Friday, September 29, 2023

Townhall 9.27.23 Summary

On Wednesday I hosted a townhall in order to take questions from the community.  Typically during regular Council meetings, Councilmembers are limited in how they can engage with the public.  Dialogue is generally restricted, and we can only address items that are on the agenda.   I wanted to provide an opportunity to have an actual dialogue where folks could ask questions and actually get responses.
The event was targeted for 1.5 hours, but went a little over 2.  For the most part the event went well.  There were a variety of questions from participants, ranging from the general budget outlook, specific budget actions as it relates to pension costs, Council behavior and decorum, current and historical activity related to the Olivia project, and questions regarding the newly adopted Master Fee Schedule.
Prior to the start of the Townhall, I noticed both Councilmembers Cloven and Tillman were in the audience.  I inquired whether it was permissible that a quorum of the Council was present and Councilmember Tillman indicated she had vetted it and stated that as long as she didn’t participate it was within the constraints of the Brown Act.  This is why I found it odd that throughout the evening, it appeared that Tillman was feeding questions to Tamara Steiner, the editor of the Pioneer.  During the Q&A period, Tillman became so animated that she raised her hand to speak, but then seemed to remember she couldn’t participate and instead appeared to whisper in Steiner’s ear.  I asked rhetorically if that was collusion, though it does call into question the objectivity of the Pioneer when its editor allows herself to be used as a mouthpiece for a sitting Councilmember.
There were questions that discussed decorum and my role as Mayor in enforcing it.  Things like cell phone usage, and how Councilmembers engage with staff and others.  To these I generally responded that while I am presiding over the meeting in my role as Mayor, all five Councilmembers are equals and I do not have the ability to direct someone else’s behavior.  In addition, while some may support interceding more forcefully when there are incidents they disagree with, I asked folks to consider if they would feel differently if that were to be applied to incidents they agreed with.  If I were to step in and stop one Councilmember, I would be in position to do that for all Councilmembers and that was not something I think I or others would be comfortable with. 
There were also questions around the newly adopted Master Fee Schedule.  Some were of a similar flavor that had been asked and answered already in different fora.  Others took objection to my article in the Pioneer where I detailed how the CBCA had for the past 15 years, had charges for use of city facilities waived entirely and simultaneously charged vendors a base rate and a percentage of their sales for the privilege of using those same facilities and streets.  I had earlier made a revenue sharing proposal however it was rejected without discussion and no counter proposal has been made. 
I have been trying for months to meet with the CBCA leadership to discuss the potential of a new MUA that is mutually beneficial to the CBCA, the City, and the taxpayers of our community.  After proposing several dates, the latest communication I received indicated it may be “a while” due to medical reasons.  I will continue to seek out a time where we can come together and work towards the betterment of our community.
With the questions around decorum and the deriding of certain behaviors, I found it incongruous when an audience member loudly stated, “you’re full of shit!”  I identified that comment specifically as an example of the behavior that folks had previously criticized, but no admonishment was forthcoming.
Overall, excluding the aforementioned cursing, I thought the Townhall was a productive Q&A session and look forward to more opportunities to address folk’s questions.  Feel free to reach out directly and I will try to address any questions you may have.

Wednesday, September 20, 2023

My 9.19.23 Meeting Summary

Last night the Council met and discussed a few significant items:

- We had a discussion regarding outsourcing our process and administration for business licenses.  Currently this process is handled internally.  With approximately 1100 business licenses in the city, maintaining records, taking payment, processing renewals, and even pursing compliance is a time consuming task.  HdL is a company that specializes in these activities and has done this at scale at many other jurisdictions.  While we have 1100 active business licenses in Clayton, based on some preliminary analysis HdL believes that figure could increase to near 2000 after compliance efforts are undertaken.

In addition, outsourcing this function will free up significant amounts of staff time allowing them to focus on other duties.  The Council approved this agreement and expect a launch of this product in approximately two months.

- We reviewed a draft of a City Sponsored Special Events policy.  The draft described an approximate budget and potential criteria for which events could be included.  The Council discussed the proposal and agreed that the Concerts in the Grove, Clayton Classic Car Show, and the 4th of July Parade should remain city sponsored events.  We were also interested in having a 60th anniversary event next year as well.  There were open items regarding the Memorial Day event traditionally held by the VFW, and the Pride Parade.  In order to resolve those open questions, and make edits to the draft, we formed an Ad Hoc Special Events Policy Committee consisting of Councilmember Trupiano and myself.  We will have discussions and make appropriate updates to bring back to the full Council for adoption.

- We discussed the need to develop a strategic plan.  Staff had prepared a proposal that included hiring a consultant to conduct public outreach, and an all day working session with Council and individually at a cost of $20-25K.  The Council was divided on whether the cost was worthwhile, and discussed other aspects including methods of community outreach and the length of time that is truly needed.  The Council directed staff to take a second pass at a proposal that would be less costly and explore different ideas to reduce the amount of time needed, as well as identify specific deliverables or objectives that would be achieved.

As a reminder, I will be having a townhall on September 27 at 6:30 pm at Hoyer Hall.

Monday, September 18, 2023

Town Hall 9.27.23 @ 6:30pm at Hoyer Hall

I will be hosting a town hall meeting next week, 9.27.23 at 6:30pm in Hoyer Hall.  

Typically during regular Council meetings we are not able to engage in back and forth dialogue as only things that are on the agenda may be discussed, and discussion with audience members is limited.  At the townhall I'd be glad to discuss and address any questions from participants.

I look forward to seeing you there.

Friday, September 15, 2023

Upcoming Meeting 9.19.23

There are a few significant items we will be discussing at our next meeting:

- Discussion regarding agreement with HdL Companies for business license administrative services.  This would outsource the record keeping, maintenance, and administration of the City's business license program including onboarding, renewals, and collection of payment.

- Discussion of a City Sponsored special events policy

- Discussion of strategic planning session.

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

Monday, September 11, 2023

Special Meeting 9.7.23

The Council held a Special Meeting last Thursday, 9.7.23 in response to anticipated litigation related to the Olivia project (3 story 3 building high density apartments in and around downtown).  Because of the nature of the topic, the only item on the agenda was a closed session to discuss with legal counsel.  The discussion and anything that occurs during closed session is not allowed to be shared so I do not have any updates from this meeting to report.

If there were at any point information able to be shared I will do so.