Tonight: City attorney pay on Atherton agenda

Atherton's legal costs have greatly decreased since the April hiring of Bill Conners as city attorney, and if the trend continues, the town should still come out ahead if the City Council approves a proposal to pay him an additional $36,000 annually.

Mr. Conners stated his own case for a raise -- from $9,800 to $12,800 per month -- in a staff report. The council will vote on the proposed increase and an extension of his contract when it meets at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 15.

In his report, Mr. Conners said that, based on budgets of the four years before his appointment, legal costs averaged about $440,000 per year. "The projected annual cost for (legal) services this year will result in a saving of over $300,000 over the average and almost $200,000 over the best year during that span," he said.

Mr. Conners' original contract called for a six-month review. The new proposed contract calls for expanded office hours in Town Hall -- from four hours per week to 14 hours -- and "reflects more correctly the nature and extent of the services provided" as determined by the first six months on the job, according to the report.

Also on the agenda is a recommendation by Interim Police Chief Ed Flint to reorganize the police department's dispatch center, which would lead to a small cost savings to the town.

The move would mean the demotion of communications supervisor John Mattes, whose annual compensation with benefits is now $144,406. With council approval, Mr. Mattes' position would be scaled back to that of dispatcher, with an annual compensation package of $114,673.

In a staff report, Chief Flint said his recommendation is based on a recently completed job classification study by consultants and a staff review of the communication center's organizational structure.

The reviews found that not only was a communications supervisor not needed for dispatching services, but that having one created functional difficulties. Among them: "It is a source of unintended employee conflicts, frustration, and mixed messages from supervisors," the report said.

The chief is recommending that the on-duty patrol supervisor provide supervision of dispatch services once the position now held by Mr. Mattes is eliminated.

In addition to the savings of close to $30,000 in compensation, there would be a potential savings from eliminating the communication supervisor's overtime and the expense of "dispatcher backfill" resulting from the supervisor completing routine tasks, the report said.

The council meeting begins at 7 p.m. in the Council Chambers, 94 Ashfield Road, in the Town Center.


Posted by Santa Rosa Hustle, a resident of Atherton: other
on Feb 14, 2012 at 10:27 pm

I don't know why Chief Ed Flint has a vendetta against some long term and valued personnel within the department he is supposed to be leading instead of fracturing apart. He has a very checkered past and we just don't need that here in Atherton. I have every reason to believe that the council will reject his hasty and retaliatory recommendations and keep things the way they have been, and have worked well for so long. The dispatch group is a fabulous asset for Atherton, and they clearly have been managed in a superb way by John Mattes.

Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Feb 15, 2012 at 6:55 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

" He has a very checkered past"

Nothing checkered about his past at all. Here is what the real Santa Rosans say about him:

Making a difference

EDITOR: I have had the honor to be a volunteer in policing for the Santa Rosa Police Department for almost eight years. In that time I have known and worked with two police chiefs.

In the last 4 years, I have had the good fortune of knowing and working with Ed Flint. He is one of the nicest and most honest people I have had the pleasure of knowing and working with. As far as I am concerned, he took a great department and made it better.

There isn't an agency or company out there in which the employees are going to agree 100 percent of the time with the person in command or the head of a company. These people are paid to make the best decisions they can in whatever field they are working

To Ed, my dear friend, I wish you the best in the future. You made a difference for us, and you will make a difference wherever you go. There are many people in the department who care and wish you well. You made a difference, and that is what the Santa Rosa Police Department is all about.



Flint admired

EDITOR: I was among those saddened to read of Chief Ed Flint's decision to resign. It was important for our city manager to provide, as he did, a balance of perspective to the chief's service record with our city by citing some of the positive accomplishments of his leadership.

I would add one more: Flint's support for our law enforcement chaplaincy service. The chief's presence at special chaplaincy functions, such as our academy graduations, has always been a much appreciated boost of encouragement. His willingness to speak to the throngs of high school parents and students at the various "Every 15 Minutes" assemblies always helped to underscore the seriousness of drinking and driving.

He spoke from his own experience of having lost two close family members to drunk drivers. His affableness quickly gained an admiration from many within the Santa Rosa Police Department and from many in the community at-large.

His faithful watch over our city is well-deserving of our debt of thanks.


Pastor, Westview


"When he was hired, Flint had to confront major budget and personnel issues, as well as a rising crime rate and a department in which the most experienced officers had retired or were in the process of doing so.

Sawyer praised Flint for reducing crime and tackling traffic problems in the city. "He was the man at the time, to do the job we needed him to do," Sawyer said."

"He was, to his supporters, a cop's cop, a man who'd done hard work in the trenches of law enforcement and in the military and was unabashed about leading his troops into battle." Santa Rosa Mayor


Posted by Menlo Voter, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Feb 15, 2012 at 7:04 am

Sant Rosa:

hopefully this is a first in a long list of needed changes in your Police Department.

Posted by Baby out with bath water, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Feb 15, 2012 at 8:24 am

Peter just again launches into his standard defenses without looking at the substance of these issues. Flint now wants the dispatchers to be without a supervisor. This is not consistent with the quality service we have come to expect from the Atherton Police Department. We have been extremely fortunate to have attracted an individual of John Mattes' experience to manage our dispatch center, and it is regarded as the best one in the Bay Area. Sorry Peter, this dog just won't hunt. An extra $30,000 per year is a small price to pay for having a quality dispatch function, particularly in relation to the overall cost of having the department which all residents have acknowledged is mandatory. If you're going to do it (and no question, Atherton does and will always have its own police department), do it right.

Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Feb 15, 2012 at 9:59 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Baby - you are not paying attention. My first post on this topic addressed only the cowardly anonymous attack on a superb public servant - I did NOT address the dispatch supervisor question.

With regard to the dispatch supervisor position, in my opinion there is no justification for having a supervisor for three dispatchers and the decision to have those three dispatchers report to the on-duty patrol supervisor is a wise one.

The knee jerk reaction that if Atherton spends more money then it will get a better result has driven the Town to deficit budgets without a beneficial result. Quality dispatch does not come from spending more dollars but from spreading the costs of the highest possible quality of dispatch services over a larger population. I believe that all of the police dispatch functions in the county should be consolidated - as has long ago been done with all fire dispatch. Such consolidation costs less and provides better quality service - as has been demonstrated by the consolidated fire dispatch.

Posted by Baby out with bath water, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Feb 15, 2012 at 12:06 pm

Your opinion is that Flint is a superb public servant. Mine is he should not be in Atherton, because of his very controversial history, and perhaps more importantly, because when there are qualified internal candidates for chief, we should not be looking outside. That demoralizes our law enforcement professionals. Atherton has superb internal candidates for chief, without Flint's troubling past, who could have been, and should have been, promoted to Chief upon Chief Guerra's retirement.

Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Feb 15, 2012 at 12:09 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Baby - You are wrong on both counts. Flint does not have a 'troubling past' and there are no Qualified internal candidates for chief.

Facts to prove the contrary would be welcomed - but unlikely.

Posted by Menlo Voter, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Feb 15, 2012 at 1:44 pm


Promoting chiefs from within Atherton PD is the primary reason you have had the problems with your police department that you have had in the past. There are no qualified candidates within the ranks. Not to mention promoting someone from within would make it virtually impossible to get rid of the bad apples that are still employed there.

Posted by Read the report, a resident of Atherton: other
on Feb 15, 2012 at 3:36 pm

The comment about Flint wanting to leave dispatch without supervision was concerning, so I looked up the staff report. It makes a good case for doing what's proposed, and explains how the center will be supervised. Here it is.

Web Link

Posted by Santa Rosa Hustle, a resident of Atherton: other
on Feb 15, 2012 at 3:41 pm

Peter and Menlo Voter, just stating your opinions doesn't turn them into facts. Atherton already has several individuals fully qualified to become COP, including Sgt. Sherman Hall, Lt. Joe Wade, Sgt. Anthony Kockler, and Sgt. Kristin Nichols. These officers have had a long-time commitment to Atherton, know this community, and have no checkered past haunting them.

Posted by Menlo Voter, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Feb 15, 2012 at 4:16 pm

Santa Rosa:

I suggest you look up the POST guidelines for COP, in addition to looking around and seeing what the qualifications of other cities COP's are. I assure you none of the people you mention is qualified. [Portion deleted.]

If Atherton wants to continue paying out large amounts of money due to the malfeasance of some of its police department, promoting someone from within is the way to do it. If, on the other hand, they want to fix the problems in their police department, they need someone from outside. Flint already got rid of one bad apple. There's at least one more to go. Interestingly enough it happens to be one the people you think is qualified to be COP.

Posted by Former Resident, a resident of another community
on Feb 15, 2012 at 4:48 pm

Why hasn't anybody suggested bringing Kip Rolle back?

Posted by Amy Stacey, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Feb 15, 2012 at 9:05 pm

After all the years of scandal and gross past mismanagement our town has gone through, and the Atherton Keystone Cops scandals (changing a police report to name just one of many!) I and many others are quite in favor of San Mateo County Sheriff Department trying their capable hand at managing our town. A town citizen since 1962, from the Chief Hubbard days, I long for those halcyon days where a policeman was really there to protect and serve rather than be self-serving, hiding in many dark corners and bushes at night trying to catch you going 5 miles an hour over the speed limit for our $$ coffers, even in the middle of El Camino in a left turn lane with their headlights off, with radar on. IMHO that is quite "over kill" I say, as well as unsafe. Let's have a clean sweep and try the Sheriff's Department. They could do an excellent job at 1/2 the cost.

Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Feb 16, 2012 at 7:41 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Hustle - you do a disservice to the officers whom you state are fully qualified to be Chief - many of then are excellent officers but none of then can come close to the management and leadership experience that is required for this job. Compare their individual years of service in a supervisory role and how many people they have supervised with that of Chief Flint who served both in three other police departments including two as Chief and as Lieutenant Colonel in the Army supervising hundreds of soldiers. Experience can only be gained by time in a role and a good police chief needs experience in many different roles. The Atherton PD simply does not provide the breadth and depth of experience necessary to build it own police chiefs.

Posted by Concerned, a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Feb 16, 2012 at 8:42 am

Don't we just have 4 officers on duty at any given time?
This is a simple management job that would be a great opportunity for a promotion, but maybe not from within.

Posted by Santa Rosa Hustle, a resident of Atherton: other
on Feb 16, 2012 at 8:53 am

Peter thinks the Atherton police department requires a chief who has managed hundreds of people and very large departments. But the APD is not a very large department. Flint's experience is overkill. His past is troubling.

Peter is not recognizing that by failing to promote from within, we will not be able to attract quality officers to join the APD. They will go where they have opportunities, obviously. People who care about the APD know that morale is at an all time low right now.

Bottom line is that Atherton residents want the quality of officers we have come to expect in the APD, and that requires internal promotion opportunities. While Flint has more years of experience (not all of it good, just look at his past), it's not required and not a worthy tradeoff to demoralize our law enforcement officers with foolish statements like "The Atherton PD simply does not provide the breadth and depth of experience necessary to build it own police chiefs."

Any of the candidates I mentioned would be a fine chief and much more appropriate for this community than Flint.

Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Feb 16, 2012 at 9:23 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Continuing allusions to 'troubles' "not good" experience without any facts is simply calumny.

Hustle prefers underskilled to overkill? - I don't and I doubt that others would.

People are and will be attracted to APD as long as it has a great reputation for being a good place to learn and to serve. Not ever police officer aspires to be a police chief and many would leap at the chance to serve in a well managed and well lead APD.

I question Hustle's judgement if he/she truly believes that excellent officers without supervisory experience and years of service in different roles could actually perform the role of police chief. I know of no examples where a police chief of a first grade department became the chief without such years of supervisory experience and years of service in different roles. It would be like taking a really good sergeant and making her a major, or a lineman and making him a quarterback ,or a single engine pilot into an astronaut.

Posted by Menlo Voter, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Feb 16, 2012 at 12:58 pm


I suspect the reason for the poor morale in the APD is due to the fact, that until recently, nothing was being done to weed out the bad apples in the department. I'm sure working in an environment where not only is malfeasance ignored, it is covered up and rewarded has to be very demoralizing for the many that serve who are honest. You've had no problem attracting quality officers to your department. Let's face it, with a small department like APD there simply is very little opportunity for advancement. Officers coming to a small department are very aware of this. They seem to be coming irrespective of this.

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