Mayor wants to go her own way on Cool Cities
Original post made by Serious about Global Warming, Oak Knoll School, on Feb 14, 2007
Tonight Mayor Fergusson made it clear that Menlo Park's environmental strategy was not something that is open for public discussion. Rejecting councilmember Boyle, Cohen, and Cline's suggestions that the city establish a formal “green ribbon panel” to develop a green house gas reduction strategy, the mayor opted for a private "mayor's advisory panel" with the explicit intention or circumventing the Brown Act. The Brown Act requires city commissions and task forces to hold open and inclusive meetings. She also rejected public and staff suggestions that the city establish a budget and hire outside experts to develop a range of options for the city to consider. Council member Robinson, who campaigned on his commitment to open government and the Brown Act, reversed his past position and stated that having our Green Ribbon Panel be subject to the Brown act would be “unnecessarily constraining.” The Mayor also refused suggestions that Menlo Park work with other cities on the peninsula by joining Sustainable Silicon Valley – a regional environmental coalition. As someone who has taken the time to understand the long-term global challenge of reducing our green house gas emissions, I am disappointed that the Mayor does not seem to understand that this matter requires cooperation at all levels. Council members Robinson and Fergusson are either hopelessly naive or insincere in their commitment to greenhouse gas reduction if they believe that a closed-door committee can in a few weeks or months come up with meaningful solutions to this critical global challenge. If they were serious, they would be establishing a standing commission to deal with this long-term challenge, building consensus with our neighboring cities as to how we can influence our regional utilities, and setting aside the permanent funding necessary to provide expert support and emissions monitoring. Council member Cline should be ashamed of himself for kowtowing to the Mayor after making it clear that he felt the Mayor’s private committee violated the spirit of the Brown Act and their campaign promises for more open and inclusive government. In the end, council members Cohen and Boyle were over-ruled 3-2 and the Mayor got her way.