Oct 30 2010

Opinion: Supplemental EIR funding without prior Council Approval

The following letter expresses the personal opinion of the author.  All statements therein are solely  the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Piedmont Civic Association.

A letter Submitted to the City Council on 10/29/2010

To:  The Piedmont City Council

Re: November 1 Council Meeting, Item Four, Blair Park EIR

Tonight  Mr. Grote is asking the Council to approve additional funds for the Blair Park EIR. The approval being sought is retroactive as the work commenced weeks ago, and the funds for this work have already been received from private donations. That this work is being paid for by private money does not remove the work from the public domain. Yet Mr. Grote has already made a binding financial commitment with the contractor, LSA, and the proponents of Blair Park outside of his authority under the Piedmont City Charter and the public process.

The contract change with LSA Associates and the additional work started weeks before Council consideration and possible authorization. The LSA EIR contract is a City contract which can only be authorized by the City Council. The offer of a donation by interested parties to the City and the acceptance of those funds does not change the legal requirements.

Under City Charter Article IV sec 4.05 Amendments after Adoption [of the Budget] you [the City Council] may “authorize supplemental appropriations . . . for the purpose of meeting unforeseen contingencies and emergencies,” but that still has to be done with proper public notice. Certainly this is not an emergency situation. When did the Council give authorization for this work to proceed? The City Administrator does not have the authority to commence this work without Council approval. Did the Council give authorization to the City Administrator for this work outside of the public process? If so that would be an unambiguous violation of the California Open Government Law, the Brown Act, and the Piedmont City Charter.

Prior to any further action on this matter a clear explanation is needed on why this Council and Mr. Grote have not been in violation of the Piedmont City Charter and the Brown Act.  By allowing a City contract to be changed and City financial commitments to be authorized outside of the public process, Piedmont and California laws are being broken. You must be unambiguously clear that you are operating legally, or you must vote this appropriation down.


Rick Schiller

Piedmont City Charter, Section 2.04, p. 6 (General Powers and Duties):   “All powers of the City shall be vested in the City Council as the legislative body except as otherwise provided by law or this charter.  The City Council shall provide for the exercise of these powers and for the performance of all duties and obligations imposed on the City by law.”

Piedmont City Charter, Section. 3.03(8), p. 13 (The City Administrator): “Shall keep the Council fully advised as to the financial condition and future needs of the City and make recommendations to the Council concerning the affairs of the City.”

Editor’s Note: The full text of the Piedmont City Charter, Section 4.05, p. 18 (Amendments after Adoption) reads: “The Council may during the course of the fiscal year amend the budget by reducing or increasing appropriations, transferring appropriations, and authorizing supplemental appropriations, and may authorize expenditures from the unappropriated reserve fund for the purpose of meeting unforeseen contingencies and emergencies of the City from funds so approved, transferred, or added thereto by the Council.”

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