Revisions, changes and clarifications of the Santa Clarita City Council’s Norms and Procedures were taken on by Mayor Frank Ferry and Mayor Pro Tem Bob Kellar as a subcommittee and presented to the other Council members and the public at Tuesday’s regular meeting.
If public comment was any indication, the product of Ferry and Kellar’s efforts were a designed attack on Council member Timben Boydston and subversion of the U.S. Constitution. Kellar balked at the assertions.
“We’re not trying to infringe upon people’s rights and taking away your constitution for crying out loud. Where did you come up with all the craziness, guys? Keep a cool head here. Common sense. Good judgment and we will do just fine,” said Kellar.
Except for a few flashes of frustration, Mayor Ferry was able to keep a cool head and diffuse a contentious situation. He did it by listening, explaining, and seeking input.
“The Mayor Pro Tem and I have every understanding that the most likely event tonight is we’re going to hear comments, go back and work with staff and bring back something the council as a whole can adhere to. It doesn’t make sense to have council norms and procedures that all five members don’t see the benefits,” said Ferry.
Still the public and Boydston could not be blamed for having serious concerns over Section 9A which states:
“The City Manager is responsible for setting the agenda for Council Meetings. Additionally, any Council member or the Mayor can put items on the agenda with the verbal majority consensus of the Council.”
This Boydston interpreted as meaning he’d be forced to curry favor with and be subject to the whims of a city manager or get a majority of the other Council members before getting any item on the agenda.
“Let’s say the city manager is not someone I’m having the ability to play golf with or whatever it is allows me to put stuff on the agenda through the manager and I have to get three council people to do so,” said Boydston.
The city council has only themselves to blame for the perceived threat this poses since they set a precedent of block voting earlier in the year when they refused to approve most of Boydston’s first round nominations to committees. Should the council continue to do the same, Boydston might never get an item on the agenda.
Council member Marsha McLean, who has found little common ground with Boydston since he was added to the council, agreed that any Council member should be allowed to put an item on the agenda.
“We have to be very careful when we’re working this through because some of these things can be taken literally and take away some of our options as council members to represent the public,” said McLean.
Ferry appealed to Boydston to come up with a compromise.
“How would you like to see this written? Because any one council member, me included, any one of us, if it’s just ‘I want it. I want it therefore it should be on there.’ That person then can become more powerful than any other member and not an equal because that person now dictates all of staff’s time, all the resources and all the council meeting agenda,” said Ferry.
Boydston countered that three or four items to be put on the agenda wouldn’t require anything but ink.
There was also the issue of Norms and Procedures that certainly appeared to be directly written in response to Boydston’s council meeting behavior. Twice he tried to show videos to the council and public to, as he says, support his arguments. Section 8A under Presentations and Events states:
“Individual Council Members must obtain a majority vote of the City Council in order to provide a presentation during a Council Meeting that includes video, PowerPoint, and other visual aids, or public testimony…”
Ferry said Kellar didn’t like being blindsided by the video’s content and he, as Mayor, didn’t like not knowing how long the videos would take from the council meeting. Once again Ferry sought feedback from Boydston.
“All I’m asking, if we go back to this committee, if you’re making this part of your dialogue/monologue what is reasonable for a PowerPoint and/or video presentation to be so we can say as as a norm, as a guideline, if you’re going to do this…”
“Ten minutes…?” said Boydston.
“That’s all. I just want to hear 10 minutes so Bob and I can bring it back to council,” said Ferry.
Council member McLean asked the subcommittee to clarify what the content of the videos could be.
“If it’s to go back to past city council meetings and take little snippets of something that we have said or reported on… I don’t want to sit and watch things taken out of context to make me look bad. Or to make any of us look bad,” said McLean.
Council member Laurene Weste defined the Norms and Procedures are a guide on how the council can work best together.
“We work in a very tough world and how treat each other is really important,” said Weste.
Item #5, described below was moved at the request of Council member Boydston so that he could take a longer look at the contract. Mayor Ferry received the assurance from Assistant City Manager Ken Striplin there would not be any gap in service by postponing. In response to citizen’s query, Striplin said that the city doesn’t require E-verify for employees associated with the Landscape Maintenance Districts.
AWARD CONTRACTS FOR BID NUMBER LMD 12-13-01 TO PROVIDE LANDSCAPE MAINTENANCE SERVICES IN LMD ZONES T-23, T-29, T-51 and 17
According to the city:
“Landscape maintenance services for the City’s LMD operation are provided through contracts with private companies. During the coming six months, the City will assume responsibility for eleven (11) additional local LMD zones as a result of the completed Copperstone, Fair Oaks, Jakes Way and Vista Canyon annexations, and the pending North Copperhill annexation.”
Staff recommended city council award a two-year maintenance service contract to Stay Green Inc., to provide contractual landscape maintenance for Landscape Maintenance Districts (LMD) Zones T23, T29 and 17 in the annual amount of $214,500 and $80,000 for unforeseen repairs and maintenance that are not part of scheduled services for a two-year contract in an amount not to exceed $589,000; award a two-year maintenance service contract to Oakridge Landscape Inc., to provide contractual landscape maintenance for Landscape Maintenance Districts (LMD) Zone T-51 in the annual amount of $84,900, and $40,000 for unforeseen repairs and maintenance that are not part of scheduled services for a two-year contract in an amount not to exceed $249,800, and; authorize the City Manager or designee to execute all contracts and associated documents, or modify the awards in the event issues of impossibility of performance arise, and execute up to three (3) annual renewal options not to exceed the annual bid amounts plus Consumer Price Index (CPI) adjustments, contingent upon the appropriation of funds by the City Council in the annual budget for such Fiscal Year, and execute all documents subject to City Attorney approval.
The following items were passed on Consent Calendar:
APPROVE THE USE OF A “PIGGYBACK” CONTRACT FOR THE PURCHASE OF A VACTOR TRUCK
City council approved use of a “Piggyback” contract for the purchase of a vactor truck using National Joint Powers Alliance Contract 031710-FSC in an amount not to exceed $405,210.
According to the city:
“The Stormwater field operation works to preserve the City’s environment and quality of life for its residents. While the public rarely sees the work effort and accomplishments, the benefits of the Stormwater operation are substantial. Every winter, many Southern California communities experience regular flooding and clogged storm drains. This type of flooding and damage rarely occurs in Santa Clarita due, in large part, to the specialized equipment and Stormwater staff’s efforts. The vactor truck is a compressed natural gas vehicle, with lower emissions than diesel-fueled vehicles, and is equipped with one of the most powerful cleaning systems in the industry.
Currently, staff has one vactor truck, and it is used for maintaining storm drains, cleaning roads, and parkway drains. With an additional vactor truck, staff can perform the increased responsibilities due to recent and pending annexations efficiently and quickly. Additionally, this equipment will help protect the Santa Clara River and place the City in a better position to comply with the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit with the additional cleanings.
On July 11, 1995, the City Council approved the use of “piggyback” purchasing. This process permits the City to place orders against a competitively awarded, pre-existing public agency contract. The National Joint Powers Alliance (NJPA) contract 031710-FSC for public utility equipment was competitively solicited and awarded on May 27, 2012, and extended to May 27, 2014.
Staff believes the NJPA contract provides the most competitive pricing and highest quality equipment to the City, thereby offering the best value.
ANNEXATION OF PARCELS INTO STREETLIGHT MAINTENANCE DISTRICT NO. 1
According to the city:
“SMD No. 1 was established to collect funds to cover the expenses for energy and maintenance of City streetlights. The costs associated with the streetlights, inclusive of approximately 16,500, are billed by Southern California Edison to the City. As a condition of development, properties are required to annex into SMD No. 1 in order to pay their fair share toward costs associated with the installation and ongoing maintenance of streetlight facilities. All parcels identified in this annexation process benefit from SMD services and are not currently being assessed.
All property owners will be mailed assessment ballots, which will be tabulated at the Public Hearing held on November 27, 2012. All parcels identified for inclusion as part of these proceedings are zoned commercial. No residential parcels are included in this proposed annexation process. Barring a majority protest at the Public Hearing, the City Council will be asked to give final approval of the annexation at that time.
The annual levy of assessments for the above parcels covers the anticipated maintenance costs with the annexation for SMD No. 1. The maximum annual assessment is adjusted annually according to the change in the Los Angeles-Riverside-Orange County Areas Consumer Price Index (“CPI”), as determined by the United States Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics. Annually, the City Council will decide the actual assessment amount. The City Council may adopt a lesser assessment amount, but may not exceed the maximum annual assessment rate.”