Thursday, February 14, 2019

• Rain, Rain, Rain and More Rain

This will be a picture driven blog. It's been a really wet year so far, and I don't really remember any predictions that we'd be having an El Nino year. If anything, the predictions were that it was going to be a dryer than usual rainy season. 

Oh well, so much for trying to predict the weather six months or a year out.

People have been sharing a ton of photos on Facebook, and as long as I was out this afternoon, I thought I should take a drive around the city. As I was leaving city hall the first shot I got was of the giant American flag at USA Gas. 
The flag was visibly tugging on the flagpole.
I then drove to Hidden Springs Rd and noticed a fair amount of standing water in a couple of places. Especially at the three way intersection at Catt Rd, behind Stater Bros.
This entire intersection was under several inches of water.
Heading west on Catt Rd. The standing water was pretty much to the center of the street.

McVicar Street was closed due to the swollen channel.
Heading north on Palomar just after Frederick.
Heading north on Palomar just before Plowboys/Arnold Lane. There was standing water from the culvert to past the middle of the street on Palomar. Arnold was basically underwater too.
Gruwell was inundated with water too.
This dip on Palomar can get pretty deep during heavy rains.
Heading north on Mission Trail approaching the library. You can see that the standing water began above the curb on the east side of the road and basically extended to the other side.
Another shot of Mission Trail near the library. The water was pretty deep here.
It thinned out a touch as I got closer to the intersection at Canyon.
It was one continuous pond just before the intersection of Canyon and Mission Trail.
This is one of the driveways into the center that has Dominos Pizza. 
The guy in front of me was trying to pass people on this part of Mission Trail until he figured out that hydroplaning wasn't as much fun in real life as it is on paper. He basically stayed in one lane the rest of the way... but only because there wasn't much of an option.
More standing water to the middle of the road as I continued north on Mission Trail.
Sorry if these images are starting to get repetitive... rain swollen streets tend to do that. This shot is taken as I was approaching Vine.
Vine was pretty deep at the intersection.
I went up Olive Street, and there wasn't much water at the time, but it was clear to see the aftermath of the rains.
I turned east on Lemon Street and encountered a mini torrent of water. There was no other traffic on the road as I proceeded another 100 yards or so before turning around. The last thing I was interested in was encountering Lost Road on a rainy day. 
Another look at Lemon as I headed west.
The last few miles of my journey had me going down Porras Road. As you can see, a lot of dirt and debris had been pushed onto the road by the rushing waters. 
As I was driving back down Baxter, on the east side of freeway, there was a fair amount of standing water that crossed the entire street right at the mailbox cluster.
The culvert between Round Up Feed and Central Avenue was filled to the top with storm water. 
I know there had to be hundreds of other great/stunning photos of road conditions throughout Wildomar. I wasn't able to go down Corydon to check out that area, but I heard that it was astonishing.

Thanks to friend of Wildomar Rap, Richard Deskin (a polished photographer in his own right) for letting me some of the images he took.
The intersection near the westerly most part of the EHS campus.
This was near Elsinore High School on Almond and Walnut area.

This second view of the stranded car shows that the road was clearly marked as flooded. Gladly, no one was hurt.
These pictures were contributed by Gina Castanon. I had to make a collage because the individual files that I received were this actual size.
Last of the "donated" photos come from city council member Ben Benoit. 
Here is another view of the stranded car near EHS.
If you've ever walked the Murrieta Creek Trail from McVicar to Clinton Keith you may recognize this. If you look closely you'll see that there is about a foot and a half between the water and the bottom of the bridge. That's a lot of water right there.

In conclusion... This rainy season has been one of the heavier ones in years and it's still only the middle of February. 
Lot's of rain forecast over the next 10 days.
It's going to take time for our city to respond to all the road issues. You can rest assured that the damage is on the radar of public works, but if you'd like to report some road safety issues please do so at the following webpage.
Use this link to get to the page to report an issue.
In the meantime, please drive like your kids are in the car ahead of you... and if you're the type that doesn't like their own kids, pretend that John Gotti's kids are in the next car and drive like you don't want to end up in the east river like his neighbor did after hitting twelve year old Frank Gotti when he was on his bike.
Choose whichever works best for you.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

• Video Hardware Installed

Wednesday night’s City Council meeting will be the debut of the City’s video/streaming of the meeting.  The previous video efforts were demos.  

In the demo videos, only six of the seven chairs on the dais could be seen. Now all those on the dais can be seen and the presentations can be toggled on and off as they appear.
What a Wildomar city council would look like if The Simpson's were watching.
Almost one year (2-14-2018) after Council provided direction to staff to provide this service for the community, it will be completed. To which I say, Thank you very much.
Much appreciation!
Under the project management of Tina Roney, the City owned hardware was installed by CBC technical and the operating services are provided by RivCo TV (riverside county staff).  
Use this link to get to the Wildomar video page.
PEG Channel broadcasts will start in the next several months. Budget funding was approved for all City Council and Planning Commission meeting coverage.  
•                •                •

The art of simplicity is a puzzle of complexity.
– Douglas Horton

The art of Wildomar Rap is a puzzle of complexity rolled into a tortilla and zapped in the microwave for 45 seconds.

This blog was produced for viewing on a desktop or a laptop. Though it's been optimized for smartphones, the formatting can look odd on a smartphone or if you get this delivered through email (such as missing video links). Link to proper format.

Sunday, February 3, 2019

• League of California Cities Academy Winter 2019

Q: What does a new council member learn at a League of California Cities training academy?

A: Way more than a human can actually take in during a two and half day period, though we give it our best effort.

Taken during the mock city council meeting of Dysfunction Junction.
The arrow indicates where I was sitting. 
Right out of the gate was a 2 hour session on Sexual Harassment Prevention. This is a must have for all local agency officials, and must be completed every two years.
One of the many slides seen during the presentation.
Note to adult bullies: grow up and cut it out already.
Most of the things presented were common sense to me, but it was good to be reminded —in very clear terms— what constitutes harassment, and what can happen once that charge gets leveled. 
In all honesty, I don't get why any of the above would be part of the workplace.
After a fifteen minute break there was a two hour session that started with a 30 minute skit. The skit was of a city council meeting at a wonderful city named Dysfunction Junction.

There was the city clerk, city manager, city attorney, the city council (with such classic names as Da'Bully, Newbie, O'Pleeze, Knowitall, and Mayor My-Way) and then two active members of the public. 

It was as humorous as it was informative. Thankfully, from my experience in Wildomar, none of the exaggerated comportment of the characters resembled what goes on during a city council meeting here. 

To round out the first day, there were three more classes.
•  Effective Advocacy & Key City Issues
•  Your Legal Powers and Obligations
•  Part 1: Financial Responsibilities, City Revenues Workshop

The next day was filled with six more sessions.
•  Part 2: Financial Responsibilities, City Revenues Workshop
•  Policy Role in Land Use Planning
•  Your League and How To Use It
•  Inquiring Minds Want to Know (questions from newly elected officials to those that have been around awhile)
•  Relationship Between City Council and City Management
•  Communications and Civic Engagement 
This centered on social media, and how to avoid mistakes using it. Something very important for all electeds, but especially for me since I do engage in social media and [still] write a blog about local issues (more about that in a moment).
A good rule that I follow is the last one.
This was a 90 minute session that could easily have been 3 hours. Issues about blocking constituents, hypotheticals about "likes" and possible Brown Act violations, and dozens of more things for officials to keep in mind. 
Being a public official has long been likened to living in a fishbowl.
The laws are ever evolving when it comes to social media, so those that are willing to dance in the gray areas may be ok today, but that doesn't necessarily apply to what a jury might conclude tomorrow.

The final half day was a two hour, doors locked so you can't get in our out once it started, legally required training:
How to Build and Maintain the Public's Trust: Practical Ethics and the Law (AB 1234)

I'm clear for another 728 days.
Again, this was filled with valuable information that should be common sense to the average person, but also covered a lot of things most people wouldn't think about. 

There was a lot of emphasis on gifts to elected officials. The key takeaway was, DO NOT ACCEPT [most] gifts. Tickets to events have gotten a lot of officials into trouble over the years.
That means that if you go out to eat with the same group on a regular basis, you'd better be tracking the amounts if someone else is picking up the tab. It's just better to pay your own way for such things.
The second half of the ethics training dealt with the Brown Act, and what its purpose is. This part of the training, which was opened to all officials in this half of the state, was conducted by Wildomar city attorney Tom Jex and our assistant city attorney Erica Vega.
This is the best definition of the Brown Act I've ever heard.
The above description of the Brown Act is a great reminder that the government is owned by the people and should be controlled by the people. 

I liked what was termed as The Golden Rule: The public expects local officials to act ethically, whether or not doing so is required by law. 
This is more proof that if you want to serve the community, you'll being doing so from inside a fishbowl.
At the conclusion of the academy/training I was pretty pumped up (and not because there was a bottomless Starbucks urn at every session)

I have a better idea of what the job of city council member is now. It's far more complicated and nuanced than what it looks like from the outside, even if you'd been blogging about it for five years before getting elected. 

From those classes (which were filled with hours of valuable knowledge) three basic ideas rose to the top for me.
1) City council is the "What" and city staff is the "How"
In short, that means we come up with the policies (the what) and then it's up to the city manager and staff to implement the policy (the how). There can be some gray area where the line is, but it's best to understand and respect the different roles we play.
2) Active communication builds trust 
This has always been the keystone to my desire to be on the city council. There may only be a relatively small percentage of the community that cares about what goes on at city hall, but we still need to provide the information as if every last man, woman and child is hanging on every word.
3) Newly elected officials need to understand that they are no longer activists
That doesn't mean we are to forget the issues that prompted us to run, but to understand that particular items/issues are just a fragment of the job that was won on election day. It's no longer about focusing on a narrow agenda, but seeing the bigger picture.
In this photo I'm holding up two certificates. The blue one shows that I attended the Sexual Harassment Prevention training, and the yellow indicates I attended the Ethics training.
I'm still navigating the waters of engaging in social media and writing a blog while being an elected official... I'm learning that there are a lot of chances to make mistakes and I really don't want to end up as a headline.

The goal is to keep the community informed, be a voice for those that have questions or concerns and to be easily accessible. 

For those that have known me, you've seen that I don't shy away from responding to questions or comments on the internet. 
Wildomar Rap's internet comment policy
I've never deleted or otherwise censored comments on this blog or on the facebook page for this blog (oh wait, I do remember one time that happened back in 2014). My policy has always been to let your words speak for themselves. If you want to be abusive to me, that's fine. 

However, if you're abusive to others on any page that I control (including my official page), and especially if there is implied violence, your comment will be censored.

Other than that, I live in a fishbowl now and have to expect that people will be angry with me from time to time (possibly all the time for some). I celebrate the first amendment, and welcome your comments, even the ones that are intended to tear me a new one.
At the same time, I'm not going to get into comment wars online. You're entitled to your opinion, and it's not my job to change your mind or argue with you. 

I'm always available to meet and discuss things in greater detail, either at one of the local coffee places, or city hall. In addition to this blog (which I'm not sure how it will look as the time goes on) I have a facebook page where I post information dealing with city issues. 

I invite you to "follow" or "like" the page. You don't have to be in my district. All the city council members represent the entire city.
Link to facebook page.
Addendum: My wife was asking me about the newsletter I said I was going to be publishing if elected. I don't want to ignore that, but details are still being gathered.
Use this link to sign up for the "newsletter".
Until the city chooses to put together a dedicated compendium of current things in Wildomar, as a single monthly newsletter, use the link above to sign up for the city's email information service. The same information will be delivered, just bit by bit instead of in a longer format edition.

Also, the city has activated its facebook page and that can serve as another source of information to the community. If you haven't signed up yet, click the link below to do so.
Link to official City of Wildomar facebook page.
Use this link

•                •                •

When a man assumes a public trust, he should consider himself as public property.
– Thomas Jefferson

Though The Sage of Monticello didn't mention blogs, Wildomar Rap has always considered itself as public property... sort of.

This blog was produced for viewing on a desktop or a laptop. Though it's been optimized for smartphones, the formatting can look odd on a smartphone or if you get this delivered through email (such as missing video links). Link to proper format.

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