The first meeting of the year will have the new Tustin City Councilmembers rolling up their sleeves and digging in. With only a week away, the TUSD lawsuit is a topic of discussion in closed session. The council is also set to approve the employment contract for a new deputy city manager as well as a request for additional funding for construction projects related to Tustin Ranch Road.
Conference with Legal Counsel – Initiation/Exposure to litigation – Four cases, altogether.
Item 3 – Conference with Legal Counsel – Existing Litigation – Unless continued again, the main lawsuits between Tustin and TUSD are set to begin January 28th. This is the last chance for the city council to do the right thing and authorize the city manager or other negotiators to come to terms with the school district. That is, assuming the school district still has a mind to negotiate. Frankly, we think it may be past that. TUSD is heavily favored to win any trial and has nearly $1.5 million in attorney fees that can only be recovered through agreement (not likely) or litigation.
Conference with Real Property Negotiators – A variety of property at the MCAS base will be the subject of discussion including a parcel with the Army Reserve Center. In December, the US Army apparently sent a letter to the city declining an alternative site and providing them with an Draft Finding of No Significant Impact on the original site. The city subsequently sent them a response asking them to reconsider or provide construction information on the site. Is the city contemplating another grading lawsuit?
Item 1 – CUP for Wilcox Manor – We had hoped to get this issue over and done with. All those in Old Town Tustin can stop beating their drums for the time being. It appears Lindburgh and Silent Mike have decided to postpone their request for a conditional use permit to turn their home into an events center. The date, September 17, 2013, is rather interesting. That would make it about a year from the last fundraiser for Team Tustin and take some of the “ethics” heat off of them. It could also be that the Wilcox boys have not been able to find suitable parking since their last deal was bashed by a concerned citizen. There has been no indication on the Wilcox Facebook page as to the postponement.
Item 2 – Code Amendment Various Parking Ordinances – This item originally came up for discussion at the Tustin Planning Commission in December, 2012. A lengthy discussion produced some minor changes for clarification. Most of the wording is to update the parking ordinances and bring private and commercial parking requirements in line with each other.
Item 5 – Ratification of Deputy City Manager Employment Agreement – This item should be pulled for discussion if for no other reason than to give a show of decorum. Jeff Parker, at the last meeting, alluded that he had found a candidate for Deputy City Manager to replace Christine Shingleton who retired last year after a final stint as scab extra help to pad her retirement. The candidate, Chuck Robinson, worked for Parker as a deputy city manager for Walnut. Robinson’s contract was effective December 26, 2012. We were briefly concerned that Parker was covering his buddy as CALPERS Retirement System now caps new pensions at 2%@62. This wouldn’t apply to Robinson as he would be considered a continuing member under the new rules. There are other benefit issues that would be affected by hire date. Don’t worry, we are asking those questions for you. In any case, the new guy gets 139k a year and benefits.
Item 6 – Appropriate Supplemental Funding re Construction Management Services and Utility Charges for Tustin Ranch Road Improvements – Another one that should be pulled for discussion. If I am reading the staff report correctly, someone has come up short and the usual excuses of unexpected construction costs has arisen once again. Staff are asking for $1.2 million dollars in bond money to be paid out of other funds so that construction can proceed. The question that should be asked is, what are the chances this money will not be replaced when proper funding becomes available?
Item 10 – Appointment of George Jeffries as City Treasurer – We can’t seem to get rid of this guy. Jeffries was the previous focus of former Councilmember Deborah Gavello, who went to great pains to pull his appointment each year for discussion and then vote against him. her chief complaint was an alleged illegal investment the old boy continued to make. One thing Jeffries has going for him is that he has not asked for a raise in years. His investment strategy is conservative and he has, Gavello’s complaint not withstanding, been a good steward of Tustin’s money. On the down side, he is a one man office and over 80 years old by our calculations. It might be time to at least shop for a new investment manager.
Item 11 – Set Interview Dates for Open City Commission Seats – There are several openings coming up on the Planning and Community Services Commissions. We know who we would like to see on the Planning Commission, although he has told us he has changed his mind about applying.
Not a bad workload for the new city council. There are significant issues that need to be answered. Let’s see whether the new guys will show their own style or just cave to the will of Jerry….uh, I mean, John.