On July 15th the four remaining members of the Council will meet to try and pick a successor to retiring Jerry Carlson’s term. If they cannot decide then the vacancy will be placed on the ballot in the November election. As a result, given the 2-2 member split on most issues a number of important issues will likely remain in limbo until a new Council is seated in December.
Any Atherton resident, including those who do not pay much attention, knows that the Council has been extremely dysfunctional and contentious during the last ten years or longer. Councilmembers with strong personalities seeking self-aggrandizement, attention and power have clashed to the detriment of Atherton government. Convinced they are right and steeped in a business background, the concept of a “strong city manager-weak council” form of government is lost on them and they continue to grand-stand and micromanage. The net effect has been a long list of town employees, interim hires and city managers who have left after a short period. The Atherton Police Department is frequently the piñata or the likes Holbrook Palmer Park Library issue where the Council majority so badly misread or ignored the electorate.
Atherton should be a simple government to run. It is time for the Council to make it function smoothly delegating the day to day tasks to the City Manager and only deciding policy as needed. It is clearly obvious that the Town will need to renew the Parcel Tax in November if it is to have its own police department.
Jerry Carlson's departure is unfortunate at this critical time. It is time for the Council to pick a successor who will support a change from the past Council behavior in collaborative government. Atherton is neither a business, nor a complex government requiring the skills of government operatives or retired police officers but someone who will do what is right for Atherton without personal agenda or need for attention.