Re-thinking Wildomar……

October 31, 2011

….”PERFORMANCE”

The third element necessary to restore  sound government and  “best practices” in Wildomar is  to demand appropriate levels of performance on the part of those entities, employees and contract vendors alike, who provide services in exchange for our hard-earned tax dollars.

For example, the above photograph is an example of “graffiti removal services” provided by a favored vendor who billed Wildomar $143.18 on July 07, 2011 for removing graffiti from a utility box, along with several other nearby small locations, located at Central and Cervera, the entrance to the Windsong Valley tract.

If the above photograph is an example of effective graffiti removal, then I question performance of the vendor as well as the city staff’s oversight of the process if they consider this level of “performance”  acceptable and suitable for payment.

My guess is that the old saw “close enough for government work” remains in effect in Wildomar.

Under the best circumstances, a 2% human error factor  can never be eliminated. That being said, the above example of substandard “workmanship” is not a product of human error , it is simply substandard.

And a foolish waste of our $143.18.

Any vendor who works on behalf of Wildomar must be held to a far higher standard of care than at present.

For example, a local vendor proudly promotes it’s service expectations, as follows.

“Graffiti Removal – The products we use are environmentally friendly. We do not merely paint over the graffiti, but remove it without damage to the surface, leaving no oddly colored painted sections.”

That is the kind of “standard of care” that Wildomar needs and would be happy to pay for.

Comments are permitted below.

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Benoit’s Unstoppable……

October 30, 2011

 

…”PIE HOLE”

At least till Wednesday evening.

Part of the vernacular of the current Sports Radio Talk show format is to describe a person’s mouth as his or her “pie hole.” As a result, the command to “shut your pie hole” is a more vulgar version of “please be quiet.”

In Wildomar Mayor Pro Tem Ben Benoit’s case, it is unlikely that either phrase would be effective.

Foolishly appearing on a recent Lake Elsinore/Wildomar Patch video, Benoit once again violates the media guidelines for elected officials.

Please click on the following link  to confirm:

 http://lakeelsinore-wildomar.patch.com/blog_posts/video-interviews-with-wildomars-mayor-and-mayor-pro-tem#youtube_video-8185971

Not only does Benoit discuss current litigation involving the City of Wildomar, but he goes on to insult a citizen of Wildomar in the process.

Since no one apparently cannot convince Mayor pro tem Benoit to restrain himself from talking to the media about current litigation, it remains the duty of Wildomar Magazine to mock his failure.

If that were not enough, which it probably is not, Sheryl Ade intends to make an appearance at this Wednesday evening’s City Council meeting to address Benoit’s personal insult personally, using the Public Comments portion of the agenda.

My guess is that, since Sheryl was a more mature, more informed and more intelligent member of the City Council than Benoit is, or ever will be, her verbal response may be sufficient to stifle Benoit’s pie hole.

Comments can be made to zakturango@excite.com.


Schizophrenia At The Wildomar Council……

October 29, 2011

….DAIS

Roses are red,

Violets are blue,

I’m schizophrenic,

And so am I.

It appears that Wildomar City Council is bumping into itself,coming around its own corner.

Consider, if you will, Dear Reader, the Staff Report for next Wednesday evening’s City Council meeting, as follows:

http://www.cityofwildomar.org/uploads/files/minutes/11-02-11-cap.pdf

On the one hand, Councilmember Tim Walker recently made it clear that he does not want to expend the time and effort necessary, as a councilmember, to study development project applications coming before the City of Wildomar, obviously desirous of having decisions made by the Planning Commission, so  that there is no need for any project come before the City Council.

On the other hand, according to the staff report, the Council is concerned that Planning Commission “did not have the necessary experience to make approval decisions as a body,” in addition to their concern “that a project could be approved even though members of the City Council were not in agreement with the Planning Commission.”

Based on the above, it appears the City Council wants to eliminate the body of commissioners that they appointed, based on their lack of qualification. If that is the case, these men and women should not have been appointed to the Planning Commission in the first place.

On the third hand, there is apparently a concern for Planning Commission decisions which are to come to the city Council as “receive and  file” items on the consent calendar,” where a councilmember could theoretically “pull the item and garner support for it not to be approved.”

Far be it for this Council to permit a member, or a group of members, of the public to express their concerns about any project coming before the city.

So, which is it?

Does the City Council wish to delegate all authority to the Planning Commission, which they themselves apparently do not respect? Or does the City Council wish to eliminate the Planning Commission altogether, and make all the decisions themselves, knowing that the public could have a far greater impact on the process?

This is a delicious dilemma for a City Council who is too unsophisticated/ignorant and too lazy to become educated on planning and land development issues in order to be able to fulfill their obligations as City Council members, and who have no confidence in their appointees to the Planning Commission, and to know that if the matter is ultimately approved by the City Council in a public forum, that potential public input might uncomfortably complicate the process for them in their quest to approve substandard projects, such as there was on the Robles and Subway projects.

Or they can always choose to wait for the eventual, unavoidable lawsuit that follows, to sort everything out for them.

What do they expect when they appointed their real estate co-workers, Chamber of Commerce and church cronies to a commission that requires a lot of hard work?

And a brain.

It appears that their schizophrenic chickens are coming home to roost.

Comments can be made to zakturango@excite.com.


Re-Thinking Wildomar…..

October 27, 2011

 

….COMPETITIVENESS

Back in 1970, when I was a new adjuster trainee for the Automobile Club of Southern California, I was given “settlement authority” by the company to negotiate the settlements of personal injury claims sustained by auto accident victims. Over the years, I have dispersed several millions of dollars to individual victims. There was no specific guideline to the value of a personal injury claim and, as result, there was always a potential to “overpay” a claim, based on unwarranted sympathy for the victim.

The ultimate advice given to me by my training supervisor, was to ” spend the Auto Club’s money as if it were my own.”

That remains good advice for those who have a stewardship position over taxpayer coffers, such as the City Council which is spending, after all,  our own  money.

The Second Principle that I want to apply in Re-Thinking Wildomar, after prioritizing city services that are mandated by law, is “Competitiveness.’

PUBLIC WORKS:

For example, after incorporation and as the infant City of Wildomar began to implement specific services to replace what the County of Riverside  had previously provided, City Staffers engaged the services of a public works company, PV Maintenance, headquartered in Rancho Santa Margarita California, to abate weeds on our rural roadsides and to repair our paved roads when necessary.

It is likely that part of the original attraction in hiring this company was the broad scope of the services they provided.

It made sense at the time.

But that was then.

This is now.

Please click on the following link and scroll down to page 4 to confirm:

http://www.cityofwildomar.org/uploads/files/minutes/06-24-09-cm.pdf

Given the date of June 24, 2009 for the above reference, and the County services for the first year of Wildomar’s existence were about to lapse as of July 01, 2009, retaining the services of a company like PV Maintenance that has “a good understanding of what the city is looking for” made sense during the transition.

However, Wildomar is no longer struggling in its infancy. With a budget line item of $900,000, it would make sense to break up the original contract into two separate scopes of work, such as “weed abatement” and “road repair”and seek competitive bids for each scope.

It is my estimation that Wildomar could probably gain at least a 10% reduction by competitive bidding, which would result in a savings of approximately $90,000 for the current budget year.

EXECUTIVE STAFF:

Once again, with the current economy and the transition of Wildomar from infancy to a level of civic maturity, it would be appropriate to re-think our executive needs.

In his Response to Comments letter to LAFCO, dated April 30, 2007, Incorporation Consultant Gary Thompson, discussed the matter of City Manager salary, as follows:

“…. it is appropriate to assume in the CFA that a higher than average salary may be required to due the nature and complexity of managing a startup city.”

Wildomar is no longer a “startup city.” In the same way, a new building being constructed has a complete scaffolding system erected around it until it is completed. However, upon completion the scaffolding is  removed.

The current base salary for the City Manager of Wildomar is  $179,000 per year. With the usual perquisites and benefits, the total expense exceeds $250,000.

The base salary of the Governor of the Late Great State of California is currently set at $173,987. There are 329,000 State employees for the Governor to manage.

Wildomar, with a population of approximately 32,000 people, currently has less than 10 employees. In addition, it also has a Assistant City Manager.

In my opinion,  Wildomar should consider eliminating the top executive position, at a savings of $250,000, and instead retain the services of a single executive, for no more than $150,000 per year, base salary.

Currently, there are 16 City Managers in the state of California who make over $300,000 per year. This is outrageous, unconscionable and unwarranted.

Please click on the following link to confirm:

http://www.businessinsider.com/california-city-manager-salaries-2010-9

Perhaps Wildomar can begin to deflate the expectations of those who work in the public sector and who engorge themselves at the public trough. ($300,000 per year is engorgement).

 I’m not against any human being earning sufficient income to care for his family (most of us are doing that for far less than $150,000 per year). If anyone wants more than that, he or she should go into the private sector.

Surely, someone with the public managerial experience would be willing to work for $150,000 per year. According to Answers.com, the salary range for city managers nationwide varies from $80,000 to $220,000. I suspect that a $80,000 a year man or woman city manager in Missouri, with experience, would consider moving to Wildomar for a decent  raise to $150,000 per year.

In closing, now that Wildomar has been established for three years plus, I suggest we can get by, if not thrive, with one executive at City Hall.

A reallocated $250,000 would be available to scrape/grade most of Wildomar’s dirt roads and repair more than a few paved ones.

Your cogent comments are permitted, and invited, below.


Re-Thinking Wildomar….

October 25, 2011

….MANDATED SERVICES

As previously discussed, I would like to briefly focus on those services which are required by state law to be provided by a city such as Wildomar, to its citizens, as follows:

Police Service:

That we need to provide police as a public service is unquestionable. The amount of police services to be provided is subject to conjecture, however.

The normal police metric is one sworn officer for each 1000 citizens. If that were the case, then Wildomar would need approximately 32 sworn officers who protect us. Currently, the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department provides for two police officers in Wildomar, 24/7. Prior to the recent loss of Vehicle License funds, there were four sworn officers to serve Wildomar.

At present, the staffing of our police department appears to be adequate. I have not noticed any deterioration of service since the reduction.

Currently, there is no opportunity for any reductions in services in order to produce cost savings for the city of Wildomar.

Fire Service:

Wildomar is highly susceptible to wildfires. The Fire Department metric of a 5-7 minute response time appears to be adequate.

Currently, there is no opportunity for any reductions in order to produce cost savings for the city of Wildomar.

Animal Control:

Wildomar is presently providing Animal Control services to the Citizens of Wildomar through the non-profit Animal Friends of the Valleys (“AFV”).

There is a history with AFV that bears a closer look. First and foremost, dear readers, we must understand that AFV is a highly politicized organization, exerting significant influence throughout the Southwest Riverside County. On December 08, 2010, the Wildomar City Council agreed to join with other local communities in the Joint Powers Authority (“JPA”) that is providing financing of the bond that permitted the  construction of the mammalian Taj Mahal located on Mission Trail in Wildomar.

If you read the minutes of the December 08, 2010 City Council meeting, you will note that two newly elected council members, Tim Walker and Ben Benoit, voted “Aye” on the issue of joining the JPA, without any discussion noted in the minutes, which would convey a desire, on their part, for time to study the issue, or have any questions they might raise answered.

Without so much as a hiccup, they voted to obligate Wildomar to be a part of an increasingly-expensive contrivance.

Please click on the following link and scroll down to page 10 to confirm:

http://www.cityofwildomar.org/uploads/files/minutes/12-08-10-cm.pdf

For example, consider the Comprehensive Fiscal Analysis (“CFA”) regarding animal control services, as follows:

“The city of Wildomar has the option of contracting this service with the county, another city, or another private agency, or providing the service directly… The new city may desire to join the recently established Joint Power Authority if they desire to provide a future enhanced level of service.”

Animal Control services were being provided for approximately $74,500 in 2007.

Now that we have joined the JPA,  the current budget for Animal Control is $354,300.

I guess we “needed” that over-priced enhanced level of service.

The greater amount of this expense is due to the awkward agreement with AFV, to whit:

“All JPA members will pay an annual lease payment based on each agencies proportionate share of shelter usage. The bonds (issued to construct the mammalian Taj Mahal) will have a 30 year life and once they are paid off, the ownership of the facility will be turned over to AFV.

As a result, the citizens of Wildomar will be paying AFV’s 30 year mortgage and will, in no event, ever own any part of it.

However, there is an alternative under Re-Think Wildomar. That is, to “provide animal control services directly to the citizens of Wildomar.”

As I recall, last summer, I made a presentation to the City Council of Wildomar during public comments, suggesting that the City of Wildomar should consider creating their own Animal Shelter to deal with the approximately 1200 stray cats and dogs (they euthanized 335 dogs, or less than one per day) that AFV allegedly rounds up in Wildomar every year.

It would be legal and certainly far less costly than participating in paying for AFV’s mortgage.

Oh, and one other thing, the brain surgeons sitting at the Council dais also relinquished the city’s right to collect $82,500 in dog licensing fees to AFV for the current year, adding insult to injury.

In fact, part of the scope of work for field service officers, for which we pay over and above their mortgage, is to canvass the homes in Wildomar for “unvaccinated and unlicensed” dogs. We are paying for AFV to increase their income stream by canvassing for unlicensed dogs.

There appears to be a great opportunity for cost reduction having Wildomar provide animal control services directly to its citizens

Roads:

The monies saved could be reallocated to maintaining Wildomar’s roads.

Not everybody uses parks; but everybody uses roads, if only to get to the park.

Comments are permitted below.

Just an afterthought. The taxpayers of Wildomar pay more for AFV’s Taj Mahal mortgage than they paid for their parks. Something is wrong with that concept.


Thank You, Sheryl Ade….

October 25, 2011

 

… FOR YOUR LEADERSHIP

Once again, had it not been for the leadership of former Wildomar City Councilmember Sheryl Ade, today’s Patch news article regarding a $125,000 grant from the Southern California Association of Governments (“SCAG”) to Wildomar “to develop a plan for historic areas,” this grant would not have been awarded to Wildomar.

Councilmember Ade, the SCAG representative from Wildomar, during Future Agenda Items on September 08, 2010, asked staff to put the authorization to request  the potential grant on the next agenda for consideration.

Please click on the following link and scroll down to page 14 to confirm:

http://www.cityofwildomar.org/uploads/files/minutes/09-08-10-cm.pdf

Therefore, before the uninformed backslapping gets out of hand, it is important to give credit where credit is due.

Again, thank you, Sheryl Ade, for your leadership on Wildomar’s behalf in securing this $125,000 grant.

Comments can be made to zakturango@excite.com.

 


A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To…..

October 23, 2011

 

….INCORPORATION

A PREAMBLE to “Re-thinking Wildomar; Right-sizing Wildomar to reflect Economic Realities.”

As a result of the determined efforts of a small group of Wildomar activists (not including Marsha Swanson, Ben Benoit or Tim Walker, or admittedly, Gil Rasmussen), Wildomar arrived, like a squalling newborn baby, on July 01, 2008.

Unfortunately, the all-important funding (as projected in the Comprehensive Fiscal Analysis) did not arrive to sustain/nurture the baby.

Therefore, it is appropriate, if not a necessity, due to economic realities extant three years post-incorporation, for the citizens of Wildomar to ask their elected officials to thoughtfully pause whatever meaningless frenetic activity they are participating in at the moment, in order to re-visit the economic presumptions upon which Wildomar’s incorporation was based, and to re-think Wildomar’s priorities which should more accurately reflect current economic realities.

Since that is unlikely, I will take it upon myself to attempt to bring this topic front and center for the next 12 months.

Inasmuch it is it will take an informed electorate to produce informed electors, please click on the link to the LAFCO website, which contains all of the incorporation documentation created as a basis for the incorporation of Wildomar and inform yourselves, as follows:

http://www.lafco.org/sites/default/resources_links/Wildomar/Pub_Hear_CFA_Aug_07_Apdx.pdf

Scroll down to page 3 to Table 1-A, entitled “General Fund Revenues and Expenditures.”

Notice, if you will, under General Fund Revenues Projection Year 4, FY 11/12 (that would be this year!), the projected “Total Revenues” were predicted to be $15,129,113.

According to the current Fiscal Year 2011-12 budget, the actual General Fund Revenues for 2011-12 are, instead only $9,080,700, which is approximately 40% short of the projections published within the Comprehensive Fiscal Analysis.

It is not my intention to go back to 2006-07 in order to criticize the incorporation activists, whose efforts produced our unique city of Wildomar. Their dedication and diligent efforts produced a political entity where our compliments or complaints can be voiced in Wildomar, rather than Riverside.

Rather than looking back, I want to look forward to the future, utilizing the revenue numbers we know, three years beyond incorporation, as our guide.

In the articles that follow, I will be addressing and proposing that Wildomar’s elected officials, current or future, and at the behest of the informed citizens of Wildomar, consider re-structuring and right-sizing Wildomar within the following guidelines:

1)  Mandate:  Wildomar should  provide, as  a primary priority, only those services which are mandated by state law, such as police, fire, animal control and Public Works (roads).
2) Competitiveness:  Every mandated service provided, where possible, should be subject to ongoing competition with other private or public organizations.
3) Performance: Establish success measures and measure performance through a city-wide performance management initiative.

If an informed electorate in Wildomar embraces the idea of addressing and right-sizing of Wildomar due to  the absent, and presumed lost, financial underpinnings which were projected in 2007, then Wildomar’s elected officials, current and future, will have to embrace them as well.

(Editor’s note: In order to provoke and invite  meaningful discussion, I will alter my time-honored Wildomar Magazine tradition of not permitting public comments, but only for the Re-Thinking Wildomar category.

I will, however, reserve my right to edit or delete any comments that are inappropriate or irrelevant).