The Power Of The….

February 28, 2013

 

 

…PRA

The Public Records Act (“PRA”) is a wonderful instrument of law which I, as well as other similar “city hall critics” around the State of California, utilize to obtain documents which can expose such things as “missing, and presumed lost” deposits of “Santa’s” money generated from the city-sponsored sale of Santa’s Paint Bucket Pancakes.

Today’s  Lake Elsinore/Wildomar Patch confirms the efficacy of the PRA, as follows:

http://lakeelsinore-wildomar.patch.com/articles/wildomar-s-missing-money-problem-due-to-lack-of-policy-and-poor-judgment-review-finds

The article confirms that a total of $685 ($286 plus $399) was being held by someone other than the City of Wildomar from December 15, 2012 until February 11, 2013.

$685 is not a lot of money, in terms of dollars, but it is obviously “huge,” when it is “mishandled.”

Comments can be made to zakturango@excite.

Kudos to Wildomar City Manager Gary Nordquist for his appropriate and measured handling of this embarrassing matter.


Res Ipsa Loquitor….

February 26, 2013

 

…. “THE THING SPEAKS FOR ITSELF”

http://www.translegal.com/legal-latin/res-ipsa-loquitur

Community Services Manager Paula Willette resigns.

 http://www.utsandiego.com/news/2013/feb/25/wildomar-community-services-director-willette/

The Lake Elsinore/Wildomar Patch weighs in, as well:

http://lakeelsinore-wildomar.patch.com/articles/wildomar-s-cash-handling-procedures-under-review-by-city-manager

‘Nuff said.

Comments can be made to zakturango@excite.com.


Say Or Think What You Want But…..

February 23, 2013

 

….WILDOMAR LOST THE FIRST ROUND

Despite the whining about “frivolous” lawsuits, when the City of Wildomar defense team’s first line of defense (a weak Statute of Limitations argument) is summarily shot down by the judge, the citizens of Wildomar should be prepared for an eventual Court-ordered reconsideration of the “at-large” versus “by-district” process.

Yesterday’s article in the Californian covers the proceeding, and reports the result yesterday’s hearing, as follows:

http://www.utsandiego.com/news/2013/feb/22/wildomar-court-ruling-bridges-versus-city/

The primary reason that I think Martha’s lawsuit is meritorious, and not frivolous, is that her legal argument smartly pits one election in 2008, where a substantial majority of those who voted in the “cityhood” election also voted to elect future city councils by district, against a subsequent election in 2009, where a smaller majority in a smaller turnout overturned the previous vote.

This is not about a developer with an economic interest fighting City Hall, where the Court would be loathe to overturn the citizen’s right to choose. This case is, quite simply, “voter versus voter,” making the outcome less predictable.

And therein lies the crux of this litigation. A substantial legal argument is being made, by the plaintiffs, that returning to an “at-large” voting process was not a viable option in 2009, or even now, for that matter, according to the California Constitution.

In the face of that argument, the attorney for the City Council has unsuccessfully argued that the plaintiffs waited too long to file a lawsuit.

A lawsuit is not “frivolous” just because you disagree with it, especially when the Court disagrees with the City’s response.

Comments can be made to zakturango@excite.com.

In my opinion, the City of Wildomar’s Statute of Limitations defense is “frivolous,” and now, in the face of the Court’s ruling, “specious. “

Please click on the following link for a definition of specious:

http://www.thefreedictionary.com/specious+argument

Not surprisingly, the Wildomar City Council will continue to whine while they spend limited resources fighting this litigation.


Wildomar Blows The “Oviedo” Savings…

February 22, 2013

 

…BUT FOR A GOOD REASON

Former City Manager Frank Oviedo correctly, and wisely, interpreted Wildomar Magazine’s off-repeated mantra that a small community like Wildomar, with little or no development, could no longer afford the luxury of having two city executives.

As a result, his voluntary resignation in December 2012, provided an immediate savings of $125,000  to the city’s budget for fiscal year 2012-13, as well as an additional anticipated savings of $250,000 to the city’s budget for fiscal year 2013-14. (That’s a savings of $375,000! Since the city ended up last year with $1700 in surplus, it’s actually quite significant!!)

According to this morning’s Press-Enterprise, it appears that the County of Riverside is about to agree to a proposal for a loan modification of the monies spent by the County during  Wildomar’s first year of operation. The total obligation amounts to $1.7 million still owed to the County of Riverside.

Please click on the following link, to confirm:

http://www.pe.com/local-news/riverside-county/riverside/riverside-headlines-index/20130221-region-county-to-consider-financial-aid-for-new-cities.ece

It appears that Wildomar has offered an initial repayment of $383,243 by July 13, 2013, with an annual payment of $100,000 per year until repaid entirely, thus permitting Wildomar to repay its debt without busting its budget.

Wildomar can afford to pay the $383,243, but only because of the significant “Oviedo” savings.

In my opinion, this fiscal arrangement appears to be the smart work of our new City Manager, Gary Nordquist, whose background in city finance has earned him well-deserved plaudits for his work in the City of Fontana. Wildomar is fortunate to have retained his talent and services our behalf.

As for the $100,000 per year loan payment, the City of Wildomar could/should again take the advice of Wildomar Magazine, as well as other citizens, and move City Hall onto the city-owned property known as Marna O’Brien Park, thus relieving the City budget of approximately $120,000 per year in lease payments for its current location in the Albertson’s shopping center. (See Wildomar Magazine Archives for Re-Thinking  Wildomar, and scroll down to August 13, 2012 article, “Saving Marna O’Brien Park Through…” for specific details, including the math.)

Additional, and immediate, savings of approximately  $300,000 per year could further be achieved by withdrawing from the enormously expensive Southwest Communities Finance Authority, which operates the Animal Friends of the Valley’s canine Taj Mahal ($15,000,000 construction bond obligation) and hiring its own animal control officer (to handle less than 5 cats/dogs per day, on average, according to Animal Friend’s statistics.)

The withdrawal only requires a 60 day written notice, repayment of the $57,000 loaned to the City of Wildomar for last year’s “payment shortfall,” and a little spine in the backs of the Wildomar City Council.(See Wildomar Magazine Archives for Re-Thinking  Wildomar, and scroll down to July 27, 2012 article, ” Bitten By Their Own Numbers” for specific details, including the math.)

Comments can be made to zakturango@excite.com.


Undermining…

February 19, 2013

 

 

…OVERSIGHT

Almost before the ink is dry on the check mark behind their names, and certainly before any public meeting conducted by the Wildomar Citizens Oversight Committee, one of the newly appointed committee members, John Lloyd, has begun to undermine the “oversight” aspect of the committee’s raison d’être.

In recent comments to the Californian, Lloyd foolishly expresses the latent subversion of the ballot-measure based Watchdog “promise” to Wildomar’s taxpayers, made in exchange for their Yes vote on Measure Z.

Please click on the following link for confirmation and context:

http://www.utsandiego.com/news/2013/feb/17/wildomar-parks-committee-appointments/

For instance, consider the following comments by Lloyd, with my responsive comments (in bold, blue):

1)”Initially, it means trying to push through and get the parks open as soon as we can and as cost effectively as possible,” he said.” (The inherent promise of a fiscal watchdog committee in Measure Z does not include being a City Council-endorsed extension of the underperforming Citizens For Wildomar Parks volunteer group. As a Commissioner of the parks group, Lloyd may not be able to restrain himself from his unfettered pro-park exuberance, a normally positive attribute which may be out of place in this particular instance.)

Please click on the following link for confirmation of Lloyd’s well-documented involvement in the Citizens For Wildomar Parks:

http://www.wildomarparks.org/about.htm

2) “Lloyd said he expects city administrators will present the committee with an action plan when it holds its first meeting sometime in March.” (Why would a fiscal oversight committee want or need an “action plan” from an unnamed city administrator for guidance? What conversation has apparently already taken place, and with whom, does the information about the presentation of an action plan derive. If I were one of the other committee members, I would demand that information from Lloyd and, at the same time, that I would tell him to stop making public comments on behalf of the Committee, unless he specifies he is speaking only as a private individual.)

3) “We need to make sure that those funds also will be spent correctly, but until they give us a plan of action, we won’t know how things are actually going to go.” (If John Lloyd does not yet understand the specific, and limited, scope of work of a fiscal oversight committee, his mutual, if not prearranged, selection by both Bridgette Moore and Marsha Swanson, reflects the political and fiscal subterfuge intended by the Wildomar City Council to diminish any effective criticism on the part of the oversight Committee.)

Fortunately for the citizen taxpayers of Wildomar, Wildomar Magazine will continue to be a Fiscal Oversight Committee of One on their behalf, as in the recent, ongoing inquiry into the handling, or mishandling, of public funds, (in this case, cash) generated from the December 2012 Breakfast With Santa.

Comments can be made to zakturango@excite.com.

The citizens and taxpayers of Wildomar were promised a fiscal watchdog, not a city council lapdog.


Mayor Saved From A “Whiff” by…

February 15, 2013

…SWANSON’S INTERVENTION

 in a rare moment of lucidity and sensibilityWildomar City Councilmember Marsha Swanson saved Mayor Tim Walker from having to promote her and her colleague, Bridgette Moore’s co-mutual selection to the Wildomar Citizens Oversight Committee, pro-park tax proponent/activist, John Lloyd, as the Chairman for the important first year in existence of the oversight committee.

As the agenda item came up last Wednesday evening, Swanson quickly interjected herself into the midst of the staff report being presented by City Manager Gary Nordquist, who was describing the previously agreed-to protocol (put in place by Swanson and Moore themselves, as Parks subcommittee members) requiring Mayor Walker to select the Chairman of the committee, and proposed instead that the citizen committee itself should choose the Chairman at the first meeting, thereby properly overturning/subverting her own recommendation.

Lest you have forgotten, Wildomar Magazine had already addressed the municipal insanity of such a corrupt protocol. (See January Archives, and scroll down to the January 26, 2013 WM article “Teed Up For Mayor Walker” to review/confirm).

Fortunately for the citizen taxpayers of Wildomar, Councilmember Swanson appears to  be an occasional reader of Wildomar’s preeminent commentarian, yours truly, Zak Turango.

Sadly, the multiple opportunities for golf-based double entendre satirical and parodic humor have been lost to my Dear Readers with Swanson’s intervention.

I guess we’ll just have to wait for the “behind- the-scenes” political lobbying to the committee members to put  Bridgette’s right-hand man, John Lloyd, in the Chair.

Today’s Lake Elsinore/Wildomar Press Enterprise reporter Nelsy Rodriguez has written an informative article about the new appointees, as follows:

http://www.pe.com/local-news/riverside-county/wildomar/wildomar-headlines/20130214-wildomar-new-parks-committee-appointed.ece

Comments can be made to zakturango@excite.com.

Rest assured, Dear Readers, I will be covering Oversight Committee meeting for you, in order to report and comment on the process and outcome.

 For the record, based on my observation, Mayor Walker appeared to be relieved by Swanson’s intervention.


Breakfast With Santa….

February 14, 2013

 

…. BARTERING MUNICIPAL FAVORS

Santa’s best gift to local citizens/taxpayers is the Public Records Act.

In yet another unseemly (if not illegal) display of municipal misconduct, a City of Wildomar official has offered to waive a $40 fee for CPR training to a vendor who provides maintenance services to the City of Wildomar, in exchange for being a sponsor of last December’s Breakfast With Santa event.

In an email from Wildomar’s Community Services Director, dated November 15, 2012,  to PV Maintenance, who contracts with the City of Wildomar for maintenance services, the following:

Joe, I want to check with you to see if you’d be interested in being one of our sponsors for our 11th annual Breakfast with Santa December 14. Funds will be raised to purchase CPR mannequins for residential classes we conduct quarterly.

I would also like to extend an invitation to any of your employees to take a free CPR course on Wednesday, December 5 from 9 AM-12 PM. I will be hosting a class for a few of our staff and residents and still have availability.”

 Please click on the following link to confirm the usual charge for CPR course:

http://www.cityofwildomar.org/uploads/files/events/2012%20First%20aid%20cpr%20training%20flyer.pdf

In his responsive e-mail on November 16, 2012, Joe Garza, of PV Maintenance, stated the following:

We’d be happy to help sponsor your event, please send over any info!

Thank you for the opportunity to participate in the CPR class. I still have some (employees) that need to get their certificates renewed. I’ll check our schedule next week & see if we can send one or two.”

 Once again, for the record, City Manager Gary Nordquist has agreed to look into this and take appropriate action to prevent its recurrence.

Comments may be made to zakturango@excite.com.

 Coming soon to Wildomar:

Eggstravaganza, March 23, 2013. (Hopefully no one is cooking, or bartering for, these eggs!)

The silliness continues.

 


Santa’s Slush Fund….

February 13, 2013

 

… EXPOSED

As I continue to open “gifts” from my recent 18 page document trove, released by the City of Wildomar in response to my recent Public Records Act ( “PRA”) request, I found evidence of a disturbing lack of accountability in the handling of city funds, including cash, generated from the December 15, 2012 Breakfast With Santa event put on by the City of Wildomar.

Unfortunately, despite our specific request for a copy of the receipts that documented the above purchases, the City Clerk failed to include them, forcing yours truly to meet with City Manager Gary Nordquist yesterday afternoon to discuss the shortcomings of City Staff for their conduct anf lack of compliance with the PRA, as well as the mishandling of public funds, described hereinafter.

Nordquist has promised that he will address the shortcomings with the City Clerk and make the appropriate corrections.

According to the documents received, the City of Wildomar fronted or “put up” $286.80 (including an offsetting credit of $76.06 to Smart & Final) to purchase the food ingredients and party supplies for the breakfast event.

The unwitting victims of the City’s unfortunate Health & Safety Ordinance avoidance (See my previous article, below, “Wildomar’s Kitchen Nightmare ….Breakfast With Santa” for the gut-wrenching details) generated a  total of $1084.00 to the City of Wildomar, while the unsuspecting citizens were enjoying their opportunity to mingle their morning fare with a mythical St. Nicolas imposter. (Wildomar’s white-bearded version of Santa was observed to be wearing his favorite Hawaiian shirt under his red bathrobe).

At the end of the event, City of Wildomar officials supposedly counted out $1039 in cash, plus $45 in personal checks, “documenting” $1084 in revenues.

However, the total deposit of funds to the City of Wildomar, as of January 04, 2013, is only $399.00, leaving nearly $400 unaccounted for.

Apparently, after deducting the $286.80 from the total, which left a total “profit” of $797.20, the City official in charge of the event simply, and improperly, divided up the monies and improperly handed $398.60, in cash, to the co-recipient of the largess, Friends For Wildomar’s Parks.

So that there  is no misunderstanding of the implications of what just occurred, nearly $400 in cash receipts, which should have been deposited with the City of Wildomar, were instead improperly diverted directly to the coffers of a city-favored park volunteer group.

(Update, as of 1:00 PM today: Apparently after initiating an investigation into the matter at City Hall, it still remains “uncertain” as to how much, where and how the money went, and who received it.)

For some reason, city officials continue to operate the City of Wildomar as if it is their own non-profit community-based organization, supposedly subject to the laws of the land but somewhat conveniently flying beneath the harsh radar of accountability.

Once again, City Manager Gary Nordquist has promised to confront his staff with these disturbing developments and make the necessary changes in their money handling procedures to prevent a recurrence.

Comments can be made to zakturango@excite.com.


Wildomar’s Kitchen Nightmare…

February 12, 2013

 

…. BREAKFAST WITH SANTA

As a result of the City of Wildomar’s response to my recent Public Records Act request, where I requested all of the documents pertaining to the recent Breakfast With Santa, put on by the City of Wildomar on December 15, 2012, I discovered the following dismaying health facts.

What I discovered was recommendations for substandard kitchen practices that would/should turn the stomachs of any goodhearted and festive consumers, who only sought to be supporters of a local holiday event, and instead, turned out to be the unwitting recipients of potentially  contaminated food products.

In an e-mail from Paula Willette, Community Services Manager, dated December 05, 2012, to “K L”(presumably Kristan Lloyd), on behalf of Friends For Wildomar’s Parks, with a carbon copy (“CC”) to Wildomar City Councilmember Bridgette Moore, discussing the proposed food handling procedures for the upcoming event, as follows:

I’m getting there at 6:30 to start setting up. You will need whatever tools you need to mix and cook eggs, sausage and pancakes. The Scouts (past volunteers) mixed everything in 5 gallon buckets with a drill and mixing paddle and it seemed to work out great. They always had a large group, but I’m not sure how many were actually needed. I’m copying Bridgette on this because she was the woman in charge of the food and has a better handle on it.

When I do big breakfasts, I find it easier to precook the sausage ahead of time and then just warm it up.

I’ll purchase the batter and non-perishable things on Thursday and get the sausage on Friday or if you have room in your fridge, I can get it on Thursday for you.”

In a responsive e-mail from Bridgette Moore, dated December 07, 2012, to Paula and K L, the following:

“… are you cooking on grills? (You will) need warmers to keep eggs/pancakes/sausage warm. Cook ahead.”

According to the USDA, the following:

“Foods, including safely cooked and ready-to-eat foods, can become cross-contaminated with pathogens transferred from raw egg products and raw meat, poultry, and seafood products and their juices, other contaminated products, or from food handlers with poor personal hygiene. Most cases of foodborne illness can be prevented with proper cooking or processing of food to destroy pathogens. “

Please click on the following link for additional information:

http://www.fsis.usda.gov/FACTSheets/Foodborne_Illness_What_Consumers_Need_to_Know/index.asp

It appears from the aforementioned e-mails that the use of uninformed volunteers to prepare breakfast on a large scale probably did not rise to acceptable standards of food preparation.

As would any normal city, the City of Wildomar has created appropriate food handling ordinances, as follows:

Chapter 8.40 FOOD HANDLERS
8.40.010 Purpose and intent.
8.40.020 Definitions.
8.40.030 Food worker’s certificate required.
8.40.040 Exemption.
8.40.050 Application for food worker’s certificate.
8.40.060 Qualification for food worker’s certificate.
8.40.070 Issuance of food worker’s certificate.
8.40.080 Duplicate food worker’s certificate.
8.40.090 Revocation of food worker’s certificate.
8.40.100 Appeal.
8.40.110 Display of food worker’s certificate.
8.40.120 Violation—Penalty.

Unfortunately, Wildomar went further than most cities  to find a way around their own health ordinances so they have created a global exemption, as follows:

8.40.040 Exemption.

Any person who engages or serves or seeks employment relating to domestic or household work or to temporary, occasional or intermittent functions of bona fide religious, charitable or public service organizations, including fraternal organizations. veterans’ organizations. established youth organizations, parent-teacher associations, or students in public or private schools under the age of 16 engaged in school food operations, and civic or community organizations or groups, the primary purpose of which is the betterment of the cultural, social or economic welfare and environment of the community, shall be exempt from the provisions of Section 8.40.030. (Ord. 18 § 2, 2008, RCC § 8.44.040)”

Based on the above, any person over the age of 16 who participated in food preparation for Breakfast With Santa should have been required to comply with all of the requirements as “food handlers” under Section 8.40.

Perhaps, in the future, the City of Wildomar should learn to function as a government organization, whose obligation is to protect the health and safety of their citizens, rather than being the well-intentioned purveyors of substandard food products.

Comments can be made to zakturango@excite.com.


Autumnwood Homeowners….

February 6, 2013

 

…MIS-FRUSTRATED

If you haven’t noticed, Wildomar Magazine is not prone to take sides with  government bureaucrats. I generally prefer to mock them.

However, last evening, as I attended the city-facilitated meeting between the AutumnWood tract homeowners and representatives of appropriately responsive state and county agencies, such as the Air Quality Management District (“AQMD”) and the Department of Toxic Substances Control (“DTSC”) it became clear to me that this is, or should be, the end of this particular road for the homeowners.

As you may know, the two aforementioned agencies have conducted forensic testing in at least three of the homes in the Autumnwood tract, responding to allegations the presence of toxic chemicals and the soils underneath the homes.

Please click on the following link to a recent Californian article for context:

http://www.utsandiego.com/news/2013/jan/31/wildomar-autumnwood-air-quality-study/?page=1#article-copy

After the presentations by the various agency representatives, the homeowners in attendance were given an opportunity to  address the representatives. Not surprisingly, the complaints and allegations by the Autumnwood homeowners were repeated in detail, generally duplicating the complaints and allegations from the initial meeting last month.

I do recall one of the homeowners demanding that the DTSC continue to spend (taxpayer) money until the homeowner allegations have been confirmed.

The ongoing frustration demonstrated by the Autumnwood homeowners is certainly understandable.

 However, in my opinion, the venting of their frustration in the attempt to force the DTSC to continue testing their soils, despite the lack of scientific evidence of the need to do so is comparable to demanding that an ostrich fly because it’s a bird.

These homeowners have pulled all the levers of political influence within their grasp but continue to be unhappy, and frustrated, with the outcome.

Since they already have engaged the services of a law firm, at this point in time, they are free to continue their quest for legal redress through the Courts.

Therein lies their dilemma. Clearly this type of litigation is expert-driven, which is quite expensive.

Rather than continuing to flog these particular bureaucrats into flying “air cover” for their litigation battle, the homeowners should retain their own experts.

Foolishly, all that they have done so far is to create a growing body of evidence that there is no scientific basis for their allegations.

 Comments can be made to zakturango@excite.com.

Personally, I thought that repeatedly addressing DTSC representative and Branch Manager, John Scandura , by only using his surname “Scandura,” was disrespectful and undignified.

Despite the disrespect, Mr. Scandura retained his professional demeanor in his responses.

Please click on the following link to review his personal bio:

http://ebookbrowse.com/john-scandura-bio-pdf-d389161644