The Tustin City Council will consider the appropriation of $369 thousand dollars for consultant services to perform an assessment of the Tustin MCAS hangar under its control. The consultant, Page and Turnbull, Inc., have specific experience in assessing the hangars, having completed an assessment of two similar hangars at Moffett Field in 2006.
It’s difficult to say what the favored disposition currently is at the City. During Boss Tweed Amante’s reign, several sham discussions were held to a pre-determined outcome that the hangar would be razed in favor of other land use. However, a few years ago, the County of Orange, which controls Hangar Number One, decided reuse of the hangar as part of a larger regional style park was high on its list. Perhaps that will be the catalyst for Tustin to make an effort to keep our beloved hangars.
In any case,the consultant agreement will get the ball rolling as a necessary item for final disposition of the hangar. I will tell you, if the Moffett Field report is a telltale, things don’t look good. Keep your fingers crossed.
Sex offenders are a bit easier, though harder to swallow, for our intrepid council. The final item on the agenda is a second reading of the ordinance repealing the sex offender ordinance enacted a few years ago. Although no one (except the sex offenders themselves) is happy about this, all is not lost. As we reported earlier, state law should be adequate to protect our kids. And, I’ve noticed over the years taking my daughter to the park, parents are the best police. Expect a lot of discussion, nonetheless.
In Closed Session, the city council will discuss the work of our contract attorney, David Kendig. In our opinion, the city needs to put out an RFP for legal services. Kendig is a hack attorney whose sole purpose in life is to draw a paycheck and pander to the city council majority. Woodruf, Spradlin & Smart have been the city attorneys for many more years than it should have. The citizens of Tustin should have been alerted to the conflicts a few years ago when former city attorney (working for the same firm) Doug Holland abruptly resigned saying he could no longer adequately represent the city. At the time, we opined the city should go out to bid for a new law firm. That didn’t happen and I would assume the the Amigos are pleased as punch with Kendig. Let’s just hope they haven’t already sealed the deal for a bigger payoff to the firm.
Public Employment – Performance Evaluation of the City Attorney
Student Safety Month – Steve Shirk, DCH Tustin Acura
2014 Water Awareness Poster & Slogan Contest
Development Agreement – City of Tustin and South Coast Community College District (land swap)
Establish Tustin Community Facilities District 2014-1 – Conduct “election” and establish CFD for portions of Tustin Legacy under development. Procedure allows the city to establish a CFD with a sham vote of the “property owner” prior to actual development and sale, leaving new homeowners on the hook for $29 million dollars in bond debt.
Adopt Resolution 14-43 – Adds Tustin Ranch Road extension and Warner Avenue to list of eligible streets for added federal and local funds.
American Red Cross Shelter Agreement – Permits the use of Miller Center, Senior Center and Coliumbus Tustin Gym as Red Cross emergency shelters.
Adopt Resloution 14-47 – Reaffirm support for Prop 13.
Approve Tustin Legacy Park Master Plan – First step in approving 31.5 acre multi-use park in Tustin Legacy.
General Municipal Election Candidate Statement Regulations – Establish the authority and timeframe for candidate statements for the municipal election.
Consultant Services Agreement Hangar No. 2 – Provide funds for procuring Page and Turnbull Inc. to perform a re-use and structureal assessment of Hangar No. 2 at the former MCAS
Appropriation Limit for Fiscal Year 2014/15 – Adopt a fiscal limit of $73,045,518. This is not the actual budget, just the fiscal limit.
Second Reading and Adoption of Ordinance No. 1444 – Repeals certain sections of the Tustin City Code pertaining to registered sex offenders in parks and other areas frequented by children.
A tough issue facing the Tustin City Council Tuesday will be the repeal of the majority of its local sex offender ordinances. As you may have read, the California Appeals Court has struck down most local sex offender laws and both Irvine and Orange have repealed their ordinances. Tustin is following suit by repealing that part of the ordinance that prohibits sex offenders from entering city parks.
Don’t worry, your children are safe. The ordinances in question were rather far reaching and unnecessarily built upon state law which already effectively limited sex offenders from entering parks and schools without permission. At the time, the city jumped on the Republican bandwagon to enact mostly superfluous laws. The appeals court simply put the onus back on the state (where it should be) to enact appropriate laws and get rid of the checkerboard of (sometimes) confusing local ordinances. Police will still be able to do their job without the perceived rights violations that could potentially occur. Yup, I hate to say it, sex offenders have rights, too.
Tustin police will also be able to enforce the residency restrictions of state law as well.
Before tackling the regular business of the day, however, the city council will meet to discuss the proposed budget for the coming fiscal year. This budget workshop will convene at 4 pm in city council chambers and the public is invited to comment and discuss the proposals. I am still looking through the documents myself. The summary gives a flat, conservative picture of the city’s approach to finance. At the outset, I would simply ask them to take a closer look at items they purchased out of the reserve fund last year and ensure like items are budgeted for. The reserve should stop being used as a slush fund for pet projects. You can see the proposed budget here.
Back under Regular Business, the city council will consider a proposal by the Community Development Department to increase the budget for a consultant by $100,000. The purpose is to develop a downtown commercial core plan. The council previously approved more than $60,000 for the study. In publishing the RFP, they apparently discovered consultants aren’t cheap.
We still believe the study could best be done by city planners with perhaps a minimum of outside help. Unfortunately, City Manager Jeff Parker and Community Development Director Elizabeth Binsack are intent on maintaining the Republican cant to privatization, even for projects where it is obvious city planners have an advantage.
The last item of Regular Business is one close to my own heart. Item 15, Consideration of Supporting Assembly Bill 1453 – Orange County Veterans Cemetery. Through the history of the El Toro and Tustin Marine air bases, our city has a long history of serving veterans. The closest veterans cemetery is Riverside National Cemetery near March Air Force Base.
Sharon Quirk-Silva’s Assembly Bill 1453 would authorize the construction of a state veterans cemetery in Orange County. The latest proposal would place a veterans cemetery on El Toro property, a situation faced by an unenthusiastic Irvine City Council who have gone as far as to hire a Feng Shiu consultant. Apparently, cemeteries are not consistent with a Feng Shui lifestyle.
Anyway, it took awhile but Tustin city fathers must have read my blog asking for support for Silva’s bill. Yes, this deserves discussion as to where it will be located. But, we owe it to our veterans to give them a final resting place in their own county.
Special Meeting – 4:00 pm
Workshop on proposed budget for fiscal year 2014-2015.
Closed Session – 5:30 pm
Conference with Legal Counsel – 2 items each of initiation and exposure to litigation
Liability Claim – Maria Teresa Dunn Clam No. 14-02
Conference with Real Property Negotiators – TUSD
Regular City Council Meeting – 7:00 pm
Student Government Day 2014 – Ethan Banks, Amy Coulter, Olivia Bancroft, Alison Greenberg
“Everyday Hero” – Jim Carson, Orangewood Children’s Foundation
Annual Levying of Assessments – Tustin Landscape and Lighting District for Fiscal Year 2014-15
Review City Conflict of Interest Code – City Manager
Call for Election – November 4, 2014 – 2 council positions
Approve Grants of Easements Southern California Edison over portions of roadways and parcels of Tustin Legacy properties.
Request for Appropriation – Downtown Commercial Core Plan, Consutant fees and agreements. Additional funds requested.
Exclusive Sales Listing Agreement – CBRE Inc. for Tusting Legacy Area 4
Repeal of Sex Offender Ordinance – Repeals certain sections of city code to conform with recent court of appeals decisions.
Consideration for Support of Assembly Bill 1453 and Reaffirming Support for Proposition 13 – Resolutions to support Sharon Quirk-Silva’s proposal to establish a veterans cemetery in Orange County. Second resolution would reaffirm city support of Prop 13.
Who wouldn’t want to protect their kids to the utmost when it comes to shielding them from sexual predators? Well, don’t count on the plethora of predator-in-the-park/library/school ordinances that ultra-conservatives in Orange County hastily pasted together to prevent pedophiles and others from coming near your kids. Like a row of dominoes, they are falling by the wayside as the courts find them unconstitutional or unenforceable.
The latest to hit the skids is the Irvine law, known as the Irvine Child Safety Ordinance. Only one person, Jean Pierre Nguyen, has been arrested under the “perv-in-the-park” ordinance and that case was subsequently dismissed by the Superior Court in Santa Ana. Both the Liberal OC and the OC Weekly have written multiple articles on the problem with the Irvine and Orange County ordinances and an email from the County Public Defenders Office to the Weekly detailed the issue saying they filed a demurrer to the complaint against their client charging the ordinance was preempted by state law and that it was unconstitutionally vague and overreaching.
From the Weekly email:
In sum, on November 27, 2012, the Superior Court of Orange County ruled that Irvine’s Child Safety Zone ordinance is void and unenforceable because it is unconstitutional and the subject area (sex offenders) is preempted by State Law. Judge Dickey agreed with all of the legal arguments raised by Mr. Nguyen.
The ruling in the Irvine case comes on the heels of a case heard by the State Appellate Court in Santa Ana on November 15th, in which the Orange County sexual predator ordinance was found to violate the California Constitution’s preemption clause. California law prevents some, but not all, registered sex offenders from entering public parks. The ruling by a three member panel of the court will be sent to the full Appeals Court where it may be reviewed or allowed to stand as-is. In the appellate case, by the way, the defendant, Hugo Godinez, was required to register as a sex offender for a sexual battery offense. He was attending a company “mandatory” Cinco de Mayo party in Mile Square Park and was wearing a GPS tracker at the time.
Even Tustin’s own park-perv law was struck down in September this year. That case involved Randolph Spencer Carr, a registered sex offender from Santa Ana who had a prior rape conviction. Not much is known about the case or the dismissal as the city fathers did not seem to feel there was any danger in their ordinance being dumped. The ordinance, signed by then mayor Jerry Amante was just over a year old when it failed the smell test.
Dan Chmielewski of the OC Lib points out the real problem, with these local ordinances. Stating that Councilman Jeff Lalloway was “disturbed” that an “activist” court should allow cities to govern their own parks, “especially when it comes to protecting the most vulnerable in our society”, he pointed out that Lalloway and OCDA Tony Rackauckus are both lawyers that should have done more homework to make sure their respective ordinances were ironclad. He goes on to point out that, even had the ordinance stood, it would only cover a small number of child sexual predators who actually prey on new victims. In fact, he says, your kids are more at risk being molested by a family member than a stranger in the park.
Even more so, the so-called “child safety zones” are unenforceable. Most are reactive, meaning they don’t prevent anything. Cops can only respond after a child has been molested or, at least, an attempt made. In Nguyen’s case, he went to the Irvine Park to play tennis. The cops were tipped by his probation officer and were waiting for him. His original offense that merited registration was from 1996, although he was convicted earlier in the year of indecent exposure. But, officers receiving a tip (and, why didn’t the probation department move to stop Nguyen to begin with?) is exceptional. How often would that happen? And, even without the ordinance, Nguyen could have been arrested for violating his probation.
Why all the local ordinances in the first place? How about the kudos politicians receive from each other and an unsuspecting public that mistakenly believe these laws will actually protect their kids. It
doesn’t look good for the county sheriff or the district attorney to appear weak on sex offenders. They have little concern that offenders all get lumped into one category. And, while the Public Defenders Office has issued a statement that the appellate case invalidates these ordinances, Rackauckus’ view is that the decision, indeed, only applies to the Godinez case:
I believe that protecting children from sex offenders is one of the highest priorities in law enforcement. We will continue to review cases involving sex offenders in parks as they are presented on a case-by-case basis. We also hope to present our position concerning preemption to the Court of Appeal and receive its decision on this important issue.
Yet, an ordinance that prevents a sex offender from living within 200 feet of a school or that prevents them from entering city parks may look great on paper but it really only drives them out of the immediate area (or underground) and then only if they have a fear of getting caught. The Megan’s Law website is a great tool for both law enforcement and the public but, as a parent, when was the last time you checked it? And, considering the number of exemptions allowed for inclusion in the database, how accurate is it? Carr was listed on the database with a disclaimer that he may have relocated. There is a photo of unknown date but no probation or parole information on him either.
On expertlaw.com, an informational article on Megan’s Law agrees that sex offenders may go underground:
Another concern relates to the fact that Megan’s Laws seem to discourage sex offenders from complying with registration laws. While it is typically a felony offense for a sex offender to fail to register his residence as required by law, at least twenty percent of convicted sex offenders do not comply with the registration requirement.
It also agrees with Chmielewski’s assertion that children are at greater risk of being molested by a family member or friend, not from strangers.
So, where does this leave parents who are desperate to protect their children? While the courts and the politicians try to work through this remember that, even with bulletproof laws, the police have no responsibility to protect the individual, not even your child. You do, however. Ultimately, the responsibility for your child’s safety is supervision by you or someone you trust. In the case of nannies and babysitters, they should be properly vetted. When going to the park or other public venues, nothing replaces direct supervision and a watchful eye. Put away the phone and other distractions while your child plays and be aware of people who don’t seem to belong in the area or who seem to be taking an extraordinary interest in children. Don’t let your fear keep you from calling the police if you have suspicions. In the end, the best protection your children can have is you.