An agenda heavy with closed session items faces the Tustin City Council this week. Negotiations are in full swing with all employee organizations. Topping the list however, is the contract renewal of Chief of Police Scott Jordan. The Chief’s annual review is under scrutiny during the closed session with an item under the open session stating that the city has been negotiating his contract. It is interesting that the contract will only be made available to the public that evening and only if the City Council decides to vote on it.
Multiple conferences with legal counsel regarding exposure to litigation and initiation of litigation, as well as the usual discussion on the ongoing lawsuits between the city and the school district. Hopefully, after the false start in April, the first of these two cases will be heard this year. The best scenario would be for everyone to come to their senses and realize the drain of taxpayer money wasted on litigation over a power play.
Real Estate Negotiations – MCAS property in two separate negotiations regarding Broadcom Corporation and Vestar/Kimco.
Public Employment – Performance Evaluation of the Police Chief.
Labor Negotiations – All represented employees in various employee organizations. We hear that negotiations are going slowly but there may be some takeaways on the table.
Item – Public Hearing Adopt a finding that the Tustin Legacy Fire Station to be substantially complex and establish a retention amount of ten percent. This is an effort by the city to circumvent SB293 which established a maximum retention rate of five percent for public works projects. The original law, as enacted, was designed to ensure that contractors get paid and can pay their subcontractors and was supposedly designed to allow the maximum amount of funds to flow in a timely manner so everyone gets paid. That’s not a bad thing, is it? Support for the original bill came from the contractors themselves, of course, with a long list of supporting trade associations. Opposition was a slate of who’s who in government and quasi-government lobbying entities such as the State Association of Counties and the Special Districts Association.
Although one has to wonder why the legislature felt it necessary to free up more funds and thereby place cities, counties and special districts in even more financial peril (we’ve all heard horror stories of contractors who went bust and couldn’t finish the job, leaving a public works project hanging for years), this little game of declaring a simple project like a fire station as “complex”, is not worthy of our City Council. Through this tactic, they have established that they won’t let a little thing like the law protect their fiefdom. Let’s hope none of the contractors decides to sue or dispute the complexity issue, because the city will then have to show in court just how “complex” the project is. And, I doubt their commentary in the Agenda Report would suffice. In any case, the only ones likely to show at the public hearing are the “greedy” contractors providing local jobs and hoping to get paid in a timely manner.
Item 4 – Frontier Park Fitness Element This looks to be part of the Community Development Block Grant funding. No complaints about spending money on our parks. Tustin has some of the finest in the area and they are certainly a draw for prospective residents. Some of our current residents may take issue with the proposal, however, as it looks as if current handball courts will be replaced with outdoor fitness equipment.
Item 6 – Quarterly Investment Report If this item isn’t pulled for discussion, it is only because Deborah Gavello isn’t here. Deborah has publicly denounced the current investment manager for the city, stating that he has made illegal investments and made questionable investments that put funds at risk. The Gang of Three continue to rally behind their boy, George Jeffries, saying that he is the best thing that ever happened to taxpayer money. Interesting that Jeffries, who is around 80 years old, only has one client. And, suffice it to say, we haven’t lost any money…yet.
Regular Business Items
Item 8 – Set Date for Budget Workshop The tentative date is 4pm on June 5, 2012.
Item 9 – Solicitation Ordinance This is a second run for this ordinance which would have unfairly burdened non-profit groups with requirements for fingerprinting and permit fees. As we said
before, this ordinance has some problems with regard to our homeless who panhandle. But, that is not what the City Council had issues with. The Council, specifically Jerry Amante, was in a tither about his Girl Scout cookies. We had to agree. The ordinance, as written, would have unfairly burdened the very groups we as a community support. It seems the city staff have come up with a solution: rely on the old solicitation ordinance to regulate residential solicitors. So, while our homeless may be in fiscal jeopardy, at least Jerry’s and my cookies are safe. You school folks that run car washes are on your own.
Item 10 – Approval of Police Chief Contract I will state emphatically, that I like Chief Jordan. I like his philosophy on policing and believe he is a huge asset to the city. Anyone who has interacted with our police department knows how professional they are. That said, the city should exercise fiscal prudence here. Raises in any way shape or form for an executive, who should be leading by example, are out of order when it has been rumored that other line staff city employees may be faced with takeaways or, at the least, no raise or change in benefits. In fact, the city recently renegotiated new hire pensions at a significantly lower amount. Any significant change to any executive manager compensation at this time, would be fiscally imprudent.
That’s about it. We forgot to mention the city will have two presentations at the beginning of the public session. The first is for an Eagle Scout recognition. The second is for the highly publicized “Trees in Tustin” photography contest. We congratulate the winners and hope the city will continue to have fun contests like this in the future. And hey, don’t forget to join us as the Tustin Street Fair & Chili Cookoff, Sunday, June 3rd at 11 am. Get your tasting tickets early as they always run out of chili to soon. Now, if the City Council wanted to consider an ordinance for minimum chili amounts….