Editorial: Ethics board could help Atherton Atherton, posted by Editor, The Almanac Online, on May 31, 2011 at 7:14 pm
It is extremely short-sighted for a thin majority of the Atherton Town Council to push aside a proposal that would have at least opened the door to consideration of an ethics oversight board that would review citizen complaints about actions of town employees.
Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, June 1, 2011, 12:00 AM
Posted by dumbBELL CA.94027, a resident of the Atherton: other neighborhood, on May 31, 2011 at 7:14 pm
I don't care whether the Council OUTsources an Ethics Panel or INsources an Ethics Panel but it is clearly time for the town leadership to acknowledge that this is an area that it needs all the support and direction it can get.
Mayor Dobbie is in complete denial on this one and unfortunately for all, it will surely backfire on him.
Posted by peter carpenter, a resident of the Atherton: Lindenwood neighborhood, on May 31, 2011 at 7:21 pm peter carpenter is a member (registered user) of Almanac Online
Frankly I think having a Council member involved is a bad idea. The Council needs to be the final arbiter on these issues and if a Council member was involved in a preliminary stage that Council member would have to recuse themselves from any Council discussion or decision.
The Town might instead want to consider the new program just instituted in San Jose:
"Our favorite innovation by Cordell is offering mediation as an option for less serious complaints, such as discourteous behavior, if both the officer and the complainant agree. It's a terrific idea that's working in other cities, including New York. The alternative is pursuing an official complaint that triggers a full investigation by the police internal affairs unit. This can cost a fortune and drag on forever, ultimately unsatisfying to everyone.
Mediation is free, thanks to Cordell's call for retired judges to volunteer their time as mediators. Participants come away feeling they've been heard, and sometimes that's all it takes to dissipate anger. "
Posted by A thought to consider, a resident of the Atherton: other neighborhood, on May 31, 2011 at 11:11 pm
Agree with the editorial and disagree with Mayor Dobbie's comment in the other article mentioning the right people are all that's needed. Organizations need to rely on process and policy, not people who come and go. Every organization will have flare ups. Atherton has done a very bad job in dealing with them in a manner that defuses them instead of throwing gasoline onto the fire. It's not surprising to me that a resident would show persistence in a standoff. Those are the qualities that may have led to them affording that home in Atherton.
Posted by dumbBell Ca.94027, a resident of the Atherton: other neighborhood, on Jun 1, 2011 at 1:59 pm
Bob: As long as money motivated special interest groups conspire to load up all town committees with people who will serve their own agendas first and foremost, this plan will continue to fail.
For example: A perfectly nice resident like Jeff Wiess sees nothing wrong at all with his civic participation on two committees currently--both the General Plan and Finance. As both a resident and local businessman I'm sure that he genuinely feels that he has something to offer his community. The problem is that he makes his money from construction within Atherton, a Town with only one business-- Construction. As a recipient of the "refunds" that caused the budget short fall, I believe his participation on the finance committee is a clearly conflicted interest. This should been have obvious to the Councilmen who voted to select him. But who were they? Marsala Lewis and Carlson all of them placed on the council to hold sway for the same highly motivated development interests as well. And so it goes. I'm thinking about Peters suggestion for retired judges, but we already know the Civil Grand Jury couldn't help fix us.
Posted by peter carpenter, a resident of the Atherton: Lindenwood neighborhood, on Jun 1, 2011 at 2:08 pm peter carpenter is a member (registered user) of Almanac Online
The problem is how to address the real or perceived grievances of citizens in such a way that we reduce the number of very expensive lawsuits. The Cordell solution in San Jose is to use an experienced third party as a mediator. That won't solve all the problems but it would solve many of them. In my experience the opportunity to present one's grievance to a third party and to feel that you have been heard is very important. And sometimes the other party actually uses such a hearing to extend their understanding and even their apology. Inexpensive and frequently successful.
This will not work if you have either elected officials or lawyers involved.
Posted by bob, a resident of the Woodside: other neighborhood, on Jun 1, 2011 at 2:13 pm
dumdBell I think you have pointed out the problem in putting together something like an ethics committe who defines what is ethical. Just about anyone you put in this position will have some kind of conflict no one is a pure as driven snow. Selecting the right members of this committee will be very difficult.
Posted by dumbBell Ca.94027, a resident of the Atherton: other neighborhood, on Jun 1, 2011 at 3:36 pm
I wish we could just set up a circuit panel... Peter Carpenter, Pogo and Menlo Voter with a few judges, as one group that could just rotate around these three towns as ombudsmen. It is probably essential to get somebody super rich and powerful on board because there is way too much money around here that only plays by it's own rules.
Posted by Tim Wulff, a resident of another community, on Jun 3, 2011 at 11:34 pm
Every comment regarding structure presented here incorporates the presumption of the superiority of government or legal professionals regarding functioning in a political arena.
This presumption through the concept of complement degrades the status of citizen.
Citizens are competent and provide primal and fundamentally relevant input. Government and legal professionals are NOT inherently superior as regards the implementation of efficacious results beneficial to the common interest.
The presumption that government and legal professionals are superior as regards efficacy to produce results benefiting the common interest of the citizenry is false.
Efficacy is the consequence of competence and innate qualities of judgment, not professional training, experience or political affiliation.
Posted by PALLBEAR, a resident of another community, on Jun 4, 2011 at 9:31 am
The "citizenry" unlike the those who have the money and time to get involved with all issues because they are old, retired, rich, or all three, while they seem to forget the "citizenry" is trying to figure out how to pay mortgages, looking for jobs, do not participate even here which is a gathering place for a group of WINDBAGS who are all of the above mentioned. Old, retired, and rich.
Just because our COUNTY is in the 10% richest counties in America, that does not mean eveyone is solvent and has the time to argue with you old politicos.