The Atherton City Council met Wednesday night (July 20) but pulled from the agenda a legal step to implement a plan to outsource work now being handled by City Hall employees, some of whom were to be laid off last Friday, July 15.
As the council meeting got under way, Mayor Jim Dobbie announced that he had pulled that agenda item. Mr. Dobbie did not elaborate, but City Hall's hands are tied by a temporary restraining order issued by a San Mateo County Superior Court that forbids the layoffs until a court hearing is held. The town's employees' union had sued to prevent the layoffs.
The council did authorize Interim City Manager John Danielson to sign contracts that would outsource public works maintenance and arrange for emergency staffing of the building department. Mr. Danielson said in an interview that he now has the authority to sign the contracts, but that he would not be doing that pending resolution of the lawsuit.
Getting the signing authority was important, he said, because the council meets just once a month and Judge George A. Miram, who issued the restraining order, has considerable discretion as to when he might take further action. The next scheduled court date on this matter is Aug. 11.
In other action, the council voted 3 to 2 after a vigorous debate to implement an ordinance that gives the town authority to fine residents who don't have their recycling bins moved away from the side of the street after they've been emptied.
The council also authorized the hiring of a temporary police chief at a cost of $14,500 per month. Former Santa Rosa police chief Ed Flint is serving as interim police chief.