We didn’t bother to post the agenda for the Planning Commission last week due to its brevity and lack of interest. The only item of note was an item on AT&T utility cabinets for servicing their U-Verse internet and cable-like system. It seems the city’s resolution of their video issues was short-lived as, a week later, the video is not up so we can’t report on the outcome. We’ll keep you posted.
Tuesday’s Tustin City Council meeting should be a bit more interesting with several items of interest, both on the Consent Calendar as well as the Regular Business Items.
Not much on the Closed Session for the City Attorney to report on even if there is any movement. There is one new item listed as existing litigation regarding the estate of an individual and the police department.
Police had previously declined to discuss the case publicly, stating potential litigation as the reason. TPD did have an encounter with the young man, nineteen year old Paul Quintanar, prior to the accident that took his life. No one has been charged in the incident.
There are also several continuing negotiations concerning MCAS property and swaps with both the TUSD and the US Army Reserve.
The Regular Meeting Agenda is headed by three presentations including one for outgoing Audit Commissioner Richard Hilde.
One glaring item on the Consent Calendar that may be pulled for discussion is Item 4, City Option to Retain or Delegate Authority for Award of Ambulance Contract. Currently, the city retains the authority and, judging from the issues the county is having with its ambulance services, it sounds like it might be a good idea for the city to retain that authority rather than delegate it to the County. The staff report indicates city staff feel the same way.
We’re not sure if Item 5, AB109 MOU on Realignement which would authorize a bank of overtime cash is just for purposes of obtaining what OC Supervisor Janet Nguyen calls, “free money”. AB109 involves the realignment of responsibilities of post-release supervision of prisoners to the community. Previously, most of this was handled by state parole agents. It is now handled almost exclusively by county probation officers.
In reading the agenda report for this item, we found the city has assigned a “Compliance Detective” to monitor the activities of released offenders. Of course, this is what the Orange County Probation Department, who has a full-time deputy probation officer assigned to Tustin, does. So, we’re not sure why the need for additional manpower in this area. We do recognize the detective also monitors sex and drug registrants, not a bad thing in our book.
Under Regular Business, city staff have finally answered all the questions the city council had when they last addressed a recommendation to appoint City Finance Director, Pamela Arends-King as the city’s Treasurer. As we’ve noted before, we endorse the idea of Arends-King being officially appointed to the position. We are opposed, however, to the hefty $8,000 increase in pay, particularly since the previous City Treasurer, George Jeffries, did the same job for half the amount.
The staff report indicates a savings to the General Fund and the Water Enterprise Fund of $19k but they provide no evidence, other than “because we said so”, of the savings. Where is the transparency to the public when calculating these so-called savings?
It seems Boss Tweed Parker is cementing his executive relationships at taxpayer cost.
Item 8, Business License Program, is a request by city staff to continue to use a questionable company to assist them in business license compliance. MAS, a company that has made a living off cities by making it a practice to offend the business owners, has a checkered history in collecting fees for errant businesses who have failed to obtain a license to operate in the city.
When the city first contracted with MAS to collect delinguent business license fees and taxes, we foretold the issues they would have. Businesses have reported harassment and unqualified accusaitons as they have been contacted by MAS representatives who have combed the city on a witch hunt for transgressors. The backlash to the city appears to be catching up with them as they back track on collections.
The proposed recommendation involves refunds and reassessments of the operations. What it should involve is a complete investigation into the business practices of the contractor to determine whether this is appropriate action for a city like Tustin, who purports to be business friendly, to be conducting.
To deflect attacks from the root problem, the staff report addresses the questions asked by the city council regarding business licensing for realtors. The city currently has a policy in place that seems adequate. Perhaps they should leave well enough alone and concentrate on MAS operations.
That’s it for this week’s meeting. We’ll try to keep you posted on any changes.
Conference with Legal Counsel -
Two items each Exposure to and Initiation of Litigation.
Existing Litigation – Marie Sales on Behalf of Paul J. Quintanar v. City of Tustin et al.
Confernence With Real Property Negotiators
MCAS properties, 14 lots, OC Property Company (Cushman Wakefield).
Price and Terms of Payment APN: 430-391-12, 430-391-09, and 430-391-03, Tustin Unified School District.
Property Address/Description 2345 Barranca Pkwy and 15 acres of the N/E corner of Red Hill Avenue and Warner Avenue – Army Reserve negotiating.
Regular Business Agenda
Item 4, City Option to Retain or Delegate Authority for Award of Ambulance Contnract.
Item 5, Master MOU Between City of Tustin and County of Orange for Public Safety Realignment and Post Release Community Supervision Authorized Expenditures.
Regular Business Items
Item 6, Approve Agreement with the City of Irvine, et al, to Fund the Peters Canyon Wash Channel Water Capture and Reuse Pipeline.
Item 7, Recommendation of the Finance Director’s Appointment as the City Treasurer.
Item 8, Business License Program.
After eight days on the road, it is good to be home. New Mexico and my brother send their felicitations. The road was (mostly) smooth and the temperatures hot as Julie and I traversed Arizona and New Mexico searching for the lost remnants of the mother road, Route 66. We found and rode quite a bit of it and you can read about our adventures here. Give me some time to catch up and post some pictures as well. Eventually, we’ll have the whole, sordid story posted. Now, on to the politics of the day…
The highlight of the upcoming Tustin City Council meeting is the agreement of the police and police support unions to new contracts. Also up for a vote in the regular session are amendments to the Deputy City Manager and the Chief of Police employment contracts. Both positions will begin paying additional contributions toward their retirement in CALPERS. Unfortunately, the city manager has seen fit to adjust the salaries of both to cover the added cost of the contributions by adding a top step to their respective salary ranges. This, in effect, gives Chief Jordan a total of a 10% salary increase over the past year as he was previously given a sham 5% raise supposedly to keep him from taking employment elsewhere. The contracts are a win-win for both executives as the Tustin taxpayer, once again, gets the shaft. Just another example of the Republican giving to Republican cronies, letting the public pay.
Not leaving himself out of the Tustin City Gravy Train, City Manager Jeff Parker has decided to further consolidate his power base by “clarifying” his hire/fire authority and ability to adjust the salaries of any employee (particularly his executive cronies) without need to bring it into public light by having the city council authorize it. Understand,this goes far beyond the normal merit raise system. Remember the new step in Deputy City Manager Charles Robinson’s pay scale the council is being asked to approve? He doesn’t get it right away. But, under this particular move, Parker is left open to “adjust” Robinson’s pay anytime he desires after the city council approves this resolution. We suspect it will take about a week before Parker “awards” a $22,000 pay raise to Robinson.
Parker, in the same breath, also claims there was an “error” in the calculation of the original number of leave hours for Robinson when he was hired. He now wishes to rectify that through resolution. However, if the original calculation was truly in error, why would Parker need council authority to fix it now? Hopefully, someone on the city council will question this, and all of these issues, and -hopefully- in open session rather than behind closed doors.
Oh, and by the way, Parker, through the city attorney, has recommended himself for a raise of nearly five thousand dollars a year to offset his increased pension payments as well as a one-time payment of $24,000 to reward him for settling contracts with the “majority of the city’s represented employee groups (except the largest, TMEA, which they have reached impasse). He further justifies this through his constructive firing of former city PIO, Lisa Woolery, and ostensibly taking on those added duties. Parker will also receive increased health and welfare benefits.
It seems that Tustin Municipal Employees Association chief negotiator, Frank Flavin, is on to their tricks as I am told the TMEA and the city have declared an impasse in negotiations for the rank and file employee. Rank and file employees, along with the public safety unions, previously stepped up to the plate and began contributing more to their pensions last year. To my knowledge, not one union member has received a raise while virtually all senior and executive managers have received substantial increases in pay and benefits. This is the typical haves/havenots form of perverted leadership that Republicans in Orange County have shown from the highest ranks of the county. And, unfortunately, the Tustin City Council is either asleep at the wheel or decisively ignorant of what is going on around them. So, don’t expect Chuck Puckett or the Podiatrist Councilman to do more than hide their head in the sand and vote yes. We wonder if Beckie Gomez isn’t now wishing she had shown stronger support for Worley-Hagen and Waldram, both of whom supported true open government.
Conference with Legal Council – Two Items each, Initiation of and Exposure to Litigation.
Public Employee Performance Evaluation – City Manager & City Attorney.
Labor Negotiation – All union represented and unrepresented employees.
Conference with Real Property Negotiators – Two issues, including the Army Reserve Base located on Barranca Parkway adjacent to the District.
Public Health Goals 2010-3012 Report – Report and Hearing on the health of the water supplied to customers.
Approve Agreement for Information Technology Services Network Infrastructure – upgrade of computer and VOIP services in city buildings and maintenance contract with Govplace.
Declaration of Surplus Property – Assorted computer equipment.
Amendments to Deputy City Manager and Police Chief Employment Agreements – Amends contracts to provide additional compensation and leave hours in the case of the deputy city manager.
Amendment to the City Manager Employment Agreement – Increases city manager’s pay by 5%, increases employee retirement contributions, increases health & welfare benefits.
Resolutions Regarding Memoranda of Understanding – TPOA, TPSSA, TPMA (public safety unions) Approval of 2-year MOUs making changes to compensation by adding an additional salary step and accelerating increased employee contributions to pensions.
Salary Resolutions for Unrepresented Executive Management, Supervisory and Confidential Employees – Eliminates employer paid pension contributions of members, adds step to salary range resulting in increase of $324K in employee costs for management.
Police are seeking the public’s help in identifying possible victims of sex crimes committed by an individual at a local retail store in the District.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact:
April 2, 2013 Lt. Paul Garaven
(714) 889-8681 – Cell
(714) 573-3282 – Office
On Friday, March 22, 2013, Officers responded to the TJ Maxx store, 2817 Park Ave, Tustin, CA, reference a suspect photographing and video recording up the skirts of female customers in the store. One victim indicated the suspect approached her while shopping, maneuvered himself to a position where the victim’s movement was blocked between a store pillar and the suspect. The victim felt confined and the suspect used his phone to record up her skirt. The victim was able to get away and called Tustin PD.
Tustin Police arrested Brian Joseph Eastman. Eastman is a 25 year old resident of Irvine and currently works in Santa Ana. During the initial investigation, officers located several secretly recorded videos and digital photographs of several unidentified women at various locations. The locations appear to be retail stores and residential locations.
The video evidence we have contains footage of the unidentified victim’s faces as well as the indecent footage. We are not releasing this footage at this time.
The Tustin Police Department is seeking media and community assistance in locating anyone who feels they may be one of Eastman’s unidentified victims or anyone who may have seen Eastman at any businesses throughout Orange County.
Anyone with information should contact Detective Natalie Nguyen at (714) 573-3253.
There’s not much to get excited about on the Tustin City Council agenda this week. It is nice to see an agenda without the usual City of Tustin v. TUSD closed session item. In fact, there are no current lawsuits listed for discussion and only the usual two each, initiation and exposure to, litigation. There are also two liability claims (precursors to lawsuits) under consideration.
One item on the Closed Session Agenda does deserve scrutiny, the performance evaluation of the City Attorney, David Kendig. Since taking over from predecessor Doug Holland, Kendig has displayed less than stellar performance, in our view. Both lawyers hail from the Law Office of Woodruff, Spradlin & Smart which has handled the city’s legal affairs since 1995. At one time, we lauded the city for continuing to use the firm for legal guidance, particularly with Holland as the chief representative. We had high hopes for Kendig but he has proven that he is more of a panderer than an attorney. He quickly aligned himself with the right side of the dais and has since become entrenched. He has given questionable advice and, in some cases, has blatantly attempted to mask wrongdoing on the dais with opinion that doesn’t come close to proper legal advice.
That said, we have a few new/old faces on the council who, hopefully, will take a focused look at this attorney’s off-track decisions. Continued use of Kendig should go against the grain of each councilmember who ran on an open-government-transparency ticket in the last election. In fact, it is perhaps time to take a look at the contract law office as a whole.
There is at least one item on the Consent Calendar that should be discussed openly before the city council. City staff are recommending that Notices of Completion for capital improvement projects be allowed to be filed “administratively”. This means the city council would not necessarily be aware that projects have been completed. While staff call this “streamlining”, we would call it an improper delegation of authority by the city council who should be kept apprised of the status of all projects involving city funds. We recommend the city council pull this item for discussion and vote.
Other than these items, it should be a pretty easy meeting for the city council. That will give the three amigos more time at their favorite watering hole after the meeting.
Conference with Legal Council – Two each, exposure to and initiation of litigation.
Public Employment- Performance Evaluations of the City Manager and the City Attorney.
Liability Claims- Consideration of claims of Carlos Cortez and Gresel Montes.
Conference with Real Property Negotiators- 3 items, all on the MCAS property.
Specific Pan Amendment – 2012-02 MCAS Tustin Specific Plan – The 9th or so amendment to make what appears to be minor changes in language and items of the plan for clarification.
Adopt Resolution Ordering Preparation of Engineer’s Report- Tustin Landscape and Lighting District levy of annual assessments for FY2013-2014 – Tustin Ranch.
Adopt Resolution Authorizing Director of Public Works or City Engineer- to accept capital improvement projects and complete and file Notices of Completion.
Terminate Contract for Annual Catch Basin Insert Cleaning- The contracted company has given a notice they have gone out of business. This is an interim measure until a new RFP can be advertised.
Office Lease Extension- Successor Agency offices located at 245 Centennial Way. Perhaps we should look at eliminating an unnecessary expense and bringing these staff back to city hall.
Urban Area Security Initiative Grant- A portion of $3.6 million dollars is available for response to acts of terrorism. This is the annual re-authorization of the Chief of Police as the official representative for the UASI Grant.