Saturday, August 7, 2021

8.3.21 Meeting Summary

Apologies for the delay, I've been out of town.  On Tuesday 8.3.21 the Council met to discuss and take action on several items:
  • It was brought up by Councilmember Diaz that historically certain gifts paid for by taxpayer dollars were given to elected Councilmembers upon the completion of their term, among other occasions.  After investigating, it was determined that this occurred without a well defined process and at times the basis for approval was "Mayor's prerogative".  This term had been used with growing frequency in the past few years and I questioned the origin.  Since no definition was offered, we all tacitly agreed the use of this should be discontinued.

    A draft was offered in our agenda for an actual policy for gifts to employees, volunteers, private citizens, and elected officials in an effort to establish a policy.  This draft was supported by Councilmember Cloven.  I voiced my concern regarding gifts for public officials.  Given gifts are funded by taxpayer dollars, and we would be voting on it among ourselves, I felt the ethical implications of voting to give ourselves gifts of taxpayer dollars made this inappropriate.  Given there are also provisions of the California constitution that prohibit gifts of public funds, I suggested that we eschew gifts of public funds to elected officials completely.  This was updated to the draft proposal which was then passed by the Council unanimously.

  • We also discussed a previous incident where a city owned tree fell and damaged a resident's house and fence.  This incident was submitted to our insurer and the claim was ultimately rejected as the city enjoys immunity under Government Code 830(a) and 835(b).  One of the basis of the rejection was the idea that the city has a system in place for inspecting and maintaining its trees.  When we originally met to discuss this matter in late 2020, it was communicated that the city had inspected this tree.  However, after reviewing the evidence, it was clear this did not take place and the city does not have a system to inspect its trees.  I reconfirmed this during the meeting.

    Even without inspection however, the city avoids liability due to the immunity recognized in the above mentioned government codes.  I suggested that we clarify with our insurer the actual fact pattern and strive to accurate in how we communicate our processes.  Given the amount of trees the city owns, and the potential liability should they fall or suffer other damage, I was concerned about the potential precedent that accepting liability would set and ultimately the Council took no official action.

  • We updated our list of recognized cultural heritage months and other significant events to remove both Columbus Day and Juneteenth as these are federal holidays.

  • We discussed our current sign ordinances for temporary non-commercial signs.  Ultimately we made no changes to our sign ordinances.  I reiterated my comments from the previous time we discussed this issue - essentially I am not in favor of any speech restrictions and signs are speech.