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.
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.
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
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.
THERE 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.
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
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.
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.
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)
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.)
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.
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
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.
Yup! There’s Strange and then there is Army Strange. Courtesy of Damon Shackelford: furious scribbler of military cartoons.
Building 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.
A CASE OF “PENNY WISE” but pound foolish?
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
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:
1. Call to Order.
2. 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.
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
CALL TO ORDER Next Resolution Number: 2012-62
Next Ordinance Number: 600
Pledge of Allegiance. Next Successor Agency
Resolution Number: 2012-2
Closed Session Announcements.
Changes to the Agenda.
AWARDS, PRESENTATIONS, APPOINTMENTS AND PROCLAMATIONS
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.
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.
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.
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.
DISCUSSION AND POTENTIAL ACTION ITEMS
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