By CJ Dablo
The Signal Hill City Council voted to approve several appointments to the Planning, Civil Service and Parks and Recreation Commissions at last Tuesday’s City Council meeting. While several incumbent commissioners held on to their posts, two community residents were newly appointed to open vacancies on the Civil Service and Parks and Recreation Commissions.
“We were presented with some commissioners who really have done well for the city,” said Mayor Larry Forester after the Council meeting. “But in my opinion, some others that were applying could do better.”
The Council reviewed the applications of all the Signal Hill residents who asked to serve on one of the three commissions, and each candidate had only a few minutes to review their qualifications before the Council voted on the appointments that night.
Several candidates applied to fill two vacancies on the Parks and Recreation Commission, challenging the two incumbents who had just completed their terms.
Ken Davis, incumbent Parks and Recreation Commissioner, held on to his office as the Council voted to approve his reappointment. However, before they approved his reappointment, the Council asked Davis to clarify his opinions on a number of issues: tree policy, the library, and particular decisions from which he would recuse himself.
Forester asked Davis to explain why he did not endorse Forester’s and Hansen’s campaigns to be re-elected to City Council last March. Davis said that he did not endorse anyone else in the campaign and chose not to hang election signs on his property.
Vice Mayor Tina Hansen asked Davis to explain concerns he had expressed about volunteerism in the city. Davis said that the environment is not as positive as it used to be, also acknowledging that economic factors may have influenced the changes he’s seen over a number of years.
“I see a lot of the employees [who] don’t have the same joy each day,” Davis said. “And I think some of the programming started getting reduced. And I was just trying to maintain our sense of equality and integrity in keeping a positive face towards everything going forward. But many of the volunteers are concerned.”
“I obviously have some major concerns on certain people,” said Forester, who was the only member on the Council who did not vote for Davis. “I’ve expressed them. Maybe I shouldn’t have, but I did. It’s my feeling that we need to work together for the benefit of the city, and I find right now that, under the Park and Recreation Commission, I’m challenged by some people.”
After a 3-2 Council vote, Alisha Lopez narrowly unseated incumbent commissioner Robert Tickell for the other spot on the Parks and Recreation Commission. Lopez said she currently serves as a fitness instructor and is the president for the Make a Leap Fitness Foundation. Lopez’s nonprofit organization provides fitness and nutrition programs in the community to combat child obesity, according to Lopez.
Forester explained that Lopez was “right on” with his ambitions for the Parks and Recreation Commission and his focus on the city’s participation in First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move!” campaign to fight childhood obesity.
The Planning and Civil Service Commissions each had two vacancies, and only the incumbents applied. Jane Fallon and Rose Richard were reappointed to serve on the Planning Commission with terms that will expire in May of 2015. Victor Parker, incumbent Civil Service commissioner, was reappointed to serve on the Civil Service Commission. Ronald Griggs was also appointed to serve on the Civil Service Commission, taking Edward Villanueva’s seat. Villanueva had not reapplied by the deadline.
Other City Council Highlights:
Signal Hill OPEB Trust Fund Carlos Oblites, senior managing consultant for The PFM Group, presented a performance overview of the Signal Hill Other Post Employment Benefits (OPEB) Trust Fund. The fund had been established in June 2009 to generate revenue to cover annual retirement benefit payments, according to a staff report. Oblites reported that the fund had returned 2.99 percent over the first quarter ending March 31, 2011.
Redevelopment Councilmember Edward Wilson reported that at a contract cities annual conference held earlier that month, he had asked several state assemblymembers to determine if they would support keeping redevelopment. According to Wilson, many Democrat assemblymembers who had attended the meeting had indicated that they would support keeping redevelopment even though earlier this year California lawmakers almost passed a bill that would effectively end redevelopment agencies.
Wilson stressed the importance of redevelopment to Signal Hill. “The overriding issue [is that] it [redevelopment] is the only economic tool that exists currently in the state of California,” said Wilson in an interview Tuesday night. “There is nothing else for economic development, and in a time where you need it, it. . .doesn’t make sense to eliminate it.”
Signal Hill Petroleum and NodalSeismic presented their plan for their geophysical survey of the Signal Hill/Long Beach area. According to a brochure distributed at the Council, the survey will map the geological strata and identify fault lines using “vibro-seis trucks.” Outside the City Council Chamber building, NodalSeismic offered a live demonstration of how these trucks work.
Let’s Move! Forester issued a proclamation to the members of the city’s committee for the Let’s Move! campaign to recognize National Kids to Parks Day on May 21.
Public Works Week, May 15-21 Forester recognized the city’s Public Works Department in celebration of Public Works Week. The Signal Hill budget workshop will be Tuesday, May 24 from 6pm to 8pm in Council Chambers. The next Council meeting will be Tuesday, June 7 at 7pm, also in Council Chambers.