Atherton City Council may open public information committee to the public


Will the public be allowed to attend meetings about improving the town of Atherton's communication with the public? Possibly.

In a second reversal on the topic, the Atherton City Council at its Jan. 20 meeting indicated it would likely create a new committee with resident members and make its meetings open to the public and subject to the Brown Act, the state's open meeting law.

At the meeting, Mayor Kathy McKeithen proposed the creation of a Town Communications Committee to write a town policy on public information and work on improving communication with residents. The council unanimously agreed to put it on the agenda of its next meeting on Feb. 17.

The formation of the committee comes in the wake of criticism about the behind-closed-doors appointment of the new police chief and lack of disclosure about a $230,000 sexual-harassment lawsuit settlement with a former police officer. Mike Guerra, the police department's second-in-command, was appointed without the national search and public input process that went into hiring his predecessor, Chief Glen Nielsen.

At a Jan. 11 study session, the council initially agreed to create a committee made up of council members and residents to improve the town's openness and transparency. Upon learning that including residents would trigger the Brown Act, requiring public meetings with posted agendas, the council reversed itself and said membership would be restricted to two council members and no residents.

"The Almanac chastised us pretty hard on this," said Councilman Charles Marsala, referring to a recent editorial. He said he was in favor of Ms. McKeithen's proposal.

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Like this comment
Posted by Get REAL
a resident of Atherton: other
on Jan 26, 2010 at 10:11 pm

The city managers job is to communicate information to the public.
Why does he need a committee to do it for him.
He already has an assistant he dose not need.
Make the guy do his job or get rid of him.
Don't just add another layer of coolaid to this mess

Like this comment
Posted by Candle Lighter
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Jan 26, 2010 at 10:51 pm

I think there is a much simpler solution (and one that addresses the problem rather than the symptoms) to the issue of disseminating public information: stop doing things you're ashamed of, and then there won't be any inclination to hide anything. The problem takes care of itself.

Like this comment
Posted by Michael G. Stogner
a resident of another community
on Jan 27, 2010 at 7:18 am

The title of this article says it all.
Your elected and appointed leaders (MAY) open Public Information Committee to the Public.

Your manager and council has still not issued an apology and promise not to do it again, re:a recent $230,000 settlement. Until that happens there is no reason to form any committee.

I have an idea, City Manager is the public information source. Manager is responsible for the Police Departments behavior against its residents.

Like this comment
Posted by laissez faire/laity
a resident of Atherton: other
on Jan 28, 2010 at 6:21 pm

What exactly is the function of the ACIL?
I would have guessed it was meant to be a liaison of some kind--a vehicle to communicate information to the public.
Why do we need another committee that may or may not function for it's intended purpose?
As stated above --this what management gets the big bucks for.

Like this comment
Posted by Michael G. Stogner
a resident of another community
on Jan 29, 2010 at 10:20 pm

Public information does the public really need to know what's going on. Who determines what the residents should or can handle. Should we share news that might not be so good.

The Atherton Police has a daily activity report made availabe online.

The Atherton Police Department now publishes its daily activity bulletin on the Internet.  Interested parties, including media and residents, are encouraged to visit the website:
Web Link ce.wordpress. com

Look at the 27th, 28th and 29th day to see if there is any mention of an Elder Abuse report. Detective Sherman Hall was interviewing several witnesses at a local Hospital for a couple of hours. How do I know this I saw him. the results were the APD went to a judge and got a Protective Order signed and finally served on the 29th AM.

Elder Abuse is just not a sexy story. Its not even acknowledged, I would have a talk with the City Manager about this if I lived in Atherton.

Best of Health

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