Menlo Park Transportation Commissioner Charlie Bourne resigned on May 21 after nearly six years of service, citing Brown Act violations by city staff and attempts to stop the commission from reviewing projects.
He didn't mince words while speaking before the City Council on Tuesday night. Mr. Bourne described a deteriorated relationship with city staff, saying his resignation was triggered by recent Brown Act violations forced on the Transportation Commission by staff despite his warnings, and poorly written consultant reports that weren't reviewed by staff before they were presented to the commission for approval.
He also took issue with the limited degree of involvement the commission has with large projects, such as the Stanford-Arrillaga proposal, Stanford Medical Center, and downtown/El Camino Real specific plan.
"Our request to city staff to get those matters on our agendas and to get staff to provide relevant information to permit such a review were declined, citing council approval of the process," Mr. Bourne said. "Furthermore, the transportation staff would not give us their comments on the EIRs that were published for these reports."
In addition, he pointed to an attempt by city staff in April to have the council agree to have the Transportation Commission meet in a smaller area at the Civic Center, one without video capabilities. Currently the commission meets in the council chambers, allowing the meetings to be recorded and archived online.
The item somehow wound up on the council's consent calendar -- normally reserved for routine business requiring little discussion or public comment. The council declined to accept that, and instead asked for the item to be placed on the regular agenda at a future meeting.
What this all adds up to, from Mr. Bourne's perspective, is the marginalization of the Transportation Commission.
"These are the kinds of critical reviews this commission is designed to do, but not permitted to do," Mr. Bourne said. He later concluded, "Without some change in council attitudes and oversight, and some change in all levels of city staff, I see no future for this commission other than deciding where to paint the curbs red."
Transportation Commission staff liaison Rene Baile was out of the office on Thursday and unavailable for comment.
The Almanac reported last year that two commission meetings had to be canceled due to Brown Act violations, and that steps were taken by staff to prevent that from happening again.