Duff on Covina

...may the breadth of awareness grow, but not consume us whole.

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Location: Oregon, United States

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Feb 27 2006 Council Actions Required

Stephen Millard's Letter
Emailed to Mayor Peggy Delach, Mayor Pro Tem Meline Juarez, Councilman Kevin Stapleton, Councilman John King, Councilman George Chadwick

The last few editions of the Covina City Council have talked for over five years about establishing ‘Goals & Objectives’. However, there has never been a Council majority in that timeframe with the talent, determination, and courage to see that such an action actually gets accomplished, probably because it would represent a firm commitment to the people. Instead, all that has been provided to the Public is hyperbole. Consequently, the list provided below contains some of the items that need to be addressed if Covina is going to prepare itself for the future in a businesslike manner, move forward with increased professionalism, and ensure that ‘open government’ is an actuality rather than just a catchy phrase. Hopefully, this identification of some major areas of concern will prompt the Council to finally do something substantive other than continuing to overwhelm the voters with indecision, rhetoric, and lack of credibility.

The members of this Council, with one exception, all gained office by making promises that have yet to be kept, and have offered little in the way of specific suggestions to improve Covina. As elected officials you have a responsibility to the residents – fiduciary as well as otherwise – to perform your duties in a competent manner. This Council needs to immediately begin taking some proactive steps to make Covina a better community instead of just politically posturing like a bunch of talking heads. The items enumerated below represent a starting point for your consideration.

City Council – Actions Required to Improve Covina

Preliminary List - 27 February 2006

1. Establish a priority list for expenditures advising the Community as to how this Council intends to prioritize the expenditure of additional revenues. This should be broken down to the expenditure component level (e.g. listing Public Safety as the number one priority is an unacceptable generalized statement – the people deserve to know whether those expenditures will be used to hire additional personnel or for improved technology, or just for added compensation costs).
2. Prepare a long-range financial plan that identifies not only anticipated revenues, but also all of the cost centers and the city's projected expenditure levels for each of them by year for the next five to ten years.
3. Refine the recently approved Five-year Pavement Management Plan, and initiate similar plans for sidewalks, sewers, water mains, buildings & other infrastructure; and then prepare a unified ‘Infrastructure Master Plan’.
4. Direct staff to prepare an integrated implementation plan for the TCSP, including a return-on-investment analysis.
5. Prepare an analysis relative to the reasons for the recent substantial increases in liability/workers’ compensation payouts.
6. Ensure that the ‘Fiscal Impact’ section of the agenda item commentaries contain a broader scope of factors, and that there is detailed cost data and rationale to support them.
7. Utilize the compatibility of the IFAS accounting system with the Internet to allow residents to access Covina’s financial data at any time from their home computers.
8. Have the Municipal Code updated and available online as a searchable Adobe Acrobat file that allows segments of text to be copied.
9. Implement a follow up system that will track Council directives to staff against timelines.
10. Direct the creation of a Policy & Procedures manual.
11. Initiate activities to update Covina’s General Plan, including a needs assessment and revised EIR.
12. Direct staff to implement a system whereby candidate campaign contributions are available online so that residents can be better informed.

Monday, February 27, 2006

1998-07-06 Letter Fern Bashing Wilcox & Christiansen

Finance facts offered
Covina's city finances are in a chronic mess because of Propositions 13, 52 and 218, which are far from simple. Here are the facts:
The 1994 city ordinance which set the utility tax rate at 8.25 per cent also included a five-year sunset clause so the tax will expire automatically in November 1999.
For the last four years Councilmen John Wilcox and Chris Christiansen have promoted themselves as strong supporters of small government, low taxes, Proposition 13 and its offspring. But on June 16 Christiansen proposed,. and Wilcox supported, a plan to replace the utility tax with special assessments on property for each city service, particularly the city library.
However, such property assessments for ordinary city services are expressly forbidden by Proposition 218, to wit:
'No fee or charge may be imposed for general government services including, but not limited to, police, fire, ambulance or library services, when the service is available to the public at large in substantially the same manner as to property owners." [Article XIII D, subdivision 6(b)(5), California Constitution].
Clearly, neither Wilcox nor Christiansen can tell his assessments from a hole in the ground.
COVINA 7/06/98

1994 Mort Fox letter to the Recall Group

Fellow Covinians,
I would speak for myself,
but my Doctor doesn't yet want me
in crowds.
First, thanks to all of you who sent your get well wishes.
I'm not certain but that some may want them back by the time I'm
We had an arrogant City Council, that seemed to be working
only for their own agendas, that told us that we needed a Tax (no
matter what you call it) to maintain the city.
OUT I I supported
that Recalll
We elected a City Council that seems to be working
for us,
the people of Covina, as follows;
*They cut $1.7 Million from tbe budget (forget the phoney
that you hear from some quarters).
*They held Open Forums to hear the "Voice of the People".
bad that only a few different voices were heard.
*They continued
(and continue) to hold Open Forums at Council
so the People may speak and they may listen even
while they (the Council members) are being personally
*After much equivocation,
they finally found the courage
(and it
took real courage) to vote a Tax to maintain the city.
This tax even has review and sunset provisions
built into
Yes this tax is higher than the one voted on by the recalled
City Council.
Time, the state and the Economy have all cost us
We hear the strident call for Recall once again.
Can any
person believe that Covina can be kept whole without a
new tax?
"Let us review the Budget again", the Recall people
Is there a more SINISTER PLOT afoot?
What if this Sinister Plot is really to either dismantle
Covina or throw it into bankruptcy so that a State Regulator
authorize the scrapping of existing Wage and Benefits Contracts
with Covina Public Safety Personnel?
This would be something
If Covina is to be dismantled then the following will
*Parks and Library Closed
*City Staff
Services reduced
*police and Fire personnel drastically
*Fire Stations closed
service dramatically
cut back.
I recently had a medical emergency.
The Paramedics
(about one minute) and got me to I.C.M.C. efficiently
where my life was preserved until my condition could be remedied.
I will be qlad to pay a fee for the Paramedic services for,
because of the Paramedics.
I will be here to pay it.
If Covina is dismantled then it becomes a less desirable
place to live.
Good people will move out and I predict that
the City will start into its Death Spiral.
Property Values, and
even Escrow Fees will drop.
Crime, always lurking at the
borders, will move in and full scale decay will soon be evident
Page 2
with nothing to hold it back.
This doesn't seem co bother the
Sinister Group.
Sometimes you have to back away from the "Bottom Line" to
see the full picture.
The Sinister Group can't seem to grasp
If the plot is to bankrupt Covina to break the Wage and
Benefits Contracts with covina Public Safety Personnel then this
in the extreme.
Obviously the
Sinister Group thinks that we can make do with a Volunteer
and Police Force.
Wake up Fellows and join us in the latter part
of the 20th Century!!
Not only are the forces of evil and
lurking at the gate, ready to overwhelm these
but so are slin unscrupulous
lawyers (is that a
We will all be stuck with the legal tab
to support the Sinister Group's stupid experiment in
civic behavior.
The Public Safety Professionals
that we have can't just be hung on a hook until this nonsense is
They will be gone and we will never get them back.
In any event the net result will be the same as described
above, except it will happen faster and go deeper.
The Sinister Group spouts elegant sounding drivel like "Same
Horse, different Riders".
the author either missed or
flunked High School Civics.
This is the manner in which all
maintain stability.
When a new President is elected
they don't fire all of the Federal Workers, or all the State
Workers after a new Governor is sworn in.
The City Council is,
and always has been, free to take or reject advice from City
Staff •.
Yes, I too see problems with City Staffers that have been in
the same position so long that they have lost the proper present
of their job.
This problem can be addressed without
loyal and faithful employees.
Fellow Covinians do you really want to trust your future to
such SHALLOWHINKING individuals.as
I can almost
guarantee that if they succeed in this Recall the new City
Council will belong to the Shallowhinking Sinister Group and
Covina, as we know it, will soon cease to exist.
We all know who the people are that make up what I have been
calling the Sinister Group.
They are not sinister people.
plot and the fact that they hide and disguise their true goals,
methods and means makes them sinister.
They don't have the
"Guts", to stand up and tell all.
Instead they send forth their
minions of strident, screeching, whining slavish followers
to cover and hide them.
It is time to heal Covina's Wounds by rejecting this POWER
By so doing you will also Wound
those who would be Covina's Heels.
Thank You
Mort Fox
Citizen, Taxpayer, Covinian

Friday, February 24, 2006

February 16, 2006 McConnell protests RV Parking Ordinance


Thursday, 16 February 2006

Park RV proposal

Covina to change its municipal code to prohibit any recreational vehicle - which will include a wide range of items including boats, dune buggies, ATVs, jet skis, fifth-wheelers, campers, and the trailers used to transport those items and horses - from being parked not only in the street, but also on private property in driveways in front of homes.

The proposed ordinance will also eliminate overnight parking permits for such vehicles and prohibit people from parking their recreational vehicles either in front of their home or in their driveway when they come to visit - even during the year-end holidays.

The city's excuse for pursuing this effort is that it claims that RVs reduce property values.

What nonsense. Streets full of cracks and potholes, broken sidewalks and curbs, an over-age sewer system and seismically unsound buildings (such as the library) owned by the city are the items that really affect property values and/or represent potential liability to the city.

Why hasn't the city fixed those problems with the utility tax revenues like it promised?

Are the council and city manager ever going to address Covina's real needs, or just keep trying to divert attention away from their lack of concern for such items by bringing up irrelevant issues such as this?

William McConnell


Saturday, February 18, 2006

February 18, 2006 Fiscal Planning Lacking in Covina - Letter to the Editor


Saturday, 18 February 2006

Tax to spend?

Covina's Mayor Peggy Delach and Councilman Kevin Stapleton have formed a committee to consider which additional taxes, fees, and other revenue-generating actions to pursue. However, Covina's annual audited reports for the last few years say that the city is in good financial condition, with revenue growth exceeding expectations and costs lower than projected. Councilman John King also supports rampant taxation, which is why he was recalled in 1993.

Why would these elected officials want to raise taxes when the city's own documents indicate that it is financially sound? One reason is that they are lazy and do not want to take the time to question whether more taxes are needed because it is easier for them to have blind faith belief in the irrational premise that more taxes will automatically improve the community.

Another reason is that they lack leadership, vision, courage, and competence.

Covina does not have a long-range financial planning document that identifies all of its cost centers and the city's projected expenditure levels for each of them by year for the next five to ten years.

Another problem is that the city does not have a formal, detailed, rational priority list for the expenditure of additional revenues. Consequently, the city has difficulty distinguishing between its needs and its wants.

Covina should prepare a sensible long-range financial plan outlining all of its actual needs. Until that occurs it cannot reasonably determine whether or not anticipated future expenditure requirements will actually exceed projected revenue growth.

Stephen Millard


Tuesday, January 17, 2006

January 17, 2006 City Manager Under Fire

From: Stephen Millard
Sent: Tuesday, January 17, 2006 4:00 PM
To: Mayor Peggy Delach; Mayor Pro Tem Meline Juarez; Councilman George Chadwick; Councilman John King; Councilman Kevin Stapleton
Cc: City Clerk's Office
Subject: City Manager Performance Review - Council Closed Session Item D-1 of 1/17/06

The purpose of this transmittal is to submit comments relevant to the performance of the city manager. Basically, this individual has not demonstrated the professionalism, straightforwardness, and ability to manage Covina in a manner that addresses the major issues confronting the community. Details have been provided to the City Council on numerous occasions regarding specific instances related to the foregoing opinion. However, a few of the pertinent points are reiterated below as a reminder:

1. The Community and Council are constantly told, particularly in documentation related to the budgets, that the City is in such dire straits that it is essentially facing fiscal collapse unless more taxes are imposed. However, the audited annual reports do not support that assertion.
2. A comprehensive integrated systematic long-term strategy to identify Covina’s fiscal challenges, and recommendations as to how to resolve them, has not been prepared despite the fact that this individual has been here over five years. Instead, items and issues continue to be addressed on a piecemeal basis – and excuses are often provided instead of proposed solutions.
3. Information presented to the City Council in support of staff reports is frequently incomplete and misleading (especially in the Fiscal Impact section) – which gives the appearance that it is, instead of being objective data, little more than propaganda designed to elicit a desired response. A Council needs to be able to make informed decisions based on a foundation of fact rather than on opinions.
4. Items are often delayed to the last minute, which forces the Council to make hurried decisions.
5. Failure to follow-up on matters in a timely manner, if at all.
6. An argumentative attitude. The exhibition at a public meeting on 11/10/05 when the city manager was arguing with a group of people (which included an octogenarian and someone with a hearing aid) about their ability to hear what he was saying (without a microphone) being a vivid example.
7. Questionable, as evidenced by multiple letters from the District Attorney’s Office, compliance with the intent of the Brown Act to make the workings of Covina’s government more transparent.
8. An inability to communicate, which extends to blocking emails, with some of his critics.
9. Lack of response to requests for substantiating data required to support his positions and statements.

A city manager needs to be candid, consistent, and competent. When these qualities are perceived to be lacking it can result in credibility issues that can negatively impact the whole community. This city manager’s contract expires on May 31 of this year. It seems that it would be beneficial to Covina to not extend or renew that agreement.

Monday, December 26, 2005


Start at the top and work our way down, or start local and work our way up?

It's hard to decide, but I've been looking squarely at the National Problem for the last several months and the Local Problem for the last several years.

I think some things must take precedence others.

Among these:

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Planning Commissioner Miller

Congratulations to Mr. Ed Miller, Covina's newly appointed Planning Commissioner.
Ed was appointed Tuesday night to the seat vacated last month
when Commissioner George Chadwick was appointed to fill Mr. Chris Lancaster's vacated City Council seat.

Mr. Miller, an electrical engineer, comes to the table with a strong list of credentials,
including 30 years of managerial experience with Southern California Edison
and 7 years of responsiblity for the City of Los Angeles' Department of Water & Power,
which entailed responsibility for most aspects of its power grid:
generation, transmission, distribution, and construction.
Commissioner Miller, who is also a former City of Covina Planning Commissioner,
will no doubt be an important resource for the City Council and a valuable asset to the citizens of Covina.

We'll all be expecting more of this caliber of people serving the city.
Hats off to Covina's City Council for appointing a Commissioner whose skillset fits the position.