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Archive for December, 2008

30 am

MV Float on Wednesday, 12/31 at 11:30 am

MV Float on Wednesday, 12/29

MV Float on Monday, 12/29 at 3pm. Blue tank is diving pool.

    The order of appearance for floats and groups participating in the New Year’s Day parade was provided to the Dispatch today by Tournament of Roses media assistant Miranda Spradlin.

    The Mission Viejo Float will be the 6th of 46 floats to move down Colorado Boulevard in Pasadena.  It will follow the Science Hill High School Topper Band which will display umbrellas to accent their music, “Don’t Rain on My Parade.”  The forecast is for sunny weather.

    The parade begins at 8 a.m. and will be broadcast by ABC, NBC, KTLA and KTLA.com.  Click here to view the full listing of participants, in order scheduled. 

    Twenty-four trophies were awarded last year among 50 floats, so this year’s 46 entries will have better-than-even odds for taking home a title.  To see advance artists’ images of all floats, click here.

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Before we launch into another rebuttal of Allan Pilger”s conservative Dispatch rants, let us note for the record that newly elected city council member Cathy Schlicht, in her acceptance speech, thanked Allan for helping her get Smokey and the Bandit’s endorsement. That was more important than standing on a street corner holding a campaign sign and trading one-liners with JoeZags, for sure.

Of course we are Smokey and the Bandit, the lovable, liberal dogs in Allan’s household. In his latest, Allan took off after the Saddleback Valley News for once again putting out news and commentary to support the Mission Viejo City Council, instead of being a city watchdog.

He said the failure of the Wednesday edition shows the fluff stuff doesn’t generate reader interest. That’s true, but why are we so popular that our endorsement is highly coveted? (Cathy’s also a conservative, but she’s really a ggod person, like Allan.)   

The Saddleback Valley News tries to make its city fluff look like legitimate news stories. YAWN. The News should publish more anonymous posts from the Register web files. Regarding City of Mission Viejo vision and values, “apolen” and “pinkindies,” both parents with small children, adore the city council. But they think the shopping centers should be redeveloped to give families trendy places to hang out (the MV Mall is so 70s). The bloggers say the city needs hip restaurants like the Gypsy Den in Santa Ana. You know how kids love exotic food and yearn for “soul and diversity.” There’s folk poetry, jazz and swing music.   

Check out the Gypsy Den Website and audio clips from some of the live performers for a sampling of what the city means by “updating” the shopping centers.

The News’ anonymity has a big advantage over the Dispatch, whose Webmaster insists that each commentary carry the letter writer’s name. Wow, if we could write under the name “arewecuteorwhat?” we could really cut loose.

Here are some suggested bloggers names city hall officials could use if the Saddleback Valley News publishes more from its web file:

  • Council member Frank Ury:   “onceafriendalwaysafriend”  
  • Council member Lance MacLean:  “mrcongenialty”
  • Council member Trish Kelley:  “imissgailalready”
  • City Manager Dennis Wilberg:  “amiretiredyet?”
  • Director Keith Rattay:  “imthebigshotnow”

Respectfully submitted, Smokey and the Bandit

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Chloe Sutton

Chloe Sutton

    Next week 16-year-old Chloe Sutton will represent the Nadadores on the Mission Viejo Rose Parade Float, but yesterday she was competing in Oklahoma City at the Chesapeake Elite Pro-Am. 

     Best known for her longer distance swimming, Sutton exhibited a broader range during the weekend event with a second-place 2:03.82 in the women’s 200 fly. Teammate Tom Shields won the men’s 200 fly in 1:47.20.

    Nadadores Claire Singley and Kati Meili finished in the top ten for the Women’s 200-meter backstroke and 100-meter freestyle, respectively.

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The city staff and most of the council have their heads deeply embedded in sand. They have squandered city funds and seem not to have any intention of cutting back before they get into serious trouble. There should be NO salary raises for staff or council members. The state of California may go bankrupt in the next six months. I suggest the city start planning for that eventuality. Even if the state avoids BK, the measures they take will impact all cities in the state.

Michael Kennedy

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    The approximately 150 employees (full-time-equivalent) at City Hall are scheduled to receive a 3.5% pay raise next month which was previously approved by the City Council.  But the City is experiencing a revenue shortfall, and is considering reducing the raise to 2%.

   “The City currently anticipates that its General Fund revenues for FY 2008-09 will come in about $2 million less than the amount budgeted for this fiscal year,” said City Treasurer Irwin Bornstein. “There is a possibility that the economic times will not improve this fiscal year or any time soon, and additional revenue shortfalls may occur.”

    On Wednesday employees were presented with the proposal to reduce the pay increase to 2%, with a re-evaluation planned in March.  Employees have until Monday to provide feedback on the reduction proposal.  Employees may have difficulty accepting a cut after the City Council recently doubled its monthly compensation.

    Staff is recommending the Council approve the cutback at its meeting on January 5.  The cuts would take place effective January 10.  Click here to view the City Salary Schedule.

        City Hall is currently operating under a “selective hiring freeze.” The Treasurer also reported yesterday the City sold two investment securities in October, prior to maturity, to provide liquidity.

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    On Wednesday federal authorities raided the Mission Viejo headquarters of the Ensign Group, located on Puerta Real.  The raid was reportedly seeking evidence relating to a Medicare fraud investigation.

    Ensign provides skilled nursing, rehabilitative care services and assisted living  at 63 facilities in 6 Western states.   Warrants were also served at 6 of those locations by the Department of Justice.

    The Company believes the investigation was begun two years ago by the DOJ based on a whistleblower complaint.  None of the facilities or employees have yet been formally charges with any wrongdoing.

    Ensign’s stock fell about 15% following the raid, but rebounded to previous levels by Friday.

    Update:  On December 22 Ensign announced a stock dividend of 45 cents per share, a 4 cent increase over last quarter.  The dividend was approved by the Board on December 10. “The increased dividend is consistent with our improved earnings, strong cash flow and additional growth in 2008,” commented Ensign President and Chief Executive Officer Christopher Christensen.

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    Most residents can’t vote to double their own compensation to offset the effects of a bad economy, but local offiials can.  On Wednesday night water commissioners for the Santa Margarita District doubled their potential stipends, following a recent example by the Mission Viejo City Council.

    The commissioners were receiving $175 per meeting up to 6 meetings per month.  They will now receive $210 per meeting up to 10 meetings per month, which could increase their pay to over $25,000 per year for the part-time, volunteer, elected positions.  The vote was unanimous from commissioners Roger Faubel, Saundra Jacobs, Betty Olson, Charley Wilson, and Bill Lawson. The District phone is 459-6400 and email is  info@smwd.com).  

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