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Cerritos City Council Confronted by Little League Parents Over Increased Fees

Flag of City of Cerritos

Flag of City of Cerritos (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Council to Reconsider Fees at Dec. 13th Meeting

By Jerry Bernstein

It was standing room only in the Cerritos Council Chambers Nov. 19 when angry members of the Frontier Little League confronted the Cerritos Council over proposed fee increases in order to use the city’s athletic fields.

Mayor Jim Edwards opened the meeting by saying the fees would be re-addressed at the council’s Dec. 13 meeting. He explained the council could not vote to reconsider the fees that night because the matter was not on the agenda, but would be on the Dec. 13 meeting agenda.

City Attorney Mark Steres explained under state law the council was prohibited from voting on an item unless it was on the agenda. He said the only exception was if the item was classified as an emergency. He said, “The most the council could do is put the item on a future agenda which it did tonight.”

Little League parents complained they were not notified that the fees were going to be raised, noting that their budgets were already approved for the 2013 season. They accused Recreation Director Sherry Titus of not notifying them, contradicting her statement made at the previous meeting that all the organizations that use the city’s recreation facilities had been notified.

Residents accused the Recreation Director of never notifying anyone about the fee increase. “Wasn’t it odd that no representatives of the organizations present tonight were not here at the council’s last meeting, longtime Cerritos resident Chris Borsa asked. Ms. Titus never notified anyone, although she said she did. In 2010 when this was first discussed we were told we would be notified in writing when it came before the city council. She sent out over 500 notices regarding the tennis court at Westgate Park about pickle-ballers why could you not notify us?”

Resident Sherry Wilson said she believes the problem is the council doesn’t realize how important the city parks are to the residents. “We should not penalize children from other cities who come here to play. She said if there are 10 members on a team and four live outside the city, when they play they represent Cerritos.

Swimming Coach Mark Johnson said he has been coaching swimming in Cerritos for 37 years. “We know the rates are going to go up. We also know, compared to other cities, they are very reasonable.”

Lakewood resident Christina Crenshaw said, “ Lakewood has softball, but this is one of the best baseball leagues in California. This is where I chose to enroll my seven year old. When you talk about raising fees, you have to understand when children are not involved in activities they’re going to get into trouble.” She said she realizes the city is affected by the recession, the same as families. By raising the fees some children will be forced to drop out of the program because their families will not be able to afford it. She said, “In Lakewood we charge our non-residents a little more.”

One Cerritos resident said the increase in fees may impact all the sports activities and may reverse what has been achieved to date. She said the children thrive with the recreational programs offered as well as thrive with their participations in the programs. They are recognized for their skills, accomplishments and sportsmanship.

She noted that it has become difficult for some families to have their children participate in the recreational activities because of financial difficulties. She asked the council to reconsider their vote on raising fees.

Lori Williams, PTSA President, thanked the council for placing the raise in fees back on the Dec. 13 agenda. She said when a child puts on a Cerritos uniform, it doesn’t matter what city they come from. They represent Cerritos. She said she hopes they can all work together to straighten this out.

Another parent agreed they should not raise the fees. He said the proposed fee hikes do not make any sense and would hope the city would meet the parents halfway and work with them to resolve the problem.

Another resident said the council was not given the true facts at its last meeting. “I don’t think due diligence was done.

Councilmember Mark Pulido sympathized with the parents and asked if the council could vote on the matter “tonight” under an emergency item. City Attorney Steres said it did not qualify as an emergency agenda item. The council then voted to put it on the Dec. 13 agenda, instructing staff to make its recommendations at that time.

At the previous council meeting, Councilmember Carol Chen asked if all the organization had been notified about the fee increase. She was told they had been notified.

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  • Jay Gray says:

    It’s time city council members give up their lifetime benefits.

    $3 Million losses at the CCPA, $3 Million dollar losses at the Magnolia Power Plant shows the obvious fiscal ignorance that goes on at city hall.

    The city council needs to explain to residents how they lost tens-of-millions of dollars of city money, on bad loans to redevelopment. In a nut shell, they gambled with city money to use as corporate welfare and lost.

    Now residents are being asked to pay for fiscal incompetence with higher fees.

    It’s time city council members give up their lifetime benefits.

  • mark hylland says:

    Little League baseball is a MONEY MAKER. Many people who do not actually live in the city (pay city taxes that are used to pay for the maintenance of the fields) bring their kids to play. An example of this is the Norwalk Softball Leauge and the Norwalk Oakley Stingrasys.
    Their “coaches” and board members get to travel across the country be asserting that the league benefits our local children.

    • mark lee says:

      Those are travel ball programs you describe. These are not. Frontier Baseball and Cerritos Girls Softball are far from that. Get a clue before you opine!

      • mark hylland says:

        Little League Baseball IS a money maker. Example, Little League World Series on ABC, Sponsors, etc…..I have a clue, want to sit down and go over the accounting books?

      • mark hylland says:

        Never trust a CAR SALESMAN, read the fine print and the unspoken/unwritten things…….

      • mark hylland says:

        Mr. Lee,

        Thank you for once again making my point. You admit that the teams are not comprised of Cerritos residents. What is the percentage of teammates that must be on the roster to qualify for the FREE use of the city fields? My point is very simple, the organization charges fees/dues to participate. In turn, it is only right to pay a fair amount for the use of the fields. Thank You once again for making my point.

    • mark hylland says:

      $7,000 for the use of the fields. How many kids participate in the league? Do the math, how much extra would that come out to be per parent/household? How many are sporting Coach Purses/Name brand shoes/purses? Driving BWM’s? Etc….it is all about PRIORITIES….

  • mark lee says:

    You mean the accounting books of Little League Baseball? Do you not understand that these groups are not affiliated with the Little League Baseball? And even if they were, what makes you think that governing bodies of these organizations kick down the local affiliates with any residual revenue they generate from such EXTREMELY rare television deals or even corporate sponsorship? You conveniently cite the exception to the rule in the case of ESPN airing a rare youth sports event, which has nothing to do with the circumstance these Cerritos groups face. You’re ignorantly making a whole lot of assumptions about working class families. If you had a clue you would understand that many parents of children in youth sports sacrifice quite a bit so that they’re children can benefit from such an important experience. This may come as a shock to you but there are also families that cannot afford to participate. Much less adorn themselves with designer clothing.

    • mark hylland says:

      Mr. Lee, please try to focus. First, according to the article—this issue involves the Frontier Little League? That means that individuals who participate in that league MUST reside (or have an exception granted)in the league’s district. In this case, Frontier=Cerritos. Understand Mr. Lee? Second, Cerritos demographics/income are much higher than the surrounding areas. I do have a clue of the sacrifices that parents make for their children. I was raised by a single parent. She did not always give me what I wanted but made sure I had what I needed. The ACCOUNTING BOOKS that I refer to Mr. Lee are the accounting books/journals of your Frontier Little League. Why are they unable to pay for the field use? I fully support youth activities. We should all attempt to do our best at keeping the kids off the streets. However, somebody has to pay for the use of the fields. Shouldn’t it be those (parents) that utilize the fields? I want to drive a new Honda, can I just have one and expect others to pay for it? Maybe Norm Reeves could assist in a fundraiser? Bottom line sir, the city simply cannot afford to give and give and give. We are in tough economic times and everyone must pay their fair share.

    • mark hylland says:

      Yes, Mr. Lee. I do understand that the Frontier Youth Baseball is NOT affiliated with LITTLE LEAGUE BASEBALL. Once again, thank you for making my point.

  • Jay Gray says:

    The problem isn’t so much the city’s cost to maintain the fields as it is the misguided priorities of the city council.

    For instance, for nearly a decade, Bruce Barrows continues to chase the Maglev train, instead of focusing more on Cerritos.
    The city has spent tens of thousands over the years on this $9 to $20 Billion train. A train that, I’ve seen articles stating could take over 400 homes. One has to wonder if there is really more to this. According to news articles Barrows worked for Lockheed as a transportation consultant. Moreover, Lockheed is an early financial contributor the the project. Carol Chen is reported to own business property sitting within yards of the proposed Maglev tracks. Is there a conflict of interest here? Who’s best interest is being representative here?

    The CCPA has lost around $3 million per year over the past two decades. Including cost of construction that’s a nearly $100 Million dollar loss to residents. Yet, the CCPA Endowment, which includes political cronies, has around $8.5 Million in its fund and has a goal of $20 Million. What competent board would allow a venue to lose Millions and then go after youth leagues for a few thousand dollars?

    How about the Magnoia Power Plant. This venture is also losing nearly $3 Million per year. Furthermore, not one household receives power from the plant. Interesting? It seems to be nothing more than corporate welfare on the backs of residents.

    How about the city council’s $100 Thousand travel budget? Not to mention lifetime perks. For instance, one former council member (as reported in this paper) was able to take around $80,000 in cash from the Cerritos College Board, due to his free health benefits, as the result of his being a previous council member.

    Our residents are asked to pay more to cover these losses, because city council members refuse to address the real issues.

    Over the years our city council has taken MILLIONS from the general fund — money that could have been use for parks, programs, trees, sidewalks, whatever and “loaned” that money to the redevelopment agency. Once the money went to the agency the funds were restricted on what and how it could be spent. In my opinion this was nothing more that thievery from residents and welfare for corporate and special interest.

    Let’s all remember that redevelopments were not created to last for ever. The city council should have know this! Therefore, it would seem the council, entrusted with tax payer money, lost Millions of tax payer money, due to either poor management or not making the needs of residents a priority.

    And now, like all self-interested politicians, they want the tax payers to keep paying so they can continue to enjoy the benefits and perks.

    It’s my opinion we would not be in this financial mess if these politicians were held accountable to the People. Politicians have learned they can waste tax dollars and make the People keep paying by raising taxes, fees, service charges, etc.

    I am glad the sports groups are taking public stand, at the risk of losing field allocation. This may be what is need for the entire city to wake-up!

    This financial mess won’t be solved anytime soon as at least three of the March Council candidates have “ties” to sitting council members.

  • mark hylland says:

    Dear Randy Economy and Protesting Parents,

    I would like to ask a question? Are we talking about the Frontier LITTLE LEAGUE here or are we talking about the Frontier Youth Baseball League?

    There IS a difference between FYB and “Little League Baseball.” FYB—- FYB is a member of Ripken Baseball and Babe Ruth Baseball — elite leagues that have more than 650,000 young athletes that compete in baseball worldwide. FYB games take place in Cerritos or in nearby cities, but also offers an opportunity for some its high skilled players to participate in post season All-Star tournaments if desired. Compared to other leagues, FYB is moderately priced.


    If it is in fact FRONTIER YOUTH BASEBALL (FYB)

    Then they are recruiting from outside the city:

    With a simple and easy online registration at http://www.frontierbaseball.org, they hope that more Cerritos residents and neighbors in nearby cities will have the same passion for baseball and want to join their “family.”

    There might be much more to this story……

  • mark lee says:

    Mr.Hylland, you should really learn more about the particulars of this situation because you’re conflating so many issues. Once again, Frontier Youth Baseball is not affiliated with Little League Baseball. That fact is only relevant since you asserted that these parents are somehow benefiting from the “big business” that this national organization generates. And even that point is off the mark since local Little Leagues act independently in terms of their finances from the larger body.

    With that said, I will say it again, FYB has nothing to do with Little League. Secondly, it is clear that you are suggesting that FYB and other Cerritos youth sports groups are somehow sitting on piles of cash and hard working Cerritos families belonging to these groups should have to pay EXTRA levies to utilize a public resource, since the taxes they currently pay are not enough. Are you also suggesting that the Cerritos Library should charge the many residents AND out-of-towners a fee for use of the expensive high-tech computers and other info technology it houses? There are limitless other examples of city subsidies too numerous to state yet the city is going after youth sports.

    You also miss one of the major points of the article which references the violation of trust committed by the city with these groups. This has not been an open process and the city council was misled. Beyond the differences of opinion we may have regarding the role of local government and services, we can surely agree that it is bad public policy to disenfranchise and marginalize the parents, children, and volunteers that support these community service organizations.

    • mark hylland says:

      Thanks Mr. Lee, you made my point exactly. Frontier YOUTH BASEBALL is NOT Little League Baseball and FYB actively recruits from outside the city limits…….Charging for the City library, not a bad idea. I believe that they already do?!?!??!?!

    • mark hylland says:

      Mr. Lee,

      Is it really that difficult for you to stay FOCUSED? Once again THANK YOU for making my point. The City of Cerritos does in fact have a beautiful library it is incredible. Taking a class at Cerritos College allows me to secure a student library card. Otherwise I would have to pay the $100 fee to check out books. As you mentioned, there is no fee/cost to utilize the Cerritos City Library.I would gladly pay my fair share to use the Cerritos City Library. in a class at Cerritos College allows me to utilize the library as a student. The issue here is is very simple. Cities are facing financial difficultes all across America. Why do you feel that the Frontier Youth Baseball League should be allowed to use a city facility FREE of charge? Cities all across America are doing this. I may know a thing or two about Cerritos, I remember when most of it was cowfields. The city leaders have done an incredible job to develop my neighboring community. It is my sincere desire that our leaders would take the same interest in developing such a beautiful community.

  • Carpet Baggers says:

    Everyone needs to understand that Mark Hylland does not live in Cerritos. He lives in Norwalk and does not have any children so he would not know the sacrifices that parents make.

    • mark hylland says:

      Dear Carpetbagger, I never claimed to live in Cerritos. You are correct, I live in Norwalk. I do NOT hide in cyberland as you do. Why don’t you list your real name? You pretend to know me but you don’t. I do have a child with one on the way and do know the sacrifices that a parent makes for their children. Next move Carpet Bagger.

    • mark hylland says:

      Hey Carpet Baggers,

      Come on back over here where you act like you know who I am. In another recent posting you assert that you do not even know who I am. Having a Scott Collins moment?

  • mark hylland says:

    Mr. Lee, thank you for making my point. Contrary to the headlines, your organization is NOT Little League but rather YOUTH BASEBALL that recruits from other cities. As far as charging residents to use the Cerritos City Library, not a bad idea at all. In fact, I believe they already do charge to have a library card????

  • mark lee says:

    This is getting rich. All sports leagues (except for Little League)cater to kids from outside their town. Little League sets boundaries (not always drawn within a city’s limits hence Cerritos-ARTESIA Little League) So your comment is not a revelation. Cerritos makes their leagues keep a certain amount of residents in order to get fields.

    Your musings about a town you evidently know little about are mildly entertaining. Cerritos library cards are FREE to residents and those attending school in Cerritos. Those who do not, pay the $100 fee to borrow books. No one pays to use all the high-tech stuff. So unless turnstiles are installed or public computers are removed, the library will continue to be a free-for-all and I can’t wait to read your commentary about how wrong that is too!

  • Dylan J says:

    I live in Cerritos and I wouldn’t mind paying for things the city provides if the city is upfront about it. The city needs money right now and we should pay our fair share. I just think that government should be transparent about their dealings and according to the article I think the families got flim-flammed a bit.

    • mark hylland says:

      Very well said Dylan. However, there are many more details that were not mentioned in the article and perhaps a few errors/oversights that were provided to the author by the protestors.