Wednesday, December 21, 2022

My 12.20.22 Meeting Summary

Last night the Council met and discussed several significant items.

- First we met in closed session regarding appointment of an Interim City Manager.  While the city continues to recruit for someone to take the role full time, that process will likely take a bit of time and we will need someone to fill the role on an interim basis after our currently City Manager leaves at the beginning of February.  We gave direction on how to proceed to the City Manager and I am optimistic about the process.  More to come on this as I am able to share more.

- We also discussed the order of the agenda.  In order to make public participation easier I proposed a few substantive changes to our regular agendas.  

The first change was to move public comment on non-agenda items immediately after roll call and the pledge.  The intent is to provide more predictability to people who wish to address the Council - they will not have to wait for an undetermined point in the meeting to offer comment.  I value public participation and want to make it easier and more accessible - adding consistency and predictability of when this will occur is an effort to do that.

The second change was to add a section for Mayoral and City Manager announcements.  Often times the city wants to call attention to a particular thing that may be of importance to our residents.  Things like the library used book sale, or events going on down town.  This would be a way to shift the duplicative nature of all Councilmembers making similar announcements and centralize these primarily with the City Manager.  Councilmembers are encouraged to send such announcements to the City Manager ahead of our meetings.

The third change was to eliminate Council Reports.  This section has often taken the form of Councilmembers reading from their calendar lists of meetings they may have attended without any discernible outcome or how it impacts or benefits the city.  Sometimes this could be a short reading, but at times this section could span quite a bit of time.  While there could be valuable information offered, that it pushed back the core of our agenda and made meetings less accessible overall as folks would need to wait and at times would lose interest and decide to leave the meetings.  I suggested that the same information sharing could be accomplished in written form and added as an addendum to the meeting minutes.  

In discussion both Councilmember Cloven and Tillman raised concerns about eliminating this section.  As a compromise it was suggested that rather than eliminate this section, it be moved later in the agenda.  This would allow us to address the substance of our meetings upfront and if folks are interested in the Council Reports they could stay till the end.  I thought this was a reasonable compromise and encouraged my fellow Councilmembers to avoid using this time to read from their calendars and rather make the information more directly relevant or actionable.  

We will try this new agenda order out and evaluate how it is working.  If we need to make further refinements or changes we can do that at a later time.

- We appointed two community members to the Financial Sustainability Committee - Howard Kaplan and Hank Stratford each for two year terms.  Welcome aboard Howard and Hank!  The Committee is a 5 member committee and it takes three to have a quorum.  As a result, the Committee cannot yet meet, however we can start the process of orientation.  If any interested community members with a financial background are interested in joining, please see here:

- We then discussed City Council Committees and assignments for 2023.  The Mayor is responsible for committee assignments and they are typically updated each year.  There were a few standing committees that I eliminated as they were no longer necessary - like the Economic Development Committee which was formed to facilitate the sale and development of city owned land in downtown.  

One committee assignment that we discussed was TRANSPAC.  TRANSPAC is the Regional Transportation Planning Committee for Central Contra Costa, responsible for the development of transportation plans in the area.  Councilmember Cloven served as Vice Chair of TRANSPAC and he informed that TRANSPAC Chair is established on a rotation.  Originally I assigned Councilmember Trupiano to represent Clayton on TRANSPAC, however Councilmember Cloven expressed his desire to remain as Clayton's representative so that he could be Chair.  This seemed reasonable so we kept Cloven in his role and added Trupiano as an alternate.

I also added a couple standing committees.  First was an Internship/Training Committee - the goal of which would be to promote and secure interns from local communities to support city operations and provide training and educational opportunities.  The vision would be to pull from local places like CVCHS and DVC to seek those wanting internships.  The city could offer school credit and in exchange get some needed support in various areas.  In talking with Councilmember Trupiano, she has successfully run similar programs and I am hopeful we can foster this in Clayton.  This is brand new so it will likely take some time to get off the ground.

I also added a Concerts in the Park Committee.  Last year we recognized that the Concerts in the Park were a City sponsored event and as such, it would be appropriate to instill oversight and structure to the administration of the events.  This committee will be the City's representative responsible for the overall management and administration of the concerts.  This may include securing the support of others as needed and Vice Mayor Diaz along with Councilmember Trupiano will be leading this committee.  I want to thank Howard Geller for his work on the concerts thus far and look forward to the Committee's leadership.

- The last thing we discussed was the potential for a solar leasing arrangement with Oakhurst.  Oakhurst approached me as they were trying to implement a solar system for the organization.  They identified a location that would be ideal - near the club and near a existing PG&E tower that could support the system, however the location was city owned property.  Oakhurst asked if the city would be open to allowing them to use city land - Oakhurst would cover the infrastructure cost and in exchange the city would allow the use of land, with the ability for the city to leverage that infrastructure to install its own panels.  This is in an exploratory phase, however if we are able to move forward Oakhurst would be able to reduce their overall cost structure and the city would be able to take advantage of that infrastructure to offset some of its energy costs as well, in addition to the overall benefit of using cleaner energy.  The Council set a policy direction for staff to work with Oakhurst to determine feasibility within the above parameters.

Friday, December 16, 2022

Upcoming Council Meeting 12.20.22

There are a few significant items on the agenda for our next meeting:

- We will be discussing changing the order of our meetings.  Currently public comment on non agenda items occurs after staff reports.  Back in Feb-21 the council discussed moving this item at my suggestion.  I had felt that having this occur after staff reports sometimes occurring 40 minutes after the meeting began made it more difficult for people to participate.  My hope is that by making public comment on non agenda items first, it would be easier to plan for, reduce the amount of time people may have to wait, and make the meetings more accessible.

- We will be discussing the appointment of two residents to the Community Financial Sustainability Committee on recommendation from the Budget & Audit Subcommittee

- We will be discussing City Council Committees and Assignments for Standing and Ad-hoc Committees and Liaison positions.

- We will discuss setting policy direction regarding a potential solar leasing arrangement.

If you have any thoughts or questions on the above please let me know.

Wednesday, December 7, 2022

12.6.22 Meeting Summary and Final Election Results

The final election results were certified by the County and were as follows:

As a result, the one significant item was to swear in Kim Trupiano and myself, and select a new Mayor and Vice Mayor.  For the Mayorship roll, Councilmember Diaz nominated me and Councilmember Cloven nominated Councilmember Tillman.  The Council chose myself to become our next Mayor on a vote of 3-1-1 with Cloven voting no and Tillman abstaining.

Councilmember Diaz was chosen to be our next Vice Mayor on a vote of 4-1 with Cloven voting no.

There was an opportunity to make some remarks and I gave the following statement:

First and foremost, I want to thank my wife and family. For a largely volunteer position I am acutely aware that this role would be impossible to do without their support, and at times, grace.

I also want to thank Mr. Miller and Ms. Billeter for running. Though we may disagree from time to time on matters of policy, healthy debate and discussion is part of the process. Anyone who decides to put themselves out there for public office is to be commended on their willingness to step up and serve.

And thank you to Kim Trupiano. I look forward to working together along with the rest of the Council over the next four years.

It is clear that the city faces challenges ahead. From staffing, to budgets, to community relations, we as a Council and as a community will need to come together in various ways to address these head on.  I am grateful that the residents of Clayton chose me again to represent them here on the Council. Over the last four years I have spoken to so many residents who appreciate transparency and clear communication. I will continue to update residents as best I can in the years ahead. And that starts now.

Certainly as a city we need to maintain the services that make Clayton a wonderful place to live. But on top of that, my top three priorities will reflect the challenges we face.
    1. We need to address our staffing vacancies - We will soon lose our City Manager, and the Finance Director position remains vacant, among other positions. Nothing can be accomplished if we do not have a sufficient level of city staff.
    2. We need to address our budget shortfalls - Deficit spending is not sound public policy and while it may at times be necessary, we need to address our structural issues. First by examining our expenses and cost structure, then by looking at our fee schedules and any other non-tax revenue options. This will take a bit of time but it is work we need to be doing.
    3. This may be the hardest one – but I think it important all the same. I want to find a way to reduce the polarization and heated rhetoric that has served to crowd out reasonable discourse. In our small town, it is not healthy for passions to overwhelm reason. I say this may be the hardest one because when the loudest voices dominate the dialogue, it creates a poor information feedback loop when all people see and hear are the loud voices. We should always be welcome to criticize policies, but when that criticism attacks the person rather than the policy it becomes toxic.

      We will never have an environment where there are no such toxic voices, because free speech and people can choose how they behave. But I lay down the challenge to the rest of us, that when we see or hear such toxicity, we look to the better angels of our nature and choose not to engage.
I look forward to working with the rest of the Council to bring these goals to fruition.

Friday, December 2, 2022

Upcoming Council Meeting 12.6.22

There is only one significant item on the agenda for the next meeting and that is the swearing in of new (and old) Councilmembers, and the annual reorganization of the Council selecting a Mayor and Vice-Mayor for the next year.   The same will happen with the Geological Abatement District.  

At the meeting, I am told there will be cupcakes involved and all are welcome to attend.

Please let me know if you have any questions.