The Menifee City Council met this evening, here's a recap of what went on...
The council met at 7:00pm for the open session. There was no prior study session.
Scott Mann asked to cancel the upcoming January 20th council meeting explaining that it will conflict with the "New Mayors" meeting in Sacramento, in which the entire council plans to attend. All councilmembers seemed to be in agreement.
City Manager George Wentz brought up the subject of having the "visioning session", this is where the city council gets together to create their vision for the city.
Paul Krueger, Pastor at New Hope Community Church in Canyon Lake, and founder of Hope Learning Academy, spoke about the academy helping "kids who have fallen through the cracks", and thanked councilman Mann for helping the academy establish its business plan.
Anne Pica, spoke about the issue with establishing council districts, and accused the council for having a closed door meeting. She mentioned she's consulting with the Secretary of State on the legality of such meeting, citing it as a violation of the Brown Act. The Mayor questioned her accusation, to which Anne described in the previous council meeting that the Mayor said a decision was made not to hire a consultant. The Mayor explained that there was a misstatement on this; he didn't mean that a decision was made not to hire a consultant, but simply that no decision had been made to hire or not hire. Anne seemingly retracted, and apologized, but maintained her position that the voters approved districts.
John Denver jumped in at this point to ask the Mayor that the subject of districts should be agendized for a later council meeting where they could discuss this greater lengths. The Mayor agreed. It sounds like the council meeting of February 3 is going to have a in-depth discussion on districts.
Katherine Flores, also spoke about districts, saying that she just now learned the city council members are not in support of districts, and is favoring a special election to reverse the previous one. She went on to say that council members should "get out" if they don't want districts.
Chuck Reutter, stepped up to say that he's getting ready to do a city council recall, and said that "three of you will be recalled".
Phoeba Irey, talked about a book she recently read entitled, "The SPEED of Trust: The One Thing That Changes Everything", by Stephen Covey. She related this book to the city council explaing that the council is lacking trust from the people, and that much of the adversity it faces stems from this. She went on to say that big decisions are about to be made, and made reference to some zoning issues where the council was approving subdivisions of rather small lot sizes, and that this is compromising the trust with the voters, perhaps eluding to campaign promises made by the council members.
Ryan Rubio, described himself as a 20 year resident, said that on January 2, he was visited by a code enforcement officer wanting to tow his car away. Apparently, it had been sitting in front of his house for quite some time, which he explained was due to a transmission problem. He had offered to push his car up into the driveway, but the officer refused, insisting that it HAD to be towed. Rubio argued to the council that the officer should have allowed him to push his car, and avoid fines. Instead, he had to pay $500.00 total to the DMV and impound lot. And to add insult to injury, he pointed out to the officer that there was another car across the street with expired tags, and that it too ought to be towed. However, the officer ignored it. He accused the officer of simply trying collect money for the city, for the fact that the officer wouldn't allow Rubio to avoid the fines. Rubio said that the code he was cited for violating, "22651 of the vehicle code" was wrongly applied. "I hope this isn't a sign of things to come" Rubio left saying.
Vince Valdez, Park Manager for Valley Wide Parks & Recreation, stepped up to offer his assistance to the city.
Louis Mazei, lent his support to the city council to address matters relating to council districts. He said that he actually voted for "at large", but noted that he lives very close to Sun City Core, and that if districts were created, his residence would very likely be included into the same district as Sun City Core. He felt that Sun City Core represents the most active voting block, and therefore his residence would receive a lot of city council attention, and would seemingly benefit because of it. I'm not exactly sure how he correlated his vote for "at large" with his assertion that districts will improve his quality of life. Nonetheless, he supports having a second election on this. Louis also said that he's now using "Menifee" as his mailing address.
Much of the stuff on the agenda this evening dealt with adoptions and authorizations the council approved at the last meeting. Because the rules of the city council requires them to approve this stuff twice, it was on the agenda again this meeting. To save time, the council voted to adopt all these things in one fell swoop.
However, Twyman asked that he carve out one particular item, the Prima Facie Speed Limits, and the other council members approved.
Prima Facie Speed Limits
Twyman asked for some clarification from the City Manager, referencing a document that apparently lists what the "prima facie" speed limits will now be for each road in Menifee. He noted that the stretch of Scott Rd, between Antelope Rd and Menifee Rd was not mentioned. Twyman also said that he's not aware of any signs posted on this stretch that defines the speed limit.
The City Manager deferred to his city works guy (I don't have his name), and I couldn't really get the gist of what he said, it sounded like he was saying a lot of stuff without actually saying anything at all.
Twyman also noted other streets that seemingly have a rather high prima facie speed limit in areas where schools (and children) are nearby. He asked how they came up with these speed limits. The city works guy said that the County came up with all this stuff, they had people with radar guns measure the speeds that people actually travel, and then they figure out the 85th percentile, and that became the prima facie speed limit for that road.
Scott Mann chimed in responding to Twyman that he's going to be asking the City Manager to reassess the speed limit for McCall Rd, between Antelope and Menifee Rd, and will include the roads that Twyman was concerned about.
But in the end, the Prima Facie Speed Limit ordinance got its second vote of approval.
Interestingly at this point, John Denver chimed in to the Mayor asking if there could be some kind of pre-meeting, where city council members can ask such trivial questions such as those that Twyman asked, because they appear to be wasting the public's time. Denver noted that the council members have the right to ask these questions, but that it seemed like it wasn't a good use of public session time.
Twyman said that he actually knew the answers to the questions he asked, but that he thought the public would be very interested in hearing the answers, and that's why he asked them.
Council Member Comments
Scott Mann said that he had attended a meeting of Western Riverside Council of Governments, and in that meeting they noted one of the big problems with this bad economy and the high rate of foreclosures, is that the general public living in the Inland Empire doesn't understand the situation well enough. So, they came up "8 recommendations" for local governments to implement, and that this would help improve things. Mann mentioned that this would particularly help stimulate new home developments.
He asked for the city council and city manager to find some time on how to carry out these 8 recommendations for Menifee.
Darcy Kuenzi brought the focus back to council districts, and suggested the city establish a "blue ribbon panel", comprised of nine citizens, to determine the best government structure for Menifee. The panel would take a look at the different structures, what the cost factors are, what the benefits would be, and what the processes are. Kuenzi said that she "wants more information", noting that the subject of districts continues to be a hot topic. It sounds like this will also be put on the agenda for the next council meeting.
My opinion: A blue ribbon panel would create a solution for a problem that exists only in the minds of the council. Moreover, it puts the fate of the first election into the hands of nine council appointees. It was the city council who created this problem, not the people. There's no need for a blue ribbon panel if the city council accept the will of the people. There would not have been an Anne Pica, Chuck Reutter, and now a Katherine Flores, venting their anger in public session if the council had kept mum on this, and just moved forward with districts.John Denver commented that he still hasn't received any information how much money it's going to cost the city to run a second election on districting, how much money it'll cost to hire a districting consultant, and how much it will cost to have separate district elections versus an at-large election. He wants a cost analysis first.
Instead, by going public with their displeasure over the outcome, the council is at risk of deepening the division between Sun City and Menifee, when cityhood was supposed to unite us. And for the council to suggest that the people were ill-informed when they voted for districts is an insult to the intelligence of voters. Based on the anger they have created with this debate, councilmembers should wonder if the people were ill-informed when they voted for them.
Fred Twyman said that he and Darcy Kuenzi met as part of the Committee Committee, which is the committee to determine what committees to create. They've apparently figured out what committees to create, and asked the City Manager to come up with a date when they can invite the public to apply for seats.
Around 8:00pm, the public session ended, and a private session began to address some lawsuit matters, including one involving Woodside Group, LLC.
But before they convened, Bill Zeidlik asked for some time to comment on the Woodside matter. I didn't quite catch everything he said, but that there had been other lawsuits, and even used the word "we" as if to suggest he had been in the middle of it. Despite saying a lot of things, and not really saying anything specific, he ended it by asking the council "to look at everything carefully".
And I'm sure the council would do so anyways.