All Residents Pay A Unpopular Fee, but Not All Benefit From It

On May 28th we learned something about our least favorite fee in the city that should have your blood boiling. For the last 4 to 5 year you have been paying and ever increasing tax on your monthly trash bill. This TAX was added to deal with Rialto’s streets that are deteriorating much faster than Rialto officials can keep up at least that is what we were told.

On May 28th we found out that streets that are in poor repair will not be fixed with the Trash Fund money, only newer streets will get any work done from the Trash Tax. There is a promise that they will seek out a way to do something for those residents but they say that as we head for Bankruptcy!

Activists told the city council and the residents that the city would find ways of putting this money back into their own pockets and moving street maintenance money around to other pet projects. The last honest Councilman caught his colleagues playing games with this money shortly after it was approved.

Councilman O’Connell was interviewed by Sun reporter Leslie Parrilla and said:

“We gave the impression that we were going to use that money to help improve the roads,” O’Connell said.

The increased rates for the city’s solid waste collection, recycling and disposal service rates were passed to help maintain Rialto’s deteriorating roads. But after the fees started being collected, the roughly $1.2 million normally budgeted annually for road improvements dropped to $600,000 this year, instead of increasing with money from the new fee.

“It seemed to me the citizens got it right when they said, ‘be careful, they’re going to take advantage of it,’ ” by moving money around, O’Connell said.

The plan was to decrease the Trash Tax and fix the roads with Measure U. Well a year later Councilman O’Connell passed away unexpectedly and since then here are all the things Measure U is targeted to cover:

  • Millions in behind street maintenance.
  • Reduce the now PERMANENT Utility Users Tax by 25%.
  • Cover our $150 Million Dollars of Unfunded Liabilities.
  • Provide for more cops.
  • Provide more money for Recreation Programs.

The only problem with these promises is that even with best case scenario is that the tax would bring in $15 Million a year. As of today there is less than $10 Million in an escrow account while the tank farms sue us. It looks so grim that the Mayor and Ed Scott are publicly talking about settling for way less than expected just to get something.

While that goes on Burrtec spends thousands of dollars on campaigns for elected officials that act as rubber stamps for their programs and agendas. While Burrtec is holding a fundraising party for the Mayor they got:

  • Rialto residents to pay for the damage thier trucks do to the road.
  • A 10 year contract that never expires because it renews for another 10 years each year and we have to give them 10 years notice if we want out of the contract.
  • They got $1.3 Million back in their pockets that was supposed to go to create a community garden for the North End of the city.
  • We now are forced to pay burrtec through our property tax bills so we can’t see the many times they raise our rates.

So the only question is, are you mad yet? Don’t forget gas goes up 5.6 cents a gallon on Monday July 1st for more on that story click here!

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Rialto’s New City Administrator Comes With Orange County Baggage

Something has not smelled right about this entire process of hiring the next city administrator replacing outgoing city administrator Mike Story. Not once did the city council even present a list of other people they were looking at and still refuse to produce the short list of candidates that were also in consideration. The main reason many say that is because nobody else wanted to even be considered for the job! Many highly qualified candidates spoke to us off the record saying they were offered a chance at consideration but turned it down over Rialto’s looming budget issues.

In comes Rod Foster a man that was whisked into Rialto without any word or discussion. The city council handed out a Quarter of a Million Dollar employment contract without any discussion, it was almost too easy like there was something to hide? Here is how Rod Fosters pay and benefits will break down:

  • A salary of $240,000 per year
  • $85,000 in benefits
  • 120 hours of vacation leave up front + 10 hours per month
  • 120 hours of sick leave up front + 10 hours per month
  • 140 hours of administrative leave per year + 10 hours per month
  • Plus a 8,500 cash advance if he moves within 25 miles of Rialto

To make matters worse is if Rod Foster works for just 5 years he will be vested for life in the benefits program with his wife and any dependent children. All of this to some extent was in our 1st article, now onto the new stuff.

It all began on June 3rd when the Rialto Record wrote an article on the hiring of Rod Foster. The Rialto Record added 2 cities that Rod Foster had worked for that were not publicly known until that day. Part of Rod Foster’s experience was as an assistant manager to 2 totally broken cities in the Inland Empire Hesperia and Upland. Then came a message from the former Mayor of Laguna Niguel Jerry Slusiewicz who spelled out claims that Rod Foster is under investigation for mismanaging money in Laguna Niguel.

The past that haunts Rod Foster are claims of money mismanagement in Laguna Niguel by approving contract increases to the eventual tune of $4.1 million dollars. We reached out the Orange County DA and they wouldn’t elude into current open investigations. What is ironically scary is that when these questionable money matters were going on a flury of high end officals close to Rod Fosters office up and left without any notice.

Prior to that Rod Foster was around the city of Upland when City Manager Robb Quincey was involved in hiding facts and playing games with public money. Popular figures like Gary Grosich and Eileen Gomez want you to look past these times in Rod Fosters life and look to when he worked in Colton. Gary Grosich will bite your head off if you ask questions about Rod Fosters past and Eileen Gomez claims Rod Foster is a man of the people yet he refuses to talk to anyone outside of city hall.

Another fact is Rod isn’t the man he was in Colton. In Colton he worked 60 hours a week and did the job of 4 people. Many close to Rod have said he is just looking to max out his pension and carry a high salary job to pay for his sons college education. The San Bernardino Sentinel  spells this out in their article on Rod Foster.

Under the control of Ed Scott it seems that he could care less if the people are informed and he will rule this city with an iron fist. Ed Scott moved this item along like it was a simple proceedure and not the highest ranking position in the city government. Ed Scott has asked for more clarification on details of parking lot construction when he feels slighted by the Mayor or a Developer but moved this along like it was nothing. After the cotract was approved he asked Rod Foster to protect him from the taxpayers!

When will Rialto wake up!!!!!

 

 

City of Rialto Chooses New City Manager After 2 Year Search

Photo from the OC register

Since December 2017 Rialto has been without a permanent City Administrator. There have been three men to fill the top seat on a temporary basis as the Rialto City Council made poor choices that have moved us closer and closer to financial disaster.

First to fill the seat was Assistant City Administrator Robb Steel he lasted for a short stint prior to looking to take a step back into his old role. Then the City Council brought back  Ahmad Ansari, a former public works director and city engineer, as interim city administrator. The most recent person to fill the interim chair is Rialto Fire Chief Sean Grayson.

The spot at City Administrator isn’t the only position to sit without a permanent place holder over the last few years. As the city ignores the looming reality of the unfunded pension liabilities and private vendettas are allowed to hurt employees from bad leaders the city has struggled with attracting new talent. This has shown in the length of time it took to fill this position as well as Police Chief and the fact that is took two years to find a finance director. There have also been jobs in public works and code enforcement that the city offered employment to people and those people turned the city down!

One thing that all Rialto residents and business owners should pay close attention to is the cost of this salary. The article we wrote in the Rialto Record December of 2018 still rings true today. Rialto is spending money it doesn’t have and next years budget which starts in one month is going to be a HOT mess. Your Rialto City Council have spent MILLIONS on raises for employees that we can’t afford.

I say all this to show you how little your city council cares about the taxpayers!

Rod Foster worked as the city manager for the city of Colton, not really the beacon of innovation and clearly not a city to model after. Mr Foster then followed Eileen Gomez to the city of Laguna Niguel. Rod Foster spent ruffly four years at the city of Laguna Niguel and left at the same time as his assistant city administrator. Now Rod Foster may be a very nice man nothing here is to say he isn’t, the problem is can Rialto afford a City Administrtor at the tune of a quarter of a million dollars a year? Rod Foster the new city administrator and Mark Kling the Chief of Police make half a million dollars in Salary alone!!!!

Now you would think that there was a lot of discussion on this appointment and the other top candidates names were presented right? Nope they acted like this effort was a simple, everyday line item and passed this without any explanation or discussion. After the quick motion and second then the comments came. Mayor Robertson spoke about some special trip to Mommie Helens Bakery and her sole reason for picking Rod Foster was his sweet tooth! Ed Scott even more childishly asked Rod Foster to protect him from the many people that Ed Scott has upset over the years, maybe if Ed Scott doesn’t sue Rod Foster he may protect him!

In Rod Fosters defense community members like Gary Grossich and Eileen Gomez have nothing but positive things to say about Rod Foster. These are marks in his favor but why would someone like Rod Foster want to come to Rialto?

To make matters worse Rialto still has no plan on how to deal with $150 Million in unfunded liabilities!! They are still waiting for magic money to fall from the sky! Mark my words bankruptcy or insane tax increases are right around the corner!

Here is what the contract says on the Agenda:

The following provides a summary of key provisions of the proposed employment agreement with Mr. Foster:

 

•                     Salary:  Annual salary would be $240,000 annually.

 

•                     At-will nature of employment: The position of city administrator is an at-will position serving at the pleasure of the City Council.

 

•                     Term: A term of 5 years, which can be extended by the parties for 1 year following a positive performance evaluation.

 

•                     Severance: If Mr. Foster is terminated without cause, then he will be entitled to severance as follows:

 

0-6 months with City                                          monthly salary times 18

6-24 months with City                                          monthly salary times 12

After 24 months with City                                          monthly salary times 6

 

If terminated for cause, Mr. Foster would not be entitled to payment of any severance.

 

•                     Benefits:

 

o                     The benefits would generally consistent with those of the City’s department heads, except as specified in the employment agreement.

 

o                     Vacation leave: Provided 120 hours up front. Thereafter, accrual would be at the rate of 6.15 hours per pay period.

 

o                     Sick leave:  Provided 120 hours up front. Thereafter, accrual would be at the rate of 10 hours per month.

 

o                     Administrative leave: 140 hours per year.

 

o                     Deferred compensation: $750 per month.

 

o                     Vehicle: Provided a City-vehicle for business and incidental personal use.

 

o                     Educational incentive: 7.5% of regular base salary based on master’s degree (same as provided to eligible City department heads).

 

o                     CalPERS: Mr. Foster would be enrolled in the City’s 2% at 62 retirement plan consistent with the requirements of state retirement law for “new” CalPERS members. The employee contribution under this plan is presently 8%.

 

o                     Health insurance coverage and retiree health: Same as for department heads.

 

o                     Relocation reimbursement: Up to $8,500 if Mr. Foster moves to San Bernardino County and within 25 miles of City Hall within 2 years.

 

o                     Life insurance: Benefit amount equivalent to 2x amount provided to department heads.

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Two Dead Bodies Found in Rialto Neighborhood

Photo of crime scene at Sycamore and Jackson Streets from Loud Labs IE

RIALTO (LoudLabs News)

On Saturday morning, April 27, 2019, the Rialto Police Department along with the City of Rialto Fire Department responded to reports of a two people down. The incident was reported around 6:19am in the 100 block of E. Jackson Street.

When Officers arrived they located two males, down in the front yards of two different addresses, roughly 200 feet apart. Both victims were pronounced deceased at the scene. Homicide Detectives as well as the Coroner’s Office were just arriving at the scene around 8:30am.

Police investigators working the crime scene where 2 dead bodies were found on the corner of Sycamore and Jackson Streets photo from Loud Labs IE

Details surrounding the two deaths are limited as Police will only say they are conducting a death investigation. No further information was immediately available.

Why are murders and deaths on the rise in Rialto?

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Rialto City Hall Hemorrhages High Ranking Staff

In a sign of what is going on under the surface of Rialto City Hall another high ranking longtime employee of the City of Rialto’s management team has left the city of Rialto. Human Resources and Risk Management Director Lucy Garcia has left the city of Rialto for another unknown agency. For the last year and a half the city has lost seven main leadership positions and has only managed to fill one of them. We learned late last month that Development Director and Assistant City Administrator Robb Steel will be leaving this August.

To make matters worse is the City is on its 3rd Interm City Administrator, the people that the city has offered code enforcement and city engineering jobs to turned them down and nobody wants to be our police chief so we brought back Kling who is on a mission to destroy the relationship between the community and the police. Nobody wants to work here and we should strongly question anyone who chooses to except a job here.

Sources inside city hall say that Lucy Garcia left because she was being asked to withhold information from employees and do things that were not ethical. The information coming out of city hall isn’t surprising to me since I watched Lucy get attacked by the city council over giving the Budget Advisory Committee the information we asked for and not holding things back.

I will point out once more there is no plan for dealing with our $150 Million in Unfunded Liabilities and they just keep adding more and more public safety positions. Just in the last Council Meeting in March the Police and Fire Departments have added staff that were frozen over future cost concerns. Now Rialto has a new police captain we can’t afford and the fire department is adding a Deputy Chief to the payroll.

Never in my life have I looked at such a blatant disregard for financial ethics and common sense.

Rialto City Council Doubles Down With $2.5 Million Dollar Employee Raises

The Rialto City Council prepares to pay off more election day favors tonight as the Fire Union receives a $2.5 Million Dollar increase the city can’t afford. I respect our public safety officials but running for political office in this city and taking the Rialto Fire Union meeting was a big mistake. I learned that the only way a person gets the nod or financial support of any union in this city is by vowing blind devotion to whatever that union wants no matter if we can afford it or not.

These are costs we can’t afford, Rialto is the only public agency that has failed to address the $150 Million Dollars in unfunded liability the city of Rialto faces. They report the number being only $126 Million but that is because the other $24 Million is unfunded liabilities to the cities Retiree Medical Benefit Fund. You may be asking yourself how did they address the $24 Million in unfunded liabilities to the cities Retiree Medical Benefit Fund? They are simply ignoring it!!!

Yes this is how your elected officials deal with major problems they just ignore it and go on spending taxpayer money like nothing is going on!

To those of you that think I am wrong to say our elected officials are bought and paid by the unions, all you have to do is look at the juvenile way Councilman Ed Scott dealt with being given a professional opinion. Ed Scott voted against emergency repairs to the waste water treatment plant, voted against much needed infrastructure repairs but voted yes on the tab item presented by the Rialto Fire Union!

In the agenda for tonight’s meeting staff says that the $2.5 Million cost for this public union pay off is factored into the budget. So why would I say that this is a misleading statement? Well what the staff report fails to mention is that the way we afford this union pay off is by illegally dipping into the cities reserve fund.

“The City Council adopted the FY18-19 Budget with anticipated adjustments. Hence, the proposed compensation increases for FY 18-19 have been absorbed in the current Fiscal Year Budget. Future enhancements will need to be incorporated into future fiscal year budgets.”

The future enhancements referenced in the staff report are:

  • A change from the cities own ordnance that dictates that the city hold 50% of operation costs in a reserve account.
  • Additional taxes on homeowners for a fire district tax.
  • Additional taxes on Hotels.
  • Additional Sales & Gas Tax.

Another strange thing is that the cities Fire Chief was moved into the place of Iterm City Administrator before this contract was put in place is now the one responsible for signing off on its validity.

For City Council Meeting [March 26, 2019]

TO:                                           Honorable Mayor and City Council

APPROVAL:                      Sean Grayson, Interim City Administrator

FROM:                      Lucy M. Garcia, Director of Human Resources & Risk Management

Another glaring point in this agreement is the additional money that the city is dumping into the fire station and union staff. Right now the city offsets the costs of the cities fitness center and pool by paying for each and every employee to have access to the cities gym and workout facilities. Now the city is spending $79,000 this year alone on what the city already provides?

Medical Assessments and Fitness Equipment:  To address safety, the parties agree to new annual health assessments and fitness equipment at the fire stations.  Costs:  $79,000 initially (including $54,000 in medical assessment costs and $25,000 in fitness equipment costs). Equipment maintenance costs and other annual testing will ensue thereafter.

What is worse is there is zero accountability that the Fire Staff will actually use said equipment and there are heavy maintenance and replacement costs that this contract fails to address and ignores.

To add insult to injury the Rialto City Council hidden in the Consent Calendar is an increase in the rate of pay for all Commissioners in the city of Rialto….. No Wait that is a pay increase for the only commission that is paid the planning commission! Once again people who said they would volunteer their time are being paid and now they are receiving a raise we can’t afford. Still to this day there is no plan for how to deal with the $150 Million Dollar Unfunded Liabilities.

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As Homelessness Becomes A Bigger Problem Mayor Wants To Attract More Homeless

After a November 15th NEIGHBORHOOD & HOUSING PRESERVATION & BEAUTIFICATION COMMISSION meeting the City Council is set to:

Request City Council to Review and Provide Direction regarding the Site Selection Process for a proposed transitional housing project with the Time for Change Foundation in accordance with the Predevelopment Services Agreement.

The first time this project was brought before the public by councilman Rafael Trujillo the founder of Time for Change Foundation Kim Carter not only ripped into our council for asking questions about the project but lifted off into a name calling rant, but not before placing children right up front as props to witness everything.

The next time this project would come before the public was at the November 15th NEIGHBORHOOD & HOUSING PRESERVATION & BEAUTIFICATION COMMISSION meeting. As this meeting was advertised there were two sites mentioned the original site on palm and an additional site on Linden Ave just north of Foothill. Once the meeting began over 14 sites were introduced leading many to believe that the city did not honestly advertise this meeting and the proposed sites. This meeting Founder Kim Carter did not attend and there were many details of the project that were left without answers. Time for Change Executive Director Vannessa Perez did her best to answer as many questions as possible.

In this meeting there was an important issue that was brought to light about this project and it’s size. Development Services staff member Gina Gibson stated that this project would require a lot size of at least 1 acre. This was important because the highly contested open lot being considered was under the 1 acre size virtually taking it out of play. The lot on Palm Ave is desirable to both Kim Cater and her friend Mayor Deborah Robertson is because the cities housing authority owns this land. The goal of both Mrs Carter and Mayor Deborah Robertson is to gift more than $1 Million in land over to a Non Profit organization that openly admitted to engaging in seating and unseating elected officials. The city only owns 2 land parcels and the other one is right across the street from city hall.

The big issues people had and still have with this is the placement of a homeless womans shelter in already established neighborhoods coupled with the city gifting an additional million dollars plus to a political friend. Mrs Carter has operated one shelter in San Bernardino for a few years and has shown success, but there are some stark differences between projects:

  • The San Bernardino Shelter is a fraction of the size of the one that is being proposed in Rialto.
  • San Bernardino and Rialto are very, very different cities with very different struggles and people in the community don’t want to become San Bernardino.
  • The long proposed favored site is zoned for cottage commercial.
  • No community input has been allowed to see if this is what Rialto wants.

The Palm Ave site is zoned cottage commercial this area was meant to house people who run a business and live at the same site. This is not only a historic portion of the city but as traditional jobs become more scarce and people go into working for themselves this area could serve as a shot in the arm to the Rialto business community. If you look at the homeless debate in the Orange County Area cities have opposed placing homeless centers in their city, shouldn’t Rialto residents have the same voice and option? Also can the founder of Time for Change come to the community and answer questions without name calling, threats and anger?

This Tuesday February 26th at 6 pm this item will be on the city council agenda and if residents don’t come out and speak up they may find themselves with yet another problem created by gifting of taxpayer funds to pay off political debts.

 

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