Council Meeting Summary, March 20

Council meeting summary, March 20

With few people watching TV coverage of council meetings and even fewer attending, is the city in good hands? Council votes during the March 20 meeting indicate residents should tune in.

One outcome worth mentioning is the 5-0 vote to spend $268,410 for wireless Internet access at city hall. It’s worth mentioning because three of these council members are up for reelection in November. No need was assessed, no problem was presented and no information was given to the public regarding competitive bids. Information provided by a staff member was nearly impossible to decipher, as maintenance, upgrades and new equipment were combined into one estimate.

The city staffer presented the plea for “getting with the times” regarding Internet access. She argued that wireless access would enable employees to continue using their computers in a power outage. The vision of employees working without lights or air-conditioning when outages most likely occur in the summer is questionable. She also argued that wireless access would enable city employees to take their computers into a conference room. Of the city’s 200-plus new computers, only 15 are laptops. To claim employees will haul their desktops from room to room is ridiculous.

Another vote is worth reporting because the solution was proposed by Councilman Frank Ury at “no cost to the city.” A “free” pilot program of energy-efficient streetlights is to be provided by ES Lighting System. In the fine print, the savings are projected to surpass costs (of the no-cost program) of actual implementation in two years. Councilwoman Gail Reavis began asking the right questions – who is ES Lighting System, who brought them to the city, what’s going on here – but the vote went 4-1 with Reavis dissenting. The most important question was asked by no one: how is ES Lighting related to Ury’s campaign donors and his political consultant from Orange?

A staff member presented a report about synchronizing traffic signals, which was proclaimed “excellent” by some council members. If the lights were actually synchronized, getting through two consecutive green lights wouldn’t be a rare event. At the end of the staffer’s report, she said the synchronized lights in Mission Viejo save approximately one minute of time per commute. No one questioned the staffer’s conclusion that traffic signals are nearly impossible to coordinate or asked the cost of saving such a negligible amount of time.

Another report of similar nature was about the city’s disaster preparedness. The blog earlier reported there’s no city plan, and residents should focus on individual and home preparedness. A staff member who is making more than $100,000 annually is responsible for the nonexistent plan. Again, no questions were asked.