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Editorial: City should reinstate summary minutes

Original post made on Feb 17, 2009

Until it is important to find out in a hurry what happened at a City Council meeting, the difference between "summary" and "action" minutes probably would not make much difference to anyone.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, February 18, 2009, 12:00 AM

Comments (14)

Posted by Martin Engel, a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Feb 17, 2009 at 3:17 pm

"An informed citizenry is the only true repository of the public will." Thomas Jefferson ...

Thank you, Tom Gibboney and Councilman Andy Cohen, for agreeing with Thomas Jefferson.

Posted by Hank Lawrence, a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Feb 18, 2009 at 9:24 am

I also agree that summary minutes should be restored. However, Andy Cohen was being disingenuous- and that is being charitable. None of the other council members agreed with Cohen. So he only went after John Boyle.

Heyward Robinson, Kelly Fergusson & Richard Cline did not support Andy's proposition either. So rather than criticizing his leftist colleagues he went after the only moderate on the city council. If Andy Cohen were intellectually honest he would have criticized all the other council members rather than just focusing on John Boyle.

That was nothing more than political grandstanding. Andy Cohen was so transparent that any simian dolt could have seen through that charade. How can anyone believe anything Andy says when he has such obvious ulterior motives.

Posted by Simiana Dolta, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Feb 18, 2009 at 10:35 am

If Hank Lawrence were intellectually honest, he would have either:

-- called John Boyle a right-winger, just as he characterized John's colleagues as "leftists," or,

-- admit that his trigger-happy use of such nonsensical labels like "leftist" is pure silliness, and recognize that all members of this nonpartisan council are just trying to do the best job they can do for the community, whether he agrees with their positions or not.

Posted by Abbie Hoffman, a resident of another community
on Feb 18, 2009 at 12:12 pm

[Post removed; see terms of use]

Posted by David Dellinger, a resident of another community
on Feb 18, 2009 at 12:30 pm

[Post removed]

Posted by Rene Davis, a resident of another community
on Feb 18, 2009 at 4:40 pm

[Post removed]

Posted by Hank Lawrence, a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Feb 19, 2009 at 10:53 am

How can Simiana call this a non-partisan council when in the last five years Heyward Robinson has given over $100,000 to Democrat candidates, when Kelly Fergusson was a member of the San Mateo County Democratic Central Committee, when Heyward, Kelly, Andy, and Richard Cline receive political "advise" from Gail Slocum, a former member of the San Mateo County Democratic Central Committee and when the Democratic Party of San Mateo County injects itself into these "Non-partisan" races and heartily endorses Heyward, Kelly, Andy, and Rich.

These are supposed to be Non-partisan races but the Democratic Central Committee of San Mateo County has seen to it that they aren't.

Posted by more facts, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Feb 19, 2009 at 5:18 pm

Hank Lawrence:

Your hero Nicholas Jellins was also (and maybe still is) a member of the Democratic Central committee. Are you putting him in the Cline,Fergusson, Robinson, Cohen enclave?

Posted by Hank Lawrence, a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Feb 19, 2009 at 7:04 pm

Unfortunately the far left element of the Democratic Central Committee of San Mateo County engaged in a harrassment campaign against Mr Jellins and he resigned. Mr Jellins crime was that he was a member of the Democratic Leadership Council, an organization consisting of common sense centrist democrats. In 2002 the Democratic Central Committee violated its own policy of not endorsing in elections where two democrats ran against each other. Instead it endorsed Gail Slocum's 3 hand picked neophyte candidates with considerably less experience. All 3 of her hand chosen candidates lost in that election.

No political party should endorse candidates in non-partisan elections.

Posted by tit for tat, a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Feb 19, 2009 at 8:24 pm

Too bad your pals don't agree with you. As I recall, in 2006 John Boyle paid to be included in a faux Democratic Party mailer that endorsed him along with key Dem candidates in the state. So not only did he fail to remain non-partisan, he tried to con voters into believing that he was a Democrat!

Posted by Hank Lawrence, a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Feb 19, 2009 at 9:23 pm

John Boyle was put on a mailer that endorsed candidates from both parties. At no time did John Boyle represent himself as a democrat. Tit for Tat is spreading falsehoods. Typical of the far left.

Posted by Informed public needed, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Feb 19, 2009 at 9:39 pm

Is it possible, dear readers and posters, that this discussion can return to the issue that launched it? Should Menlo Park reinstate summary minutes, or are "action minutes" adequate?

My take: action minutes would have failed me completely when I was researching council actions and attitudes on two separate issues, one taken up about four or five years ago, the other about two years ago. I wanted to understand why council members took the positions they did so I could make a call about the quality of their decision-making abilities. Knowing only their votes would have been meaningless.

I strongly agree that the council should reinstate summary minutes.

Posted by Gale Stern- Community Organizer, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Feb 21, 2009 at 3:13 pm

Summary minutes should be reinstated and they should be reviewed and edited for conformance with my political beliefs.

Posted by Paul Collacchi, a resident of another community
on Feb 23, 2009 at 10:44 am

It is somewhat ironic that when I visit the city web page Web Link to view the action minutes, I get an error message: "The file is damaged and could not be repaired." This happens with both my Firefox and IE browsers and it happens even when I save the file to my PC.

It serves as a good illustration of why throwing technology at a problem doesn't always solve it. I had similar technology issues when I first attempted to view the streaming videos.

The subject is more complex than this. Now that planning commission and transportation commission videos are online, there truly is much more information available, and the streaming system is "pretty good", though it too has issues that should be fixed.

The deeper issues are these:

1.) The minutes serve as an important and valuable index function, along with Google, and the Almanac, into the raw videos. If we can't figure out which video to watch and where in the video to watch, the video service is worthless.

Minutes are better than video for indexing because text serves as an automatic source of keywords for indexing. But even those keywords can be useless unless some though is put into indexing, and I think staff documents including reports and minutes should begin to incorporate a keyword strategy and keyword section.

2.) Therefore a real "trial" effort needs to be undertaken to create and coordinate keywords between staff reports, minutes, even the almanac to insure that users can locate which video to view and where to view in the video. This is complicated but achievable, but takes some effort. You don't get it for free, just because the web exists.

3.) I see no indication that "the trial" is really a trial with goals, oversight, etc. There is no instruction to create a list of problems to be resolved. There are no goals to be met. Without thoughtful deliberate experimentation the trial cannot solve the indexing problem, and if the indexing problem is not solved, then raw videos aren't worth much.

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