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On the Agenda- November 1, 2011

Looking ahead to Tuesday’s agenda, there appears to be more and more issues coming under the “Closed Session” banner. Aside from the real property negotiations, there are three new claims to be considered as well as a host of existing claims. Interesting that the law allows them to place the names of claimants on the Agenda but not when litigation is initiated? And then, this afternoon, the OC Register shows up with the name of…. a claimant.  So, tell me again why it comes under closed session? In any case, the only items of real note are, of course, the lawsuits with Tustin Unified School District. Mayor Amante, fueled by his imaginary win over the Recall Amante group, will probably not be in a mood to listen to reason and settle. I understand that the oldest case is set for trial in November. We’ll let you know.

Under presentations, The American Legion Boy’s State winners will be awarded presentations by the City. This program allows young men (yes, there is a Girl’s State, too) to travel to Sacramento and learn, firsthand, about the political machine that drives our state. The idea is to expose these young men, about 500 from around the state, to politics and hopefully, get some of them interested in public service. Political education at it’s best, courtesy of The American Legion Post 227. Hopefully, more than one of these high schoolers will come back and run this city the way it should be run.

On the regular Agenda, the ordinance for body art facilities has come back to the City Council from the Planning Commission. The proposed ordinance which, for the first time, would allow tattoo parlors in the City of Tustin, is pretty rock solid. Both the Planning Commission and the Council took input from a handful of interested public including a young man from Long Beach who we are likely to see open the first tattoo parlor. Like it or not, the Council cannot put it off forever, regardless of how we all feel about tattoos. We recommend approval of the ordinance so Jerry can finally get that tattoo.

The Code Amendment clarifying the meaning of legal nonconforming uses and structures in the City of Tustin is the elephant in the closet. Unfortunately, the Planning Commission got tired of working with this early on and decided to pass it to the City Council despite concerns over how homeowners in Old Town Tustin would be treated. Although plenty of testimony by the public was taken, their concerns over how zoning and the building codes could be used together to determine virtually any structure in the old town section as illegal were not addressed. The ambiguity that was supposed to be clarified, remains. In the end, they decided to approve the ordinance 5-0 at the urging of city staff. And now it lands in the lap of the City Council. I hope this is one time when more  of the Council than just Deborah Gavello voice their concern over this issue before just placing the Jerry Amante seal of approval on the ordinance as this needs much more work than the Planning Commission has put into it. Opponents get two more shots after this, unless Boss Tweed Amante tries to push it through as an urgency issue. By the way, of the four letters in the attachments to the agenda report, not one agrees that the proposed ordinance will protect Old Town homeowners. Elizabeth, start your bulldozer.

There are a couple of items on the consent calendar worth mentioning.

One is the denial of the design permit for the cell towers-come-flagpoles at Cedar Grove Park. Fortunately, the city listened to the citizens of the area and agreed to scuttle this project. But wait, folks, don’t expect this to go completely away. Just because many homeowners in the area suggested the Fire Authority site as an alternative, doesn’t mean they will use it. And, if there is money to be made… did I mention lobbyists?

A second item on changing the policy to allow for the use of personal iPads for city business, clearly deserves a closer look considering the recent flap over iPads purchased by the City for the Tustin City Council. I, for one, would like to know if any costs for use of personally owned iPads for city business will be borne by the city. If there will be, how will that cost and use be tracked? In fact, when the city councilperson in question is no longer a city councilperson, how will we know that all sensitive city business has been erased from the tablet? You see, in the accompanying proposed iPad Policy that would now cover the use of personally owned tablets as well as city owned tablets, there is no provision for the personal iPad to be “scrubbed” or even given a cursory examination by the City IT folks to make sure there is no city sensitive information remaining on the outgoing councilperson’s iPad. For that matter, the current policy does not allow for regular examination of current members iPads by the IT department to ensure compliance with city policy.

Clearly, the best way to insure that city business stays with the city, is to leave personal iPads where they belong – off the council dais. Just as when an employer gives an employee a laptop for home use, it is not expected to be used for personal business, in most cases. The same should apply to the City Council or anyone employed by the city or appointed to city positions or boards. Then, they can take the already ambiguous policy and strengthen it with some solid language referencing IT checks and surveys. How about it, city council? Are you up to that task? We’ll let you know.

Finally, there is item 18, “City Manager Recruitment”. Oh, if only they would come back with a name. We thought we had one last meeting. Dare we hope?