Category Archives: Tustin City Council
We are back from our Annual Area 51 Ride. Give us a few days and you can read what we have been up to over on our travel blog, The Road Less Traveled.
This week’s Tustin City Council meeting agenda is long only because of the number of items on the Consent Calendar. There are also several presentations including one for our neighbor on B Street for “Outstanding Old Town Property”, an award occasionally given by staff to owners of property in Old Town.
Presentations follow the Closed Session which will include discussion on property owned by the Tustin Unified School District.
A couple of things stand out on the Consent Calendar. The first is Item 6, Award Contract for Catch Basin Insert Cleaning. Readers of this blog will remember there was a minor fiasco several months ago when it was discovered by the city that the required catch basin cleaning was not being performed by West Coast Storm. The city quickly moved to terminate the contract and place the next highest bidder, United Storm Water, into service for the remainder of the contract year.
United Storm Water has now been selected as the best (and only) bidder for services. Apparently, no one really wants to service our storm drains as United was the only one of 5 companies to respond to the RFP. One has to wonder if the city wouldn’t be better off doing this in-house.
Item 8, Police Department Vehicle Purchases, has the city replacing 7 TPD vehicles. We previously questioned why the city continues to go outside our own businesses to make purchases. However, after looking at the offers from Tuttle-Click at $3,000 higher than McPeek’s, we can understand why. This could be a win-win situation if Tuttle-Click really wanted the city’s business.
Oh, wait. Did I misread this or did the city? On the staff report, they say the quote from Tuttle-Click is $29,942.78. But, in reading the quote, the price shows as $27,281. That could be before tax but, even then the numbers don’t add up. Perhaps the staff could clear things up for us.
Other items on the Consent Calendar include Advertising for bids for the Frontier Park water splash pad to replace the amphitheater and a rental agreement for the Del Amo Avenue building owned by the city.
Frontier Park construction would begin early next year. The amphitheater has been underutilized the past few year, according to staff, and has drawn “an undesirable element”. The city likes splash pads for the kids as we have a number of them around town.
The only Regular Business item on the agenda is Item 12, Business License Program. Several months ago, the city council authorized the use of an outside company to “assist” the business license staff in locating scofflaw businesses that had failed to obtain a city license. Municipal Auditing Services solicited the city for their business and, once procured, they set about harassing and intimidating businesses in Tustin that were suspected of not paying their fees.
The program has been an apparent success as the city seems to have no intention of getting rid of MAS. But, there seems to have been enough of a backlash that city staff are now recommending an amnesty program that would take the bite off small businesses, the ones who have suffered the most under this program.
Of course, the methods used by MAS, and that have either not been reported to the city or not been complained about, is the canvassing of business neighborhoods for errant business owners. it’s also doubtful staff are including all complaints in the staff report, only those whose response can be substantiated (in their minds, anyway). One has to wonder about the other complaints.
MAS has been the target of numerous complaints in other cities that have used their services. City Manager Daryl Parish of Covina stated, “If there has been some error in communication, then obviously we want to clear the air on that.” His answer? Require businesses that have been contacted by MAS to sign an affidavit saying they don’t do business in the city. Here is what one business told MAS they could do with their affidavit. Perhaps the city council should take a closer look at this rather than just look the other way.
That’s it for this week. I won’t even wager the length of the meeting. This City Council has become increasingly lazier as they choose to convey power to the Boss Tweed Parker. It would be no surprise to see eventual meetings held by teleconference.
I guess I shouldn’t give them any ideas.
Two Public Hearings head up the Tustin City Council meeting tonight. Prior to that, the dais will be treated to several presentations, including one for The American Legion Boys State Program made by The American Legion Post 227. We understand they fielded two candidates to Sacramento this year for a week of running a shadow government. Our personal opinion is they could do a much better job than our current crop of legislators.
The first Public Hearing will be to issue water revenue bonds in the amount of $15 million dollars. The money is ostensibly to be used for repair/replacement of the Simon Ranch Reservoir Booster Pump Station and Pipeline as well as the Tustin Avenu Well Replacement Project.
If we recall correctly, these items had been the subject of approved water bonds several years earlier when Deborah Gavello was around. It could just be a coincidence, however. Let’s not forget the city has allegedly been considering the purchase, either directly or indirectly, of desalinated water from the planned Poseiden Plant under negotiation in Huntington Beach. One has to wonder why anyone in this part of Orange County, with such a vast aquifer, would require water that reportedly will be selling for three times the price of local water.
One thing we agree with is the city’s consultants who have determined that, if you must issue bonds, this is a great time to do it, while rates are low.
The second Public Hearing will be on the City’s Housing Element Update. This is probably more technical than reality driven. A public workshop was held in April and the results have been incorporated into the proposed plan. Most of the response had been in the area of updating the plan for affordable and special needs housing. You can see the report here.
A couple items on the consent calendar should be pulled for discussion.
The first is Item 5, which calls for the electronic storage of records. It is a great idea and we are surprised out Community Development Director is just now thinking about it (although the last time the city got rid of records, they tried to use it against an Old Town Resident).
This deserves discussion if only for the fact that there is no indication the project went out to bid. Further, the item description is a bit confusing and it is unclear until one looks at the resolution whether it is for both the scanning and destuction (it is) or just the destruction of the documents. The report also states there is no fiscal impact. We seriously doubt ECS is providing their services for free. Likewise, it’s doubtful the city will just dump these records in the trash. Using a document destruction company will engender costs. And, have either been budgeted for or are funds expected to come out of reserves?
The city seems to be struggling with the strategic plan. Item 8 calls for a rejection of all recently received bids on the graffiti abatement contract. The reason? Staff can’t keep their records straight and allegedly put out obsolete data on the RFP.
The only other Item of note on the Agenda, is Item 9, Recommendation of the Finance Director’s Appointment as the City Treasurer. We previously said it would be a wise move for the city council to appoint the Finance Director, Pamela Arend-King, as the permanent Treasurer for the city. However, we do not see the minimal added duties as warranting an increase in salary of over $8 thousand dollars plus a commensurate boost in pension benefits.
If you remember, our former City Treasurer George Jeffries, a well-respected member of the financial and (Republican) political community, netted a salary of $4 thousand dollars a month for the exact same duties that Arends-King would be taking on as an addition to her “regular” duties.
There is no other justification for such a raise during this phase of the city’s economic recovery. It is also a slap in the face to the rank-and-file employees who just recently concluded a largely give-back contract with the city that resulted in zero pay raises for the majority of employees. Don’t look to this lazy city council to do anything but acquiesce to the will of the new Boss Tweed, Jeff Parker.
That’s it for the week. If this was too much doom and gloom for you, we will remind you that Tustin Tiller Days is coming this weekend at Columbus Tustin Park. Don’t forget the annual Tiller Parade down Main Street in Old Town Tustin. We will be in our usual place on our front porch ready to say hi to the good councilmembers. We wonder how many will be willing to face Our Town Tustin. C’mon, guys, we just want to say hi.
Well, I am sure Tuesday’s Tustin City Council meeting was decidedly drab. The highlights, I am told , were the presentations made at the beginning of the Open Session. You and I may never know. So far, there has been no video posting of the meeting on their website. This is the second meeting in a row that has not been posted. The September 3 meeting, had an update of the Strategic Plan that we have been waiting to hear about.
So, what gives? Usually, even when there is a glitch, the media team manages to put up a non-functioning link that indicates the video will eventually be posted. So far, nothing for any September meeting. We sent an email off to the city clerk. Hopefully, she can shed some light on the issue.
The city has been posting video as well as broadcasting the meeting on cable TV for some time. I am not sure how many folks avail themselves of the video but, in my opinion, it is vital to continue as a show of open access to government City Manager Jeff Parker and the City Council continue to tout.
Granted, the city has been plagued with seeming glitches that frequently prevent the video from being accessed in a timely manner. But, it has always been posted eventually.
As James Taylor sings, shed a little light on this, Jeff.
Update – Shortly after we finished this article, I received an email from the city clerk’s officer explaining the problem and apologizing for the inconvenience. In part, the email said, “In August we started experiencing problems uploading the meeting videos to the website. Our IT staff is currently working with the Granicus support staff to correct the issue and we hope to have it resolved soon. ” We still question the timing of the breakdown. However they also offered to send a copy of the video which, in the interest of open government, I took them up on. I’ll let you know of any conspiracies I find.
Of course, in the end, this sort of shoots down former councilman Jerry Amante’s complaint against his peer Deborah Gavello when he complained of the hundreds of dollars and manhours it cost the city to produce a DVD for her of each meeting.
Looking For a New Look
We thought it was time to do a little updating and housekeeping on the site. Although we have always liked the simplicity of the current design, there are features that we don’t use because we want to keep the blog easy to read and comment on.
That doesn’t mean we aren’t always looking to improve. Lately, you may have seen a few minor changes to the look and feel of our site. We have been experimenting with a “Featured Article” item that appears at the top of the page under the masthead. This feature keeps a hot topic, like the recent articles on Fred Smoller, at the top of the page.
We’ve also updated the sidebar to remove dead links to blogroll and links around town participants. If you have clicked on a link and found it not working properly, just drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll get it fixed. Likewise, if you think we should include a link, just let us know what it is and we’ll check it out.
All the News Around Town
A few of you have asked how to get a local event advertised on the blog. It’s simple, just ask. If it is political in nature or is a non-profit event or one that is of interest to the community, we will be happy to publish it.
As we try out new features on the blog, we would appreciate your feedback. Just drop us a line.
Where’s the Video?
It seems over the past year, the city has not been keeping the video diary of the city council meetings posted in a timely manner. Video posts of the meeting are not mandated by law but, we think it is a great idea that allows residents to view official meetings at their leisure. We usually can’t make the meetings ourselves and rely on the video to let us know what happened.
But, it seems, like Elizabeth’s Old Town Tustin resolutions, the video has taken a back seat to more pressing issues. And, while we are hesitant to point a finger, it seems to happen mostly on matters of questionable action by the city council or planning commission members.
A New Tune for SONGS
Unlike the Tustin City Council, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has set the first public meeting on the closure of the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS). The meeting will be held in Carlsbad on September 26 at 6 pm. The meeting will be held at the Omni LaCosta Hotel, 210 Costa Del Mar, Carlsbad. According to the KPPC Website, doors will open at 5 pm to accommodate security screening. Yes, that probably means metal detectors and leave your knapsacks at home.
According to the NRC website timetable, the shutdown is well on its way. Supposedly, the fuel has been removed from Unit 2 (nothing mentioned about Unit 3). I would suspect the fuel is still on-site as there has been no movement on permanent storage facilities since the Yucca Mountain Debacle. Spokesmen for Edison, the operators of the plant, have said it will take years to decommission the plant and remove the nuclear waste. A new library of documents concerning the plant has been opened on-line and is available to the public.
This power plant its demise is of concern to every Southern California community, including Tustin. We are a scant 25 miles from the plant and, as it shuts down, it is important to understand the dangers involved in the disposition of the waste. I am sure at least some of our city fathers will be at the meeting.
Fall brings us many community events you will not want to miss. For our neighbors to the North, the Foothills Community Association is holding their 3rd Annual Picnic and Barbeque at the Irvine Regional Park. Parking is free this year and the cost has been lowered. The fun starts at 11 am on September 22nd. We may stop by just to say hi to OC Supervisor, Todd Spitzer, who can never miss a chance to make an appearance before the voters. Oh yeah, and because he lives in that area.
Tonight, our good friend Ivan Bishop of American Legion Post 227, will discuss Ruling the High Seas at the Tustin Library. the discussion begins at 6 pm. Ivan has conducted extensive research on sea power and its role in world conflicts. The evening is sure to be entertaining and informative. For those not inclined to attend the city council meeting, this should prove an interesting and entertaining alternative.
The Tustin Art Walk is coming October 19th in Old Town Tustin. Besides the great art from local artists, there will be plenty of activities for the family including live music, wine and beer tasting, and bus tours of Old Town Tustin.
Of course, before the Art Walk, the city will be celebrating its historic agricultural roots. The Tustin Tiller Days and Parade are just around the corner. Although the fair opens on Friday, October 4th, things don’t really start hopping until Saturday morning when hundreds of parade entrants line up on the back streets of Old Town Tustin to participate in one of the largest and best known parades in Orange County. In years past, the parade has seen such celebrities as Mickey Mouse and bands from as far away as Hawaii.
The parade starts at 10 am Saturday morning and travels along Main Street from Pacific to Prospect and then up to Columbus Tustin Park where the fair activities will kick off. The fair happens on Friday, Saturday and Sunday with discount writstbands for carnival rides available at the City of Tustin Recreation Department.
We’ll be away for much of October as we travel to Santa Barbara and take our annual trip around Area 51. Rest assured, we’ll stay in the loop locally and pass on the good stuff to our readers.