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Postponed: Menlo Park council's goal-setting meeting

Original post made on Jan 10, 2019

A goal-setting meeting at which the Menlo Park City Council was scheduled to talk through priorities for its 2019 work plan has been canceled. The back-up date for the meeting has also proven not to be viable, so the city is still working to come up with a new date.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Thursday, January 10, 2019, 3:27 PM

Comments (7)

4 people like this
Posted by Mimi
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Jan 10, 2019 at 6:51 pm

Glad they’re getting training. Our council has a long history of Brown Act violations. Then again some know the law and violate it anyway. See City Attorney Bill McClure’s report on Kirsten Kieth’s Brown Act violation last year. Thankfully there were others on council who reported her.

6 people like this
Posted by Dana Hendrickson
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jan 11, 2019 at 10:43 am

This delay will provide a much-needed opportunity for our new council members to better understand the projects that city staff has proposed BEFORE strategic priorities are set.

8 people like this
Posted by Good grief
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Jan 11, 2019 at 11:38 am

Dana stop patronizing the new Councilmembers. They were elected in November! It’s January. How much time do you think they need with staff before they can make a decision? They can be the judge how much time they need to understand things. The comment you think they don’t is borderline insulting.

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Posted by proper procedures
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jan 11, 2019 at 10:10 pm

Mimi, you misunderstand the Brown Act. This training will educate our new council on the proper procedures to follow, especially when there is a possible violation. Keith and Ohtaki followed the Brown Act by reporting their conversation, which was concluded to be an inadvertent violation. This is the proper procedure when there is the possibility of a violation. Had Ohtaki and Keith not disclosed this information, the public would know nothing about it.

This is in stark contrast to Kelly Fergusson not disclosing her inappropriate conversations in 2010, allowing a vote to happen which then needed to be cured a week later. After interviewing the other council members (Fergusson refused to be interviewed), the District Attorney's office concluded there was nothing inadvertent about Fergusson's violation, but still nothing criminal.

4 people like this
Posted by Lynne Bramlett
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jan 12, 2019 at 8:24 am

Lynne Bramlett is a registered user.

MP Other -- Regarding Keith's Brown Act violation, according to the staff report, Web Link= then Mayor Ohtaki brought the matter to the attention of the City Attorney -- not Keith. Unfortunately, MP only has the minimum legal requirements for ethical behavior on the part of our staff and Council members. The past years have illustrated the need for increased ethics training and the need to establish a "higher bar" such as through passing a Code of Ethics. The one from the Sister City Organization represents an excellent model. Web Link Staff and Council would also benefit from having an easy-to-refer to Ethics Manual that covered the most common situations that could occur. The City of LA's example represents an excellent model. Web Link

2 people like this
Posted by Brian
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Jan 12, 2019 at 10:38 am

Brian is a registered user.

I have to agree with Lynn, I recall reading that council member Ohtaki reported the Brown Act violation but not anyone else.

I hope the new council passes a much stronger code of ethics. I believe the residents of our city would benefit from this as well as increased transparency such as the Sunshine proposal that Council member Mueller proposed last year. I hope we see that proposal come back for discussion and a vote soon.

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Posted by proper procedures
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jan 12, 2019 at 1:28 pm

Lynne, there can only be a violation when two or more people have a serial meetng. Peter Ohtaki forgot about the subcommittee, he believed their conversation had no limits at the time. Keith, on the other hand, didn't believe her comment crossed the line because she didn't tell Ohtaki how she was going to vote or ask Ohtaki how he was going to vote.
When council members need clarification on what qualifies as deliberation, it is appropriate for them to ask the city attorney to perform an investigation so these conversations can be disclosed to the public in compliance with the Brown Act.

Brian, if you recall reading that council member Ohtaki reported the Brown Act violation but not anyone else. You should follow the link Lynne provided above and read the report, which reads "In response to requests from City Councilmembers, the city attorney performed a preliminary investigation..." The report uses the word Councilmembers, which is plural, so what you recall is not correct.

Brian, you say you believe the residents of our city would benefit from the sunshine proposal that Council member Mueller proposed last year, but Mueller proposed that in 2017 not 2018. If you and others were supportive of the sunshine proposal, you could have spoken up for it at the January 2018 goal setting. The sunshine proposal never made it on the agenda in 2018 because no residents came to support it during goal setting. Here's what Mayor Keith said about the sunshine proposal when council discussed putting it on the agenda at their 6/20/2017 council meeting.

"I would be happy to look at this with all of you in January, at goal setting, when we can give the time to it, and devote the legal time to it... so I am interested it it, but I'd love to take it up when we can talk about it in January..."

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