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Council Meeting Recap: Mar 7, 2023

Updated: Apr 5, 2023

All council members were present for the Tuesday, Mar. 7 City Council meeting. Open session started at 6:02 p.m. and ended at 9:22 p.m. Here's what you missed:


"Everyone truly believed in service above self." COVID-19 Taskforce share heartwarming story following reception of Carson Accountability and Transparency’s Sai Momoli Civic Excellence Award. The council gave a special commendation to the City's COVID-19 Taskforce for receiving the Carson Accountability and Transparency's 2023 Sai Momoli Civic Excellence Award. "We had the opportunity to attend an event that honored our taskforce," said Mayor Lula Davis-Holmes, "I call them the A-Team, [they] went above and beyond their expectations. They were on the front line and they represented this city and took care of our residents like you would not believe."

Community Services Director and one of the leaders of the Taskforce, Dani Cook, thanked the council and responded with a speech outlining the hardships members of the taskforce had to endure and exemplified the sacrifices they made. "There are countless stories of sacrifice from the 90 members of the task force, and I just wanted to express some of what can't be captured in a video and tell a story that can't be relayed through data in a spreadsheet" said Cook. "When it became clear that individuals who were home during the pandemic were collecting unemployment plus an additional $600 a week, task force leadership, had an open conversation with task force members about doing what's best for them. If that meant staying home with their families, we asked them to simply inform us about their decision and we would do our part to backfill any vacancies on the task force. Incredibly, not one staff member left the task force. This dedication can be can be attributed to the morale on the task force. Everyone was treated as an equal because everyone was equally scared, equally exposed, and equally uncertain. There is no distinction between full time and part time members working shoulder to shoulder on the front lines. Everyone truly believed in service above self."

Cook's speech went on to highlight the Taskforce's duties, "We made the most of packing 800 meals a day, four days a week, wearing face shields and gloves and masks on an assembly line. We compiled a comprehensive roster of vulnerable residents and placed wellness calls in between incoming calls just to check on our neighbors. We danced with seniors in the walk up, grab and go line. One dedicated member even started the Silver Cheer Program, an internal program that invited city employees to donate personalized care packages to homebound and isolated seniors. We spent countless hours providing comfort to frightened seniors in the call center. We packed thousands of meals and distributed lunches on hot summer days. We delivered groceries and other essentials in the pouring rain. We wore face shields and full body Tyvek suits while administering COVID tests, and we spent hours on the phone with frantic and frustrated patrons who are not receiving COVID test results from our testing vendor, we created a safe and organized ongoing vaccine clinic for thousands of residents."

Carson Accountability and Transparency recognizes the hard work, sacrifices, and dedication of the City's COVID-19 taskforce members and earnestly appreciate all they have done for our City and community.


State Controller’s Audit reveals deficiencies of City’s Internal Controls. You would think a recent audit of the City’s internal controls by the State Controller’s office would be important enough to share with the public. During the meeting however, the report had to be pulled from the consent calendar, the portion of the meeting where agenda items are generally agreed and passed with no deliberations. “We should not be covering up that the state controller has serious issues,” warned Councilmember Jim Dear after requesting that the report be presented to the public, “anyone who wants a copy of the report can contact my office.”

The draft audit, which was sent to the City on Nov 4, 2022, found deficiencies with the City’s internal controls. The Controller’s Office most recent letter, dated Feb. 8, 2023, suggested that the City should develop a comprehensive plan addressing the three key findings from the audit:

  1. Questionable Contracts/Lack of Control over the City's contracts:

    1. City Attorney's Contract does not specify term ending date or limit total competition. Even though the contract had a competitive bidding process, the City did not provide documentation to support that it had considered other options or sought bids from other legal firms in the last 14 years. The controller's office recommends the City re-evaluate the legal services contract to ensure it is competitive.

    2. The report finds the City's lack of policy limiting the total sum when amending contracts concerning. Out of 42 contracts which were sampled, 21 had amendments significantly exceeding the original contract amount. 11 of those contracts had original contract amounts under $25,000 (one of which had a 900% increase).

    3. 2 Contracts over $25,000 did not receive approval from City council and instead were solicited by the City Attorney. The City Attorney’s contract contains a clause that allows her to hire consultants and bill the city for the consultants’ fees and charges. The controller recommends the City adopt policies and procedures ensuring that contracts and contract amendments exceeding certain limits are approved by the City Council.

    4. The report suggests that the City is not adhering to established Procurement Policy and Procedures by awarding sole-source contracts. Out of a sample of 42 contracts, five sole-source contracts did not include justification for why a competitive process was not used.

  2. Outdated Policies:

    1. Policies are not routinely reviewed and were last updated June 2014. The audit found the city's documentation on its processes incomplete, inaccurate, and inconsistent.

    2. The report highlights 3 areas where the City currently has no policies:

      1. Limits on contract amendments, renewals, and extensions

      2. Recruitment procedures for unclassified management executives, such as department heads

      3. Preparation of bank reconciliations.

  3. Lack of internal control system oversight and established Audit committee:

    1. While the City did create an audit committee, the report notes that the committee has not held a meeting since May 2017.

Newly formed Public Safety Engagement Team shares progress in helping the homeless in the City. The council received a brief presentation on the recently established City's Public Safety Engagement Team. The Public Safety Engagement Team, which was approved by the council less then one year ago in August 2022, aims to reduce the number of people experiencing homelessness in the City through proactive engagement and referrals to local City, County, and State resources, namely programs and shelters. Leaders of the team presented a few examples where the team successfully helped people and families living on the street into interim, long-term, and rapid housing solutions. City Manager David Roberts praised the team, expressing how helpful the team has been with helping the City's homeless, "These results [...], within the last five months, we didn't have these type of results in the four and a half years that I've been here. I couldn't tell you anyone who's been housed. And so for these folks to basically start this project and this division from the ground up speaks volumes to their dedication and commitment to their craft," said Roberts, "They're doing a tremendous job, so much so that the county has actually contacted us and wants to replicate the program that [the City Council] have allowed us to implement here in the city of Carson." Anyone worried about homelessness can contact the Public Safety Engagement Team by dialing (310) 952-1786.


Council formally adopt resolution setting aside Rancho Dominguez Mobile Estates Closure. After a confused resident asked about her home at Rancho Dominguez Mobile Estates, the City Council formally passed a resolution, rescinding the City’s 2021 approval of the park closure. The council was able to approve the resolution following a court case where the owner of the 81-space mobile home park sued and lost to the City. City Attorney Sunny Soltani noted that the council will look into adding mobile home zoning to the General Plan for extra protection and reassured residents that they could invest in their homes.


Council can now hold districted townhalls outside of City Hall. The council approved a resolution formally establishing a budget for districted events including district town halls and other information advisory meetings on councilmember's governmental duties. While previous laws did allow for these gatherings, they could only be called by the Mayor (or with a majority vote from the council), could only be held at councilmember's own office at City Hall, and could not use city staff or city resources. Now with the new ordinance, councilmembers can hold a meeting at City properties within their district (as well as inside City Hall) and City staff and resources may be used as long as the budget allocation allows for it. While the ordinance does not specify how many townhalls any one councilmember can hold, the staff report indicates that the established budget would act as a limit on the number of meetings that could be held.

Councilmember Jim Dear argued against staff recommendation, claiming that any item the council takes action on effects the City as a whole, not just one district. Dear suggested that the new law would restrict councilmembers from communicating with residents outside of their own district. However, Dear's substitute motion to adhere to state statutes failed 2-3 with Mayor Lula Davis-Holmes, Mayor Pro Tem Jawane Hilton, and Councilmember Cedric Hicks voting against the motion. The new ordinance passed with a 4-1 vote, with Dear being the only dissenting vote.


The council made the following Proclamations:

  • Recognizing the month of March as Women’s History Month.

  • Recognizing the month of March as National Red Cross Month.

  • Recognizing the month of March as National Kidney Month.

 

Events:


  • City of Carson 55th Anniversary Celebration Community Planning Meetings. Volunteers needed - Every third Thursday of each month at 6:30 p.m.

  • City of Carson 55th Anniversary Street Fair - Saturday, Jul 29, on Carson Street

  • City of Carson 55th Anniversary Tour De Carson - Saturday, Aug 12









  • Free Pet Wellness Clinic - Sunday, Mar. 26, 9 a.m. - 1 p.m. at City Hall.












  • 2023 State of the City Address - Thursday, Mar. 30, at Carson Event Center. Luncheon: 11:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. Presentation: 12:30 p.m. - 1:30 p.m.















  • Spring Break Day Camp - Apr. 3 - Apr. 7. Sibling Discounts Available.















  • Autism Awareness 5K Run/Walk - Saturday, Apr. 22, 7 a.m. - 10 a.m. at CSUDH

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