HUNTINGTON PARK — City employees, from administrators to department heads and regular workers, are limited in the amount of purchases they can make under an ordinance approved 4-0 Dec. 5. Mayor Marilyn Sanabria was absent.
City Attorney Arnold Alvarez-Glasman said the limits were not prompted by careless spending in the past, but just to provide clear guidelines and clarify existing city policy on spending.
Acting City Manager Ricardo Reyes, in a report to the council, said the council asked him to establish a spending limit policy which will ensure that sound fiscal and budgetary practices are implemented by imposing certain limits upon the city manager, all department heads and employees.
Under the new policy, department heads shall have the authority to purchase supplies, services or equipment in the amount of $1,000 or less without City Council approval.
The city manager shall have the authority to purchase supplies, services or equipment in the amount of $1,000 or greater, but not to exceed $5,000, without prior City Council approval.
Under the ordinance, the city manager, shall have the authority to purchase supplies, services or equipment in the amount of $5,000 or greater, but not to exceed $10,000, as requested by the city’s departments without prior City Council approval, but such purchases shall be debited from the city manager’s budget accounts.
The policy also addresses emergency situations.
“In the event of an emergency situation, as defined below, emergency purchases may be authorized by the city manager … which exceed the above spending limits when time is of the essence.”
“Emergency situations” were defined as events requiring the preservation or protect life, health or property; in circumstances involving natural disasters; and to forestall a shut down of essential public services.
“When emergency situation purchases have been approved by the city manager, these purchases shall be submitted to the City Council at the earliest possible date for ratification of such purchases,” Reyes said.
“This policy also requires all other federal, state and local laws must be followed for bidding and RFP (requests for projects) requirements, he added.
“This policy will limit and restrict purchases and expenditures without prior City Council approval. The city will experience savings in an amount currently unknown due to the oversight and monitoring by the City Council and this more restrictive policy,” he concluded.
In other action Dec. 5, the council discussed in closed session for informational purposes but took no formal action on a lawsuit filed by Arthur Schaper, a Torrance blogger who is active with We the People Rising, a conservative regional group headed by Robin Hvidston of Claremont.
Members have attended every council meeting since fall 2016 to protest the appointment by Vice Mayor Jhonny Pineda of two non-citizens to advisory boards and to demand their removal.
Schaper, who videotapes the council meetings and interviews people, apparently for his blog, told a reporter he is seeking $10,000 in punitive damages for violation of his civil rights and defamation of his character.
The incident was June 6 when he was ordered by Mayor Marilyn Sanabria to be escorted by police from the meeting for allegedly shouting loud, generally derogatory comments at council members and disrupting the meeting.
Schaper said he did nothing wrong.
From 10 to 15 members of We the People Rising have spoken on the issue at various meetings. However, only three commented Dec.5 — Schaper, Hvidsgton and a man wearing a Donald Trump T-shirt.
We the People Rising was founded in 2011 and 2012 when its executive director, Robin Hvidston and others organized at the offices of former Congressman Gary Miller in Rancho Cucamonga to support enforcement of immigration laws, according to an online report.
“We are growing and your supporters are decreasing,” Schaper told the council. “We will not go away. We have won and you have lost. See you in court.”