Dec 5 2014

STUDENT REPORT: Stop Signs, Conflict of Interest, Book Drive, Call Before You Dig

The following is a Piedmont High School student report on the Piedmont City Council meeting of November 17, 2014 written by Henry Ferguson. –

On November 17, 2014, the Piedmont City Council got together in its meeting to discuss items on its agenda. The council members kicked off the Toys for Tots Drive and announced the Book Drive. The members approved the minutes unanimously. There was a short debate about the Conflict of Interest Code. An announcement about Safe Digging Month was made by a PG&E representative.

The meeting started with the audience going up and making suggestions. One man came to suggest that the Piedmont City Council should communicate with the new Oakland mayor, and two Piedmont High School students suggested that a few stop signs be placed in busy intersections.

The Toys for Tots drive was started with each council member donating a toy to the cause. A PG&E representative reminded people that November is Safe Digging Month and that people should call PG&E before digging in their backyard to make sure that infrastructure is not damaged.

There was a decision made about Community Development Block Grants (CDBG); since Piedmont is too small to receive CDBG grants for funds to fulfill ADA requirements, it shares with other small towns in Alameda County, such as Dublin. The City Council decided unanimously that Piedmont should join together with the small towns to get the CDBG grants.

There was a revision to the Conflict of Interest Code (CoIC) made during the council meeting. The CoIC is a disclosure agreement that says that certain city employees have to disclose financial information, can not accept gifts of a fluid dollar amount, can not make decisions that are in the employee’s own economic interest, and restricts special loans that city employees could get. The revision to the Code would include the City Planner and some other positions to follow the rules put down by the CoIC.

Councilman Tim Rood suggested that the City Engineer should also be obligated to follow the Code, to which Vice Mayor Jeff Weiler disagreed, stating that it would be an invasion of the City Engineer’s privacy. After a short argument, the council members voted unanimously to include the City Engineer and revise the Conflict of Interest Code to meet today’s standards. I believe that a City Engineer has the power to make decisions within his or her interest and that transparency is more important than privacy in this case.

A few statements about the Book Drive and other miscellaneous announcements ended the meeting, one of the shortest in years. I interviewed Councilman Robert McBain to talk about the meetings. He said that as an elected official, it was his duty to be at the council meeting, and no matter how few things there are to do, he will be there making decisions about the agenda items. Next week will see another city council meeting and another set of items to discuss.

Editors’ Note:  The opinions expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of the Piedmont Civic Association.

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