Don’t be in a hurry to get to the Tustin City Council meeting tonight. The Close Session looks like a marathon. I am not sure they will make it out by 7pm. Depending on how you read it, they may be looking at either two or four new possible lawsuits. Most of the rest of it will be taken up with discussions with real property negotiators for Crossroads Church, the Army Reserves, and three others. Of course, I am always interested in why we are purchasing property in Anaheim and Aliso Viejo. I am sure it has something to do with the redevelopment agency.
The other two items on the closed session agenda are, of course, the lawsuits between the City and the Tustin Unified School District. I was advised today that the original lawsuit, brought by TUSD over the grading permits, is scheduled to go to trial in November. I won’t hold my breath on the date. I will keep you posted.
What I am really excited about is the last item, I. PUBLIC EMPLOYEE APPOINTMENT pursuant to Government Code Section 54957(b) – City Manager. Is it possible the search committee has finally found someone willing to come to work for this Council? Let’s hope so. It would be nice to have someone take over for our retired, interim manager and send him packing. Although I am sure, with a little brainstorming, they can come up with a new title and let Bill continue to work for the city as a double dipper as well.
As we get into the regular agenda, I would like to tip my hat to my good friend, Deacon Martin Ruiz, of St. Cecilia Catholic Church. Deacon Ruiz is also the Catholic Chaplain for Orange County Juvenile Hall where he ministers to our lost youth. He is one of the kindest and most joyful men I know. It is nice to see that he will be giving the invocation for the evening’s meeting. We all know they can use a little help from up above. And Deacon Ruiz is just the go-between they need.
Item number 2 is a public hearing on a “Design Review”. I love the names the staff give these agenda items. This is item has to do with the proposed cellphone towers to be located at Cedar Grove Park. I know there are people out there that are concerned about the health aspects of having a cellphone tower near their home. All I can say is, you can’t have your cake and eat it too. This item has been hanging around for way too long. Except for the fact that it will be a single user tower (T-Mobile), there really shouldn’t be an issue with this. Tustin suffers from poor cell reception in a lot of areas (like my house). The cell site will be asthetically pleasing, so I am led to believe. The Council should make a decision, one way or the other. Our Town Tustin recommends passage.
City staff and negotiators, along with the respective employee unions should be commended in coming to agreement on fair and equitable employee contracts that will help the city maintain solvency in future years. Agenda Item 10 proposes an amendment to the contracts for employees that will create (or recreate) a new, lower tier for both public and public safety employees in the city. It was a tough call that needed to be made.
Item 14 brings back the issue that Jerry Amante spoke of last Council meeting regarding Council stipends and benefits. Specifically, Amante asked for information regarding a ballot measure that would turn over the question of pay and benefits for council members to the citizens of Tustin. However, that is not what the staff came up with. The accompanying agenda report discusses a ballot measure that, if approved, would eliminate council stipends and beneifts. That is not exactly what Jerry said. Perhaps the staff shoujld spend more time listening to the video of the meeting.
While we are not big on city councilmembers receiving health and dental benefits, we do believe that stipends are necessary to compensate councilmembers, in part, for their time and service to the community. To eliminate stipends altogether may cause a problem when only the most well-to-do among us can serve. To that end, certainly a referendum should be placed on the ballot to allow voters to determine stipend amounts, if any. How? That deserves further discussion. But, we have plenty of time until the next election.