Minjares replaces Sipes on Water Treatment Committee
By Jean McLeod — Wednesday, February 13th, 2013
A proclamation was presented by Fillmore’s Mayor Rick Neal to Fillmore Deputy Ismael Rubalcava for his outstanding service to the community and residents.
Very few attended the February 12, 2013 Fillmore City Council Meeting, but those that did had quite a bit to discuss with the Council. This included the Superfund Cleanup Site, transportation and comments on campaign tactics of the 2012 Election of Council Members. There were also some agenda items attended to such as discussion of the Wastewater Facilities Ad Hoc Committee, consideration on sample Codes of Ethics and Conduct, changing the term of Mayor and Mayor Pro Tem to one year and awarding two contracts.
An item on the agenda of great concern to most residents was where the negotiations are with American Water and what is being done by the Water Treatment Ad Hoc Committee consisting of Tucker and Sipes. Council Member A. Eduardo Gonzalez recused himself from the discussion and Tucker informed the other Council Members that he had tried for weeks to meet with Sipes, but Sipes would not cooperate. Tucker then asked that Sipes be removed from the Committee and Minjares replace him. Sipes responded that he wanted the public to be involved, but was informed by Mayor Rick Neal and the City Attorney Tiffany J. Israel that the public cannot be involved in contract negotiations, which is what the City is trying to do. Minjares responded that when there's a stumbling block and two members cannot work together then something needs to be done and said he would be willing to help. A motion to remove Sipes was approved.
A proclamation was presented to Fillmore Deputy Ismael Rubalcava for his outstanding service to the community and residents. On January 9, 2013 Rubalcava called in a fire at Lizette's Jewelry on Central Avenue, and due to his quick response the fire was contained and successfully stopped from spreading to other businesses and buildings.
Adopting a Code of Ethics/Conduct was on the agenda and former Mayor Gayle Washburn addressed the Council with her opinion of how the present Council conducted themselves during the election campaign. She mentioned a Code of Fair Campaigning and reminded those Council Members just elected that they had signed that document when submitting their paperwork to run for office. Washburn then held up a flier that had been sent out to Fillmore residents stating that those campaigning were unethical when they sent out "things like this." Council Member Brian Sipes told Washburn that he agreed with her. To which Council Member Doug Tucker told Washburn that those running had nothing to do with any of the fliers that had been mailed out and for her to come to the Council Chamber and accuse someone without any proof whatsoever was in itself unethical.
All Council Members agreed that the various other cities' Code of Ethics/Conduct staff had submitted for consideration had some very good points and the Council would like to later discuss which parts of those documents to use in creating something that will meet Fillmore's needs. A deadline of March 12, 2013 was set for submitting the document.
Acting City Manager Rigo Landeros said that Stephen Stuart, Fillmore Building Official, has put in countless hours to renegotiate the contract with American Water. To which Stuart responded, "This is a high priority for staff" and that they are working on some adjustments to try to maintain the current rates and not have them continue to increase. He then told the Council he will let them know if negotiations with American Water has hit a standstill and it's time to go another direction adding, "We take this very serious."
Ann McLaughlin, Senior Planner, presented one of the two contracts up for approval and recommended Rincon be awarded the contract stating they know Fillmore well and have worked on a number of projects that include the Fillmore Business Park Master Plan, North Fillmore Specific Plan, General Plan, Fillmore Townhomes and Santa Clara River Levee Project, Fillmore Waste Water Treatment Plant Construction Monitoring and Fillmore Contract Planning Services. A motion to award the contract was approved by all Council Members. The cost of this service is not to exceed $190,573, which includes a 20% contingency fee and is paid for by the applicant, Texaco Downstream Properties.
During Public Comment Christine Villasenor, who lives near the Chevron cleanup site, voiced her concerns regarding the contract being awarded to Rincon to oversee the project and wanted to make sure the Council understands there are people living near the site and the impact it will have adding that the cleanup has not been completed. The Council explained that the awarding of the contract did not initiate the start of the project, but instead the contract is for an environmental analysis and planning service consultant that allows for the process of overseeing, making sure all that is needed is being done and completed before the project can proceed.
Two members of One Step A La Vez (ONSLV) also addressed the Council during Public Comments and updated the Council on two items the organization has been working on; Health Assessment of the Superfund Toxic Site and Transportation need of Fillmore residents.
Cindy Escoto informed the Council that on January 14th ONSLV met with the Agency for Toxic Substance and Disease Registry to discuss their efforts, and has partnered with Dr. James Dahlgren in conducting a health assessment on the neighborhoods adjacent to the Superfund Toxic Site. The goal of the survey is to confirm or dispel the rumors of cancer and other health related issues and ONSLV would like those residents living on Cook Drive, Lora Lane, Main Street, Market Street, Casner Way, Sespe Avenue, Second Street, Island View, Third Street, Elkins Lane and the homes east of Mountain View participate in the survey. All information is confidential noting that ONSLV has never received any grants or funding from Chevron. The EPA is having an open house tentatively planned for February 28th with more information announced next week.
Daniel Gonzalez, also with ONSLV, is working with other members to address the unmet transportation need of Fillmore, Piru and Rancho Sespe residents, and has formed the Bus Riders Union (BRU) to improve the transit plan system. Gonzalez would like the present Dial-a-Ride to consider a fixed route and time schedule to allow riders to arrive at their destinations on time, and door to door service for the disabled and seniors. A meeting to discuss the issues is scheduled for Thursday, February 21, 2013, 6 p.m. at Rodney Fernandez Gardens in Santa Paula. Darren Kettle, with Ventura County Transportation Commission, will present the Heritage Valley Plan. The public is invited to attend.
The second contract up for consideration was the Two Rivers Park Tot Lot. Three bids were submitted and opened on January 10, 2013. The lowest bid $216,835 submitted by Aguilera Brothers but it did not meet the bidding requirements. The second low bid at $222,222 by Malibu Pacific Tennis Courts, Inc. and they were awarded the contract. This contract covers: Surveying and site layout, earthwork, 32"high by 75' long concrete masonry wall , 6" by 554' long concrete curb, 10,494 sq. ft. of 4' thick concrete paving, 7,727 sq. ft. of Playground Rubber Mat and install play equipment.
Another item being considered was changing the term of Mayor and Mayor Pro Tem to one-year instead of the two-year terms Fillmore presently has. Gonzalez's opinion was that with the economy in such a state it might be better to have stability and keep the two years. Mayor Pro Tem Manuel Minjares favored a one-year term and stated that the Council could always vote to continue with the same Mayor if they chose to. Sipes said he didn't agree with how the Mayor was installed and that the Mayor should be by a vote of the citizens of Fillmore. A motion was passed on changing to a one-year term with Gonzalez and Sipes voting No and Tucker, Neal and Minjares voting Yes.