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.
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.
(Updated to reflect a late email from Monique Ketteringham-ed.)
Tammie Bullard – Incumbent
Francine Scinto – Incumbent
James Laird – Incumbent
I knew there was something we forgot. Hey, come on, how many voters truly look at who is running for the school board? That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t and, during the contentious issues we have had between the TUSD and the city of Tustin, they deserve a once over. Face it, even the candidates themselves didn’t even think it important enough to spend a few dollars on a website as I have not been able to find any for any candidate.
There are five candidates for three seats on the Tustin Unified School District governing board. They are, Francine Scinto, Monique Ketteringham, Dr. Elias Teferi, James Laird, and Tammie Bullard. Of the five, only the three incumbents bothered to file candidate statements. All three of them promote the fact that TUSD, under their guidance, has maintained a low student to teacher ratio, increased relevant student scores and run an efficient budget. They are also long time members of the board, Scinto and Bullard both holding seats for the past 16 years. Laird has been a member of the board since 2004.
None of them has raised the issue of the ongoing fight between the district and the city of Tustin and that is a bit of concern.
There also appears to be some concern over the actual residence of school board member Francine Scinto. Earlier in the year, a commenter mentioned that Scinto may not actually live in the district. They cited a Google search that indicated Scinto lives in south county. We did our own Google search and it came up with an address in North Tustin. So, at a recent event (which was held in her neighborhood in North Tustin, by the way) I asked Scinto about her residence. She adamantly denied living out of the district at the time. The person making the accusation has not sat on her heels. She may also run a website that posted this a few days ago. Still no solid proof. Just accusations. I’ll let you be the judge.
Tammie Bullard is also a long time member of the board. She has been board president multiple times and continues to advocate for a fiscal conservatism and low class size.
The two upstarts in the race have neither websites or candidate statements. There is not much information to go on regarding their reasons for entering the race. Dr. Elias Teferi, who lists his occupation as Independent Educational Consultant, has put up a few signs in public places but has not made any further efforts in his campaign. He also endorsed Measure S, the school technology bond.
Monique Ketteringham responded to an email inquiry, saying she entered the race late and was not able to muster enough financial support to place a Candidate Statement on the ballot. Ketteringham says her priorities include supporting the arts within our district, tending to infrastructure, and seeing Measure S through. “I feel our school district needs a new, fresh voice on the board, someone who can relate to the needs and concerns of the parents and students that make up our community.” She is running a grassroots campaign, meeting and greeting people door to door as she, by her own admission, has not been able to do much fundraising prior to the campaign.
Both of the challengers are Democrats while all three of the incumbents are Republican, if that should matter to anyone in a non-partisan race.
There is an old adage that if something isn’t broke, don’t fix it. The current Tustin Unified School District governing board continues to do a good job in raising standards and pertinent student scores for academics while maintaining sound, fiscal policies. And, while I do not subscribe to Measure S, the technology bond, I believe their stewardship over Measure G demonstrates their capability to be responsible in the use of tax money. We’ll take the incumbents in this race.