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Council appoints interim Town Manager in secret

Original post made by peter carpenter, Atherton: Lindenwood, on Oct 18, 2010

Sadly our Town Council has considered three unnamed candidates for the position of interim Town Manager and has selected one. This was done without ever letting the citizens know who the candidates were and giving the public the opportunity to comment on any or all of those candidates. WHY?

We have a Town Council which has lost all respect for the citizens whom it is supposed to be serving.

Comments (12)

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Posted by peter carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Oct 19, 2010 at 12:41 am

peter carpenter is a registered user.

The Council either cannot read, or cannot remember what it read or it has deliberately decided to operate in secret.


Here is what I sent them before their Monday secret session:

From: Peter Carpenter <peterfcarpenter@gmail.com>
Date: October 18, 2010 10:43:30 AM PDT

Subject: Personnel appointments

Before the Council makes a decision on any personnel appointment I urge you to make the names of the candidate(s) being considered public so that the public has an opportunity to provide public comment on each such candidate before you make a decision.


Peter

And here is what I presented to them at their 17 Sept meeting:
Subject: Secrecy and Obfuscation - WHY??

Town Council,



Your agendas are entirely insufficient and illegal with regard to the manner in which items are being described.



How in the world is a citizen to know that the subject to be discussed on 20 Sept under this item is High Speed rail?



1. CONSIDERATION OF LITIGATION OPTIONS REGARDING RECERTIFICATION OF PROGRAM EIR


How in the world was a citizen to have know that the subject to be discussed in the 15 Sept closed session was the lighting at M-A?

D. CONFERENCE WITH LEGAL COUNSEL – INITIATION OF LITIGATION (Subsection (c) of Government Code Section 54956.9)

Is this obscurity accidental or intentional? What is the Town trying to hide? Or is it simply incompetence?

Here is what the Attorney General states:

"The Act makes it clear that discussion items must be placed on the agenda, as well as items which may be the subject of action by the body.

The purpose of the brief general description is to inform interested members of the public about the subject matter under consideration so that they can determine whether to monitor or participate in the meeting of the body. In Carlson v. Paradise Unified School Dist. (1971) 18 Cal.App.3d 196, the court interpreted the agenda requirements set forth in section 966 of the Education Code. That section required ". . . [a] list of items that will constitute the agenda for all regular meetings shall be posted. . . ."

(Carlson v. Paradise Unified School Dist. (1971) 18 Cal.App.3d 196, 199.) In interpreting this section, the court stated: "In the instant case, the school board's agenda contained as one item the language 'Continuation school site change.' This was entirely inadequate notice to a citizenry which may have been concerned over a school closure.

"On this point alone, we think the trial court was correct because the agenda item, though not deceitful, was entirely misleading and inadequate to show the whole scope of the board's intended plans.

It would have taken relatively little effort to add to the agenda that this 'school site change' also included the discontinuance of elementary education at Canyon View and the transfer of those students to

Ponderosa School." (Carlson v. Paradise Unified School Dist. (1971) 18 Cal.App.3d 196, 200, original emphasis; see also 67Ops.Cal.Atty.Gen. 84, 87 (1984).)

However, the Legislature in section 54954.2 placed an important gloss on the requirement to provide a brief general description. That section expressly provides that the brief general description generally need not exceed 20 words in length. Thus, absent special circumstances, the legislative body may use a short description of less than 20 words to provide essential information about the item to members of the public."


Certainly the Town can do a better and a more legal job of describing what it intends to do at its meetings so that the citizens can decide if they wish to attend and to provide comment.


Peter Carpenter



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Posted by Michael G. Stogner
a resident of another community
on Oct 19, 2010 at 6:05 am

Michael G. Stogner is a registered user.

Peter,

Sorry to hear this, I thought Atherton had a chance with the recent changes taking place.

How did the vote go? and who is the interim manager?


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Posted by peter carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Oct 19, 2010 at 6:13 am

peter carpenter is a registered user.

We don't know who was selected - that information won't be release until Wednesday!!

What was gained by this secrecy? Why should the citizen for whom this person will be working not have the opportunity to comment BEFORE the appointment is made? How can the new Interim Town Manager be expected to have the support of the citizens if those citizens were not given the opportunity for input in the selection and appointment process? What is the Council afraid of?


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Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Oct 19, 2010 at 8:30 am

Menlo Voter is a registered user.

How unfortunate. Once again the Atherton City Council thumbs its nose at the people that elected them.


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Posted by POGO
a resident of Woodside: other
on Oct 19, 2010 at 9:12 am

POGO is a registered user.

It is despicable and truly shameful that the Atherton Town Council did not allow this process to proceed in public. Even more so because the Town Council was told of the public's interest and warned to review candidates in the open.

The electorate has a right to know and a right to comment on this process.


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Posted by Michael G. Stogner
a resident of another community
on Oct 19, 2010 at 9:19 am

Michael G. Stogner is a registered user.

This is my 2nd post of this this reponse.

Peter asks: What is the Council afraid of?

The Town of Atherton Council is afraid of absolutely NOTHING.

They are above the LAW.


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Posted by peter carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Oct 19, 2010 at 9:47 am

peter carpenter is a registered user.

The plot thickens - the Town Clerk advises that there was ' no reportable action' at the Monday closed session meeting yet the Town manager is reported as 'Outgoing City Manager Jerry Gruber said the council chose from among three finalists whose names are being kept confidential."

The two statements are simply incompatible.

If the Council 'made a decision' in closed session then the law requires that, immediately after that closed session, the Council report its decision and the individual votes on the decision.

Secrecy does not serve democracy well.


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Posted by R.GORDON
a resident of another community
on Oct 19, 2010 at 1:02 pm

R.GORDON is a registered user.

[Post removed; personal attacks violate terms of use.]


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Posted by DavidH
a resident of Atherton: West of Alameda
on Oct 19, 2010 at 1:12 pm

DavidH is a registered user.

At yesterday's brief open session prior to Council going to closed session to interview the three candidates, several residents expressed their support for naming Dick Moore to the temporary City Manager position. When I asked the Council why they are not making the names public, and was there any effort to conduct exit interviews of the two Managers leaving, I was told that the Council is keeping the names confidential, and that they knew that both managers were leaving for "personal reasons". It begs credulity. What have they learned from this?


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Posted by R.GORDON
a resident of another community
on Oct 19, 2010 at 1:19 pm

R.GORDON is a registered user.

It probably means "new blood" is coming in to replace the older ways of thinking and making changes which work for everyone.
[Portion removed]


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Posted by R.GORDON
a resident of another community
on Oct 19, 2010 at 1:25 pm

R.GORDON is a registered user.

[Post removed; stay on topic]


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Posted by peter carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Oct 19, 2010 at 1:48 pm

peter carpenter is a registered user.

On another forum topic Renee Batti states:"The point of confusion is that Atherton is looking for two temporary managers. The one the council hopes to appoint tomorrow is intended to be on the job very briefly, maybe three weeks, until a longer-term, but still temporary, manager is chosen. It might be helpful to think of the one appointed this week as the "bridge" city manager, and the one appointed in early November as the interim manager. The interim manager will be appointed to serve until a permanent manager is recruited and begins work, which is likely to be months from now."

If that is in fact the case then the Council has, intentionally or otherwise, misled the public by stating on their published agenda that they would be discussing in closed session the " Transitional appointment of Interim City (sic) Manager". Why cannot the Council be honest about what it is doing?????

Incompetence or duplicity - which is worse?


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