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

Livingston, CA – 03/22/2015

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

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

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

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

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

Water Workshop

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

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

The FEBRUARY 3, 2015 CLOSED SESSION included

  • 2 Cases of Potential Litigation

  • Continued discussion about the City Manager Recruitment

  • Another Discussion about Labor Negotiations with All Represented City Employees

During OPEN SESSION on FEBRUARY 3:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

As Reported in the Merced Sun Star –

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The FEBRUARY 17, 2015 CLOSED SESSION included:

  • 1 case of Potential Litigation

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

During The Regular Meeting FEBRUARY 17, 2015 :

Mayor Espinoza and Council Person Mendoza were absent

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ADJOURNMENT

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • THEN they could get “support” from the City

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For relevant Sun Star Articles, see below.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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“Palm Trees”, Planning Commission, and Politics as Usual?

BEFORE the Recall. Setting: The Comment Section of the Merced Sun Star

Cant Wait to Run Your Crappy Business Out of Here Original Source Complaint filed in Livingston recall try – Merced Sun Star

AFTER the Recall. Setting: The Livingston City Council Chambers, Planning Commission Meeting in Progress. Project in Question: Palm Tree Shaped Cell Phone Tower

….And a Planning Commissioner (and Recall Supporter) asks:

    1. Who will be getting the rental fee if this project is approved?
    2. Who owns this property?
    3. Aren’t they (the property owners) related to Brandon Friesen?

…Same Meeting: During the Public Comment Time on the Cell Phone Tower project

….A (former/Temporary) member of the City Council (and Recall Supporter)steps up to the microphone and states:

That if the Clearwire people will relocate the Cell Phone tower to the Veterans of Foreign Wars property, the VFW will charge 1/2 of what ever the Friesens are charging (and give the money to the community)

But…before we get to talking more about “The Livingston Way of Doing Business” …have you ever wondered where a 6 Ton T-Rex would “go”? The answer can be found in Delta Bravo Sierra Land.

So who wanted to know where a 6 Ton T Rex Goes So now you know. Complements of Damon Shackelford: furious scribbler of military cartoons. And Yep!…you can find Delta Bravo Sierra on Facebook too! :-p

~~~~~~~~~~~~

It’s Just the Livingston Way?

(Just to let you know, I’m invoking part of the Story Tellers License and focusing more on “personalities” than “technical perfection”.  So If I don’t get 100% of the story 100% “technically correct” as in technical technicalities and procedural procedures…OK then..my bad!)

When the Agenda Packets went out on Friday the 7th, before the Planning Commission Meeting of Tuesday the 11th, everything seemed to be a “go”. The City Attorney had looked over all the documentation that needed looking over and everything was just hunky-dory.

That was on Friday. Then everything came to a screeching halt on the 11th because of some “last minute questions” the City Attorney received early that very Morning.

  • Questions about the Municipal Code
  • Questions about just who owned the land the Cell Phone Tower would be sitting on

Because of these questions (that had just arrived early that Tuesday Morning) the City Attorney recommended that the Planning Commission put off making a final decision on the Cell Phone Tower project so he (the Attorney) could have until next month’s Planning Commission meeting to look over everything one more time. (Just to make sure everything was hunky-dory-clean doncha know).

In addition to the questions of “Who-Owns-What and Who-Is-Related-to-Who and Just-Who-Is-Making-A-Profit-On-This-Project”, a significant portion of the discussion that Tuesday night revolved around the idea “of “How can we justify letting CLEAR have a 60 foot Tower instead of a 50 foot Tower when we wouldn’t let Mr. Aguiar exceed the Residential-Height-Restrictions for those lamps of his that are around his fence. If Mr. Aguiar couldn’t have his “tall lamps”, CLEAR shouldn’t have a “taller Tower either” (I’m paraphrasing here, but you get the picture)

(Right here is where I’ll admit a bit of bias by saying that I thought the decision to deny the Conditional Use Permit for Mr. Aguiar’s lamps sucked. That being said…)

Let’s look at this from another angle for a moment

For years, (and years), Mr. Aguiar collected numerous pieces of old farm equipment and other assortments of unusual iron objects and used them to create his own unique vision of “Yard Art”….Which a few of the neighbors were/are not so crazy about.

In fact, some of the neighbors were so unhappy, they complained to the City. Several times. Repeatedly. Insisted the City “do something” about it.

Which lead to several rounds of talks between Mr. Aguiar and the City about certain Code Enforcement Issues on his property.

Which eventually lead to his applying for a Conditional Use Permit for those lamps on his property that were “too high”.

Which was denied by the Planning Commission a little while back.

Now….If the Planning Commission had OK’d the “extra height” for the light poles around  Mr. Aguiar’s fence right then and there, the neighbors who complained about them in the first place would probably not have been very happy about it.

However, I have the impression that Mr. Aguiar may still have a fair chance of getting his CUP for the Lamps sometime in the future. But, FIRST there are a few other things on his property that the neighbors still have their boxers in a bunch about and Mr. Aguiar needs to get a little more “yard-keeping” done before finally asking the Council for the CUP.

The idea being the neighbors might be a little less likely to complain about Mr. Aguiar getting a CUP for his Lamps-That-Are-Too-Tall if first he “gets rid of a little This, and cleans up a little That and paints a few of These, and moves a few of Those.”

Because….. the neighbors weren’t necessarily mad at him for any particular reason other than they just wanted him to get rid of some of the “stuff” in his yard.

Make the neighbors happy and they won’t be so likely to pitch a fit if the Council let him keep his lamps-that-are-too-tall.

With that in mind, it seems the controversy over the height of the Cell Phone Tower is a case of “comparing Apples to Oranges with a Political Twist”: less to do with the overall merits of the Cell Phone Tower project itself and a little more to do with getting even with Brandon Freisen for his ‘political views”.

After all…. since when did “who gets the money” and “who owns the land” become part of the basis of whether or not a Project gets approved anyway?

Is this the new basis for approving Projects in the City of Livingston Now? Who owns the land and who is getting paid?

Maybe it’s just me, (And I’m no Lawyer) but having a Planning Commission actually ask “Just who will be getting paid the rent money” (or any version thereof) is moving the direction of the Planning Commission into some tenuous legal (if not “political) territory.

And if there are flaws in the current Municipal Code and General Plan, shouldn’t the Council FIX IT!!!!!. Even though that would mean some hefty Attorney’s Fees?

Guess is comes down to what the The Newly Reconstituted Council will want to do about the Municipal Code.

Or with it…..

Now on to the 

CITY COUNCIL REGULAR MEETING AGENDA

JANUARY 18, 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 January 18, 2011, at the City Council Chambers, 1416 C Street, Livingston, California. Persons with disabilities who may need assistance should contact the Deputy City Clerk at least 24 hours prior to this meeting at (209) 394-8041, Ext. 121. Any writings or documents pertaining to an Open Session item provided to a majority of the members of the legislative body less than 72 hours prior to the meeting shall be made available for public inspection at Livingston City Hall, 1416 C Street. The Open Session will begin at 7:00 p.m. The Closed Session will be held in accordance with state law prior to the Open Session beginning at 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

A “Closed” or “Executive” Session of the City Council or the Livingston Redevelopment Agency may be held in accordance with state law which may include, but is not limited to, the following types of items: personnel matters, labor negotiations, security matters, providing instructions to real property negotiators, conference with legal counsel regarding pending litigation. The Closed Session will be held in the City Hall Conference Room located at 1416 C Street, Livingston, California. Any public comment on Closed Session items will be taken before the Closed Session. Any required announcements or discussion of Closed Session items or actions following the Closed Session will be made in the City Council Chambers, 1416 C Street, Livingston, California.

1. Public Employee Appointment

(Government Code Section 54957)

Title: City Manager

2. Conference with Legal Counsel – Existing Litigation.

Government Code Section 54956.9(a).

a. Foster Poultry Farms, Inc. v. City of Livingston, et al, California Superior Court, County of Merced, Case No. CV000752.

3. Conference with Legal Counsel – Anticipated Litigation

(Government Code Section 54956.9) – (1) Case)

Regular Meeting

CALL TO ORDER Next Resolution Number: 2011-5

Next Ordinance Number: 590

Pledge of Allegiance.

Roll Call.

Closed Session Announcements.

Changes to the Agenda.

AWARDS, PRESENTATIONS, APPOINTMENTS AND PROCLAMATIONS

ANNOUNCEMENTS AND REPORTS

Supervisor John Pedrozo Announcements and Reports.

Acting City Manager Announcements and Reports.

City Council Members’ Announcements and Reports.

Mayor’s Announcements and Reports.

PUBLIC HEARINGS

CITIZEN COMMENTS

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

CONSENT CALENDAR

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

1. Resolution for the Acceptance of the Federal Safe Routes to Schools Cycle 2 SRTSL-5256 (008) Project, Authorizing the City Clerk to Record a Notice of Completion with Merced County and Authorizing the Acting City Manager to Release Performance and Materials Bonds and Make Final Payment of Retention Monies to JJR Construction, Inc.

2. Approval of Minutes of Meeting Held on November 16, 2010.

3. Approval of Warrant Register Dated January 7, 2011.

DISCUSSION AND POTENTIAL ACTION ITEMS

4. City Council Provide Staff Direction on Appointments to Livingston Parks and Recreation Commission.

5. City Council Provide Staff Direction on Appointments to Livingston Planning Commission.

6. City Council Review and Consideration of a Motion to Amend the Minutes for the City Council Meeting Held on August 17, 2010.

ADJOURNMENT

By the way, if you’d like some more reading, there’s always

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 2007

How They Voted in 2008

How They Voted in 2009

How They Voted in 2010 (Yep! It’s been updated)

A Few Letters & Sun-Star 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)

City Council Meeting Minutes for 2004

City Council Meeting Minutes for 2005

City Council Meeting Minutes for 2006

City Council Meeting Minutes for 2007

City Council Draft Meeting Minutes for 2008

City Council Draft Meeting Minutes for 2009

City Council Draft Meeting Minutes for 2010

2006-2007 Merced County Grand Jury Final Report

2007 2008 Merced County Grand Jury Final Report

2008-2009 Interim Reports Merced County Civil Grand Jury Postscript to FY2007/2008 Grand Jury’s Report On The City of Livingston

2009-2010 Merced County Grand Jury Final Report

Politics, Climate Change, City Council, and the Police Chief

 “I do not believe that the solution to our problem is simply to elect the right people. The important thing is to establish a political climate of opinion which will make it politically profitable for the wrong people to do the right thing. Unless it is politically profitable for the wrong people to do the right thing, the right people will not do the right thing either, or if they try, they will shortly be out of office.”– Milton Friedmam

At least dogs don't smile before they bite you in the butt Excerpt of a comment by TheLittleTrainThatCould – Livingston police officers show their support for chief, Merced Sun Star

Translation: The Chief is Toast, so don't  bother showing up to the meeting yourself. Just Suck it up and move along. From Livingston police officers show their support for chief, Merced Sun Star

Milton Friedman wasn’t talking about just Lil Ole Livingston, but

He’s gotta point about Political Climates influencing what politicians do (or don’t do). I was thinking about things like Climate, and Storms, (of both the Natural and Political kind) while I was out in the flower bed pulling weeds. Seems like the weather outside is not the only thing a mite stormy and threatening…

If you have been closely following Livingston Politics for the last couple of years or so, especially just before, during and after the Recall, you get the feeling that the Current Political Climate has been pretty damn inhospitable to certain members of the  Previous Administration and is determined to uproot/starve out/cause the extinction of/whatever of much of voted on or approved by said Prior Administration.

Examples of which include the Roll Back of Water Rates (and the Deficits that are now back on the rise), the Abandoning of the Appeal in the Appellate Court (after the Briefs were in and it was just a matter of waiting for the Ruling); and getting rid of the City Manager, City Attorney, Chief of Police, and possibly anyone else associated with “the previous” administration.

And the message from Recall Supporters like starlifter, is that anything the Newly Reconstituted Council does along those lines is totally A-OK with them.

In a little bit, we’ll talk about how the current Political Climate and the recent decision to place the recently hired Police Chief on Administrative leave but first let’s check in on a couple things that happened over the last few weeks in Delta Bravo Sierra Land….

Oh Those Ranger Games

Rack Um Up Rudolph

Before we get to the Main Event, a few other things that happened in December

Livingston’s Police Department helps make Christmas Cheery for some Livingston Children

The Livingston Police Department hosted this year’s Toys for Tots program, as has been the tradition for the past 10 years, said John Mucci, the public service officer who oversees special projects for the department.

More than 600 kids signed up for the program this year, which is about 200 more than last year, Mucci said.Saving Christmas: Livingston bands together to collect and wrap toys for kids who might not get any. Wednesday Dec 22, 2010

The Livingston Police Department has a long and generous history when it comes to the children of the community. Bike Rodeos, Coats for Kids, Community Block Visits (including BBQ Hot Dogs on the Grill with the Fire Department providing the water fun) are only a few of the many projects the Livingston PD has taken on to bring comfort and joy into the lives of Livingston’s Children.

After Chief Dunford took over as chief, many of these traditions were continued.

Let’s pray they continue to continue…..

Looks like the City is finally out of the business of treating Foster Farms’ Industrial Waste Water

The Foster Farms Industrial Waste Water Treatment Plant is up and running. According to Foster Farms officials:

…they spared no expense to ensure the facility was top of the line. They said that it doesn’t just meet, but exceeds, water quality standards. Foster Farms treatment facility now open Saturday Dec 25, 2010 – Merced Sun Star

Water Quality Issues have been a bone of contention between the City, Foster Farms, and the California Regional Water Quality Control Board since at least 1999.

The California Regional Water Quality Control Board (RWQCB) staff inspected the industrial wastewater treatment plant on November 15, 1999, and conducted sampling of existing groundwater monitoring wells to assess the level of groundwater caused by Foster Farms… the California Regional Water Quality Control Board issued a Notice of Violation (NOV) to Foster Farms and the City of Livingston with an inspection report on January 12, 2000…..On August 4, 2000, the California Regional Water Quality Control Board issued a Notice of Violation of Waste Discharge Requirements (WDR) Order No. 79-209. (City of Livingston 2010-2011 Adopted Budget pg. 588)

On October 26, 2006, the California Regional Water Quality Control Board issued a Cease and Desist Order (CDO) No. R5-2006-0112 containing findings that waste constituents discharged from the existing industrial wastewater treatment plant had caused nitrate levels in shallow groundwater to exceed applicable Water Quality Objectives (WQOs) contained in the Water Quality Control Plan for the Sacramento River and San Joaquin River Basins in violation of Order 79-209.(Ibid. pg. 591)

What to do about such things as building a new Industrial Wastewater Treatment Plant, cleaning up groundwater contamination and sludge, and keeping the Regional Water Quality Control Board “happy” ended up being resolved as part of a comprehensive settlement agreement between the City of Livingston and Foster Farms.

On November 13, 2007, a comprehensive settlement agreement between the City of Livingston and Foster Farms became effective. The settlement agreement requires Foster Farms to assume responsibility for constructing the new wastewater treatment plant. …Foster Farms will clean up the current industrial wastewater treatment plant when decommissioned, including the current groundwater contamination and sludge at the existing wastewater treatment plant to the satisfaction of the Regional Water Quality Control Board (RWQCB). …..Once the existing plant site is cleaned up, the land will revert back to public use for the citizens of Livingston.The agreement also required Foster Farms to install water meters at its property line to ensure that all water going on the property is accounted for and billed. These meters were installed in May 2008…. A 1997 option agreement permitting Foster Farms to acquire the City’s property for $1,000 per acre has also been voided. (City of Livingston 2010-2011 Adopted Budget pgs. 55-56)

So..Foster Farms builds it’s own new Waste Water Treatment Plant and cleans up the site of the old one; and the citizens of Livingston get “their” land back for public use. (Whether or not the Council can figure out what “the right thing” do use this land for is a whole nuther question. Just sayin…)

 

City Council Agenda Packets are Online Now

Yes. You have to go to the City’s Web Site and click away until you get to the City Council Agenda Packets page. And, Yes. An Agenda packet is one huge PDF Image File. Which means the “handy dandy search box” is useless (at least for me it is) and you have to scroll through every(dratted)thing to find what you are looking for.

But it sure beats having to trudge down to City Hall during Business hours. Don’t it? 😉

Livingston Gets A New City Clerk

Treasurer Tony Silva will be the new City Clerk. As reported in the Merced Sun Star:

The clerk position was vacated by Donna Barnes when she moved from Livingston to Atwater. The person occupying the position must live in the city. – Livingston City Council appoints treasurer to vacant city clerk position

If he can type at least as well as the two previous City Clerks, and is willing to type away for as many hours as a Council Meeting might last…Then good for him!

Three Cheers for "Equal Pay for Equal Work and Equal Work for Equal Pay"!

It’s about time we had some men willing to sit behind the Dais and use their typing skills in service to the community. We’ll be looking forward to seeing him take his appointed place behind the podium with hands ready at the keyboard.

Good Luck Tony! (And happy note-taking) 😉

Now that Tony Silva has “moved up” to the City Clerk position, that means the Council will now need to fill the position of Treasurer..any suggestions?

What’s BESST for Well #15

In late May, 2009 the California Department of Public Health issued an Enforcement Letter for Failure to Comply with Secondary Drinking Water Standard for Manganese in Well #15.

In addition to high Manganese levels, Well #15 has also been testing close to the Maximum Contaminate Level (MCL) allowed by law for Arsenic. As reported in the Merced Sun Star

Well 15 has tested just below or at the maximum arsenic contaminant level for the past year, said Kathryn Reyes, Public Works superintendent. It tested over the limit once but has on average been at the maximum contaminate level, allowing the well to keep pumping.Livingston eyes cheap way to deal with arsenic contamination in water supply Thursday Dec 9, 2010

Which kinda begs the question: What are we going to do about Well #15? Filtration Systems don’t come cheap and the Water Enterprise Fund is over a million dollars “in the hole”.

At the December 07, 2009 City Council Meeting, there was a Presentation by BESST, Inc. on Water Well Profiling, well diagnostics and well modification to remediate water quality issues.

Will Well Profiling lead to a lower cost solution to Well #15’s Manganese/Arsenic issues? Well see…

 

Climate Change aint Just In Nature

You know the old saying about opening a can of worms and ending up needing a bigger can? Same thing. From Livingston police officers show their support for chief, Merced Sun Star

Unless you have been on another planet or hiding under a rock for the last week or so, you have already heard about the Chief of Police being placed on Administrative Leave, the members of the PD rallying to his support, and the associated, turbulence, rumors, accusations, verbal brickbats and Bru-Ha-Ha going on in the Comment Section of the Merced Sun Star.

In this post, I am not so much going to focus on the rumors of “who got pulled over by a Police Officer and complained” or “who got passed over for promotion and complained” or “who is just generally pissed off at who and complaining”.

I’m gonna talk a little bit about the Political Climate in Livingston that is fueling this Local Super-Storm (or Tempest in a Teapot – you pick) of Accusations and Acrimony.

Think about it like this….

In Nature, there are Climates that favor the growth and development of living things like Rattle Snakes, Gila Monsters, Cactus and Scorpions. There are other Natural Climates that favor the growth and development of Bear, Deer, Pine Trees and Ducks.

A Cactus will not survive in the Arctic; neither will a Polar Bear survive in the middle of the Mojave Desert.

In like manner, there are "Political Climates" that favor the Career Growth and Development of "Political (and "not so political") Animals" of varying kinds. The Public Record in Livingston indicates that, even before the Recall, there was opposition to the hiring of Chief Dunford. This opposition came from both from sitting Council Persons and from vocal Recall Supporters. A few examples;

Council Member Espinoza stated we are spending over $15,000 to recruit a Police Chief. He said the person serving as acting Police Chief is doing a good job. She is capable, and so we should not be spending all this money. December 01, 2009 City of Livingston Draft Minutes

Council Member Aguilar said that many people might have the education, but do not have the experience of Lieutenant Silva. She would rather have a Police Chief that is known in the community and has been here for some period of time. Some people look good on paper, but do not have the background of Lieutenant Silva. It is nice to see her around. She does not see why we cannot keep her and allow her to get the education degrees to keep her job. Council Member Aguilar has not heard anything negative about Lieutenant Silva. – Ibid

Council Member Espinoza said that the City Manager makes the decision on the appointment of the Police Chief. He said that he did not know the City Manager was hiring the new Police Chief, and said that the City Manager did not come to the City Council about this issue. He said that the economy is bad and the Interim Police Chief should be given the chance. – Ibid

The City Council discussed Agenda Item Number 7. Council Member Espinoza said this item is being hidden in the Consent Calendar. The City is in the process of hiring a Police Chief and he is glad the Police Department is going to have a full-time Police Chief. He said that the hiring process was illegal. The hiring of the executive search firm was approved by the previous City Council. The current City Council did not approve the use of an executive search firm. Things were done behind the backs of the City Council. It could have been brought forward and approved on a 3-2 vote. It is sad that this has become a political circus. He hoped that the new Police Chief will do a good job. Council Member Espinoza said he does not like the way the City Council has been working. Feb 02, 2010 City of Livingston Draft Minutes

Council Member Espinoza asked if this was a conflict of interest because the City Manager has the right to be a certain percentage above the Police Chief. If the Police Chief’s salary is adjusted, he gets an adjustment. – City Manager Warne responded that this was not true. The only people that can approve an increase to his salary are the City Council Members. – Ibid.

City Manger Warne said that severance pay will only be paid if there is an involuntary separation of Chief Dunford. If Chief Dunford retires or quits, there is no severance pay. We did ask him that question because we wanted to be sure that we did not hire someone who considers Livingston a stepping stone to another position. – Ibid

What the city should of done is waited until the economy had improved a little more. It already has a perfectly competent interim-chief and a large enough force with the fastest response time in Merced County. Kudos for that. They really should of waited patiently for the right person with the right experience and preferrably from larger City. As the City grows it will need such a person…. Exerpted from a comment by KarmaLivingston hires new police chief 02/03/2010 – 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. He is making $10,000 more here than where he lived before. Escalon is bigger than Livingston. 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. Where is that money coming from if you say that if you don’t increase our water rates, you will not have money to make improvements in the county and city?….Is the City Manager going to pay that extra $10,000 that was offered to the new chief of police? A chief of police is not going to be smarter if you pay him more. I don’t think that is right.Excerpted from a Public Comment: April 20, 2010 City Council Meeting Draft Minutes

As you can see from the above comments, the hiring of Chief Dunford became entangled in the whole “Water Rate Increases which fueled the Recall Drive Paradigm”. (Some early indicators of a potentially dramatic Political Climate Shift, ya think?)

This city manager needs to go and will as soon as the recall goes through. And it will!! The people will prevail!!! It’s already in motion and is just a matter of time now…..This mayor and city manager think they can do whatever they want, whenever they want. Enjoy it while you can, things will change very soon.Exerpted from a comment by Starlifter:  Recall effort under way in Livingston  3/2/2010 -  Merced Sun Star

Now, given that Recall Supporters promised a whole bunch of changes would take place as soon as the Recall was successful, it’s really not too farfetched to think Chief Dunford got caught up in all the Promised-Post-Recall-Changes-That-Would-Take-Place.

After all, within hours (minutes?) of taking office, members of the Newly Reconstituted Livingston City Council began a quick series of late night, and Special Meetings in which they started rapidly “undoing” some of what had already been “done” by the Prior Council.

City of Livingston Meeting Minutes and Recall Related comments in the Sun Star indicate  that the "Political Climate" in Livingston was becoming increasingly inhospitable to the Career Growth and Development of Chief Dunford". (He was hired during that Previous Administration after all, remember?)

Given the on the record statements by certain members of the Council and prominent Recall Supporters, it is reasonable to conclude Chief Dunford has been scorched by the very same Political Winds that fueled the Recall, the exit of the City Manager and City Attorney, the Roll Back of Water Rates (and the Deficits that are now back on the rise), and the Abandoning of the Appeal in the Appellate Court (after the Briefs were in and it was just a matter of waiting for the Ruling).

No..we don’t have all the facts. Yes…most of what we have is rumor and supposition. But given the track record of the Current Council members and their supporters (both in word and deed), it is reasonable and logical to say that the “letting go” of Chief Dunford fits into an already proven pattern of Council Person behavior.

What next? Well…here’s one theory

The Council still hasn't figured out what to do about getting a new City Manager yet.  If they did start an Official Recruitment of any kind, I bet the Executive Search Firm would want their money "up front".From Livingston just another town removing top cop Friday Dec 24, 2010 – Merced Sun Star

More on this Topic after Tuesday’s City Council Meeting

CITY COUNCIL REGULAR MEETING AGENDA

JANUARY 4, 2011

CLOSED SESSION: 6:00 P.M.

OPEN SESSION: 7:00 P.M.

Notice is hereby given that the City Council will hold a Regular Meeting on January 4, 2011, at the City Council Chambers, 1416 C Street, Livingston, California. Persons with disabilities who may need assistance should contact the Deputy City Clerk at least 24 hours prior to this meeting at (209) 394-8041, Ext. 121. Any writings or documents pertaining to an Open Session item provided to a majority of the members of the legislative body less than 72 hours prior to the meeting shall be made available for public inspection at Livingston City Hall, 1416 C Street. The Open Session will begin at 7:00 p.m. The Closed Session will be held in accordance with state law prior to the Open Session beginning at 6:00 p.m. The Closed Session will be held in the City of Livingston City Hall Conference Room located at 1416 C Street. The agenda shall be as follows:

Closed Session

A “Closed” or “Executive” Session of the City Council or the Livingston Redevelopment Agency may be held in accordance with state law which may include, but is not limited to, the following types of items: personnel matters, labor negotiations, security matters, providing instructions to real property negotiators, conference with legal counsel regarding pending litigation. The Closed Session will be held in the City Hall Conference Room located at 1416 C Street, Livingston, California. Any public comment on Closed Session items will be taken before the Closed Session. Any required announcements or discussion of Closed Session items or actions following the Closed Session will be made in the City Council Chambers, 1416 C Street, Livingston, California.

1. Public Employee Appointment

(Government Code Section 54957)

Title: City Manager

2. Public Employee Performance Evaluation

(Government Code Section 54957)

Title: Acting City Manager

Regular Meeting

CALL TO ORDER Next Resolution Number: 2011-1

Next Ordinance Number: 590

Pledge of Allegiance.

Roll Call.

Closed Session Announcements.

Changes to the Agenda.

.

AWARDS, PRESENTATIONS, APPOINTMENTS AND PROCLAMATIONS

ANNOUNCEMENTS AND REPORTS

Supervisor John Pedrozo Announcements and Reports.

City Council Members’ Announcements and Reports.

Mayor’s Announcements and Reports.

Acting City Manager Announcements and Reports.

PUBLIC HEARINGS

CITIZEN COMMENTS

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

CONSENT CALENDAR

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

1. Resolution Authorizing the Acting City Manager to Enter into a Contract with Carollo Engineers for Environmental Assessment Work on the Blueberry Crossing Commercial Project.

2. Resolution Approving Authorized Staff Signatories to the California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) for HOME Investment Partnerships Program Funds.

3. Approval of Minutes of Meeting Held on September 24, 2010.

4. Approval of Minutes of Meeting Held on October 6, 2010.

5. Approval of Minutes of Meeting Held on October 28, 2010.

6. Approval of Minutes of Meeting Held on November 10, 2010.

7. Approval of Minutes of Meeting Held on December 7, 2010.

8. Approval of Warrant Register Dated December 15, 2010.

9. Approval of Warrant Register Dated December 28, 2010.

DISCUSSION AND POTENTIAL ACTION ITEMS

10. Resolution No. 2011-___, a Resolution of the City Council of the City of Livingston Filling

the Vacancy in the Office of City Treasurer by Appointment.

11. Resolution Authorizing the Acting City Manager to Execute a First Amendment to the Professional Services Agreement with Bureau Veritas North America, Inc. for Continued Contract Staff Support Services.

12. City Council Review and Consider a Motion to Amend the Minutes for the City Council Meeting Held on August 17, 2010.

ADJOURNMENT

 

 

 

 

 

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Recalls, Rants, Politics and Repercussions

I ask once again….Mr. Urmberg, FT209, Mr. Samra, Anyone out there…What is the plan? What if you get a successful recall. What is your plan of action to FIX the water rate issue? Recall + roll back + refund = BANKRUPT. Livingston, do the right thing , VOTE NO ON RECALL.- outsidelokingin Warren B. Urnberg: He has seen much

…The yes on recall committee decided this is the only way to address the water rate issue and moved forward with the recall with full knowledge that it will cost the city (citizens) approximately $60,000! That could pay water, garbage & sewage for about 600 housholds for a month. The bigger picture is the stigma that it has given the city in the business industry. Everyone is steering clear of Livingston until the last….chicken droppings.. has been thrown. It is political kamakazee and chaos. Everyone loses in this scenario. Im glad to see there is someone else out there thinking logically, and about the future. When I refer to "KIDS", I am obviously referring to the ones sitting at the dias and those that have initiated this worthless recall on personal agendas-excerpt from outsidelokinginMissing signs add to contentious atmosphere of Livingston recall

outside…for an outsider you sure have a lot of opinion and interest in what is going on in Livingston. Why is that? I live in Livingston and that’s why I am so invested in what goes on here, I wouldn’t even think to be commenting on what Hughson, Atwater or Merced should or shouldn’t be doing. Let alone tell citizens that I do not even know that they should or shouldn’t recall their council people! Let’s not forget, there were more than a few "crying foul" about the water rate increases. In case you have forgotten, there were enough VALID signatures collected to put this RECALL on the ballot in the first place.Livingston will do the right thing on Tuesday by voting YES ON THE RECALL. starlifterWarren B. Urnberg: He has seen much

..I work for an Investment Group, who are constantly looking for business development in communities like Livingston. Communities located in enterprise zones, with tax credits and capitol improvements credits. The last thing they want is to go into a community that is so politically divided as Livingston and have a project stalled. The cost of the initial project is huge. We had several companies that showed interest in Livingston, based on demographics and stated financials. However, as soon as the issue of recall, and all the political rhetoric spewed in the local papers were reviewed, they asked to look elsewhere. Do some homework. Talk to people who are in business development. This is business 101. The recall is unwarranted and costly… and have cost Livingston a huge amount of potential revenue and tax base.  excerpted from outsidelokingin Livingston upheaval spreads to commission

As I have stated many times, I work with a group of investors who help develop communities. In the commercial development business (shopping strips, hotels, retail and food industry) it is imparitive to keep abreast of the issues at hand in such communities. I dont just follow the Livingston/Merced area, I am well informed with San Bernardino, Temeculah, Tulare, Santa Clara, Magnolia, Wa., Simmons, Colorado, Etc. I make my money by staying informed. I care that Livingston become politically stable so that we might be able to bring in the needed commercial,retail business that would mitigate some of the cost the citizens are currently incurring. I understand that living there, you feel it first hand and sometimes its difficult to remove yourself from the personal element. Not that it matters, however my WSG bill is currently $178.00 per month and will go up to $213 on November 1st. Its part of living expenses. I wish they would roll back my rates to 1995 prices, but then I wouldnt have the infrastructure that I enjoy. I wish Livingston the best, I know that no matter the outcome, this too will pass. excerpted from outsidelokingin Warren B. Urnberg: He has seen much

Before we get to the Main Topics at Hand, a little Perspective

If you have no pride of country and couldn’t care less about the Men and Women of the American Military, you can skip this part, otherwise, click on the following links for some uplifting tribute videos about our Veterans.

First Speakers Up.. Tissue Box Opened If you want people to get the chills, and instill a sense of pride in our country and military, this is the one! This gripping, patriotic film short is great to honor vets, remember the fallen and teach kids the price of their freedom.

Next up. The US Army gives a belated but much deserved Welcome Home to Veterans of the Vietnam War

This next one will be of special interest to the men and women of Law Enforcement. From the Los Angeles Police Protective League (LAPPL) comes the following

He was serving his country as a Marine reservist in Afghanistan when the 15-pound roadside bomb Marine Staff Sgt. and LAPD officer Joshua Cullins was disarming, exploded. Joshua suffered a concussion in the blast. When the alarming news reached LAPD’s Central Division, his fellow officers turned to YouTube to send a pair of get-well-soon messages to their friend and colleague. As recounted in a must-read story by LA Times’ writer Bob Pool, Captain Daryl Russell remembered that one of his officers, David Marroquin, was experienced at producing videos.

Marroquin proceeded to record personal messages to Cullins on video starting off with LAPD Chief Charlie Beck.

Then Marroquin recruited a friend, actor-musician J. Hunter Ackerman, to write a song to accompany the get-well messages for an MTV-style music video.

The completed two-part video began streaming on YouTube late last week.To see the video (and learn more about the LAPD Get Well Video), click here.

Inside, Outside, Upside down

Seems like the Recall is getting plenty of coverage in the Sun Star these days

And several people are chiming in and putting in their two cents worth in the Comment Section. Some are Recall Supports, others are against the Recall. Some live within the City of Livingston. Others do not, but are either interested in politics in general, or have other interests that make Livingston Politics Watching in their best interest.

Some debate back and forth with a modicum of courtesy. Others throw verbal brick bats like kids throw water balloons.

And some seem to feel, that if you don’t live here, you have no business commenting on “Livingston’s business”.

Thing is, you don’t have to live in Livingston to work in Livingston. (would be nice, but doesn’t always work out that way)

And you don’t have to live in Livingston to own a business in Livingston. (would be nice, but doesn’t always work out that way)

While Starlifter represents that part of the Yes on Recall that is Mad as Hell about the Recent Rate Increases and want to Roll Back the Rates and Start the Hearing Process all over again, no matter what the cost…Outsidelooking in represents that part of the Business Community who is observing and waiting on the end of this Election Cycle.

Starlifter (and those of like mind) seems focused on doing whatever it takes to Lower the Rates. On the Other Hand, Outsidelooking in (and like minds) are focused on the long term implications of any changes in the make up of the City Council, and City Management.

Starlifter, and the Yes on Recall group, believe it is to their benefit to Recall the members of the Council who voted to Pass The Rate Increases". On the other hand, Businesspersons like Outsidelookingin’ Investment Group are holding off on Livingston as a place to do business until they are sure about what kind of Business Climate Livingston will eventually have.

So, while Starlifter and those of like mind may think it is none of anyone else’s business what happens in regard to the Recall in Livingston, Business people who are thinking about doing business in Livingston and are looking in from the Outside have a potential stake in the outcome. They want to have the assurance they will be dealing with Council people who can Think Logically and use Reason, instead of a flock of political loony birds who can’t see the forest for the trees and seem hell bent on sending the City into bankruptcy.

So you think you can govern in 2010

When I wrote the first “So You Think You Can Govern”, I’d been somewhat of a local political junkie for a couple of years prior to the 2008 Elections and I was concerned about the number of candidates whose faces I hadn’t recalled having seen at City Council meetings (or Planning Commission meetings, or Citizens Advisory Committee meetings).

At the time, it was already clear to me that there were sitting Council Members who did not bother to read the material in their Agenda Packets, did not understand the significance of the long term effect of what they were voting on, and/or were just “there” for reasons of their own.

I was also concerned that some of the people seeking to replace them didn’t have a clue as to what they would be getting themselves into. Livingston was going through several changes; had been on the “back end” of at least one very expensive lawsuit; was already enmeshed in a long, drawn out expensive mess of a General Plan Update and had already been through at least one Water Rate Study.

Well, Elections came and went. Out with some old. In with some new and although some things change most things stayed the same.

And like before, there are now people on the council who clearly don’t bother to read the material in their Agenda Packets, don’t know the difference between a “Commission” and a “Department”; are increasingly openly hostile towards City Staff, question the competence and intelligence of the City’s Part Time Work Force (in fact, stated they should all be fired because they don’t do anything); don’t know what an Auditor is for; don’t understand the significance of the long term effect of what they are voting on; and/or are just “there” for God only know what reason.

Now we have been through yet another Water Rate Study which resulted in numbers that no one really questions except to say that they are “too high”. With Protests and Lawsuits and even a Recall with candidates who don’t even know when the City’s Fiscal Year begins, and haven’t articulated what their real plans are other than rolling the Rates Back and Starting All Over Again and with yet another Water Rate Study.

What they will do about Well #15, is anybody’s guess..Although Former Mayor Gurpal Samra did suggest at the April 20, 2010 City Council meeting that the City could “probably relocate the well to save money”

(Doesn’t “relocating” a well mean “dig a new one”? Anyone out there happen to know how much something like that would cost? Just wondering..)

As for other “cost saving” plans and suggestions…..

Who Know What Plans Lurk in The Hearts of the Candidates, (The Shadow?)

Just what are the plans, should the “Yes" on Recall Committee succeed in the polls on Aug 31. No one person seems to know for sure. But we can make a few educated guesses and inferences by looking at what Council Persons Espinoza and Aguilar have stated from the dais, combining that with comments made in the Sun Star by some of the “Yes” on Recall’s most outspoken supporters.

As near as I can figure, the “plan” (if it can even be called a “plan”) goes something like this

  • Roll all Water, Waste Water and Sanitation Rates back to 1995
  • Do an entirely new Rate Study, setting the “first tier” on water rates between 20,000 and 35,000 gallons per month
  • Do an entirely new Proposition 218 Hearing
  • Maybe a few cuts to the Police Department (to help offset the “losses” in Water, Waste Water, and Sanitation Funds)
  • Fire all the Part Time Employees (because they don’t do anything anyway and to help offset any “losses” in Water, Waste Water, and Sanitation Funds)
  • Close the Senior Center on Main Street (because Seniors only go there on Thursday and closing it would help offset any “losses” in Water, Waste Water, and Sanitation Funds)
  • Refuse to pay the Attorney for any work done prior to the Recall (because he doesn’t deserve to get paid for the work he did and not paying him would help offset any “losses” in the Water, Waste Water, and Sanitation Funds, and no one really believes he’ll actually sue to collect what’s owed-do they?
  • And, if the Appellate Court hasn’t issued a Ruling by the time any “new” councilperson’s are seated, withdraw the Appeal (even though the work will have been already done, and the Briefs already turned in {see above note on attorney’s fees} and even though The League of California Cities, the 50+ Counties and Water Districts across the State will have also turned in "Friend of the Court” Briefs on Livingston’s behalf)

I could be wrong on some things, and I may have left a few things out. I’m just going by what I’ve read/heard say regarding what they believe.  So, if Recall Supporters are saying things based upon first hand knowledge of the Council Persons/Candidates they support, then I’m right. If they have just been “blowing smoke” and don’t know diddly squat, well…then I might miss a thing or two.

Personally…I hope I’m wrong on all points..

In the meantime, while we are waiting for Election Results and all, if you’d like to catch up on some City Council History, here are a few good places to start.

A Few Letters & Sun-Star 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)

City Council Meeting Minutes for 2005

City Council Meeting Minutes for 2006

City Council Meeting Minutes for 2007

City Council Draft Meeting Minutes for 2008 

City Council Draft Meeting Minutes for 2009

City Council Draft Meeting Minutes for 2010

How They Voted in 2008

How They Voted in 2009

How They Voted in 2010

Well #15 Enforcement Letter & Staff Report

Well #15 Manganese Enforcement Letter Discussions

2006-2007 Merced County Grand Jury Final Report

2007 2008 Merced County Grand Jury Final Report

2008-2009 Interim Reports Merced County Civil Grand Jury Postscript to FY2007/2008 Grand Jury’s Report On The City of Livingston

A Soldier in Need, a Notice of Intent, and a Presidential Turkey

They are trying to divert attention to what’s really happening. We didn’t want to recall anybody, but the residents of Livingston had no choice. We questioned the amount of the increases, but they didn’t want to give us any reasons. We thought that was unreasonable.”– – Gurpal Samra, “Heated words in city’s recall election”, by Jonathan Whitaker, Merced County Times, July 15, 2010.

Before we get on to the Main Topics …….

I’m beginning to wonder just which City Council Meetings I have actually been attending lately. Like maybe I have been in some kind of “alternative universe” for the last couple of years or so.

No reasons or explanations to justify the Water, Wastewater, and Solid Waste Rate Increases?

None? Ever?

I don’t know about you, but I sat through more than one Presentation & Question/Answer Session about the Water Rate Study and Wastewater and Solid Waste Rate Study,

There was the presented in Open Session on February 17, 2009: with the Council voting 5-0 to advertise and schedule Proposition 218 Public Hearing.

Then there was the City Council meeting of March 3, 2009, in which it was announced there would be a public information meeting (town hall meeting) on March 26, 2009 about Water, Wastewater and Solid Waste Rates.

Then there was the actual City Council Meeting of March 26, 2009: which lasted until 10’oclock that night.

And the Actual Hearing on April 21, 2009: (which went till 10:30 pm)

Which was Continued At the Meeting of May 5, 2009: (Which also went past 10)

And shall we also throw in May 19, 2009, June 02, 2009, June 16, 2009,and July 7, 2009 (That one went till past 11:30),

And let’s not forget the HUGE meeting at the Portuguese Hall on November 17, 2009 which featured Volunteer Translators, and at which members of the audience could hear the proceeding in Spanish and Punjabi, using head phones.

Great Mounds of Meeting Minutes! How many Meetings were there altogether?

Is it Really about not discussing the “numbers” enough?

After all, according to an article in the Merced Sun Star

“Whenever a city raises its rates for water, sewer or garbage, state law requires the city to send out notices to all those affected. In Livingston’s case, that was roughly 3,000 water accounts. The city postponed the decision and published a notice in the Livingston Chronicle in three languages after receiving complaints. Even after the extension and second notice the city only received 401 protests.”

Now…I am not saying that everyone should have been all “happy-happy-joy-joy” about it. Reasonable people of good will can have differing opinions about what parts of the City’s Water/Sewer Infrastructure really needed upgrading/replacing over the next 5 years.

And reasonable people can debate and disagree about spending priorities without being disagreeable about it. (I mean..it is possible, isn’t it?)

But, Gee Whiz … were those City of Livingston, City Council Meetings I was going to all that time?

I’m beginning to wonder what planet I was on …….

Now on too.

A Few Announcements from the Local VFW

Family Hamburger Night Tuesday, July 27

Join us for the VFW Hamburger Night, July 27, 2010.

The Livingston/Delhi Veterans of Foreign Wars #8327 & Ladies Auxiliary will be opening the Livingston Veterans Memorial Hall to the public for Family Hamburger Night in July. Meals will be served from 6-8 pm at 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. All proceeds go to help support our community programs.

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

RUMMAGE SALE

Do your Back to School Shopping With Us!!!

We have everything from furniture to the tiniest baby booties.

The Livingston/Delhi Ladies Auxiliary VFW #8327 will be holding a Gigantic Rummage Sale on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, August 4th, 5th and 6th, 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-? 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.

BLOOD DRIVE 

GIVE BLOOD, SAVE LIVES – PINT FOR A PINT

Donate a pint of blood and receive a coupon for a pint of Baskin-Robins Ice Cream and a coupon for a meal hosted by the Livingston/Delhi Veterans of Foreign Wars and Ladies Auxiliary.

Our next scheduled blood drive will be held at the Livingston Veterans Memorial Hall, 1605 7th Street, Livingston, on August 5, 2010 from 3-7 pm. Please take an hour out of your busy schedule and give someone a chance to live.

Please drink plenty of fluids before donating and bring your donor card or photo ID with you.

Donors must be at least 17 years old, be generally healthy and weigh at least 110 pounds.

Stop by and give the gift of life. For more information or to make a life saving appointment, call Denis or Sue Wells at 394-2059. Walk-ins are always welcome.

A Soldier in need

A young soldier was seriously injured while home on leave. According to an e-mail I received from the Modesto/Central Valley Blue Star Mothers, Army PFC Matt Maddox , currently serving with the 173 Airborne Brigade Combat Team, came home for leave on May 24, 2010 from Afghanistan and was seriously injured in accident that happened on May26.

Matt was running along side a grading tractor that he was helping a friend move when he lost his footing in the rain. Matt fell and was run over by the tractor. He sustained the following major injuries:

  •  
    • Fractured femur
    • fractured tibia
    • fractured pelvis
    • fractured tailbone
    • orbital blowout fracture to the right eye
    • torn bladder/urethra

Matt was airlifted to Mercy San Juan Trauma center in Carmichael. He has undergone 4 surgeries. Matt received over 9 units of blood initially after the accident, and was given more blood/platelets for the next several days in the trauma ICU.

Matt spent 8 nights in the trauma ICU before being transfered to the trauma floor in the hospital where he spent another 15 nights. Matt was home for 10 days before being readmitted to the hospital again for an infection that occurred in one of the wounds from the accident.

He spent another 4 nights in the hospital before coming home again. In September Matt will go to UCSF where he will undergo another surgery to repair the urethra/bladder tears.

Matt is determined to recover 100% and return to his unit and continue the job he has been trained to do by the United States Army. Matt’s 20th birthday is July 25 and his current goal is to be able to begin walking by then.

Many people have asked what they could do to support Matt. We have two very important things that we would like to encourage people to do.

1. Since Matt received 9 units of blood during his hospital stay, the family would like to give back to the blood bank The family has set up a Blood Source Donor Club for Matt. His donor club number is 7823.

To find a Blood Source Center near you, please go to www.bloodsource.org or call Stephanie Kresse at 916.453.3039 or email her at Stephanie.kresse@bloodsource.org

2. Matt’s 20th Birthday is July 25. We would like to appeal to the public to send Matt a birthday card and/or get well card. We need to let this young Hero know that he is supported, in our prayers and that we wish for his speedy recovery!

To send Matt a card:

Matt Maddox

P.O. Box 476

Wallace, CA 95254

If you can, donate blood. If you can’t It would only take a few minutes of your time to jot a quick note of encouragement to this young man. Even if you can’t get it there in time for his birthday, I’m sure it will still be much appreciated.

Render unto Foster Farms that which is Foster Farms’

A Notice of Intent to Adopt (NOI) has been issued by the City for the Foster Farms Rendering Plant Project which went before the Planning Commission on July 13th 2010 and will go before the City Council on August 3, 2010.

According to the NOI,

“Foster Farms proposes to expand its rendering operation at the existing poultry processing Complex. As part of the City of Livingston’s application approval process, this Initial Study has been prepared to determine whether an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) or a Negative Declaration must be prepared or to identify significant environmental effects that must be analyzed in an EIR. A Site Plan/Design Review application is also required by the City for this Project to assure compatibility and harmony in appearance with the neighborhoods, reduction of negative impacts of nonaesthetic development and the orderly development of the community.

The current rendering operation produces poultry meal, feather meal and poultry fat from by-products. Both poultry meal and poultry fat are used in the production of pet food and animal feed, while feather meal is used in animal feed and fertilizer. Foster Farms will utilize an existing building on its site, northwest of existing Plant #2, for rendering operations. The building is approximately 6,150 square feet in size and will be expanded by an additional 2,500 square feet of covered and enclosed space. The building was previously used for producing a liquid pet food ingredient but has been out of service since September 2003.

Foster Farms will install a continuous-cooker-based poultry offal rendering process, including several storage bins and tanks in a fully enclosed building. The rendering expansion will include a vapor handling system a condenser, venturi scrubber, and a regenerative thermal oxidizer that is designed to capture and destroy high-intensity process emissions (including odors and volatile organic compounds [VOC]). To minimize fugitive emissions, the expansion has been designed to include fully enclosed receiving hopper and loadout areas, a processing area operating under negative pressure, double doors at production, and a scrubber to capture odorous compounds entrained in indoor air. Further, the steam boiler will be equipped with a low nitrogen oxide (NOx) control system.”

 

And that

 

“The City has reviewed and considered the proposed project and has determined that the project will not have a significant effect on the environment. The City hereby prepares and proposes to adopt a Negative Declaration for this project.”

Now….. you’d have to be an Ostrich with your head stuck in the sand if you don’t already know that relations between Foster Farms and the City are already a tad “strained”.

And, If you have lived here long enough, you’ve noticed a certain “air” about town every so often.

So…of course, at Planning Commission, some of the discussion that night revolved around whether or not the Foster Farms produced its own peculiar smells, or not. (The statement from the Foster Farms representative that there were “no confirmed odor complaints” originating from Foster Farms was…shall we say received with a fair amount of skepticism?)

Anyway…As far as the City Council goes, this is going to be one of those “Damned if you do, Damned if you don’t situations”. No matter what decision the Council Makes, someone’s sure to pokes holes in it, depending upon their particular political persuasion.

If they approve the project, there will probably be those who will say

“Well you know, the only reason they approved it was to try to get on Foster Farm’s good side”.

If they don’t approve the project, there will probably be those who will say

“Well you know, the only reason they denied it was to get even for the Lawsuit over the Water Rates.”

Either way, it will be an “interesting” discussion, come Council Night……

Who is Giving Who the Bird Now?

Speaking of Foster Farms, our own “locally grown” potentates of poultry have been chosen to provide the turkey for the annual Presidential Thanksgiving Day Pardon.

Given everything that has been going on “politically” (on both the local and national level) I’ll leave it up to you to make the most of “President/Turkey/Pardon” jokes.

 

Court Theater Committee Agenda, Council Meeting Cancelation, and A Little This and That

Comment on: Utility rate increase paying dividends in Livingston Yes Great Job, Mr. Warne. Its nice to know that citizens are paying more so city can rack up more legal fees. freethinker209 

Holy Ad Hominines Batman! The War of the Words has been heating up in earnest, as charges and counter charges fly in the Comment Section of The Sun Star.

While most of the “flaming” skipped more “newsy” articles like Utility rate increase paying dividends in Livingston and maybe not so “newsy” articles like Tip List: Livingston needs smoother sidewalks there was no lack of political fireballs being lobbed back and forth in the Opinion Section this week.

Here’s few examples ….

Comment on: Letter: He’s paid the price Well put Ms Mendoza, seems some members of the community will constantly criticize Espinoza, and Samra while at the same time looking the other way at the what Varela, Nateras, and Vierra are doing. Seems all they have are focused on is deflect the truth about the recall, which over 1000 citizens signed and the judge agreed that city broke many laws. That rates increase are unconstitutional. freethinker209

Comment on: Letter: He’s paid the price Freethinker209 concerning the Judges findings on the water rates, that decision is on appeal. Mayor Varela, Councilwoman Nateras and Councilman Vierra are not running away from decisions they’ve made; they do not agree with the Judge’s decision. People complained about the brown water and what did Mr. Espinoza and Mr. Samra do? When asked for a comment by the Sun Star (story in today’s Chronicle), Mr. Espinoza said “he would have done the responsible thing and increased water rates in small increments, but never had the chance.” So he has been asked to elaborate on that, but Mr. Espinoza refuses to explain. Why can’t he just tell us who got in the way? Who kept him from doing what was right for Livingston, back then? When Mr. Varela, Mrs. Nateras, Mr. Vierra and MRS. AGUILAR ran for office they said they would address the water issue and that is exactly what Mayor Varela, Councilwoman Nateras and Councilman Vierra have done. When things got tough, did they run away? No. There’s a saying, “If you can’t take the heat get out of the kitchen.” It’s time for Mr. Espinoza to get out of the kitchen. He just can’t take the heat. When the Grand Jury found him guilty, did he appeal that decision? Of course not, he was asked repeatedly to tell his side of the story. Now why wouldn’t a man of integrity jump to the occasion? Because he has no shame, he is not a man of integrity. He knew that he would end up having to confess to his crime and Mr. Samra would not have like that at all! gray11

Comment on: Letter: He’s paid the price Gray…you are correct, when the judge found that the city was in violation, they appealed. But who decided to appeal? It wasn’t brought before council to make a decision on whether to appeal or not. The attorney and city manager decided to appeal. Of course the attorney is going to want to appeal. This means more money for him and his law firm. He is not stupid!Also, what has the city done in regards to the “brown water” since raising the water rates last year anyway? My guess is nothing-considering much of the water rates monies are being spent on appealing the lawsuit!

 

Snail…what am I willing to give up you ask? How about less waste going on the part of the city. How many city employees take city vehicles home and use them for personal use? And how many people are being paid to run the recreation these days? I can count at least 10 adults that are paid to do recreation activities. That’s not even counting the number of kids that are hired to deal with some out-of-control parents.An what’s wrong with taking a furlough day once in a while? That’s what the government is having to do in these tough economic times. Heck, the postal service might even cut back to delivering mail 5 times a week instead of six times a week to save money.The citizens are having to pay-why not everyone else? What’s good for the goose certainly should be good for the gander.Ms. Mendoza, I agree with you…I will be voting YES on the recall on August 31st. starlifter

That’s just a taste, If you’d like more, there will be links you can look at a little farther down in the post. In the meantime…I’ll take a stab at answering one of Karma’s Questions.

Why was the appeal filed without a separate and distinct vote at Council?

Unless I have forgotten my Reading and Comprehension Skills, it is because the Resolution on Water Rates that was enacted (correct me if I’m wrong) contained the following language:

“Section 5. General Authorization. The City Manager is hereby authorized and directed, for and in the name of and on behalf of the City, to execute and deliver any and all documents, to do any and all things and take any and all actions that may be necessary or advisable, in their discretion, in order to effect the purposes of this resolution. All actions heretofore taken by officers, employees and agents of the City that are in conformity with the purposes and intent of this resolution are hereby approved, confirmed, and ratified.”

Therefore the authority to initiate an appeal was already within the Scope of the City Manager’s authority and was contained within the language of the Resolution itself. And a copy of the proposed Resolution would have been included in EVERY Council Member’s Agenda Packet. (And I would have expected EACH of them to have READ it!)

It’s a Public Document. You can request a copy over at City Hall. The first 10 pages of any City Public Document are FREE!

If the Copy of the Resolution on Water Rates you end up looking at has a “Section 5. General Authorization” way different from the one I included above, please let us all know..

And if you out in “digital land” have any workable ideas on how to deal with those “out of control parents” AND provide Recreation Activities with a less staff…I’ll take those suggestions too

While you’re mulling that over, If you’d like a little more history on the Trials and Tribulations of Lil Ole Livingston, you can click onto the following links, courtesy of the Merced Sun Star.

Now—this is not an exhaustive list of Everything Livingston, but it will give you a pretty good idea of what most of the Agitatin’, Organizin’, Fusin’, Fuedin’, and Heckling is all about.

While you are at it, take a peek at the Comment Section of the articles. While the Comment Section on most of the Older Articles has been closed, some of the More Recent Articles still have Comments attached.

The Comment Section will give you insights into the Opinions,Persons  and “personalities” involved: when it comes to the Recall

Tip List: Livingston needs smoother sidewalks Thursday Jul 15, 2010

Utility rate increase paying dividends in Livingston Wednesday Jul 14, 2010

Letter: He’s paid the price Wednesday Jul 14, 2010

Letter: Check the facts Tuesday Jul 13, 2010

Letter: Message to youth Saturday Jul 10, 2010

Stage set for recall showdown in Livingston Thursday Jul 8, 2010

Our View: Did politics scare off Wal-Mart? Tuesday Jun 29, 2010

Wal-Mart drops plans for supercenter in Livingston Thursday Jun 24, 2010

Letter: Thorn in side Thursday Jun 24, 2010

Livingston’s ex-mayor says fireworks cancellation a victim of politics Wednesday Jun 23, 2010

Questions remain to be answered before there’s a skateboard park for Livingston teens Tuesday Jun 22, 2010

Livingston water fee increase stays in effect Friday Jun 18, 2010

Our View: A fine mess Livingston finds itself in Wednesday May 12, 2010

Livingston looking at hefty bill for special recall elections Friday May 7, 2010

Livingston City Council sets recall election date for Aug. 31 Wednesday May 5, 2010

Date must be set for recall of Livingston mayor, councilwoman Tuesday May 4, 2010

Livingston council cancels Fourth of July festivities Thursday Apr 22, 2010

Livingston payment debate runs well into night Wednesday Apr 21, 2010

Letter: Recall laughable Tuesday Apr 13, 2010

Two Livingston leaders face recall vote Saturday Apr 10, 2010

With skimpy agenda, Livingston City Council might start meeting just monthly Friday Apr 9, 2010

Livingston recall effort just shy of necessary signatures Tuesday Apr 6, 2010

3 appointed to Livingston Planning Commission Wednesday Mar 17, 2010

Livingston scraps advisory committee Thursday Mar 11, 2010

Nine apply for Livingston Planning Commission vacancies Wednesday Mar 10, 2010

Livingston appeals water ruling Friday Mar 5, 2010

Livingston to hold special council meeting at 7 p.m. Thursday–water rates on agenda Tuesday Mar 2, 2010

Recall effort under way in Livingston Tuesday Mar 2, 2010

Judge: Livingston’s water rate hikes unconstitutional Saturday Feb 27, 2010

Livingston hires new police chief Wednesday Feb 3, 2010

Foster Farms files suit against Livingston Wednesday Jan 27, 2010

City of Livingston, Merced Union High School District agree on constructing bridge over Peach Avenue Wednesday Jan 06, 2010

Roiling city politics keeps Livingston interesting Wednesday Dec 30, 2009

Livingston city rate increase sued for 2nd time Saturday Dec 5, 2009

Court ruling scraps Livingston general plan Thursday Dec 3, 2009

Livingston council at stalemate with one member gone Wednesday Dec 2, 2009

Livingston forced to pay for well filter Thursday Nov 19, 2009

Low income housing builder is back Thursday Nov 19, 2009

Livingston stands by rate increases for water, sewer Wednesday Nov 18, 2009

Livingston gets $800K from state HOME program Monday Nov 16, 2009

Livingston residents still angered over water rates Wednesday Oct 21, 2009

Church gets an acre plot for its garden Saturday Sep 12, 2009

Livingston police chief calling it quits Friday Sep 4, 2009

Livingston avoids cuts with ‘bare bones’ budget Wednesday Aug 19, 2009

Loose Lips: All this just to see the city budget Friday Aug 7, 2009

Foster Farms sues Livingston over water rate increase Wednesday Jul 29, 2009

Livingston is in budget limbo Thursday Jul 2, 2009

Livingston set to evaluate city manager’s performance Saturday Jun 27, 2009

Loose Lips: A flurry of inactivity in Livingston Wednesday Jun 17, 2009

Loose Lips: Council sinks to usual level Wednesday Jun 17, 2009

Livingston city attorney fired, new one hired Wednesday Jun 17, 2009

Livingston council delays decision on water rates — again Wednesday May 6, 2009

Wal-Mart sets Supercenter sights on Livingston Thursday Nov 6, 2008

Some incumbents win, lose in hot local races in Atwater and Livingston Wednesday Nov 5, 2008

Livingston City Council approves master plan for aggressive growth Wednesday Oct 22, 2008

Livingston ballot crowded with council hopefuls who promise change Wednesday Oct 22, 2008

Ousted public works director sues Livingston for wrongful termination Wednesday Sep 10, 2008(make sure you see the End Note at the end of this Post)[i]

Livingston seeks comments from public regarding future growth Friday Aug 8, 2008

Livingston Police chief decides against retirement Thursday May 29, 2008

Foster Farms lawsuit costs Livingston nearly $1 million Thursday Apr 10, 2008

Dunmore Homes bankruptcy leaves homeowners with liens Saturday Mar 8, 2008

Rancho San Miguel grocery store sues developer over lease Thursday Mar 6, 2008

Livingston could reveal new council chambers in February Friday Feb 1, 2008

Livingston wrestling with growing pains Wednesday Jan 2, 2008

Now, on to the

NOTICE OF MEETING CANCELLATION

LIVINGSTON CITY COUNCIL

NOTICE is hereby given that the Regular Meeting of the Livingston City Council scheduled for Tuesday, July 20, 2010, has been cancelled due to a lack of urgent agenda items.

Dated: July 14, 2010

/s/ BETTY COTA

Deputy City Clerk

MEETING AGENDA

COURT THEATER COMMITTEE

JULY 19, 2010

REGULAR MEETING: 5:00 p.m.

Notice is herby given that the Court Theater Committee will hold a Regular Meeting on July 19, 2010, in the City Council Chambers, 1416 C Street, Livingston, California. Person 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 – Special Meeting of June 28, 2010

3. Approval of Treasurer’s Report

4. Old Business

A. Court Theater Project Update

B. Afternoon Tea – September 18, 2010

C. Bunco Bash – February 5, 2011

5. New Business

6. Other

7. Adjournment


[i] The following STIPULATION was entered on: March 4, 2010 

“Pursuant to Rule 41(a)(1), Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, Plaintiff PAUL

CREIGHTON and Defendants CITY OF LIVINGSTON and RICHARD WARNE, acting through their respective counsel of record, hereby stipulate that this action be DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE, each side bearing its own costs and attorneys’ fees, except as otherwise provided in the parties’ confidential settlement agreement.”

Dismissed with Prejudice means “its done-finished-over” and since this was a CONFIDENTIAL agreement, nobody can talk about it to “the public”. Not Paul Creighton, not his lawyer, nor anyone that works for the City and not anyone on the City Council either.

At least…not legally (Am I wrong on that?)

July 13, 2009 Planning Commission Agenda Alert, Rants, Recalls, Wingnuts and Trolls

“To set the record straight. Having personal knowledge on the situation on the water studies, I will give my account and everyone can check what I have written. During my time as Mayor we worked on getting city hall in shape, putting people and personel in place to handle growth and develop a city that is self sufficient. When analyzing budgets from the year 2000 to my current term, we were running at a deficit in water and sanitation funds. The management that was present at that time was not equipt to give direction in fixing the problem at hand, not charging enough money for services being rendered. We hired new management, we gave direction and initiated a water study in August 2006, which is needed to raise rates, and received the documentation in June 2007. I was voted out in November 2006. Now, I have had an extensive conversation with Samra about the water study and why he did not act on it. The fact he did not do something before I was elected and did not do anything after me goes to his lack of leadership. He was given the opportunity to look at, not only one study; but, two. Mr. Samra did not look at the study and give alternatives to meet his criteria of what he felt was needed to fix the problem at hand.

I only hope that Livingston begins to revolt against people who only raise problems but offer no solutions. Anybody can be a heckler; but it takes a person of character and understanding to take action and actually do something positive.”  Comment by brandonfriesen on Stage set for recall showdown in Livingston  

“honestly Freisen is the dip sh!t that started all livingston’s troubles and got us in deep sh!t with Fosters…o yeah and he hired that dumb a$$ city manager that scared off Walmart and every other business that wanted or Wants to come into our city. I love my city. The problem is not the council members. The problem is the dip sh!t city manager! Yeah thats you Dick! i mean Richard:)

Who are you gay11? i mean gray11.. lol

Ha Nateras a counselor?! she is just a secretary!lol” Comments by urfaceson on Stage set for recall showdown in Livingston

“WOW urfaceson, you really need to wash your mouth out. Just a reminder to you folks reading these comments, remember birds of a feather flock together. These individuals are crass and do not appear to have clue with respect to engaging in a critical dialogue. Listen and consider the comments from those against the recall, and those for it. And to those who understand what is at stake, watching from the side lines, your silence does nothing more than encourage Samra, Espinoza, Aguilar, and Land their accountability continues unchecked, and your silence is deafening. The fiasco needs to end.” Comment by realitycheck on Stage set for recall showdown in Livingston  

“Did Mr Vierra ever ask to have the rates raised he has been on the council longer the Mr Espinoza? When the rates were raised where they done in proper and legal manner. How much has the lawsuits cost the tax payers? Over 1000 citizens signed the recall petition for the concerns that were raised. Apparently the court agreed with the citizens that city violated many rules in raising the rates. We don’t Varela, Nateras and Vierra admiting to that.” Comment by freethinker209 on: Stage set for recall showdown in Livingston

“Yes, those mailers[i] should have had that info, but it did not. What really chaps my hide is the amount of my water bill tripling. That is the fault of ex Mayor Samra and his council, if they would have raised the rates in small increments then it would have been OK, but it was left up to the new mayor and council to clean up the mess left behind from Samra and his crew. And now the community is blaming them. I read the Grand Jury report and it made me go "mmmm". What in the world did these 2 guys think they were doing by intimidating city employees? It eventually was going to come out. I tell you, it was a good ole boy Mayor and his buddie councilman’s swollen egos. Did the others on this council not know what Samra and Espinoza was doing and just let it go by the wayside? I have a hard time looking at these 2 people when I see them in town I walk the other way and avoid them because they are not trust worthy and only have their own agenda to fill, I have too much to do other than waste my time or words speaking to them. By the way, I believe that Councilwoman Nateras is one of the most honest persons on the council, I do not know her personally, but do see the honesty in her.” Comment by pmgtmz on : Stage set for recall showdown in Livingston

“As the buildup to the Aug. 31 recall election continues, City Council meetings, which are already heated events, will only become more intense.” From Stage set for recall showdown in Livingston by Mike North of the Merced Sun Star

Will become More Intense? Ya Think?!?

If you’ve been a regular at City Council Meetings, you already know, it’s been a little “intense” already. And if you haven’t been able to attend or watch the Meetings on TV, all you need to do is go read the Meeting Minutes for the last year or so to get a feel for the rising “intensity level”.

Anyway…..

When I wrote “Trolls, Frauds, Wingnuts and Flamers”, the comments and rhetoric at City council Meetings was beginning to get just a tad “heated”. Since then, it has really ramped up several notches.

OK…maybe a lot more than several notches….

But……Before we go much further, lets review a few terms, shall we?

A “Flame War” is where people spend more time insulting each other (like in the Comment Section) than debating any particular topic.

A Rational Person has a personal belief system and point of view but for the most part, avoids participating in “flame wars” and name calling. Although they may have sincere differences of opinion with “the opposition”, they don’t try to achieve their means through devious means or bully tactics. They strive to “stick to the facts” and back up their position logical reasoning.

They have the ability to “agree to disagree without being disagreeable”.

On the other hand….

A “Wingnut” may have a personal belief system and point of view, but is not so much interested in winning the debate by winning hearts and minds as much as ensuring the utter destruction of “the opposition” by whatever means necessary.

A “troll” makes comments to just to mess with people’s heads, not because s/he has a particular view on any particular topic. S/he is just happy as a clam to disrupt any debate by name calling, and “flaming”, in an effort to get everybody of topic and into an open “flame war”. Trolls don’t really care about the outcome of any debate. They just enjoy arguing for arguments sake and they will take whichever side of the argument necessary to stir up the most strife at any given moment.

A “Whack Job” is just plain crazy and acts like a damn lunatic.

A Fraud needs no further definition.

Ever since the “Water Rate Wars” began, well over a year ago, there has been quite a bit of “commenting”, going on during Public Comment portions of City Council meetings and in the Comment Section of the Sun Star.

For a few moments, let’s take a short Trip Down Memory Lane and look at a some comments from the Annals of the Sun Star Comment Section and I’ll let you decide whether to classify the “Personalities” below as Rational Persons, Wingnuts, Trolls, Frauds, and/or Whack Jobs . (This is not an all inclusive listing—maybe I will continue the “political taxonomy” in a later post)

Ready? Here we go…

Gray11

Comment on Stage set for recall showdown in Livingston Mr. Espinoza you need to explain to the community of Livingston exactly what kept you from addressing the water rates early on. You owe the voters, especially those who voted for you, an explanation; that is, if you want to be "Mayor Espinoza." How can you possibly think that by saying that you "would have done the responsible thing and increased water rates in small increments, but never had the chance," is good enough? Who stood up against you when you tried to address it back then? Please tell us. Concerning the Grand Jury findings, do you realy believe that all voters are naive enough to believe you when you wouldn’t even accept a single invitation offered by the Grand Jury, and the media, to tell your side of the story? Accusations such as these are very serious, how can you just sit there and not respond? By the way, Councilwoman Aguilar none of this worries you? You have aligned yourself with Mr. Espinoza and Mr. Samra; therefore, your inability or outright refusal to make wise decisions and your behavior, especially in city council meetings, disqualifies you from sitting in that seat. And you teach our children?

Regarding the recent increase in water rates, if the advice or opinion given by the attorney to the city was incorrect, then that matter will be rectified. Attorneys often interpret the law differently, they don’t always agree. That is why judges have already made some decisions and more decisions will be made soon enough. I pray that the truth will prevail.

 

starlifter

Comment on Stage set for recall showdown in Livingston rockstar209…now it is the "recall group"s fault for the canceling of the fireworks. The council said themselves that they had planned on canceling the fireworks before the recall had come into play. The council just didn’t announce it until March, not leaving enough time for the funds to be raised.

freethinker209…you are right, there were plenty of others that have been on councils past that could have raised the water rates nominally and none did. To blame it solely on Espinoza and Samra is flat out ridiculous!

kagee…the "recall group" is corrupt? How about the way in which the water rates were passed in the first place? Let’s not forget about the Foster Farms lawsuit that was brought against the city where the judge declared "the water rate hike unconstitutional". Have we all forgotten the manner in which they got it passed? You know, how they were supposed to have a super majority of 4 votes and fired their attorney and had another waiting in the wings only to say, nah, we can pass it with just 3 votes. I don’t know about you, but that sounds pretty corrupt to me.

and btw…could this be a violation of the Brown Act to have all 3 gathered together discussing business? hmm…idk

Comment on: Livingston payment debate runs well into night Ditto with outsidelokingin comments. And to expand on the city saving money, a citizen had a great idea to save the city money…have Varela and Nateras resign their positions instead of forcing the city to pay for a recall election. The response from them….dead silence. Nateras, as usual, was confused at how she should be voting. At one point, she voted one way and then when her group spoke up, she changed her vote to go the other way. She also wasn’t sure which way to vote on the next item and instead of having a repeat of the previous miss-vote she abstained from voting because she was unsure of which way her trio was voting. She did wake up at the end of the meeting and went against her trio, to the dismay of the mayor, and voted to keep the meetings to two a month. It doesn’t really matter, though, because they’re going to cancel one every month anyway. And in case you hadn’t heard, the July 4th fireworks in Livingston have been cancelled. Could that be because the city has burned their bridges with Foster Farms, who were a big donator of the event? Way to go!!

Comment on: Recall effort under way in Livingston 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!!! It’s already in motion and is just a matter of time now. btw, what’s up with the scheduled meeting being moved to Thursday? This mayor and city manager think they can do whatever they want, whenever they want. Enjoy it while you can, things will change very soon.

 

Outsidelokingin

Comment on: Livingston’s ex-mayor says fireworks cancellation a victim of politics That is a great question, Karma and gardeningsnail. I think the community would like to know. Mr. Samra, are you there? Since you were well informed and on top of the donations over the years and were tooting Ms. Aguilars’ horn for working so hard in making calls, getting donations and hosting "Mc Sparkel" night (it’s spelled SPARKLE, by the way) at the local McDonalds, one would believe you would have this information at hand. Gardeningsnail, I am no attorney, however, you are right on the button with the 501(c)3 procedures on collecting donations. I also know that if a 501(c)3 tax ID number is "borrowed", as the self appointed Livingston Fireworks Committee was attempting to do, it would be grounds for revocation of that organizations tax exempt status, per the IRS. I hope that is not the case.

Comment on: Livingston’s ex-mayor says fireworks cancellation a victim of politics WOW…First, for the SunStar to give the former Mayor of Livingston, who has been investigated by the Grand Jury for misuse of his power to better himself and intimidate city employees, the opportunity to use this forum to spew his toxic agenda, SPEAKS VOLUMES. Second, I guess I may be a little out of touch, but I cant recall EVER spending even close to $150 on fireworks, as Samra suggests. Why didnt Samra pick up the phone, use his influence, and get the needed "two calls" made? It cost $500 to get a 501(c)3 non profit ID. The statement that he truly believes "with every fiber of my being and soul" (and there’s alot of being there)that the two being recalled were justifying the cancellation, and using it as retaliation against those citizens that signed a petition, is, well at the least, stupidity, and at the most, slanderous and/or libelous. They say, "The biggest accusers are usually the biggest abusers". If the shoes fit..put them on and leave,……..Quit Dividing the Community Mr. Samra

Comment on: Recall effort under way in Livingston GPG is right. Five on the city council campaigned on the issue of water rates, all promised they would do what was best for the community, and only three have kept that promise. Esinoza, Aguilar & Co. have decided its best to lie to the community and tell them they will be able to lower the water rates as opposed to taking any critisism, in hopes to keep thier $300 a month position. I feel for them, selling yourself, your pride and integrity short for $300 a month….well, I guess there are desperate people out there. I wonder if Samra and Espinoza will try to intimaidate the new Police chief into thier way of thinking, like they did with Chief Eldridge. After all, they are still under investigation by the GRAND JURY.Do you remember that Livingston? "WITH Integrity, nothing else matters, WITHOUT integrity nothing else matters……."

 

karma

Comment on: Like Livingston, cities nationwide cutting Fourth of July fireworks shows Oh there was lots of money alright but as you stated before, no non-profit to carry the event out and no city cooperation. Time ran out. It’s funny how public employees believe they are not accountable to their citizens and get on their high horse and are even rude at times. They should be thankful they have a public serving job yet they have the audacit to snap back at those that feed their hands. The money is there it’s been committed by the donors but it’s got no place to go. It’s like a hot tamale; no non-profit dared come forth and take the lead. Maybe the MUHSD or could of done it since it’s on their school grounds but even then, patroling and city worker’s aren’t there to assist. What nice place isn’t it? Full of self serving egos. CLEAN HOUSE CITIZENS OF LIVINGSTON!! Come election time, clean house!! Begone with the old and in with the new!

Comment on: Wal-Mart drops plans for supercenter in Livingston Oh and the manager also favor’s gallo too much. He wants the rancho san miguel to come in along with a slave mart. Those to are way too expensive for the locals and will not bring any outside taxes to the city. Terrible decicions. Yep those two stores won’t be packed. Hope they go away too.

Comment on: With skimpy agenda, Livingston City Council might start meeting just monthly And this is news? Laughable mayor who was only elected tu his surname rather than a platform which he didn’t have. His ego is as big as his head. Sunstar please be more professional. Leaning in favor of one party(person) doesn’t make him a better person and talking bad about another doesn’t make the Sun Star a bette paper.[ii]

Comment on: Nine apply for Livingston Planning Commission vacancies Finally, good to see out with the old and in with the new. There were folks voted in who new nothing but didn’t want the city to grow. Where do they expect their children to live? It’s about time the old folks pass the reigns to the new generation with hopes of a much better Livingston than we have today. Blocking out the downtown area was one of the dumbest decisions ever made. The old areas of the City need to start being redeveloped befor blight becomes worst. Those new old looking apartment complexes should of never been built. Codes and regulations need to be established to allow nicer complexes to be built so they don’t look delapidated in one year.The monte cristo future trailer trash park should of never been built. Condos should of been built instead. So many errors on have been passed and look at the City now.

Comment on: Livingston forced to pay for well filter This is one reason for the urge to raise the fees so drastically. Once again, bad planning and no action taken on time. Information like this needs to be provided to the council so that they can seek appropriate action. If they are not informed by the people in management and professionals they hire, then the cannot take a appropriate actions. TIME TO CLEAN HOUSE!!

 

twocents

Comment on: Livingston City Council sets recall election date for Aug. 31 Repeal the rates, let the Water Quality Board, EPA etc. come in an shut off the water and close down the sewer plant. When people are using bottled water to bathe and porta potties for other matters, then they will appreciate the council. What a crock, these guys were elected to do a job and they did it and now some people are upset. the real waste of tax payers dollars is in this recall and special election.

Comment on: Livingston council cancels Fourth of July festivities Well lets see, No City sponsored 4th of July, seems the local clubs and organizations could step to the plate and put something on, or maybe let people block off part of the street and have bbq’s and neighborhood fireworks. Sewer and Water rates out of whack? The city should shut off the water, if what you pay only can pay for three days of water and sewer, then thats what they should give you. Yeah I don’t like the rates either but the air quality board, water quality board and the enviornmentalist have pushed their agenda so far that you now have to pay for their baloney.

Comment on: Loose Lips: Stocking stuffers for Merced area leaders Union Advocate, no matter who is chosen as the Police Chief, there will be screaming of poor leadership and low morale. This has been a constant at Livingston for at least 25 years, even though both the previous 2 chiefs were brought in from the outside. I think that the low morale is due largely to the low salaries, but this is something that the chief has no control over. A police officer who is not paid what he is worth does not feel valued, which breeds resentment that’s tough to overcome. I can sympathize, but I’m suggesting that your frustration is misplaced.You might be better off by giving Silva a chance. You know what to expect from her; an employee who does what they’re supposed to won’t have a problem. She knows the department and the community, and there’s a lot to be said for that.

So there you have it, just a few of the personalities who have chimed in either on the Recall or other Things Livingston.

Who are the Rational People and who are the “Others”? You decide. J

Which reminds me….While we’re on the Subject of the Recall and such….can anyone explain to this poor slow GardeningSnail just why about the only thing in nearly 3 hours of discussion at Tuesday’s City Council Meeting was important enough to be translated into Spanish for the TV Audience was when the Recall was to take place (not to be confused with the General Election)?

Just asking….

Now…for the real reason you clicked to be here in the first place…..

Roy Soria, Chair
Kaye Greeley, Vice Chair
Luis Enrique Flores, Commissioner
Alex Gonzalez, Commissioner
Hugo Salgado, Commissioner
Manoj Bains, Alternate Commissioner

LIVINGSTON PLANNING COMMISSION

REGULAR MEETING AGENDA

July 13, 2010     7:00 P.M.

CITY CONFERENCE ROOM, 1416 C STREET, LIVINGSTON

Members of the public are advised that all pagers, cellular telephones and any other communication devices be put on vibrate mode or turned off during the Planning Commission meeting.

Call to Order:  7:00 PM                

Roll Call – Chairperson/Commissioners

Pledge of Allegiance

Item No. 1 – Consent Agenda

All matters listed under the Consent Agenda are considered routine by the Planning Commission and will be adopted by one action of the Commission unless any member of the Commission wishes to remove an item for separate consideration.

a.                 Action Minutes from the June 8, 2010, regular meeting.

Item No. 2 – Public Comment

Members of the Audience – At this time, any person may comment on any item that is NOT on the Agenda.  PLEASE STATE YOUR NAME AND ADDRESS FOR THE RECORD. While the Planning Commission encourages participation from the audience, no more than five (5) minutes are allowed per discussion item. Topics not considered urgency matters may be referred to City Staff and/or placed on the next agenda for consideration and/or action by the Planning Commission.

Item No. 3 – Public Hearings

a.       Site Plan/Design Review 2010-05.  AT&T has applied for Site Plan/Design Review to install six (6) new panel antennas on an existing tower and one new cabinet on the ground located at 2370 Walnut Avenue, pursuant to LMC 5-5-8.

b.       Site Plan/Design Review 2006-01 and Negative Declaration.  Foster Farms proposes to expand its rendering operation at the existing poultry processing Complex.  The existing building is approximately 6,150 square feet in size and will be expanded by an additional 2,500 square feet of covered and enclosed space. The building was previously used for producing a liquid pet food ingredient but has been out of service since September 2003.  An Initial Study and Negative Declaration were prepared for this project.  The 30 day public comment period on the Negative Declaration commenced on June 1, 2010 and ends July 1, 2010.

Item No. 4 – Reports

a.                   Planning Commission

b.                  City Staff

c.                   City Attorney

Item No. 5 – Adjournment to regular meeting on August 10, 2010. 

In compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, if you need special assistance to participate in this meeting, please contact the Community Development Department at (209) 394‑8041, Ext. 112.  Notification 48 hours prior to the meeting will enable the City to make reasonable arrangements to assure accessibility to this meeting.

Members of the public who have questions regarding any agenda item may comment on that item before and during consideration of that item when called upon by the Planning Commission Chairperson.

All actions of the Livingston Planning Commission can be appealed to the Livingston City Council by filing an appeal, in writing and paying the appropriate fees, with the City Clerk.


[i]  A reference to a Bulk Mailer soliciting signatures for the Recall that lacked the Name, Address, and FPPC ID# of the Organizing Committee.

[ii] Although this comment was later deleted by the Sun Star as “abusive”, I managed to make a copy before they did so.