Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Happenings: McLean, Ascendant

Councilmember Frank Ferry remains hospitalized. City Attorney Carl Newton retires after 23 years of service, in the midst of many legal challenges. Doubts about One Valley One Vision are growing. Mayor Weste's final days have been so full of chaos and confusion--where are Claritans to turn for guidance in these troubled times? Cue "O Fortuna." (view the video below at full volume for best effect)

Indeed, on this eve of Santa Clarita's 23rd birthday, I start writing "Mayor Marsha McLean." Again. Concurrently, Laurie Ender enters the protective cocoon that is Mayor Pro-temhood, a cocoon from which she shall emerge Mayor Ender. The kids grow up so fast, don't they?

As mayor, McLean has promised to prioritize "inter-generational" projects and to continue her work on public transportation development. She noted that 2011 will be a particularly pivotal juncture in Santa Clarita's journey; it's the year of One Valley One Vision will be adopted. Ender congratulated Weste for her leadership and McLean on her new title. "Well-behaved women rarely make history," she said, saying that Weste and McLean owed their success to being "the best feather-rufflers I know." I suppose that was a compliment. The estrogen was surging as she concluded her remarks by suggesting that sometimes "the best man for the job is a woman."

The other major transition tonight was Carl Newton's departure from his post as City Attorney, a title he has held since 1987. City Manager Ken Pulskamp thanked Newton for consistently providing "wise counsel" and for being a "kind and humble man of integrity." It might be said the kindness was Carl's weakness as well as his strength; he had a tendency to indulge the City Councils he served with assurances that whatever they did or planned to do was legal and right. Still, he's seen Santa Clarita through since the start and through some most profound changes. Newton was modest and gracious when accepting a key to the City, calling Santa Clarita "a class community" with "the most intelligent and sophisticated people I've ever encountered" while performing his legal duties.

Allan-voice-of-God-Cameron came forward to praise Newton for his service. Drawing a baseball analogy, he said that Newton and his firm were batting 900+ when it came to defending the City in court and had saved them untold billions.

During individual reports, Councilmember Laurene Weste gave an update on Frank Ferry. His family said that he is still in the ICU but is stable. His vitals are staying within range, and he no longer requires a ventilator. Ferry may begin physical therapy soon. Mayor McLean asked staff to investigate whether they could offer passport services that will no longer be offered at the library in preparation for the takeover. This prompted Councilmember Bob Kellar to ask whether the City could get its act together and offer marriage licenses, too. Shop local, marry local.

Eventually, the City Council examined the Consent Calendar[1]. Item 1 summarized mid-fiscal-year adjustments to the budget in terms of projected revenue and expenditures[2]. Some $23M in revenue adjustments were credited to sales tax from new store openings at The Patios and grants, among other things. Expenditures were likewise adjusted upwards for various items both big (acquiring parking rights at the Santa Clarita Metrolink Station for $4.3M) and small ($5K for a Tremble GPS Receiver to conduct a citywide sign survey). Most of the other agenda items concerned street improvements.

All items were passed with the recommended action, though Councilmember Bob Kellar was not pleased about Item 10. It awarded a $160,000 contract to Environ Corps. They'll prepare Santa Clarita's very own Climate Action Plan (CAP) in keeping with AB 32, the Global Warming Solutions Act. Kellar explained why he was peeved. Santa Clarita has relatively little impact (i.e., none) on the global carbon balance, prompting him to ask "What are you smokin' that you think what we do will make a difference?" McLean was sympathetic, saying "I think that's a really good point. I like that." However, the State of California mandates a CAP as part of new or revised general plans, so the whole City Council gave the item their approval.

Public hearings followed, and it was quickly decided that Copperstone will be pre-zoned in preparation for annexation. This decision came after the to-do made over annexing all of Tesoro del Valle, West Creek, and Copperstone at once.

Finally, the City Council approved a contract for construction of the library in Newhall. Tebo Construction Inc. submitted the winning bid. Pulskamp said that the recession led to lower bids on a more ambitious construction project, such that Santa Clarita would be getting more for its money than previously thought. The $10.5M contract makes allowances for a $2.4M contingency. There will also be significant additional expenditures on materials testing and labor compliance services. Still, Pulskamp insisted that the library is being built for a bargain.

During Public Participation, the SCOPE gals were nowhere to be found. Alan Cameron filled the void by asking that a web page and plaque acknowledge those who have served Santa Clarita on the various commissions. The meeting ended at 7:16.

[1]Here is the agenda.