Menifee Mayor's State of the City Address

Wednesday, Mayor Edgerton gave the State of the City Address at the Masonic Lodge in Menifee.

I didn't attend the address, but Mike Thompson did. He created a four and a half minute video of the highlights...



The Mayor said that the vendors at Countryside Marketplace (or what he coined as "Haun Mall") are doing a lot of business and are on track to earning profits there. He went on to add that Countryside Marketplace is strategically located on the I-215 corridor, and that this corridor is vital to Menifee's economic growth. He also said that the city is well into the black in terms of finances, and that the city government is "listening to the music of the people".

Mike runs Thompson Media Group which helps businesses with sales and marketing. They publish a business-focused website called MenifeeBusiness.com. Thanks Mike for the video.




MUSD will NOT cut teachers

There will be no layoffs of teacher positions this coming school year. About a hundred people cheered to this news at last nights meeting. The district will pull from it's $9.2 million in reserves to avoid layoffs according to Assistant Superintendent of Business Services Gil Compton.

Some administrative positions have been eliminated, but all employees will keep their jobs, Superintendent Linda Callaway said. The governing board approved a motion to accept the budget proposal at Tuesday's meeting and is expected to give final approval to the plan at a meeting at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday.




Menifee Union School Budget Meeting - Feb 24, 2009

Just wanted to remind everyone that tonight is the school board meeting to hear suggestions on trimming the school budget. It'll be held at Callie Kirkpatrick Elementary School starting at 6:00pm.

I won't be able to attend due to another committment.

But I wanted to put this article here to let others post comments on what they heard in the meeting, and allow the conversation to continue.




Menifee Mustangs Win Palm Desert Classic

Dave Fokken of the Menifee Mustangs reports that the team won the 12 and under Palm Desert Classic last week, beating the So Cal Magic in the Championship Game, 8-2.

Says Fokken, "Each of the boys played an important role all weekend to help the team win their first tournament of the 2009 season. Way to go boys!!!"

The Menifee Mustangs included: Chad French, Parker Fokken, Ryan Edinger, Max Sias, James Garcia, Michael Valencia, Nick Williams, Cippy Quezada, Anthony Perez, Jake Lopez, Taylor Bush and Saul Fernandez.

Menifee Mustangs




Kindergarten Registration Requirements

The Menifee Union School District sent out the following notice this morning about kindergarten registration...
If your child is 5 years old on or before December 2, 2009,
your child is old enough for kindergarten.

The following information is required for kindergarten registration:

  1. Complete Immunizations

    1. Polio (4 needed – or 3 if last dose was on or after 4th birthday)

    2. DPT/DT (5 needed – or 4 if last dose was on or after 4th birthday)

    3. MMR (2 needed on or after 1st birthday)

    4. Hepatitis B (series of three doses)

    5. Chicken Pox Vaccine – Varicella (1 needed) - (If your child has had the chickenpox disease, ask your doctor to make note of it & sign the immunization record to meet the requirement.)

  2. Health Physical (CHDP form completed & signed by a physician & dated no earlier than February 2009)

  3. County Birth Certificate (child must be 5 years old on or before December 2, 2009)

  4. Proof of Residency (current utility bill or signed rental agreement or property tax bill with address)

  5. Oral Assessment (due by May 2010)
Your child's name will be placed on a time preference list if your child's registration packet is complete. There will be NO guarantee of time preference.

If you have any questions, please feel free to call the school your local school site or the district office at 951-672-1851
What's prompting this announcement is that the school district has historically dealt with parents registering their kids late, and not realizing all the above requirements.

Interestingly, the district said they're anticipating fewer late registrations for the fact that the 2009-2010 school year is the first traditional school year in 18 years, with classes starting in August instead of July. But nonetheless, wants to get the word out early.




I-215 Closure Continues Until Next Tuesday

Caltrans issued an update to the I-215 closure at Murrieta Hot Springs, saying that the southbound lane is expected to reopen Sunday evening, while northbound should reopen next Tuesday...
MURRIETA – California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) closed both north and southbound Interstate 215 (I-215) just north of Murrieta Hot Springs Road on Wednesday evening due to a damaged 10-foot diameter drainage culvert under both directions of the freeway.

I-215 in the City of Murrieta will remain closed until the emergency repairs are completed. Caltrans expects to get the southbound I-215 open by Sunday evening, weather permitting. The northbound side should open to traffic by late Tuesday.

Caltrans Maintenance inspectors identified a depression in the median on Monday, February 16, that grew to a sinkhole approximately 25 feet wide by 6 feet deep in size by Wednesday. In addition, corrosion was subsequently discovered in the drainage culvert, crossing beneath the freeway that required the freeway to close on Wednesday evening for safety reasons. The engineers' estimate is $6 million to replace approximately 250 feet of the drainage pipe and remove and replace the asphalt pavement. Caltrans has hired SEMA Construction to complete the repairs under a District Director's emergency order.

The contractor is digging a 50 foot wide by 20 feet deep trench to excavate the pipe and replace it. His crews will be working around the clock through this weekend to get it open as soon as possible. Concrete backfill will be used to mitigate any effects from future corrosion.

Caltrans appreciates the public's patience as we work to get the road repaired and back open. To avoid delays, drivers are asked to avoid the area if possible over the weekend.




Public Hearing on School Budget

My wife and I attended the Public hearing on the budget on 2/17/2009.

The meeting was called to order at 6pm and was presided by Mr. Robert O'Donnell (President), Mrs. Rita J. Peters, (VP), Mr. Randy Freeman and Mr. Ron Ulibarri. Mr. Jerry Bowman (Clerk) was not present.

There is still no final decision on the school budget for 2010/2011 since we are waiting for the state to vote on their budget. However, the council appeared optimistic.

The Menifee Valley Unified School District needs to save over 5 million dollars over the next 2 years. Some of the proposals included increasing class sizes either this year or next year. If this occurs, a large number of teachers, possibly up to 65, will lose their jobs. Some community members were hopeful that transitioning to a traditional schedule may help alleviate part of the shortfall, but only in part.

Mrs. Wells, a 5th grade teacher at Callie Kirkpatrick, was concerned that eliminating the class size reduction is "not in the best interest of the students". She further stated that this would result in long term negative consequences and that math and language arts education would suffer.

Josie Horton, a parent had this to say...(Its not the best quality, sorry!)




The meeting only lasted 30 minutes. Further discussions to review the school budget recommendations will be held next week. The meeting is Tuesday, February 24th, at 6 PM and will be held at Callie Kirkpatrick Elementary, which is located on the corners of Newport and Menifee Road.

A special meeting is scheduled for Wed, February 25th at 4:30 to approve the budget resolution. It will be held at the District Office.




I-215 Freeway Closure Tonight

Caltrans issued a notice this evening that the I-215 Freeway in Murrieta, just north of Murrieta Hot Springs Rd, will be closed tonight at 10:00pm, in both directions.

There's a sink hole that opened up close to that point, and they need to inspect the thing, and hopefully fix it.

If you're heading south, you'll be directed to exit Clinton Keith Rd, and divert to the I-15.

If you're heading north, you'll have to continue up I-15 to Murrieta Hot Springs Rd, and cut through to Los Alamos Rd, and jump on the I-215 from there.

They didn't say, but I assume it's going to open back up by tomorrow morning.




City Council Meeting - February 17, 2009

I attended the city council meeting of Feb 17, 2009.

Words of Inspiration

Tony Truax of Revival Christian Fellowship gave the words of inspiration.

Eagle Scout Presentations

Councilman John Denver presented certificates of recognition to three recent Eagle Scouts, Thomas Spencer, Anthony Beck, and Nathan (?). I couldn't hear Nathan's last name. Denver went on to describe these three people's service in the scouts.

Menifee Police Department Quarterly Report

Police Chief James McElvain gave the quarterly report consisting of three parts, the first part was an introduction of the staff, the second a description of the Police Explorer Program, and third were crime statistics.

As for the introduction of staff, he described his department's "zone policing" system, whereby the city is divided into four zones. Each zone has its own team of officers. In most cases, officers focus on their zones, but in certain cases they can assist officers in other zones. He also introduced every officer, and sergeant, and read their service history and experience.

The Police Explorer Program is similar to the Army ROTC, except it's part of the Boy Scouts. Boys ages 15-21 years can enter into the program and help out the police department. They do help with traffic control, search for lost persons, assist at crime scenes, assist at DUI check points, fingerprint kids at events, and dress up as McGruff the Crime Dog. It's supposed to be a recruitment tool into the police department. McElvain says it would cost the city about $26,000 per year to run.

Opinion: Sounds like a good program, but it also sounds like the city would be paying money to recruit people into the county's Sheriff department. If that's the case, would the Sheriff discount the city's policing contract by $26,000 per year?

As for the crime statistics, McElvain said that in October 2008, we had 2,907 calls, of which 157 were "Part 1 Crimes". Part 1 Crimes are those of a highly serious nature whereby the FBI would get involved. In November 2008, the calls decreased to 2,721 calls and 100 Part 1, and in December it shot up to 3,149 calls and 156 Part 1.

Average response times had improved from 2007 to 2008, with "priority 1" calls, which are life threatening cases in progress, taking only 7.2 minutes to respond. McElvain didn't explain what "respond" means, but I'm sure with priority 1 calls, it means putting a person on scene in that amount of time. With priority 2 calls, which are less threatening, the response time was 10.3 minutes. Priority 3 calls, which are past events and totally non-threatening, took only 13.6 minutes.

Traffic citations in October 2008 amounted to 288. In November it dipped down to 240. But in December it shot up to 349. McElvain says that the reason why it dipped down to 240 in November is because residents were testing the new police department with calls, and hence had to take more officers off of traffic patrol. I was puzzled by this because a couple of paragraphs above, he said that calls in November dipped down from October. So who knows.

And with traffic collisions during the last quarter of 2008, there were 48 non-injury collisions, 17 injury collisions, 2 fatal collisions, and 21 DUI arrests.

Mayor Edgerton chimed in and asked McElvain if increasing the number of citations brings in more revenue for the city. He didn't really have the answer to that question, so city attorney Betsy Martyn took over and basically said "yes", but explained that the city only gets a small portion of that money. The money actually goes to the county court, who then dispurses it to the County, who then gives a small portion of it to the city. On top of that, State lawmakers are right now considering legislation to take even more of this money away from cities to address the budget.

Public Comments

These are public comments unrelated to anything on the agenda...

Eric Dorati, says he has driven to all four corners of the city and is amazed at how big it is, and complimented the city council members for taking on such a big task. Commented on what he described as "the two naysayers who show up twice a month", which I think he's referring to Chuck Reutter and Anne Pica, and then finished by saying, "You cannot steer this into a great city by looking in the rear view mirror".

Donna German, a Sun City resident, complimented the Mayor for "trying to disband the Blue Ribbon Committee", and then went on with some very harsh words for the remaining council members making such statements as "you appear to have little to no experience", "an embarrassment and disappointment", and "cockamamy committee", among several others. She finished by saying that she voted for cityhood, but didn't vote for any of the seated councilmembers.

Nick Zar (sp?), alerted the council to what he sees as possible illegal business activity without a license. He was citing daylaborers on the corner of Scott and Murrieta rds. He also noted graffiti in his neighborhood. Councilmember John Denver advised him to address that with the City Manager.

Bill Ziedlik, talked about a business development going in on Keller Road, and the number of jobs it was bringing in, and said that the first business to go in this area would set the standard in terms of other businesses coming in. He described it as a storage facility that will hog up a large plot of land, but only create two new jobs. He was pointing out businesses that create a disparity in land consumption versus job creation. He also mentioned that there are certain persons authorized to use the local trails, but are being busted by the cops anyways. Somehow, the police need to be aware.

Betsy Duncan, asked for waiver of code violation. She says her property measures about 2.5 acres, and that she has a metal storage shed. She was cited by the city because apparently you have to have at least 5 acres in order to have a such a storage shed. City Attorney Betsy Martyn chimed in saying that the County adopted this ordinance only a year ago, and that it was grandfathered into the City. The Mayor advised Duncan to speak to the City Manager about this.

Romoland Ranch

This is a small 5.5 acre plot of land, on the corner of Antelope Rd and Watson Rd in the Romoland area, being subdivided into 17 single family homes. The developer, Romoland Ranch, LLC, is seeking approval of a tentative map.

One issue the city planners had is that there's a tiny portion of this plot that the developer could not purchase, for reasons unknown to me. The city had wanted the developer to buy this, but because it wasn't possible, the city asked the council to approve the tentative anyways. Councilmember Darcy Kuenzi expressed concern because it could lead to a piece of blighted land adjacent to a new residential development.

Bill Ziedlik made a public comment about the layout of the tract, noting their unusual configuration, and even described it as "looking ghetto". He said it was out of character with the other homes in the neighborhood, and that one particular property was unusually long compared to its width. Mike Naggar, who represents the developer, said it just wasn't possible to draw the tract any other way and still be in compliance with city and county ordinances.

Ultimately, the tentative map was approved.

Yard Ladd Construction

Yard Ladd Construction is a local contractor who owns about 5 acres of land along Ethanac Rd, Antelope Rd, and Dawson Rd. He currently uses it as storage for some of his equipment. He was cited by the County back in 2005 for illegal use of land. At issue was lack of landscaping, in particular plants and trees, and a fence too close to the road.

He's moving the fence back, and is promising to plant trees. The city is requiring him to water the trees for at least 6 months. He says he can do that, but after 6 months the trees will die. He has to hire a water truck to water them, because the land has no facilities to bring in water. Councilmember Darcy Kuenzi wanted the requirements amended to water the trees for 12 months. Councilmember John Denver noted the requirements should be for him to maintain these trees permanently, not necessarily water them for a limited period.

The motion passed.

AB 885 (Septic Systems)

The City Attorney addressed the council saying that AB 885 could be delayed until October 2009. The council expressed its support for purusing the matter through Assemblyman Cook's office in getting it killed.

Mike Vergeto (sp?) made a public comment saying there are better ways to address faulty septic systems, and offered a suggestion of creating a "septic tank district", whereby property owners with septic tanks within the district would pay an assessment of about $30.00 a month, which gets their tanks emptied and repaired.

Dark Sky Ordinance

This is a law that defines what we have to do to reduce nighttime lighting so that astronomers at Mt Palomar Observatory can still stare out into space. City Planner Carmen Cave said that every city has to have this law. She said there are certain requirements for cities within 15 miles from Mt Palomar, and those for 45 miles of Mt Palomar, and finished by saying that Menifee is within 45 miles.

Tattoo Parlors

The council was asked by city staff to adopt an "urgent ordinance" to temporarily ban any new tattoo shops within the city. Councilmember Kuenzi asked why is there such an urgency. City attorney Martyn went into some lengthy discussion about other cities seeing problems with tattoo shops, like attracting shady clientele, gang members, and drug users. The mayor joked that there was trouble in River City, and that starts with a "T", and that rhymes with "P", etc... City planner Carmen Cave added that it's a health hazard because it involves poking the skin, and that we wouldn't want something like that next to a child care center.

John Denver noted that dental offices involve blood also, and asked if there should be a moratorium on those too. Cave answered that dental offices should indeed have special rules and regulations.

Martyn brought focus back by saying this ordinance doesn't permanently ban tattoo parlors, it only gives the city extra time to draft a complete set of regulations.

The matter was approved with a 4 to 1 vote, with Denver voting no.

WRCOG Red Team Foreclosure Report

This is an initiative by the Western Riverside Council of Goverments to stem the tide of foreclosures.

City Manager Wentz described his plan on how we can implement this into Menifee. He described a plethora of strategies, dubbed a "strike force", all designed to prevent foreclosures from happening, to getting foreclosed properties sold, and even getting dead grass green again.

City Seal

The City Manager said that they've whittled down the entries to a smaller group, but said that there was no single design that they liked. Rather, they found several that contained some kind of element that they liked and want somehow to incorporate them all into a single seal.

Romoland MAC

John Denver noted that the city council needs to meet with the Romoland MAC because it seems they're addressing stuff within the city limits that either contradicts or maybe duplicates what the city is trying to address. He gave an example of establishing a community center within an area the city has designated as industrial.

Denver went on to say that he's not finding any fault in the Romoland MAC, but described them more like a potential ally, except something more like the left hand not knowing what the right is doing.

Blue Ribbon Committee

City Clerk Kathy Bennett was asked how the Blue Ribbon Committee was coming along. She said he fetched 10 applications thus far.




School Board Meeting - Feb 17, 2009

I attended the school board meeting to discuss recommendations by the Budget Advisory Committee.

It was a well attended meeting...

menifee school board
Just prior to the meeting getting underway, I spoke with board member Randall Freeman. He said that despite the budget problems we're having here in Menifee Union, the situation is actually a lot better than in neighboring districts, and gave credit to Assistant Superintendent Gil Compton for keeping Menifee in better financial health. I asked Freeman how things are doing in the school district he teaches in (Val Verde), and he said they've cut several teaching positions, and he's not certain he'll have a job.

The meeting was cut short after Superintendent Callaway read her letter to the Board that state legislators were close to passing a budget, and that we should wait to see what this budget entails before making any decisions.

The board heard some public comments, and then adjourned only 30 minutes into the meeting. They'll reconvene in a public meeting on Tuesday, February 24th at 6:00p.m. as Callie Kirkpatrick Elementary to entertain recommendations.




Missing Pug Found

A Menifee 24/7 reader submitted the following found pet notice yesterday...

I found a small tan with black face female pug today. She was running in the middle of antelope beween newport and taft, closer to the hill then the golf course. please call me if you lost this dog.672-2112, perferably soon. Husband not too keen on keeping her overnight.




Sun City Model Railroad Club Enhances Outreach

The Sun City Model Railroad Club announced today that it has expanded its reach to model railroad enthusiasts outside of Sun City Core, and is welcoming members from all across the greater Menifee area.

The club is holding a meeting on Tuesday, March 3 2009 at 10:00am. Club members will be drawing up plans to create tables/modules for the purpose of promoting model railroading. They will be going to schools, senior living centers, fairs, and other model railroad clubs to demonstrate their craft.

The meeting location will be in the Provident Bank Community Room located at 27010 Sun City Blvd. in Sun City, on the intersection of Sun City Blvd. and Cherry Hills Blvd.

Contact: Chuck Reutter, 951.679.3752 or greenchuckr@hotmail.com




Up to 65 Menifee Teachers To Be Let Go?

I received some information that needs to be shared with the community. This info comes from an MTA union meeting that occurred a few weeks ago. It appears that the new budget is going to bring a lot of new changes for Menifee schools next year and all of our children will be negatively affected.


The information below was emailed to my wife by an "insider"-


"One of the main things the district is focusing on to save money is doing away with class size reduction, meaning that ALL grade levels could have 30-35+ students in a classroom next year. If they decide to do this, they will be cutting the last 65 teachers hired, anyone after June 2006.

Since Southshore elementary is the newest school in Menifee, this will include almost all of the upper grade teachers, since most were all hired within the last 2-3 years. Many other schools in the district will also be affected.

Tuesday, Feb. 17th, there is going to be a public hearing/board meeting at Quail Valley Elementary at 6:00 pm.


The district is encouraging teachers, parents, and community members to attend and share their thoughts and opinions about schools for next year. The budget has not been decided but most likely cuts will come from teachers in order to save money.


The district would like to hear from the community and parents. All parents of
Menifee children should attend!"


There is information about the district budget updates on the district website. If you would like to send a comment to the Menifee Union School District Budget Advisory Committee, click here to email them a message.






Shut Down the MSJC Police Department

With our state in ever-increasing debt, which you can argue is putting pressure on K-14 district budgets, maybe it's time to shut down the MSJC Police, and convert it into a campus security unit.

City of Menifee now has its own police force.

Perhaps MSJC Board of Trustees can send a letter to Ahnold that money is being wasted here.




Whimsical Yogurt in Menifee

whimsical yogurtWhimsical Yogurt opened up last weekend in Countryside Marketplace. It's located right next door to Breakfast Club of Menifee.

I just noticed it this afternoon.

Right now, until this Friday, they have 50% off of their frozen yogurt as part of their grand opening celebration. Normally, it's priced at $0.39 per ounce. But technically, the offer is running until the end of this month, because sitting next to the cash register is a stack of "Buy one get one free" coupons. So, you can get two cups of frozen yogurt, and pay only 50% of the price.

They give you these large to-go cups, about the size of a margarine container, and you fill it up as much as you want. Throw on all the toppings you want, and pay by the ounce.

They also offer these super-tiny cups to sample their flavors for free.

The also have gelato and sorbet.

The place has a 1960s-style space age decor that reminds me of eating ice cream in Tomorrowland.

According to their website, it looks like this Menifee location is only the third Whimsical Yogurt to open. There are others in Hacienda Heights, and San Jose. They have future locations planned, including Temecula, and Murrieta.

There's also free Wi-Fi. I'm guessing the signal leaks over to Breakfast Club of Menifee. You'll likely catch me blogging at both these places.




My State Tax Refund is WHAT?

I have been hearing this ugly rumor that I am getting an I.O.U. from the State of California instead of my tax refund. Come to find out, this is true! How did we let our economy get to such a state as to not be able to pay our bills, one of which is paying tax refunds to the good citizens who grace our state!?! We live and work here, paying our taxes without question, (at least most of us do) and now we are facing one of our hardest economic years WITHOUT our state refunds in hand.

My question is: WHAT ARE WE GOING TO DO ABOUT IT?

You are a citizen, like me, and you have a voice, which counts. Have you contacted your local and state representatives with your opinion? Have you voiced your dismay and concern? I have, and I will continue to do so until something happens to recitify this situation. But I am one - yes, one voice. You are too! Together we are two, twenty, two hundred, two thousand. Raise your voice, and make it count!

Scott Mann is headed to Sacramento for the Republican Spring Convention on February 20th thru the 22nd. He is our local leader, and should take your voice with him on this journey. Let him know your thoughts! He will certainly be hearing mine!

Go Get 'Em Scott!!




Giovanni's Restaurant Two-Year Anniversary

I got the following from the local chamber of commerce...

Giovanni's Restaurant anniversary.
I think by saying "two year anniversary", they're talking about the current ownership.




Rainbow Over Menifee

Snapped this photo in my car this afternoon, while driving north on the I-215, passing by the Mapleton development...

rainbow over menifee




Menifee School Budget Thoughts

A few thoughts about Menifee Union's finances...

Class Size Reduction

The Californian published an editorial from the San Jose Mercury News about education cuts affecting class size reduction...

http://www.nctimes.com/..../z09e21d49a022829d882575550065b407.txt
Small classes are popular with parents and teachers for good reason. ... But in many districts, the state subsidy doesn't cover costs. And schools that exceed the 20-student cap by even a fraction of a student over the year face penalties. ...
Does this mean if Menifee Union eliminates class size reduction, will it face penalties? How much are those penalties?

Intra-District Transfer Fees

Intra-District transfers are those where a student transfers from one school to another within the same district.

I'm wondering if Menifee Union can raise some money from this. Allow all students to transfer to whatever school they want, but stay within the district, except parents pay a fee. For example if your son lives within the boundaries of Oak Meadows Elementary, but you'd like him to attend Ridgemoor, then pay an "intra-district transfer fee".

This allows Menifee Union to leverage the value of its California Distinguished Schools, as well as the value of its best teachers, and attract extra funds from Menifee's more financially-comfortable families.

I don't know if there's already such a fee.

Development Study Fees

The Press Enterprise ran an article a week ago saying that Menifee Union had to pay a $114,000 refund to Pardee Homes...

http://www.pe.com/..../PE_News_Local_S_srefund01.474c352.html

The refund represented home building permit fees. Pardee Homes was going to build a bunch of homes within the district. They had to pay these fees to compensate the district for taking on several more students.

But since these homes are no longer being built, it makes sense that the district has to give this money back. This money was put into the district's facility fund, which can't be used to pay for teachers and operating costs, so it's not necessarily a big loss anyways.

But maybe the district should instead assess a "development study fee". For every proposed housing development, the district has to determine what kind of impact that development will create, in terms of more students, bus routes, crossing guards, and redrawing school boundaries. That's what this fee would pay for, and it's goes into a general fund, and is non-refundable.

The home developer passes that fee on to the home buyers, or is part of the risk it absorbs for proposing a new development.

This may even apply to commercial developments in terms of traffic congestion.

Maybe the district already assesses such a fee, I don't know.




Bono Mack Appoints Scott Mann as Delegate

Menifee City Councilman Scott Mann announced today that he was appointed by Congresswoman Mary Bono Mack as her delegate to the California Republican Party. Mann will represent her at the California Republican Party Spring 2009 Convention in Sacramento.

"I am honored to represent the Congresswoman at the Convention,” Mann Said. "This will give me the opportunity to help promote the Republican Party and the principles we stand for."

Mary Bono Mack is the US Representative of California's 45th District. Her district includes Menifee, but mostly up to the east-side of the I-215, with the exception of Menifee Lakes.

The announcement went on to say that delegates are appointed to represent their respective members and have the power to vote on their behalf. Bono Mack was quoted as saying, "I am proud to have Scott Mann represent me at the Republican Convention. As a local elected councilman, Scott adheres and practices the key Republican concept of less government and self empowerment."

The California Republican Party Spring Convention will be held in Sacramento, February 20-22.

Here's my congratulations to Mann on his appointment!




Blue Ribbon Committee on Governance Structure

It didn't take City Hall very long to publish some documents on the Blue Ribbon Committee on Governance Structure. This is the committee that will decide how the city will govern itself in the future, and among other things, decide if the results of Measure G should be thrown out.

The application to become a committee member can be downloaded from the City's website at this link...

http://www.cityofmenifee.us/press/20090204_Blue_Ribbon.pdf

Here's the city's official announcement of the Blue Ribbon Committee...
City Council announces release of Committee Applications for formation of Blue Ribbon Committee on governance structure for City

The City of Menifee announced that a Blue Ribbon Committee will be formed to provide input to the City Council by reviewing, researching and discussing the options of governance for the future of the City of Menifee. This committee will be comprised of nine residents of the city. The applications will be accepted through February 20th and the committee will begin to meet in Mid March.

Those interested in submitting an application for this committee should contact City Hall at 951-672-6777 or go on the City’s website at www.cityofmenifee.us to download the committee application and further description of the committee structure and purpose.

And here is the city's guidelines on who can apply, and how they pick committee members...
If you are considering applying for a position on the Blue Ribbon Committee on Governance Structure of the City of Menifee please see the following information regarding the purpose and set up of the committee.

Purpose: To provide input to the City Council by reviewing, researching and discussing the options of governance for the future of the City of Menifee.

Committee Members: The committee will be comprised of nine residents of the city. Any resident at least 18 years of age may submit an application.

Committee Selection Process: Following the application deadline the Ad Hoc Committee, along with the City Manager or designated representative will meet and review the applications and select nine members to serve on the committee. Applicants may be interviewed either in person or by telephone.

Committee Duties/Functions: The committee members will select among themselves a Chair, Vice-chair and a secretary. All meetings will be subject to Brown Act requirements and will be properly noticed. Members will conduct themselves in accordance with all City policies.

Public Participation: Committee members will be required to attend numerous meetings. All meetings will be open to the public. Public input is encouraged and there will be opportunities throughout the committee process for public participation.

Timeframes:

Application process – Feb. 9 and closes Feb. 20
Selection process – Ad Hoc Committee meets to review applications and conducts interviews Feb. 21 – Feb. 27
City Council ratifies appointments – March 3
Committee Schedule –beginning Mid-March and ending prior the City Council meeting on May 19.
The committee should target at least 8 meetings and may meet on a weekly basis.

Please submit your application to Kathy Bennett at the City. The application may be faxed to 951-679-3843 or emailed to kbennett@cityofmenifee.us. You may call City Hall with questions or clarifications if necessary. Thank you for your interest in the City and this important matter.




Visioning Session Scheduled

A special meeting of the city council is scheduled for this Saturday, February 7, 2009, starting at 9:00am. It'll be held at the same place as the normal city council meetings (28701 La Piedra Rd, Menifee, CA 92584).

The "visioning" meeting allows the city council to talk openly about what they want for the City of Menifee. It can range from how much home development, more apartments, a business center, more parks, paving dirt roads, to pretty much whatever.

Whatever "vision" they come up with will be handed off to the City Manager and his staff, who'll then use that as a framework by which to administer the city.

There will also be a public comment session. So, if you've been wanting a skatepark, a movie theater, a bowling alley, an NFL football team, here's your opportunity to tell them what you want.




Menifee City Council Meeting - Feb 3, 2009

I attended the city council meeting last night.

It was a packed house, many people from Sun City Core showed up because of the Blue Ribbon Committee was going to be discussed. This is the committee to determine if council members should be elected by district or at large, among other things.

Words of Inspiration

Pastor Tim Lovegrove of Grace Bible Church was scheduled to give some words of inspiration, but instead Pastor Eric True, also of the same church, spoke instead. Both Lovegrove and True have a blog.

Announcements of New Personnel

City Manager Wentz announced the hiring of Bob Cartwright, into Public Works and Safety. Bob lives in Sun City.

Police Chief McIlvane announced the hiring of Dan Feltenberger (sp) as lieutenant. Dan has been in the RivCo Sheriff Department for a long time.

Trauma Intervention Program

This is a private organization that offers assistance to local governments in the form of helping victims of trauma cope with their ordeals. Two people stepped up to the podium to describe their services. Their goal of coming here was basically to sell their services to Menifee.

A lady named "Gina" spoke and described their service as "filling in the gaps where no else can help". An example they gave is where a parent dies at home, leaving a traumatized child behind. The service provides a counselor that helps the child deal with the trauma until a social worker can take over.

trauma intervention services

They have working dogs that help provide an added level of comfort and companionship. They said these dogs are effective at calming people down enough to where they can feel comfortable about talking.

Anyways, they want $0.12 for every resident in Menifee, per year, but said they are willing to negotiate. If you figure on 60,000 to 70,000 residents, that works out to $7,200 to $8,400 per year. Probably not bad, but it's very unclear to me how often these "fill in gap" circumstances actually exist out there. None of the council members had anything to say.

Scouting Day in Menifee

The city council issued a proclamation announcing February 8th, 2009 as Menifee's official "Scouting Day". They had several boy scouts line up in front of the audience while councilmember Denver read the proclamation.

Menifee Scouting Day Proclamation

I don't know if Denver actually mentioned anything on how we as residents of Menifee can celebrate this day. State and federal governments actually publish recommendations on how citizens can celebrate days like Veterans Day and Memorial Day.

My guess is that parents ought to take their kids out into the mountains and woods, do some hiking, fishing, and camping. But I don't think Menifee has places for these activities. The closest I can think of is Kabian Park, which is technically outside of Menifee.

Public Comments

This the comment session for non-agenda items, but as you'll see most people wanted to comment on the Blue Ribbon Committee. Council member Mann broke in about halfway through the session and asked the Mayor to enforce a strict policy of allowing only non-agenda related comments, but said that he would be willing to tolerate the situation for now....

Barbara Spencer, spoke on behalf of the Menifee Valley Historical Society thanking members of the council for accepting their offer to give them a tour of the historical points of interest throughout the city, noted that the council accepted it as a business engagement, and asked them to consider it a social engagement instead.

Glen Daniels, of Romoland, spoke about the Blue Ribbon Committee, asking who are the members to serve on this committee, making the point that the council has "discriminatory power", suggesting the council can pick the people that will recommend an outcome favorable to the council. Daniels went on to ask "Who is pulling the strings". He then said he did his own survey, responding to councilmember Mann's survey, of a few dozen people who seemed to be in support of districts.

Annette Samples, asked about the recent "Mayor's Conference" in Sacramento, where all five councilmembers flew up there to take part in an event hosted by the California League of Cities. She questioned the cost of airplane tickets and other travel expenses to send them there when we're in a recession. "Think about your decision" is what she said. The Mayor responded back that their primary goal was to lobby some $5 million in vehicle license fees, which they ultimately got.

Greg August, of Sun City, said he voted against cityhood, and voted for districts. He asked if the Mayor would have still called the voters "misinformed" if they had voted for "at large". He went on to say that he did some research on the California League of Cities website, and found there's actually a trend towards cities moving to district elections, and that the last two cities to incorporate (Menifee, Wildomar), voted for districts. He ended by saying, "I know what I voted for, I read the ballot, did you?"

James Rzepka, replied that, "I was truly aware of what I voted for", and went on to say that found it to be a slap in the face of democracy.

Ruth Goulet, asked about the budget. She wants an update on where the finances are within the city, considering how bad the budget is at the state and federal levels. City Manager Wentz responded that he would give some numbers during his report to the city later in the evening.

John Smelser, said he voted for cityhood, and voted for districts. "I am really angry at you" he said very sternly. "Stop referring to me as stupid, ignorant, uninformed, and uneducated just because I voted for districts".

Richard Anthony, of Sun City for 8 years, commended the Sheriff's Department noting that since cityhood went into effect there's far more cop cars patrolling the city. Asked the city council to look into expanding the Sun City Crime Watch.
Opinion: or how about the whole City of Menifee crime watch?
Dave Galey, 23 years living in Menifee, commended voters for choosing "Menifee" as the official name instead of "Menifee Valley", and said he supports districts. He lives in a rural area of Menifee.

Patricia Collins, Quail Valley resident for 32 years. Said she owns two lots, and wants to combine it into one to reduce her tax liability. She wanted to know if she should go to the city on this, or the county.

Rita Peters, spoke about AB885, a bill in the state legislature that would require homeowners with septic tanks to get their tanks certified once a year. She noted that Quail Valley currently has a moratorium against septic tank certification, and wants the city council to write a letter to the Governator reminding him that Quail Valley has special circumstances. She noted that the council has only until February 9 to get such a letter sent.

Anne Pica, issued a demand to the city council to abide by the results of Measure G. She noted that Wildomar has already begun the process of drawing district boundaries. She said she "guarantees" that she'll start a petition to recall the entire council. "We put you in office, and we can take you out", she left with.

Katherine Flores, complained to the city council about their insistence to override Measure G. "I didn't vote for you guys, and then you're telling me that I don't know what I'm voting for just because I'm an average person". "We need you to straighten out, or get out!"

Mayor Edgerton then chimed in saying "I will never underestimate the intelligence of voters". He recounted his experience sitting on the Long Beach City Council, where he was voted in through a district structure. He said due to the large population of the city, voters grew skeptical of the district structure because of special interests, He said "I sincerely apologize if anyone misunderstood me".

Carol Walker, of Sun City, said she voted against cityhood because she feared Sun City would not have adequate representation. She supports districts.

Bill Zeidlik, spoke about a variety of matters, summarizing them mostly. One thing he said was that he wants more information about agendized matters on the city's website. He also shared his viewpoints about the districting issue, citing differences in legalese, and with the way people live in the real world, and how they perceive government officials.

Helen Merrit, said she's all for districts, and wants the council to abide by the vote of the people. She said, "I don't think that's asking for too much".

Chuck Reutter, cited a meeting he and several cityhood opponents had with then Mayor-elect Edgerton last July, where they offered to bury the hatchet, if the city council would agree to listen to their concerns. Chuck seemed to suggest that the Mayor has reneged on that meeting. Chuck also cited a story involving electronic voting machines, and where the county board of supervisors assembled a blue ribbon committee to study these machines against what some voter groups had been complaining about. He said the committee advised the Supervisors that these voters groups are correct, but that the Supervisors decided to ignore the committee. It sounds like he's suggesting the city council will ignore their blue ribbon committee if they recommend districts.

Grant Yoders, pointed out that the room we were assembled in is limited to 35 people and that we're clearly way over that. He pointed out that the Mayor's "State of the City" address scheduled for later this month requires a $35.00 admission fee, and asks why only a special priviledge few get to listen to it, and not whole the city. No one on the council answered that question, however councilmember Denver said that they're producing a CD of the meeting that will air on Mediacom and Verizon. He didn't say that copies of the CD will be distributed to the people.

Louis Mazei, said he voted for cityhood, and for "at large". He feels it's important to have a blue ribbon committee because he's concerned that he'll not have the ability to vote for all five councilmembers. He said his home is in Sun City, but not Sun City Core, and that if we have districts his councilmember will likely serve the Core's interest, and not his.
Opinion: Mazei has thus far been the only person to speak at a council meeting in favor of changing to an at-large representation. Here on Menifee 24/7 there have been many commenters supporting "at-large", but none of them have bothered to speak at a council meeting. Meanwhile, there have been many "district" supporters who have spoken at these council meetings. As you'll read later on, this fact became a deciding factor in the Mayor's ultimate decision.
Rita Peters, got to speak twice during this session, this time saying the council made a mistake by saying the voters were misinformed when they chose districts. She told the Mayor, "The more you write, the deeper in mess you get". She also said, "All of you guys are in bed together", and "how dare you put a blue ribbon committee together".

Subdivisions

A couple of matters on the agenda dealt with land owners wanting to subdivide their properties. One wanted to subdivide into four single family properties, another wanted to subdivide into two. Both were approved.
Opinion: These subdivision requests have been on the agenda in past meetings, and I'm guessing we'll continue to see more of them. I'm wondering if the poor economy is behind it all.
Motte Town Center

This is a mixed-used project consisting of industrial, retail, and condominiums. It's located in northern Menifee, bounded by Antelope Rd, McLaughlin Rd, and Dawson Rd, just south of the new power plant. The council approved the tentative map, meaning the developer can move forward with the project.

Bargain Basket

This is an existing discount food store located in Romoland, on the corner of Highway 74 and Sherman Rd, just a couple blocks east of the I-215. This store had suffered from some code violations assessed by the county, causing it to get closed down. The owner had made all the required improvements, and is now requesting the city give the owner its blessing to reopen. And it was approved.

Blue Ribbon Committee

Councilmember Kuenzi stated that she had conversations with several members of the community, which seemingly encouraged her to move forward on this plan. She said that there's a lot of unanswered questions on how this city should be governed. She cited examples like how a mayor should be chosen, either by appointed from the council, or a separate election. She also noted the various financial ramifications on having districts versus at-large.

She said the blue ribbon committee would be residents of the city. Residents would submit their applications, and that another committee would review these applications and conduct interviews, and ultimately they'd pick the people that sits on the blue ribbon committee.

Kuenzi gave a figure of $20,000 as the maximum amount this committee would spend. That figure may include hiring a consultant. The committee would have to provide their recommendations by no later than May 19, 2009.

Councilmember Mann pointed out that the Committee Committee, which is the ad hoc committee staffed by Kuenzi and Twyman to determine what committees should exist in the city, should determine which residents can sit on the blue ribbon committee.

Mann asked the City Manager how much would a special election cost, should the blue ribbon committee decide if a second "Measure G" election should be held. Wentz said it would cost Menifee about $35,000 to $40,000.

Councilmember Denver said that residents could understand districts much better if they could see actual district boundaries, and that this blue ribbon committee could draw up those boundaries.

Mayor Edgerton then chimed in and through a lot of explanation, and personal reflection, changed his mind, opting to vote against this blue ribbon committee, and even going further to offer a motion to table the blue ribbon committee. That is, he knew he would be out voted 4-to-1 on establishing the blue ribbon committee, so therefore offered a motion in retaliation to delay the blue ribbon committee until a later date.

Edgerton's explanation for changing his mind was that after all the council meetings, there was no public "mandate" for overriding the outcome of Measure G, no mandate to create a blue ribbon committee. That is, despite all of his published essays, and all of the council quotes in newspapers, not a single member of the public had asked the council to override Measure G. The mayor noted there was only one resident (Louis Mazei) who ever addressed the council with his support for changing to at-large, and that one resident's voice was certainly no mandate.

As he explained his change of mind, I could watch Kuenzi's facial expression switch from calm, to concern, to the point where she was itching to grab the microphone. Finally she responded to the Mayor by saying that there were several more public comments that were waiting to be heard in this particular agenda item. The Mayor obliged, and asked for public comments....

Wayne Guglielmo, was called up, but never answered.

Joe Daugherty, said he was chairman of the cityhood incorporation committee, and that he owns a business in Sun City Core. He said several of his customers had asked about districts, and that many of them didn't know much about it, and wanted to get more information. He also described a possible scenario where districts could be drawn in such a way that one or more districts would not be represented by a current councilmember.

Anne Pica, asked the City Manager how they came up with the $35,000 figure for the special election. I can't recall what the City Manager said.

James Rzepka, addressed the mayor saying, "I think you may be having second thoughts, I certainly hope so." He went on to say that this blue ribbon committee should be used specifically for creating the districts, and not deciding on getting rid of districts.

Pete Petersen, said, "I think it's very sad to see all this controversy. Let's listen to all the people".

Carmelita Ruud, said she's proud of Menifee, and lived here for 31 years. She believes that knowledge is very important, and supports the blue ribbon committee. She said, "The outburst we had before is uncalled for".

Katie Keys, a 38 year resident of Romoland, said she feels the voters have spoken, however still supports the blue ribbon committee.

Steven McCarty, cited that there was only a 200 vote difference between districts and at-large, and that such a close vote ought to have additional discussion.
Opinion: There was only a 45 vote difference between John Denver and Dean Deines. Therefore shouldn't there also be a second election between those two?
Bill Zeidlik, noted that there is no official population count in Menifee. There are various figures ranging from 60,000 to as much as 85,000. Estimating these figures is difficult because families in Menifee can average about 4 to 5 per household, to about 1-2 in Sun City. He noted that in Wildomar, the city already studied the opinions of their residents and found that most actually did understand the districts versus at-large issue pretty well. However, Wildomar found that districts have different meaning and purpose to different people.

Ruth Goulet, said "I think we should have an election on cityhood over again, because I think you'll be really suprised".

John Smelser, from Heritage Lake, said he voted for districts, but that the voters specifically elected these five councilmembers, and therefore the opinions of the councilmembers should be respected. He went on to say that we should spend as much money as necessary to determine what's the best government for Menifee.

At this point, the councilmembers began their comments...

Scott Mann, said he intended to vote for this blue ribbon committee, citing that everything that has been said in these council meetings is in fact democracy in action. He noted some 13,000 voters in Menifee who didn't vote on Measure G, and that they deserved to have better information, and be allowed to have their voices heard.

Fred Twyman, pointed out the "fallacy" of the editorial published in The Californian, saying it misinterpreted Mayor Edgerton, that he didn't believe the voters were misinformed, or unaware of what they were voting for. Twyman also went on to say The Californian didn't bother publishing any material for the voters regarding the pros and cons of districts versus at-large, which voters needed to make up their minds.

Mayor Edgerton, continued on with his explanation of why he's changing his mind, and voting against the blue ribbon committee. He cited the cost of a special election (though other councilmembers chimed in saying it's not definite that there will be one), and stressed in louder voice, that "the desire should come from the people".

He said something interesting here, that the districts are not going to affect Mann and Denver, "Mann and Denver are not going to be affected anyways", were his words. Which perhaps puts him on record verifying what many of us suspected all along, that this district issue is all about councilmembers trying to protect their future reelection bids.

He went on to say that "perception is reality", noting that he doesn't want the residents thinking that the council is "trying to steamroll them". By this time I could hear emotion crackling in his voice, his face turning a deeper shade of red. And then he made the following statements in another stern voice, "I want to see a reaction from the people". "This community has been informed". "If we're going to have a special election, we should see a strong demand from the people". "We're going to be spending money on this committee".
Opinion: I have to commend Edgerton for swallowing a tough pill, by siding with the will of the people, setting aside the risk of drawing himself out of a reelection bid, and coming to a point many of us have tried to make, that none of the residents ever questioned the results of Measure G. No one asked for a second election. It was the council that created the controversy. Edgerton acknowledged this in saying that "we should see a strong demand from the people".
After Edgerton spoke, the other councilmembers tried to reason with him saying that a blue ribbon committee will simply give the council additional information, and that motioning to table the issue made no sense.

Edgerton nonetheless motioned to table the discussion on the blue ribbon committee, but no one else seconded.

Kuenzi made a motion to create the blue ribbon committee. I can't recall who seconded it. But in the end, it was a 4-to-1 vote, with Edgerton voting no. That drew a round of applause from district supporters.

I assume details will come out later on how residents can apply to be on this committee.

Award of Contract for Audio/Visual and Sound Equipment for City Hall

I didn't quite hear the details of this, as I was still writing down notes from the blue ribbon committee. But it was a unanimous vote in favor.

All Star Super Storage Freeway Sign

This item was removed from the agenda by the applicant.

Hookah Lounges

The issue on the agenda for the council to create a new ordinance that would place a temporary moratorium against any new hookah lounges. Apparently, there's a business that wants to open up a hookah lounge in Menifee. The city doesn't currently have any ordinances that limit or regulate these establishments. Because hookah lounges are seen as shady businesses, the council wanted to create this temporary moratorium to give them enough time to create these regulations.

Edgerton asked for clarification on what hookah lounges are, not quite understanding what all the hubbub was about. Interestingly, the City Attorney gave a very detailed explanation, but never really said that there was anything negative about them. Edgerton was further confused why we're talking about hookah lounges. Councilmember Mann chimed in saying that in his past Naval life, he's been to 30+ different countries where they have hookah lounges, and did his best to paint a negative light, without actually sounding biased against them.

It was interesting to hear them talk because no one wanted to go on record taking a negatively biased opinion, but tried their best to cast it in a negative light to help the Mayor understand. In the end, the council voted 5-0 in favor of the moratorium.

City Manager Report

George Wentz' report focused on the city budget. He noted that in 2008 the city spent $993,000, which is still under the allocated budget of $1,300,000 for expenditures. He went on to describe the allocated expenditures for 2009, as well as the anticipated income, but I'm sorry to say I didn't capture these numbers. However, I did hear him say that our expected net for 2009 is about $5 million in reserves. He said that's an amazing accomplishment in a first year city.

Visioning Meeting

The visioning meeting that was cancelled last week is scheduled for this Saturday, Feb 7, from 9:00am to 3:00pm, the location to be determined, but sounds like it may be the same room as tonight's city council meeting.




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