He gave a short but valiant fight to overcome colon/liver cancer and respiratory disease.

To read more and sign a Guest Book in his honor, click on the link above.

Some of You May Have Been Wondering About that Reoccurring Closed Session Item

Which keeps appearing over and over:

Conference with Legal Counsel – Existing Litigation

Government Code Section 54956.9(a)

a. City of Livingston v. The Dow Chemical Company, et al.

San Francisco Superior Court, Case No.CGC-05-442837

San Bernardino Superior Court, Case No. SVCSS 120627

Judicial Council Coordination Proceeding No. 4435

According to the Original Complaint which was filed in 2005, The City of Livingston sued:

Who Livingston Sued

And Livingston sued in order to

Because Livingston want's to

Because

Because After All

From what I can figure out, Livingston is not the only City involved in this mess. There’s a joint effort (so to speak) to get SOMEBODY to foot the bill to get the TCP out of water.

Which Leads To More Musings About “Stuff” in The Water

If it is possible to test for it, seems the Federal Government wants the testing done and establishes “limits”: even if there is no general agreement on “how much” is toxic. And although it may be prudent to be “on the safe side”, people need to understand that the testing and treatment does not come cheap.

Resulting in Cities having to shoulder the burden of the ever increasing expense of Lab Analysis and Wellhead Treatment: and pass these expenses along to their “customers” as part of “the water bill”.

Now…I don’t think such things are going to get any less complicated, or less expensive to deal with in the future.

Which means, in addition to replacing Nasty Old Rusty Pipes, its one of (several other) things our new “Water Rate Stakeholders Committee” is going to have to factor into their “discussions”.

And..Speaking of the Stakeholders Committee

A few posts back, we looked at the political “dust up” that occurred after the Utility Rate Stakeholders Committee had their first little “get together” to pick up their Information Binders and “get to know” one another: without giving the General Public to come “get to know” those folks who will be doing all that working with and making recommendations to City Staff, engineers, and consultants.

So. While we are waiting for the next “announced” Stakeholders Committee Meeting to take place: A few more thoughts.

Most people would agree that “The Recall” was about “Water Rates”. And those of you who have been following the issue have a pretty good idea of who all got “blamed” for those “high water rates” (yep. even former Chief Dunford got “slapped around” because of it)

Like most “budgetary and political issues”, folks can be divided up into different “camps” and the outcome of any election is determined upon which “camp” has the greatest voter turnout.

  1. There were those who claimed the rates were too high and therefore the Recall was justified and necessary: Period.
  2. Those who claimed the rates were too high and raised for the wrong reason (period)and sued over it.
  3. Those who who didn’t like the amount of the increases, but felt they may have been justified since the last increases was several years ago. Period. 
  4. Those who may have been skeptical about the need for steep increases, but considered the Recall an unnecessary expense.
  5. Those who really didn’t care either way.

Now that those clearly in Categories 1 & 2, have their hands firmly wrapped around “the discussion”, the onus is on them to help come up with a solution to the “water quality problems” that “the public” will agree to: the onus is now on them to come up with a plan that “gets rid of the dirty water problem”, “the nasty stuff in the water problem” AND that their supporters are willing to pay for. 

And, and, AND that the Council Members will be willing to pass on, at minimum,  a 4-1 vote.

Cuz if things don’t work out “according to plan”, they’ll have no one to blame but themselves.

Won’t it be interesting to see just how much different their plan will be when compared to the “old one” that caused all the ruckus?

And now on to

MEETING AGENDA

COURT THEATER COMMITTEE

JULY 18, 2011

REGULAR MEETING: 5:00 P.M.

Notice is hereby given that the Court Theater Committee will hold a Regular Meeting on July 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 pm. The agenda shall be as follows:

1. Call to Order

2. Approval of Minutes – April 18, 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

JULY 19, 2011

CLOSED SESSION: 5:30 P.M.

OPEN SESSION: 7:00 P.M.

Notice is hereby given that the City Council will hold a Regular Meeting on July 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 5:30 p.m. The Closed Session will be held in the City of Livingston City Hall Conference Room located at 1416 C Street. The agenda shall be as follows:

Closed Session

1. Call to Order.

2. Pledge of Allegiance.

3. Roll Call.

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 Legal Counsel – Existing Litigation

Government Code Section 54956.9(a)

a. City of Livingston v. The Dow Chemical Company, et al.

San Francisco Superior Court, Case No.CGC-05-442837

San Bernardino Superior Court, Case No. SVCSS 120627

Judicial Council Coordination Proceeding No. 4435

  • (Note from TheGardeningSnail: The Links takes you to what I was able to find. There may be more out there. I just haven’t found it yet. Given that this litigation has been going on since 2005, I thought some of you just might like the ability to find out a little more.)

2. Public Employee Appointment

(Government Code Section 54957)

Title: Interim City Manager

3. Public Employee Discipline/Dismissal/Release

(Government Code Section 54957)

Public Employee: Unrepresented Employee

Regular Meeting

CALL TO ORDER Next Resolution Number: 2011-49

Next Ordinance Number: 591

Pledge of Allegiance.

Roll Call.

Closed Session Announcements

Changes to the Agenda.

AWARDS, PRESENTATIONS, APPOINTMENTS AND PROCLAMATIONS

1. Presentation by Glenn Tomasyan Regarding Solar Power at the Domestic Wastewater Treatment Plant.

2. Presentation of Certificates of Appreciation to 4th of July Committee Members.

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

3. Introduce and Waive the First Readings of Ordinance Nos.____________of the City Council of the City of Livingston Amending Livingston Municipal Code (LMC) Title 5, Chapter 5, Table 12, Permit Requirements for Wireless Communication Facilities, and LMC Title 5, Section 5-6-9, Subsection F, and LMC Title 5, Section 5-6-10, Subsection D, relating to Appeal Hearings for Conditional Use Permits and Variances.

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 Authorizing the Interim City Manager to File Regional Surface Transportation Program (RSTP) Funds Claim for Fiscal Year 2010/2011.

5. Resolution Awarding Construction Contract to Shannon Pump Company, Merced, California, Approving the Expenditure of Construction Funds for the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant (EECBG) – Replacement of Motors at Water Wells 8,9,11 and 13 – Grant No. CBG- 09-093 and Authorizing the Interim City Manager to Execute a Construction Contract and Any Change Orders Thereto with Shannon Pump Company.

6. Approval of Minutes of Meeting Held on July 5, 2011.

7. Warrant Register Dated July 13, 2011.

DISCUSSION AND POTENTIAL ACTION ITEMS

8. City Council to Provide Staff Direction for Appointment to the Livingston Parks and Recreation Commission.

9. Approve Resolution 2011___, a Resolution Approving Amendment 1 to the Livingston Senior Citizens Center Lease at 420 Main Street and Authorizing the Interim City Manager to Execute the Amendment.

CONTINUATION OF CLOSED SESSION IF NECESSARY

ADJOURNMENT

Since You’re Here Anyway, How About Brushing Up on Some History. Sometimes I wonder if anyone is really paying attention anyway.

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