The last ten years of Atherton’s governance is not pretty. It has been marked by a toxic mixture of various Council members who are at war with each other, with multiple departures of key employees, and costly lawsuits. There is no vision to replace decrepit town buildings. The recent effort at placing a library in the Park was a total disaster in that the will and appeals of the majority of the residents was totally ignored from the beginning and then when using the ballot box was overwhelming slapped down.
While it appears that the resolution on compensation and benefits will probably be passed unless it is immediately pulled as an agenda item. The timing is just wrong in that a new council will not be allowed to consider the matter. The old Council has no business making long term decisions in the final minutes of their term that a new Council will have to live with over a long period of time. The voters have indicated they want a change in the nature of Atherton’s government. The remuneration issue has not been explained in terms of fiscal need or discussed in public meetings. The resulting effect will be not being able to attract the best employees available. What this vote will produce is more employee turnover, less effective employees and in the end more expense for the taxpayers of Atherton.
This vote will have consequences in upcoming contract negations with the sworn police officers. It would not be a surprise if many are planning to leave right now as they see what the future holds in Atherton. Many communities are seeking trained police officers from adjacent communities (lateral transfers) and enhancing benefits. For instance Antioch, California is considering making benefits more attractive as they find training and experience are costly items.
The need for a renew of the Parcel Tax is obvious but the intent of this vote is to do away with it having “saved” costly employee expense. The private funding effort of a new Town Center which residents endorsed will likely stall in absence of a long-term vision for the Atherton Police Department and other town service employees. As a new library or remodeled one is mixed into Town Center concept it likely too will stall.
While the result of the Wednesday vote can possibly be undone in the months ahead, it will be a reflection of today’s dysfunctional Council for a long time. Atherton residents should demand a responsive government and are tired of the last ten years of poor governance. Atherton is not a business but an organization to serve the needs and reflect the will of the residents. The lame duck council should not vote on anything of a long term nature right now but take their victory lap, have their party and get out of the way.