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

Livingston, CA – 04/22/2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Which would

· Maintain safe and reliable drinking water for the community

and

· Address customer complaints

via the

Implementation of regular maintenance of the system

and that the

Program will use conventional flushing

1) System wide flushing

2) Spot flushing for specific cases

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

· Flushing Plan

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

– Flushing duration shall last 5-10 minutes

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

In addition

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

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

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

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

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

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

The MARCH 3, 2015 CLOSED SESSION included

  • 1 Case of Potential Litigation

  • Continued Labor Negotiations with All Represented and Unrepresented City Employees

  • Continued Discussion of City Manager Recruitment

During OPEN SESSION on MARCH 3:

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

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

CONSENT CALENDAR

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

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

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

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

DISCUSSION AND POTENTIAL ACTION ITEMS

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

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

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

ADJOURNMENT

The MARCH 17, 2015 CLOSED SESSION Included discussions about:

  • 1 Case of Potential Litigation

  • Continued Labor Negotiations with All Represented and Unrepresented City Employees

ANNOUNCEMENTS AND REPORTS

CITIZEN COMMENTS

During the OPEN SESSION of MARCH 17, 2015:

CONSENT CALENDAR

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

DISCUSSION AND POTENTIAL ACTION ITEMS

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

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

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

According to Youth Football Coach and City Council member Jim Soria, he had placed the Item on the January 21, 2014 City Council Agenda: partly in memory of Mike Coronado.  According to Council Member Soria, the recent death of Mike Coronado created a Special Circumstance which justified giving Youth Football priority other non-profit organizations. 

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

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

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

ADJOURNMENT

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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.

A Few Words About “Telling the Teacher’, A Few Appointments to Commissions, And a Planning Commission Agenda

“Always speak the truth-think before you speak-and write it down afterward.” – The Red Queen to Alice in Through the Looking Glass & What Alice Found There

“It is better to keep your mouth closed and let people think you are a fool than to open it and remove all doubt.” – Mark Twain.

“Wise men speak because they have something to say; Fools because they have to say something.” – Plato

“Where was the coverage when Espinoza, and Aguilar were asking questions regarding how the city was run their points rarely mentioned while other were front and center? Finally article states city council in hiding. I can think of one council member who has always made him self available Mr. North. Can you?” excerpted from a comment by Freethinker209 – Reporters’ Notebook: Livingston City Council in hiding? 

Some Kids Never Grow Up

If you’ve been a Mom or Dad long enough, you’ve probably heard several versions of “S/He’s bothering me!!!!!”

In the classroom, educators often hears versions of “Teeeeeeeeeecherrrrrrr! S/he’s LOOKING at me!” or “Teeeeeeecherrrr! S/he’s FOLLOWING me!” (or “Said a BAD Word!” or “Won’t play with me!” or “Isn’t playing nice!” or “Said s/he’s not my friend!” !or “Won’t let me play too!”)

You get the picture. 

Seems like one of the things kids struggle with is what to do when another child acts like a jerk (so to speak): someone who is just “mouthing off” or just being a “pest”.

Now at this point…I want to be very clear that “name calling” is not a good thing..and the “grown ups” should try to do as much as possible to nip this sort of thing in the bud. But “grown ups” can’t be everywhere all the time and kids need to learn how to deal with inappropriate behaviors like name calling or saying things like “I’m not your friend” etc. if they are ever to grow up into fully functioning adults. 

Now…when faced with an unhappy child who has just been told s’he’s “ugly” or “not my friend” etc., some of the angst can sometimes be deflected with a little Understanding and Humor. Depending on the child’s age, language ability, and developmental readiness, a conversation might go something like this:

Child, (crying hysterically) “Teeeeeeacherrrr! He said I was Ugly!”

Teacher, “Oh. That is SO not ok. Let’s check for damages. Is your left arm broken?”

Child, (slightly puzzled – but crying is starting to slow) “No”

Teacher, “Is your right arm broken?”

Child, (still puzzled – but usually stops crying) “No”

Teacher, “Are either of your legs broken?”

Child, (crying stopped, but still puzzled) “No”

Teacher, “How about your head. Have you sprouted horns?”

Child, (grinning begins) “No”

Teacher, “Are you sprouting a tail?” 

Child, (a giggle begins) “No”

Teacher, “Are you turning into a frog?”

Child, (usually in full giggle mode) No!

Teacher, “Well. If your arms aren’t broken, and your legs aren’t broken, and you aren’t growing horns or sprouting a tail and you’re not turning into a frog…. What would you like to do? Stay here with me or go back out and play?”

It’s been my experience that 9 times out of 10, by this time the child is in a relatively good humor and chooses to go play. Yes, following up with the “offender” is a good thing to do whenever humanly possible.

Now..What does this have to do with some kids never growing up? You get to decide at the end of this post. But first,

Let’s check into what is going on in Delta Bravo Sierra land.

There Are Political Versions of These Characters Too?

Complements of Damon Shackelford: furious scribbler of military cartoons. (He’s  on Facebook too!)

Recreation Commissioners Appointed

After many months of being “out of commission” the Recreation Commission now actually has Commissioners. The new Commissioners are

  1. David Blevins,
  2. Hector Becerra,
  3. Manuel Cota,
  4. Joylynn Peterson,
  5. Ricardo Soria and
  6. Julio Valadez 

There is still room for one more on the Recreation Commission and City Staff has been authorized to advertise for the remaining vacancy.

New Planning Commissioners Appointed

Harpreet Bains and Mario Mendoza have been appointed to fill the two vacancies on the Planning Commission.

While Harpreet Bains has yet to make a big splash in Meeting Minutes or Sun Star Articles, Mario Mendoza has already had his fair share of controversial behavior. As reported in the Merced Sun Star, Mr. Mendoza did not wish to be filmed during Planning Commissioner Interviews back in March, 2010. During the Run-Up-To-The-Recall he hosted, what was advertised as a Town Hall Meeting open to Anyone-Who-Wanted-The-Truth: only to cancel the gathering when some opposition to the Recall (and a Sun Star Reporter) showed up and he has alleged on at least two different occasions that the City took money from the Police and Fire Department to give to the Court Theater Project.

One can only hope that Mr. Mendoza can adapt to the idea of being recorded during Planning Commission Meetings and having his every word behind the Dais as part of the Public Record. (People are starting to ask that Planning Commission Meetings be televised. When that day comes, not being on camera will not be an option.)

As some City Council members have already found out, once you are on “that side” of the dais, you are “fair game” for Public Commenter’s and Political Pundits alike.

And though sometimes, “fair reporting” may not at all seem fair, (especially if you say something that some people think is….well…unflattering)…It just comes with the political territory.

Given that the most “colorful” member of the Recall Committee has been rewarded with a 4 year stint on the Planning Commission, maybe more people will start showing up to meetings.

If only to hear what comes out of his mouth next….

Speaking about not being flattered in print…..

Are Some Councilpersons Hiding From The Sun Star?

If you’ve been reading the Sun Star lately, you’ve probably noticed that Gurpal Samra seems to do most, if not all, of the talking to reporters.

Things got, a tad testy at the last Council Meeting, when a person went to the Podium during Public Comments and asked about why it was Gurpal who seemed to be the only Council Person with ideas and “available” for comments. Sun Star Reporter Mike North got quite the tongue lashing from Mayor Espinoza and Council Persons Aguilar and Land because of that question. They claimed the Sun Star only wrote stories that makes Livingston look bad and does nothing but twist their words so they (Espinoza/Aguilar and Land) look bad.

And….. they made it really, really absolutely crystal clear that they don’t ever, ever, ever intend to talk to the Sun Star again! 

Not now. Not ever! (So THERE!!!!!)

After all, (as they were saying), they figure most of their supporters don’t even read the Sun Star anyway and can get any answers to any questions by contacting them directly, so…who needs to talk to the Sun Star anyway?

So Sun Star, don’t ask cuz they won’t tell!

And (by the way) they definitely want the Sun Star Reporter to quit following them out the door after Council Meetings. (Why it makes some of them feel like they are being absolutely stalked – doncha know.)

So…if it seems like Gurpal Samra is the only one talking to Sun Star Reporters, it’s most likely because at least 3 of the others have decided that they and the Sun Star “are not friends”.

Now Council Person Samra, on the other hand, (who has a rather "thick political hide")understands that not every story in the Media (old or new) is going to go the way he might like. But he also knows that to get all “hissed off” and beat up on the Media is not in his best interest in the long run.

So much better to behave “above the fray” and come across as a “class act”, than an emotional, petulant whiner .

You see…He’s been in the “political arena” for quite some time and knows the value of going out of his way to develop a decent working relationship with Reporters. He’s also quite adept at giving a reporter quotes that are concise and "to the point" (as he might frame it at the moment) and characterized by decent Subject-Verb agreement. He doesn’t ramble all over the place and leave a person wondering just what the heck he just said.

You might not agree with what he just said, but at least you can UNDERSTAND what he just said.

Of all the members of the Council, Gurpal is the most "politically astute" and "politically adroit" and knows the value of "name recognition". While some of the other Council Members make it a practice to attack the Media head on at Council Meetings, he usually stays out of the fray.

After all, if you’re going to “chat up” a reporter before and after Council Meetings (and times in between), it’s probably not a good idea to attack him/her during Open Session.

From a pure "political/marketing 101 perspective", being "available" and not attacking the Sun Star in Open Session is just plain smart. Gurpal comes across as the "reasonable-grown up-member-of-the-council" and gets opportunities to put his name out over and over while the other members of the Council appear like petulant adolescents who are more willing to hide under a rock than talk to the Sun Star.

And though some Aguilar/Land/Espinoza supporters may not read the Merced Sun Star, it’s a pretty good bet the Business Community At Large does. Think about it. If you are thinking of doing business in or with any particular City, wouldn’t you check out the local paper to get a sense of what’s going on? What the Local Politics is like? Whether or not it is worth the time, effort, and money to go through the permitting process and build there?

And wouldn’t you be thinking about who just might be the best person on the Council to pitch your ideas too?

Since Gurpal has been in the political arena for more than a couple years or so, he understands the best way to play “comment tag’ with the press. Maybe he can take some of the more “junior” members of the council aside and ask them. (Re: The Sun Star)

“Did it break your arms?” “Did it break your legs?”

“Did it make you sprout horns?” “Did it make you sprout a tail?”

“Did it turn you into a frog?” And maybe add..

“Just because a reporter may be following you out the door, it doesn’t mean he’s “stalking” you. He’s more likely just going to his truck in the same parking lot… and has just as much right to park there as anybody else.

And now…on to the

Planning Commission Agenda

PLANNING COMMISSION

Roy Soria, Chair

Vacant, Vice Chair

Luis Enrique Flores, Commissioner

Alex Gonzalez, Commissioner

Vacant, Commissioner

Manoj Bains, Alternate Commissioner

LIVINGSTON PLANNING COMMISSION
REGULAR MEETING AGENDA

FEBRUARY 8, 2011 7:00 P.M.

CITY COUNCIL CHAMBERS, 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 (Soria, Gonzalez, Flores, M. Bains)

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 January 11, 2011 regular meeting.

Item No. 2 – Introduction of Incoming Commissioners/Election of Officers

a. Introduce new Commissioners Harpreet Bains and Mario Mendoza

b. Election of New Chair and Vice-Chair

Item No. 3 – Public Comment

a. 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. 4 – Public Hearings

a. Conditional Use Permit 2010-05 – Clearwire, LLC. Applicant has applied for a Conditional Use Permit to install a sixty (60) foot palm tree antenna tower with antennas to be located at 321 Second Street, pursuant to LMC 5-5-8.

This item was Continued from the Planning Commission’s regular meeting of January 11, 2011. Per applicant request it is on hold until further notice.

Item No. 5 – Reports

a. Planning Commission

b. City Staff -Planning 101

c. City Attorney

Item No. 6 – Adjournment to regular meeting on March 8, 2011.

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.

Don’t Forget..If you want some even more reading you can go to

The 1995 Water Rate Resolution (Do you see anything in there that says “Industrial”?)

California Department of Health Sept. 2010 Letter on Water System Funding

Well #15 Enforcement Letter & Staff Report

Well #15 Manganese Enforcement Letter Discussions

How They Voted in 2006

How They Voted in 2007

How They Voted in 2008

How They Voted in 2009

How They Voted in 2010 (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