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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A is for Another Lawsuit, B is for Budget Cuts, T is for Training Issues, and a City Council Agenda

Notice the Focus on Lack of Training and Failure to Supervise and Negligence

From Denial of Claim for Damages from Camilo Rodriguez and Rosario Torralba Hernandez

The Union found out about the alleged money issues on August 8!  We meet with the City and gave them a viable alternative, which the City decided not to take!…. At least three times, John Mucci caught the finance director trying to add language, and or remove (language) from our contract agreement.  The last time, the Union had to go to their attorney and report the wrongdoing, then it was changed! – Excerpted from comment by Unionadvocate, Livingston approves four layoffs as part of budget vote, Merced Sun Star

The City also stated that some of the budget issues were from past lawsuits.  Hmm, I wonder just how many lawsuits are going to be filed by (victims) in this city after their trained evidence technician is gone and stuff falls through the cracks.  Can’t imagine that people are going to be happy when criminals walk free because of it. – Excerpted from a comment by kryztan, Ibid.

During the discussion of eliminating John Mucci’s position as head of the evidence room, I thought of two murderers who went free because of the mishandling of evidence by people who did not have sufficient experience to handle it correctly. The mishandling of evidence is a successful target for defense attorneys. The council made a serious mistake. –Mike McGuire, Facebook posting, August 21, 2012

Meyers Nave For Hours Billed for May

Meyers Nave for June

Meyers Nave July Hours Worked

Yep..Livingston is being sued. Again.

And Legal Fees are going up. Again.

Just a quick example. If you add up May, June, and July, you come up with close to $86,000 in Legal Fees in just 3 months! How come the members of the council who were so ticked off about “high legal fees” (before the Recall) that they voted no on paying at least 2 different Attorneys bills, and held up payment on at least 2 entire warrant registers aren’t saying much at all about “high Attorneys Fees now”? Hmmm?

With the way things are going “budget wise”, and the way the Council has been voting lately, I have a feeling the amount of Attorneys Fees are just going to end up climbing even higher and higher. More on that a little later.

But first, it’s been a while since we have checked into Delta Bravo Sierra land.

Panel 1Panel 2Panel 3Panel 4Panel 5 April 13 2012

Yup! There’s Strange and then there is Army Strange. Courtesy of Damon Shackelford: furious scribbler of military cartoons.

costructionBuilding Materials Sale at the Livingston VFW

The Livingston-Delhi Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 8327 will be holding a huge Building Materials Sale at the Veterans Memorial Hall, located at 9799 Stephens Street, Delhi California.

Thursday, September 6th through Saturday September 8th. We will open at 9 am and close at 5 pm.

All new merchandise, priced twenty five cents on the dollar. We have electrical, plumbing, lawn & garden, flooring, windows, doors and many other items, too numerous to mention.

All Sales are Final with no Warranties. Contractors Welcome—No Credit Cards, cash or checks accepted.

All proceeds will go to the California Veterans Service Program.

For a list of the items available, go to www.vfwlivingston.com.

Livingston Court Theater Project Tea

j0283588A CASE OF “PENNY WISE” but pound foolish?

If you have been paying attention to the goings on at City Hall, you are already aware of the New Budget that was just adopted, and the controversy that is going along with it.

Some people are concerned that any “cost savings” gained in the short run by getting rid of 4 more City Employees, will be offset or overshadowed by additional Legal and or Consultant’s fees in the Long run.

First let’s take a look at a “short list” of “staffing changes” that have already taken place in the last couple of years.

1. Richard Warne (went on to greener pastures) and Vickie Lewis (who eventually retired after having been asked to stay on “just a few months more”), fiscal conservatives who kept revenues and expenditures in line with each other year after year.

2. Kathryn Reyes went on to greener pastures, after stepping into the Public Works Director job duties in Livingston but being denied the title and pay that went with it. (What ever happened to “equal pay for equal work?)

3. Chief Dunford, who was first told “Great Job” around Christmas time: then sent packing before anyone could even say good-bye.

4. Donna Barnes, the City Manager’s Executive Assistant was fired even though she earned a Masters degree while working here. Her job was divided up and added to other staff members workload.

5. Rahnnie Le, an Account Clerk went to greener pastures. She was doing her job and part of Donna Barnes’ with no room for advancement even though she earned a Master degree while working here. She was not replaced and her job was divided up and added to other staff’s workload.

6. Davis Ruiz also went to greener pastures. He was one of Nanda’s employees who ran GIS and gave us our maps, including the City-wide yard sale map. He couldn’t feed his family on 3 days a week of work.

Now, in the name of “cost saving” the City has “laid off”

1. Donna Kenney, Community Development Director. So who will be doing the work will need to to keep our development projects going? Another expensive consultant? (from Firebaugh or Orange Cove?) Or the City Attorney?

2. Jim Rightsell, Street Supervisor, who, among other things, reviewed all the landscaping and irrigation on projects. Who will be the “someone” with construction experience to run the Public Works crew on site. (and not from an air conditioned office)

3. John Mucci, who ran the Evidence Room, Crime Scenes, and Special Events like the 4th of July, Bide Rodeos, parades, and all the other Special Events residents of Livingston look forward to.

Who will be the person with the Credibility with the Court System in charge of making sure Crime Scene Evidence is properly collected, catalogued, and preserved?

Mistakes with evidence leads to lost criminal cases because Defense Attorneys would have a field day shredding the validity of Criminal Evidence collected in Livingston.

Throw in the whole “busting the Finance Director for finagling with the Union Contract in between the time the Council Approved it and the time it was presented for Signatures” thing, and if that is not a recipe for a Major Lawsuit, I don’t know what is.

4. Nora Becerra – then there will be no one to provide customer service at PD except the dispatchers who will already be covering for John’s position or busy dispatching for both Livingston and Gustine. Stressed dispatchers leads to mistakes. Mistakes in dispatching can lead to valuable lost time in routing Officers to where they really need to be.

And “lost time” can lead to property destruction, injuries and/or deaths that might not have happened otherwise.

Which would increases the risk of even more people suing the city and more money spent on City Attorneys.

There is already one Lawsuit against the City claiming errors in “training and supervision” of City Employees, lead to an unnecessary death.

Call me cynical, but I’m concerned that some of these “cost savings” listed above will eventually lead to even greater “financial losses” in the long run.

And I know I’m not the only one thinking that way.

And now on to the

CONCURRENT MEETING

CITY COUNCIL AND SUCCESSOR AGENCY TO THE REDEVELOPMENT AGENCY OF THE CITY OF LIVINGSTON

REGULAR MEETING AGENDA SEPTEMBER 4, 2012

CLOSED SESSION: 6:00 P.M.

OPEN SESSION: 7:00 P.M.

Notice is hereby given that the City Council and Successor Agency to the Redevelopment Agency will hold a Regular Meeting on September 4, 2012, at the City Council Chambers, 1416 C Street, Livingston, California. Persons with disabilities who may need assistance should contact the Deputy City Clerk at least 24 hours prior to this meeting at (209) 394-8041, Ext. 121. Any writings or documents pertaining to an Open Session item provided to a majority of the members of the legislative body less than 72 hours prior to the meeting shall be made available for public inspection at Livingston City Hall, 1416 C Street. The Open Session will begin at 7:00 p.m. The Closed Session will be held in accordance with state law prior to the Open Session beginning at 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 Hall Conference Room located at 1416 C Street, Livingston, California. Any public comment on Closed Session items will be taken before the Closed Session. Any required announcements or discussion of Closed Session items or actions following the Closed Session will be made in the City Council Chambers, 1416 C Street, Livingston, California.

3. Conference with Legal Counsel – Potential Litigation

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

Number of Cases: 2

4. Public Employee Appointment

(Government Code Section 54957)

Title: Public Works Director

5. Conference with Labor Negotiator

(Government Code Section 54957.6)

Agency Negotiator: City Manager Jose Antonio Ramirez

Employee Organizations: All Represented City Employees

Regular Meeting

CALL TO ORDER Next Resolution Number: 2012-62

Next Ordinance Number: 600

Pledge of Allegiance. Next Successor Agency

Resolution Number: 2012-2

Roll Call.

Closed Session Announcements.

Changes to the Agenda.

AWARDS, PRESENTATIONS, APPOINTMENTS AND PROCLAMATIONS

GRANT ANNOUNCEMENTS

ANNOUNCEMENTS AND REPORTS

Supervisor John Pedrozo Announcements and Reports.

City Staff Announcements and Reports.

City Manager Announcements and Reports.

City Council Members’ Announcements and Reports.

Mayor’s Announcements and Reports.

City Council Future Agenda Item Requests.

PUBLIC HEARINGS

CITIZEN COMMENTS

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

CONSENT CALENDAR

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

1. Resolution Amending the City of Livingston Conflict of Interest Code and Accepting Biennial Notice.

2. Approval of Warrant Register Dated August 29, 2012.

SUCCESSOR AGENCY 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 Executive Director or Board Member. There will be no separate discussion of these items unless members of the Board or Executive Director request that specific items be removed.

3. Resolution Approving the Fiscal Year 2012-2013 Budget for the Successor Agency to the Redevelopment Agency of the City of Livingston.

DISCUSSION AND POTENTIAL ACTION ITEMS

4. Resolution of the City Council of the City of Livingston Approving the Employment Agreement Between the City of Livingston and Humberto Molina for the Position of Public Works Director.

5. Approval of Investment Grade Audit Contract with Schneider Electric.

6. Provide Staff Direction Concerning Truck Parking Signage on Joseph Gallo Court.

ADJOURNMENT

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yep. Livingston is being sued again

training (or lack of it) issue

Now don’t get me wrong. I have two sons of my own. and if one of them were to die suddenly, I’d be devastated beyond words to describe and I’d be trying to find answers to the big question of “Why”.

Now..you might be wondering how Budget Cuts could lead to potentially even more Lawsuits in the future..more on that a little later

L is for Livingston and yet another Lawsuit; and a City Council Agenda

In Lieu Parking Fee

Council Member Espinoza stated that he tried to help Mr. Fuentes’ project because it was located in the downtown.  He recommended that we help Dr. Singh and that he pay only half the cost for parking.  This will attract more businesses to Livingston, especially in the downtown. We are trying to encourage people to locate in the downtown...(He) said he tried to reduce the parking fees in half for Mr. Fuentes’ project.  Those were better times.  Now is a hardship. – Excerpts from December 1, 2009 City Council Meeting Minutes.

Mayor Varela said we have to prepare for the future.  He said that we do not have a lot of people knocking on our door, and so we have to be willing to work with the people that want to come in… downtown parking is something that we will have to look at in the future.  Those issues can be negotiated and discussed.  Policy changes can be made – Ibid

Based on all the research that we have done in-house, In Lieu Parking Fees were never collected. – Jose Ramirez, City Manager: City of Livingston, personal interview, week of 3/4/12

Brandon Friesen (said).…With the building vacant for seven years, no business in there will ever meet the current parking requirements. The City might as well change or modify the parking ordinance. As for the type of business, he would be more concerned about the aesthetics than about it being a bar. That’s freedom of choice. He hopes the Planning Commission does due diligence and review the CUP for security, but not so much parking. Excerpted from April 12, 2011 Planning Commission Draft Minutes

4. Conference with Legal Counsel – Existing Litigation – [(Government Code Section 54956.9(a)] – Michael Sperry vs. City of Livingston, et al, – Merced County Superior Court Case No. CV002762 – July 17, 2012 City Council Agenda 

Sperry contracted..to own and operate a bar at 444 Main Street..there was an existing and valid CUP to permit the operation of a bar at the Premises…The City initially contended that Sperry could not operate the bar at the Premises without complying with current parking requirements of the City for new construction…After some time the City conceded that the parking requirements do not apply to existing buildings. Excerpted from: Case No CVoo2762, Petitioner’s Verified Petition for Writ of Mandamus: Memorandum of Points and Authorities in Support Thereof, pgs. 2 & 3

 

WELL..IF THE CITY COUNCIL EXPECTED Mike Sperry to just dry up and blow away when they revoked the Conditional Use Permit the Planning Commission had granted for 444 Main St….

They were sure proven wrong when his attorney filed a lawsuit in Superior Court a couple of days ago.

More on that a little later, but first…we haven’t checked in on Delta Bravo Sierra Land in a while.Panel 1Panel 2Panel 3Panel 4Panel 5 March 07 2012

Think you know there this is going? Maybe. Maybe not. You never know in Delta Bravo Sierra Land. There’s Strange and then there is Army Strange. Courtesy of Damon Shackelford: furious scribbler of military cartoons.

Family Hamburger Night at the VFW

HamburgerJoin us for the VFW Hamburger Night, July 26, 2012, from 5-7 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 $2.00 to 4.00 per meal. All proceeds go to help support our community programs.

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

RUMMAGE SALE

Rummage SaleThe Livingston/Delhi Ladies Auxiliary VFW #8327 will be holding a Gigantic Rummage Sale on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, August 2nd, 3rd and 4th, 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 Thursday and Friday and 8-2 on Saturday. Everything on Saturday 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 or any donations, 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.

IN CASE YOU HAVEN’T HEARD ALREADY

MC900323159

PD’s Out and Roamin’ The Town

(To the Tune of Santa Clause is Comin’ to Town)

Take Care of your Car

With a Good Wash & Dry

Don’t Wait Till Tomorrow

I’m Tellin’ You Why

PD’s Out and

Roamin’ The Town

They’re Ticketing

O-sten-si-bly

The Cars That

Should be Junk’d

But Even If Its

Run-ing Still

Your Car Might End Up Punk’d

Ohhhhhhhh

Take Care of your Car

With a Good Wash & Dry

Don’t Wait Till Tomorrow

I’m Tellin You Why

PD’s Out and

Roamin’ The Town

A FEW DAYS AGO, the Livingston Police Department mailed out between 100-120 Car Abatement Notices to residents in just one part of Livingston. And though the idea behind this push is supposed to be to get rid of all the Abandoned Cars left on streets around Livingston, from what I am hearing, not all of the Cars being noticed are truly “abandoned” in the way most lay people would think “abandoned”

Some of these cars are actually Registered, and being driven on a daily basis…

Something to think about…for each “abandoned” car “abated”, the PD gets money from the County.

And if I’m understanding correctly, the PD actually receives MORE than what it “costs” them to abate a car.

Some people would call that “making a profit” on Abating Cars….

Wouldn’t that only increase the temptation to “abate” every car they “can”, instead of every car they “should”…especially as budgets get ever tighter?

Just sayin….

IN A PREVIOUS POST, I talked a little bit about how Mike Sperry had been granted a Modified Conditional Use Permit for 444 Main St; how Mayor Rodrigo Espinoza appealed the decision because it was “interesting”, and how the City Council eventually Voted to Revoke the Conditional Use Permit.

Now..I’m no Lawyer..while I can’t state for certain what all the legal wrangling about what the meaning of “is” is, when it comes to the Municipal Code and Zoning and All That… about, I think I have a pretty good idea of what the fight is all about – in Common Sense Layman’s Terms that is…

Feel free to correct me if I’m wrong…but from all the meetings I’ve been to, and all the Sun Star Articles I’ve read..it can be boiled down to this…

Mr. Sperry’s position is:

  • The building at 444 Main St. was built to be a bar/club

  • According to the Municipal Code, a Bar/Club is allowed at that location with a Conditional Use Permit

  • There was already a Valid Conditional Use Permit in effect for that location

  • He’s not erecting a new building

  • He’s not enlarging an existing building

  • He’s not changing the use of the existing building

Therefore, he should be able to open a Bar/Club at that location without paying a boat load of money for in-lieu parking fees

The City Council’s position is

  • We don’t care what the Municipal Code says, we don’t want a Bar/Club at that location so kiss the Conditional Use Permit Goodbye.

Now I know what some of you are thinking. You are thinking

“But Council Person Samra said that all that Mr. Sperry had to do was resolve the Parking Issue and Mr. Sperry would be able to get his Conditional Use Permit and open his Club.”

OK…let’s consider a couple of things…First thing being that Council Person Samra is only 1 of 5 members of the City Council. He can TALK all he wants to. But unless he has 2 other Council Members willing to vote the same way, all that talk means nothing.

And its pretty clear to anyone who has been following this issue that it would be a cold day in Hell before Mayor Pro-Tem Aguilar, Council Person Land and Council Person Vierra would vote in favor of allowing Mr. Sperry to have his Conditional Use Permit for that location. (References and Citations upon request)

And remember, it was Mayor Espinoza who appealed the Planning Commission’s Decision in the first place.

As for “resolving the parking issue”, you might be thinking

“But other people had to pay in-lieu parking fees. Why not Mr. Sperry.”

Well..to begin with, there is no proof whatsoever that anyone ever paid the City a dime in In-Lieu fees. Ever.

And the Municipal Code talks about In-Lieu fees for “new construction”, and “enlarging” and “change of use”. Not for using a building for the use for which it was already built.

AND it’s pretty clear from “Council History” that the number of parking spaces, and/or amount in In-Lieu fees charged to a project can be “flexible”, depending upon who is in office at the time.

Let’s use the Sing Mixed Use Project as just one example shall we.  According to the record, in-lieu parking fees are “determined at the discretion of the the City Council”.

City Manager Warne….said the City Council has to make a decision on the in-lieu parking fee because this fee is determined at the discretion of the City Council. (He) stated that the City Council set the fee at $1,000 per parking space for a previous development.

Council Member Espinoza commented that at the last City Council meeting Mr. Singh said that he was willing to pay $500 per parking space….  He would rather have a new building in the downtown than an empty lot. Council Member Espinoza said this would be his motion unless you want him to wait for closing comments. – Excerpts from January 5, 2012 Draft Meeting Minutes

So, seems to me one of the questions before the house (and why the lawyers make the Big Bucks) is: Are these fees really required, and if so, how much?

Or is the whole thing about “in lieu” parking fee requirements just a pretext: A way of preventing the issuance of a Conditional Use Permit for a Bar/Club at 444 Main St………Guess that’s up to the lawyers to figure out now

And now on to the

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CITY COUNCIL REGULAR MEETING AGENDA

JULY 17, 2012

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 July 17, 2012, at the City Council Chambers, 1416 C Street, Livingston, California. Persons with disabilities who may need assistance should contact the Deputy City Clerk at least 24 hours prior to this meeting at (209) 394-8041, Ext. 121. Any writings or documents pertaining to an Open Session item provided to a majority of the members of the legislative body less than 72 hours prior to the meeting shall be made available for public inspection at Livingston City Hall, 1416 C Street. The Open Session will begin at 7:00 p.m. The Closed Session will be held in accordance with state law prior to the Open Session beginning at 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 Hall Conference Room located at 1416 C Street, Livingston, California. Any public comment on Closed Session items will be taken before the Closed Session. Any required announcements or discussion of Closed Session items or actions following the Closed Session will be made in the City Council Chambers, 1416 C Street, Livingston, California.

3. Conference with Legal Counsel – Potential Litigation

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

Number of Cases: 2

4. Conference with Legal Counsel – Existing Litigation

[(Government Code Section 54956.9(a)] – Michael Sperry vs. City of Livingston, et al,

Merced County Superior Court Case No. CV002762

5. Conference with Labor Negotiator

(Government Code Section 54957.6)

Agency Negotiator: City Manager Jose Antonio Ramirez

Employee Organizations: All Represented City Employees

Regular Meeting

CALL TO ORDER Next Resolution Number: 2012-50

Next Ordinance Number: 600

Pledge of Allegiance.

Roll Call.

Closed Session Announcements.

Changes to the Agenda.

AWARDS, PRESENTATIONS, APPOINTMENTS AND PROCLAMATIONS

1. Presentation by Mayor Rodrigo Espinoza of Recognition Certificates to Police Explorer Post Volunteers at Sweet Potato Festival.

GRANT ANNOUNCEMENTS

2. USDA Rural Development Community Facilities Grant Program for funding year 2012-2013 in the amount of $30,000 for the purchase of two police patrol vehicles.

ANNOUNCEMENTS AND REPORTS

Supervisor John Pedrozo Announcements and Reports.

City Staff Announcements and Reports.

City Manager Announcements and Reports.

City Council Members’ Announcements and Reports.

Mayor’s Announcements and Reports.

PUBLIC HEARINGS

3. Proceedings under the 1972 Landscape and Lighting Act, California Streets and Highways Code 22500 , et seq.: for the Approval to Levy Annual Assessments fot the Citywide Consolidated Landscape Maintenance Assessment District No. 1, Confirming Assessments for Fiscal Year 2012/2013.

4. Proceedings under the Benefit Assessment Act of 1982, Government Code Section 54717, et. seq.: for the Approval to Levy Annual Assessments for the Livingston Benefit Assessments Districts, Confirming Assessments for Fiscal Year 2012/2013.

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.

5. Resolution for the Acceptance of the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant (EECBG) – Grant No. CBG-09-093- “Replacement of Motors at Water Wells 8,9,11 and 13”, and “Citywide Streetlight Retrofit Project”, Authorizing the City Clerk to Record Notices of Completion with Merced County and Authorizing the City Manager to Release Performance and Material Bonds and to Make Final Payment of Retention Monies to Shannon Pump Company and to Tennyson Electric, Inc.

6. Adopt Resolution Authorizing the City Manager to Execute Agreements with the Stewardship Council for a Grant Application.

7. Resolution Approving a Two (2) Year Memorandum of Understanding Between the City of Livingston and the AFSCME Public Works and Parks Employees Unit.

8. Approval of Warrant Register Dated July 13, 2012.

DISCUSSION AND POTENTIAL ACTION ITEMS

9. Approval of Investment Grade Audit Contract with Schneider Electric, Inc.

10. Rental of Max Foster Sports Complex Picnic Shelter.

ADJOURNMENT