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

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.

Trash Cans and Smoke Shops; Resignations and Recruitments; Speed Bumps and Sand in the Water: A Brief Summary of January, 2015

Livingston, California 2/21/2015

The thought was if you’re going through it for recyclables, a penalty of $25 is going to mean a lot to that person. It’s going to be quite a bit of money. City Attorney, City of Livingston, January 06, 2015 City Council Meeting: appx. 32:27,

This is kinda dumb. We will have police doing garbage duty. City Council Member David Mendoza, January o6, City Council Meeting. appx. 37:40

Passing this ordinance does not automatically allow a Smoke Shop to come in. There still has to be a CUP. City Attorney, City of Livingston, City Council Meeting, January 06, 2015 City Council Meeting: appx. 54:47 

A Conditional Use permit can be appealed to the Council and we can dictate some of the items there. Mayor Rodrigo Espinoza, January 06, City Council Meeting. appx. 1:08:07

The following contains a brief summary of a few things that happened in the City of Livingston during the month of January, 2015, Council Agendas for the month of January, and a few links to relevant Sun Star Articles.

Livingston’s police officers and their supervisors started the new year with a 5 percent pay cut; the Resignation of City Manager Jose Antonio Ramirez became final; the City Council called for the Resignation of the Planning Commission’s Chairman, appointed Odilion Ortiz as Interim City Manager, adopted an Ordinance prohibiting trash scavenging and imposing fines, adopted an Ordinance regulating Smoke Shops and Smoking Lounges, discussed speed bumps, approved emergency repairs to Wells 9 and 11, approved a Memorandum of Understanding with the Public Works and Parks Employees Unit, and talked about how hard it seems to be to recruit members for the Recreation Comission.

The RESIGNATION OF CITY MANAGER Jose Antonio Ramirez became final at the end of January. During the January 06th and 20th City Council meeting, he presented a List of Items the City Council would need to address some time in the future:

  • Amending the Watering Ordinance

  • The Repairs needed to be done to the City’s Water Storage Tank

  • Planning Fees Increases

  • Well Deconstruction Fees. The City will have to start issuing Well Deconstruction Permits.

  • Master Plans for Sewer, Water, and Storm Drains need to be updated

  • The 4th of July Committee would like to come under the umbrella of the City

  • Sunvalley Estates and Well #17  improvements

  • Devante Villas project: haven’t heard from them in a while. But sure they will be coming back

  • Kera (?) Fernandez Reimbursement issue: Staff is working with legal council on this issue

  • AB1600 Draft: Final draft is ready. Staff is working with legal council to move foreword with the adoption.

  • Tree Grant: the city still has trees to plant

  • Winton Parkway Development: Mr. Javier Galvan is very interested in moving that project forward with his partners. He mentioned he had a letter from the City from some years ago promising funding for the Winton Parkway street.

  • New WCIII Proposed Fees Schedule as part of the Building Services Department

  • Pipeline from Well #14 to Well #8 currently being designed and going out to bid in early spring.

  • Well #17 CBDG Grant Project.

  • Well #13 Project Design complete and going out to bid in February. (California Department of Public Health Grant)

  • Well #15 Project should either be a grant or a 0% loan

  • Groundwater Levels have dropped and monitoring needs to continue. 35 to 40 foot drop last year. Levels have risen about a foot this year.

  • Self Monitoring for ADA Requirements. As the City has been replacing curbs, gutters, and sidewalks, issues are being addressed.

  • Community Facility District Formation in the Winton Parkway area. Once the Gallo Subdivision takes place, make sure that goes forward. 

  • National Endowment for the Arts Grant has been applied for, in conjunction with the Merced Arts Council: Start a Mural Project in the Down Town, beginning with the City Owned Building next to the Council Chambers.

  • Tax Sharing Agreement with the County has yet to be finalized.

  • Cal Trans Campbell Project Properties: They are trying to come up with the cost of those odd shaped properties so they can tell the City what they want for them.

  • Health Insurance: There had only been 1 response to the Request for Proposals. Council might want to extend the request period.

The City Council Members called for the RESIGNATION OF PLANNING COMMISION Chair Luis Flores on the grounds that his position as Livingston Unified School Board Member was “incompatible” with membership in the Planning Commission. (I must admit, I’m scratching my head a bit on this one. It’s OK to be a member of the Real Estate Profession and be on the Planning Commission. But it’s not OK to be on the School Board and be on the Planning Commission.)

An ANTI-TRASH SCAVENGING ORDINANCE was adopted. The possible fines for those caught digging through other people’s trash would be as follows. First offense: warning. Second offense: $25. Third offense: $50. When asked who would be responsible for issuing Warnings and Citations, the reply was it would be the responsibility of the Police Department to issue citations . (After responding to a phone call from a resident complaining about scavengers)

An ORDINANCE was adopted which allowed SMOKE SHOPS in the Industrial Areas of town; and also in the Downtown Commercial Area with a Conditional Use Permit. During the Council’s discussion, the City Attorney stated that passing this ordinance does not automatically allow a Smokeshop to come in – there would still need to be a CUP and Mayor Espinoza made the point that any CUP granted could be appealed to the City Council. (I’m having a serious case of deja vu here)

Ruby and Emerald streetsWhether or not SPEEDBUMPS were needed in parts of the City was discussed. The Mayor stated he had been getting complaints about speeding vehicles by residents by Ruby and Emerald Streets. Discussion included:

  • What triggers the need for a speed bump

  • What impact would speed bumps have on emergency vehicles.

  • What kinds of speed bumps should be considered.

  • How much do they cost?

  • And perhaps there should be a Speed Survey before going ahead and installing speed bumps.

The City of Livingston and the AFSCME Public Works and Parks Employees Unit, came to a tentative agreement to a one (l) year Memorandum of Understanding, covering the period July 1, 2014 through June 30, 2015 consisting of one (l) furlough per month, freezing 20 hours of vacation cash­ outs effective July 1, 2014 through June 30, 2015 and $75 per month towards medical insurance premiums.

For more details about topics discussed during the January, 2015 City Council Meetings, see below.

JANUARY 06, 2015

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CITY COUNCIL REGULAR MEETING AGENDA

JANUARY 6, 2015

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 6, 2015, at the City Council Chambers, 1416 C Street, Livingston, California. Persons with disabilities who may need assistance should contact the Deputy City Clerk at least 24 hours prior to this meeting at (209) 394-8041, Ext. 121. Any writings or documents pertaining to an Open Session item provided to a majority of the members of the legislative body less than 72 hours prior to the meeting shall be made available for public inspection at Livingston City Hall, 1416 C Street. The Open Session will begin at 7:00 p.m. The Closed Session will be held in accordance with state law prior to the Open Session beginning at 6:00 p.m. The Closed Session will be held at the City Council Chambers located at 1416 C Street. The agenda shall be as follows:

Closed Session

1. Call to Order.

2. Roll Call.

CLOSED SESSION

A “Closed” or “Executive” Session of the City Council or the Livingston Redevelopment Agency may be held in accordance with state law which may include, but is not limited to, the following types of items: personnel matters, labor negotiations, security matters, providing instructions to real property negotiators, conference with legal counsel regarding pending litigation. The Closed Session will be held in the City Council Chambers 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: Interim City Manager

2. Public Employee Appointment

(Government Code Section 54957)

Title: City Manager

City Manager Recruitment

3. Conference with Real Property Negotiator

(Government Code Section 54956.8)

Property: APN: 024-011-016, Olive Avenue

APN: 023-100-049, Burgundy Drive

Negotiating Party: City Manager

4. Conference with Labor Negotiator

(Government Code Section 54957.6)

Labor Negotiator: City Manager Jose Antonio Ramirez

Employee Organizations: All Represented City Employees

Regular Meeting

CALL TO ORDER Next Resolution Number: 2015-1

Next Ordinance Number: 621

Pledge of Allegiance.

Roll Call.

Changes to the Agenda.

ANNOUNCEMENTS AND REPORTS

Supervisor John Pedrozo Announcements and Reports.

City Staff Announcements and Reports.

City Manager Announcements and Reports.

City Council Members’ Announcements and Reports.

Mayor’s Announcements and Reports.

PUBLIC HEARINGS

1. Introduce and Waive the First Reading of an Ordinance Amending the City’s Municipal Code by Adding Chapter 8-8 Prohibiting Unauthorized Entry into Waste Containers.

2. Introduce and Waive the First Reading of Ordinance No.___ of the City Council of the City of Livingston Amending Livingston Municipal Code (LMC) Title 5, Zoning Regulations: Sections 5-2-3, 5-2-4, 5-3-15, Tables 3 and 4, and the Addition of Section 5-5-13 under Specific Use Regulations.

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.

3. Approval of Minutes of Meeting Held on November 13, 2014.

4. Approval of Minutes of Meeting Held on December 2, 2014.

5. Approval of Warrant Register Dated December 30, 2014.

DISCUSSION AND POTENTIAL ACTION ITEMS

6. Discussion – Installation of Speed Bumps Throughout the City and Related Costs.

ADJOURNMENT

JANUARY 20, 2015

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CITY COUNCIL REGULAR MEETING AGENDA

JANUARY 20, 2015

CLOSED SESSION: 5:45 P.M.

OPEN SESSION: 7:00 P.M.

Notice is hereby given that the City Council will hold a Regular Meeting on January 20, 2015, 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 5:45 p.m. The Closed Session will be held at the City Council Chambers located at 1416 C Street. The agenda shall be as follows:

Closed Session

1. Call to Order.

2. Roll Call.

CLOSED SESSION

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

3. Public Employee Appointment

(Government Code Section 54957)

Title: Interim City Manager

4. Public Employee Appointment

(Government Code Section 54957)

Title: City Manager

City Manager Recruitment

5. Conference with Labor Negotiator

(Government Code Section 54957.6)

Labor Negotiator: City Manager Jose Antonio Ramirez

Employee Organizations: All Unrepresented City Employees

6. Conference with Labor Negotiator

(Government Code Section 54957.6)

Labor Negotiators: City Manager Jose Antonio Ramirez and City Attorney Jose M. Sanchez

Employee Organizations: All Represented City Employees

7. Conference with Legal Counsel – Potential Litigation

(Government Code Section 54956.9(d)(2))

Number of Cases: 1

Regular Meeting

CALL TO ORDER Next Resolution Number: 2015-1

Next Ordinance Number: 623

Pledge of Allegiance.

Roll Call.

Changes to the Agenda.

AWARDS, PRESENTATIONS, APPOINTMENTS AND PROCLAMATIONS

1. Introduction and Swearing-in of new Police Dispatcher Veronica Bates by Chief Ruben Chavez and City Clerk Tony Silva.

2. Presentation of a plaque by Mayor Rodrigo Espinoza to out-going City Manager Jose Antonio Ramirez in recognition and appreciation for his service, dedication and accomplishments to the City of Livingston.

ANNOUNCEMENTS AND REPORTS

Supervisor John Pedrozo Announcements and Reports.

City Staff Announcements and Reports.

City Manager Announcements and Reports.

City Council Members’ Announcements and Reports.

Mayor’s Announcements and Reports.

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.

3. Waive the Second Reading and Adopt Ordinance No. 621, Amending the City’s Municipal Code by Adding Chapter 8-8 Prohibiting Unauthorized Entry into Waste Containers.

4. Waive the Second Reading and Adopt Ordinance No. 622, of the City Council of the City of Livingston Amending Livingston Municipal Code (LMC) Title 5, Zoning Regulations: Sections 5-2-3, 5-2-4, 5-3-15, Tables 3 and 4, and the Addition of Section 5-5-13 under Specific Use Regulations.

5. Resolution Approving a One (1) Year Memorandum of Understanding Between the City of Livingston and the AFSCME Public Works and Parks Employees Unit.

6. Approval of Warrant Register Dated January 15, 2015.

DISCUSSION AND POTENTIAL ACTION ITEMS

7. City Council Direction on Appointment of Parks and Recreation Commission Members.

8. City Council Accept and Authorize Sweeper Truck Repairs Quote from Ry-Den Truck Center, Inc.

9. Approve a Supply Capacity of 2,000 gpm for Well No. 17.

10. Approve a Purchase of Sand Filtration Equipment for Wells No. 9 and 11B.

11. Discussion and Possible Action – Potential Incompatibility of Offices by Planning Commissioner Serving as Both a City Planning Commissioner and a Livingston Union School District Board Member.

ADJOURNMENT

And for even more of January’s goings on in the City of Livingston, you can go to the following Sun Star Articles.

Livingston considers banning trash scavengers – People rummaging through trash every night is a rude awakening to some residents, and now Livingston city leaders are now considering a law to ban people from digging through trash for recyclables and other materials.

Livingston council OKs trash scavenger ban and smoke shops – Despite one council member calling it “dumb” and “ridiculous,” an ordinance that penalizes people for rummaging through other people’s trash is one step closer to becoming law

New AutoZone opens in Livingston, fuels city’s future growth plans – The city’s motto may be “The Last Stop,” but city leaders are pushing to make Livingston the first stop for business growth, starting with a new AutoZone store that opened its doors this week

Livingston planning commissioner might be removed; officials cite conflict of interest The Livingston City Council on Tuesday discussed ousting a planning commissioner because of a potential conflict of interest with his elected seat on the city’s school board

Sikh bonfire festival in Livingston marks end of winter

Bird flu found at Foster Farms turkey ranch in California – THE ASSOCIATED PRESS – 01/25/2015 – The Merced Sun Star – Hundreds of turkeys at a Central California ranch are being killed to prevent the spread of a type of avian flu that is not a threat to people but can decimate poultry flocks

Arsenic, TCP and Salmonella; Lawsuits and Politics; A Look Back at 2014 and A City Council Agenda

LIVINGSTON CALIFORNIA – 2/01/2015

A Livingston public works employees union recently questioned the mayor’s friendly relationship with Mendoza, in addition to accusing Mendoza of harassment.– Espinoza, however, said his friendship with Mendoza had nothing to do with him getting invited to China. “We’ve been friends, and we talk once in a while, but that didn’t play a part,” the mayor said. from Livingston council questioned over China trip – Ramona – Merced Sun Star – 12/03/2014

“There is an urgent need to have Well 16 back on-line in the near future to meet the City’s water demands that will likely increase in the Spring and Summer.” From STAFF REPORT -  Resolution Approving an Agreement with Shannon Pump for Sampling and Repairs to Well 16, Making Findings Supporting that Award of Such Agreement is Exempt from Competitive Bidding Requirements and Authorizing the City Manager to Execute the Agreement. MEETING DATE: February 18, 2014

Approximately 18,267 sq. ft of land is needed to locate the treatment facilities at the existing Well No. 8. The adjacent property (APN 024-020-023 and 029) is owned by Foster Farms.  From  STAFF REPORT  AGENDA ITEM: Resolution Authorizing the Purchase of Land Needed for the Installation of Water Treatment Facilities at the City Water Supply Well No. 8, Approval of the Appraisal Report Prepared by The Thomas Wilkins Company, and Authorizing the City Manager to Execute the Agreement with Foster Farms for the Purchase of the Land.  MEETING DATE: May 21, 2013

One of the city’s largest water wells previously plagued by a major contaminant now runs with a new filtration system, city officials announced this week…….The upgraded well, located on Livingston Cressey Road, near the Foster Farms plant, was chosen because water drawn from it contains high levels of TCP contamination, said Livingston Mayor Pro Tem Gurpal Samra…. The well pumps 1,200 gallons of water per minute to the city, with the majority used by Foster Farms. Livingston water well receives $2.3 million filter system – Ramona Giwargis – The Merced Sun Star – 12/30/2014

Without Livingston, there is no Foster Farms, and without Foster Farms, there is no Livingston. Those were the words of Mayor Pro Tem Gurpal Samra as he explained the company’s impact on the city. Samra joined Mayor Rodrigo Espinoza and Councilman Arturo Sicairos in presenting Foster Farms CEO Ron Foster with a commemorative key to the city Tuesday night. From Livingston city officials present Foster Farms with key to city – Ramona Giwargis – Modesto Bee -07/16/2014

This is not an all inclusive discussion of everything that happened in Livingston during 2014. It is only a brief look at what I consider some of the more significant historical and political happenings in the City of Livingston.

preparing-to-take-down-the-marqueeCOURT THEATER IS DEMOLISHED – Another sad chapter in Livingston’s History has ended with the destruction of the Court Theater.  In 2001, the City had purchased the Court Theater with the high hopes of restoring the Theater and transforming it into a Cultural Arts Center . In 2005, the City received a Community Development Block Grant: which it used to complete Architectural Drawings in 2008.

But between trouble getting enough additional financing, accusations in 2010 that Police and Fire Department budgets were cut to finance the project, and the deterioration of the relationship between City Council Members, the Court Theater Committee in 2011, it became pretty clear the Court Theater Project was doomed.

The City was able to salvage some of the Grant Money it had received by getting permission from the State to use these funds for improvements at Gallo Park.

The City also made attempts to save the Theater’s Marquee, Ticket Booth, and Sign.

WITHOUT LIVINGSTON, THERE IS NO FOSTER FARMS, AND WITHOUT FOSTER, THERE IS NO LIVINGSTON – In a previous post, I talked about the Symbiotic and Sometimes Dysfunctional Relationship between Foster Farms and the City of Livingston. Since Foster Farms is the largest consumer of water in Livingston: using at up to 66% of the water produced from Livingston’s wells, it can’t help but have a large influence on the size and condition of Livingston’s Water Delivery System.

Most of you remember that 2013 ended with Foster Farms coming under intense scrutiny due to an outbreak of antibiotic resistant Salmonella. This continued into 2014 as Livingston braced for fallout from an idled Foster Farms .  Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro reacted to the closing of the plant due to roaches as “long overdue.”: pushing for action against the company. Three days after federal inspectors shut it down Foster Farms got the OK to reopen plant only to shut it down again a day after reopening in order to expand safety procedures.

As the number sickened by salmonella outbreak rose to 430, according to government reports Foster Farms reopened the plant after a 10-day closure. And while Salmonella cases continued to grow, Foster Farms noted progress with it’s safety and prevention efforts

By April salmonella cases linked to Foster Farms, were reported to have grown to 524 people in 25 states and Puerto Rico.

May 2014 brought a couple of interesting developments. In Virginia, Foster Farms, in conjunction with Marketing & Planning Specialists LP, filed a federal lawsuit claiming the EPA improperly applied the Clean Water Act on land they wish to develop. In California, Foster Farms blamed and sued its exterminator for cockroaches.

The Months of June saw Foster Farms celebrating its 75th anniversary.  Meanwhile, in Congress, Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) and Rep. Louise M. Slaughter (D-N.Y.) introduced a bill called the Pathogens Reduction and Testing Reform Act: which would require the USDA to recall meat, poultry and egg products contaminated by pathogens that cause serious illnesses or death and that are also resistant to two or more classes of antibiotics commonly used to treat human illnesses

In July, Foster Farms received the Key To The City of Livingston from Livingston’s Officials;  issued its first voluntary chicken recall since 2013 salmonella outbreak ; updated the recall to include additional "use or freeze by" and "best by" dates; and sued its insurance companies for recall reimbursement in ‘cockroach infestation’ “arguing that the forced closure of a plant earlier this year by the government and subsequent destruction of chicken amounted to a recall”.

By July 31, The Center for Disease Control said the salmonella outbreak appeared to be over. In September Foster Farms recalled chicken from Louisiana due to possible contamination by Listeria.

In October Ron Foster announced he would step down as Foster Farms President and CEO.

In November, a billboard scrutinizing Foster Farms was set up: an indication that Foster Farms still has a ways to go before things settle down to “business as usual.”

WITHOUT LIVINGSTON’S WATER, WHAT WOULD BECOME OF FOSTER FARMS?

Impact on Foster Farms

Without the “low cost” water coming from Livingston’s wells, there would be no Foster Farms as we know it today. I’ve already mentioned the Symbiotic and Sometimes Dysfunctional Relationship between Foster Farms and the City of Livingston and how Foster Farms is the largest consumer of Livingston’s water.

In 2014, The City of Livingston purchased land from Foster Farms, in order to have enough room to install a TCP Filtration system on a well that sends most of it’s water to Foster Farms. 

I have also noted that, in the long run, Foster Farms would need to address an issue much larger than cockroaches and salmonella: that of having enough water that meets State and Federal Drinking Water Standards.

It is no secret, to those who have been paying attention, that Livingston’s Water Delivery system has been degrading over time. Arsenic levels have been rising and Foster Farms had to shut down at least 1 shift in February 2013 due to problems with water quality

In December, 2013, California River Watch served the City of Livingston with a 60-Day Notice of Violations and Intent to File Suit alleging various violations of the federal Safe Drinking Water Act. This was followed up with a Complaint against the City in the United States District Court, Eastern District of California, Case No. 1:14-CV-00437-AWI-MJS. In June 12, 2014, this was followed by a 90-Day Notice of Violations and Intent to File Suit alleging various violations of the federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act. 

A Settlement Agreement and Release was signed in September 2014. Some of the agreed upon actions to be taken by the City include:

  • Well 13Install and operate wellhead treatment for Arsenic at Well No. 13 no later than June 1, 2016.

  • Continue monitoring for Arsenic at Well No. 13 consistent with federal Safe Drinking Water Act and California Safe Drinking Water Act requirements.

  • Well 8-9(b) Install and operate wellhead treatment for 1,2,3 Trichloropropane (“TCP”) at Well No. 8 no later than January 1, 2015.

  • Within six (6) months after the Effective Date of the Agreement, post on its website information regarding the City’s efforts to address TCP in drinking water.

  • on a semi-annual basis, provide inserts in its utility bills that provide information on efforts to address TCP.

  • update its website and the utility bill inserts, as needed, to reflect current
    information.

In January, Governor Brown had declared a drought emergency, and urged residents to reduce water consumption by 20 percent

Shortly thereafter, the Livingston City Council voted to ban outside watering on certain days of the week. “City leaders said the plan has been in the works the past few years, but was given a new sense of urgency after the governor declared a drought on Friday.”

Well 16In February, the Livingston council approved an urgent contract for repairs at Well #16 

In April, the City Council voted to begin the Proposition 218 Process for Water rate increase. Notices about Livingston rate increases went out the following Friday .  Meetings were held at which the new Rate Structure was discussed

In June the Livingston council approved utility rate increases and also approved a contract for emergency repairs to a damaged main pipe at the wastewater treatment plant . It should be noted that the Water Rate Increases adopted by the City of Livingston assume that Grants and Low/No Interest Loans from the State Drinking Water Revolving Loan Fund will fund the majority of Repairs/Upgrades to Livingston’s Wells and Water Delivery System over the next 5 years: any loans to be paid back over the next 20 to 30 years.

In September, the City received a Notice of Violation from the Water Board regarding the Domestic Wastewater Treatment Plant for not meeting certain testing and reporting requirements.

Well 8-9Well 11 - 15In November, there was discussion about wells #11 and #9 having been taken offline because of sand causing problems with Foster Farms: overwhelming their filters.

By the end of December, the TCP Filtration System on Well #8 was up and running; and the City Council approved the purchase of Arsenic Filtration equipment to be eventually installed on Well #13. As I mentioned earlier, installing filtration on both of these wells was covered in the Settlement Agreement between the City of Livingston and California River Watch.

BUDGETS,  CONCESSIONS, AND DEFICITS

Although the 2013/2014 Fiscal Year began back in JULY 2013, the Budget for that year wasn’t adopted until March 2014. This budget included salary reductions and other concessions from employees

The 2014/2015 Fiscal Year was barely over in June before the Budget for the Next Year Fiscal year was predicted to be $146,000 in the hole. Employees were again asked for a 7 percent pay cut: which was rejected.

In JULY a Memorandum of Understanding and a Side Letter Concessions Agreement between the City of Livingston and the City of Livingston Management and Confidential Employees Association was adopted. Terms included:

  • One furlough day per month

  • 1% pay decrease effective July 1, 2014 – June 30, 2015

  • $100 per month medical contribution per member

  • freezing 40 hours of vacation cash outs.

In August, the City Council adopted a budget which included a deficit of $44,000. The Council also considered the topic of planning fee increases. The leader of the Public Works Employees union expressed frustration over the way labor negotiations were being handled

A Resolution Approving a Successor Memorandum of Understanding Between the City of Livingston and the Livingston Police Officers’ Association (LPOA) OE3 Unit for the Period of January 1, 2015 through June 30, 2015 was approved in December of 2014.

A Memorandum of Understanding for the AFSCME Public Works and Parks Employees Unit for the period July 1, 2014 through June 30, 2015 was not approved until January 2015 and included one (l) furlough per month, freezing 20 hours of vacation cash­ outs effective July 1, 2014 through June 30, 2015 and contributions of $75 per month towards medical insurance premiums.

MAYOR’S TERMS, “POLITICS”, FIREWORKS, AND “FAVORITISM”

IN JANUARY, the Livingston City Council approved a ballot measure which would EXTEND THE MAYOR’S TERM of office from two years to four: in order to maintain “institutional knowledge” on the council according to Mayor Pro Tem Gurpal Samra, who had placed this item on the Agenda.

A previous ballot measure in 2006, Measure C, had asked Livingston voters if they wanted their mayors to have a two year or a four-year term. By about 66 of the vote, the term for mayor was limited to two-years. In 2006, voters said “no” to a 4-year term for mayor. Voters said “no” again in 2014. Voters said “no” again in 2014

IN JANUARY, The Council also discussed changing the way Fireworks Booth Permits were distributed by the city. Directions given to Staff was to include language in an Ordinance that would allow the City Council the ability to award the “COUNCIL’S CHOICE” to the Livingston Youth Football Organization for (2) CONSECUTIVE YEARS.  According to Youth Football Coach and City Council member Jim Soria, he had placed the Item on the January 21, City Council Agenda. 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.

There was another discussion of the proposed Ordinance on February 18, and March 04: along with a fair share of criticism, replete with allegations of favoritism.

The actual Issuance of Permits to Sell Safe and Sane Fireworks took place on April 15th. Although Mayor Pro-Tem Samra made a motion to put all applications in a lottery,  Council Member Jim Soria’s “push to award a fireworks stand to a nonprofit for which he volunteers proved successful” by a 2-1 vote.

Allegations of “favoritism” was not limited out to just the handing out of Fireworks Booth Permits.  One of Livingston’s unions alleged acts  sexual harassment were committed by the City’s Public Works Supervisor.   “the union began receiving numerous complaints about his leadership, leading to a vote of no confidence signed by 11 employees in May” in addition to (allegations that) “Mendoza has an inappropriate relationship with Mayor Rodrigo Espinoza, allowing the mayor to have preferential treatment on projects related to his property.”

And although Mayor Espinoza claimed favoritism was not a factor when he picked who would travel with him to China , it couldn’t prevent questions from being raised. Public Works Supervisor Ruben Mendoza also went on the trip: in addition to Council Member Jim Soria, and City Manager Jose Ramirez. According to the Mayor Espinoza “I got invited through a friend and former mayor of Lathrop,” and was asked to invite 10 other people.

2014 WAS AN ELECTION YEAR with two seats “up for grabs” on the City Council, and also had it’s fair share of controversy.  A photograph circulated by Mayor Pro-Temp Gurpal Samra elicited claims of “dirty politics” and slander by by his opponent: Planning Commissioner Mario Mendoza. 

THE CITY MANAGER ANNOUNCED HIS INTENTION TO RESIGN during a Special City Council Meeting in DECEMBER. According to the City Attorney, the Report out of Closed Session, as stated by the City Attorney, was as follows:

Tonight in Closed Session, the City Manager informed the City Council that he is resigning from his employment with the City.  Mr. Ramirez has elected to resign to pursue personal and professional opportunities outside of the region.

The City Council on a vote of 4-0-1 (Council Member Mendoza was not present) has accepted the City Manager’s resignation and has agreed to waive the 60 days’ notice provision in the City Manager’s contract. 

The City Manager’s last day of employment with the City will be January 31st

Mr. Ramirez has expressed his willingness to continue to assist the City with current projects and to assist in the City’s transition to a new City Manager.  The City will be working with Mr. Ramirez to accomplish this

And now, on to the

CITY COUNCIL REGULAR MEETING AGENDA

FEBRUARY 3, 2015

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 February 3, 2015, at the City Council Chambers, 1416 C Street, Livingston, California. Persons with disabilities who may need assistance should contact the Deputy City Clerk at least 24 hours prior to this meeting at (209) 394-8041, Ext. 121. Any writings or documents pertaining to an Open Session item provided to a majority of the members of the legislative body less than 72 hours prior to the meeting shall be made available for public inspection at Livingston City Hall, 1416 C Street. The Open Session will begin at 7:00 p.m. The Closed Session will be held in accordance with state law prior to the Open Session beginning at 6:00 p.m. The Closed Session will be held at the City Council Chambers located at 1416 C Street. The agenda shall be as follows:

Closed Session

1. Call to Order.

2. Roll Call.

CLOSED SESSION

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

3. Conference with Legal Counsel – Potential Litigation

((Government Code Section 54956.9(d)(2))

Number of Cases: 2

4. Public Employee Appointment

(Government Code Section 54957)

Title: City Manager

City Manager Recruitment

5. Conference with Labor Negotiator(Government Code Section 54957.6)

Labor Negotiator: Interim City Manager Odi Ortiz Employee Organizations: All Represented City Employees

Regular Meeting

CALL TO ORDER Next Resolution Number: 2015-3

Next Ordinance Number: 623

Pledge of Allegiance.

Roll Call.

Changes to the Agenda.

AWARDS, PRESENTATIONS, APPOINTMENTS AND PROCLAMATIONS

1. Mayor Rodrigo Espinoza – Presentation of Key to the City plaques to members of Grupo Musical Los Kinos for their continuous contributions to the Livingston community.

ANNOUNCEMENTS AND REPORTS

Supervisor John Pedrozo Announcements and Reports.

City Staff Announcements and Reports.

City Manager Announcements and Reports.

City Council Members’ Announcements and Reports.

Mayor’s Announcements and Reports.

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.

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

3. Approval of Minutes of Meeting Held on December 16, 2014.

4. Approval of Warrant Register Dated January 29, 2015.

DISCUSSION AND POTENTIAL ACTION ITEMS

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

6. Resolution Approving the First Amendment and Restatement to Agreement for Employment between the City of Livingston and Ruben Chavez for the Position of Police Chief.

7. Vacancies and Appointments to the Livingston Planning Commission.

8. Council Accept and Authorize Temporary Outsourcing of City’s Street Sweeping Services with Gilton Solid Waste.

9. Discussion Regarding Changes to the DTC Zone.

10. Discussion Item: Consideration of Changing the City Logo Slogan from “The Last Stop” to “Sweet Potato Capital of the World.”

11. Discussion Item: Twelve Acres of Industrial Land at the Max Foster Sports Complex.

ADJOURNMENT