Oct 9 2018

Controversy Arises Over Piedmont Measure CC – Council or City Administrator ?

Council authority or City Administrator authority?

Piedmont City Charter changes are in voters’ hands.

Piedmont ballot Measure CC on the November 6 ballot, if approved by a majority of Piedmont voters, will end the City Council’s authority to both hire and fire key-employees.  Voters will find Measure CC at the end of their Piedmont ballot. 

Piedmont’s City Administrator initiated the City Charter amendment removing the City Council’s authority to evaluate, direct, and fire the Council-hired key-employees – Fire Chief, Police Chief, Finance Director, Recreation Director, etc. 

Under Measure CC, key-employees chosen by the Council would no longer serve “at the pleasure of the City Council;” they would serve “at the pleasure of the City Administrator.”

Opponents to Measure CC, changing the City Charter’s reporting authority, have emphasized the need to retain the City Council’s authority and not transfer their authority to a City Administrator on key Council chosen employees – Police Chief, Fire Chief, Finance Director, Recreation Director, etc.  

Piedmont’s system of governance is based on a “strong” five member City Council. Unlike many other cities, Piedmont does not have a  “strong” mayor. The Council elects Piedmont’s mayor from amongst their five members.  Piedmont’s mayor has little authority, except by City Charter or Council direction.

Neither the City Council, nor the mayor, directs the day to day administration of the City. This task is designated by Charter to the City Administrator. Working collaboratively with the City Administrator, the City Council currently hires, evaluates, compensates, directs, and fires key employees. Individual Council members are not allowed by Charter to individually direct City employees. 

Measure CC would remove Council authority in interactions with key-employees except hiring.  Council authority over key-employees, including evaluations, direction, and firing, would be transferred exclusively to the City Administrator.  Under the proposed Charter change, the Council would be forbidden to govern as currently allowed and long practiced.  This change would essentially transform Piedmont into a version of City Manager government.

Piedmont’s current City Administrator originally proposed that the City Administrator would have total authority to hire, evaluate, direct, and fire key-employees without Council involvement thinking this would be a better administrative process. 

The Council chose to retain their hiring authority of the key- employees, while in the proposed Measure CC, relinquish to the City Administrator their authority over evaluations, directions and terminations of their Council hired key- employees.

The concept of Measure CC – the Council hires, but cannot fire law – is a new and untested system.  There have been no reports of problems resulting from Piedmont’s current form of government.  Rather, Piedmont’s successful government structure has been sought out by others.

Measure CC is presented as a package on the ballot, meaning the various parts are inseparable from the whole, and must be voted upon as a whole.

The ballot language for Measure CC states:

Measure CC – 

CHARTER AMENDMENT MEASURE  CC “Shall the measure amending the Charter of the City of Piedmont to clarify the duties and reporting structure for officers and employees of the City be adopted?”

Arguments for and against have been filed.  Theses arguments can be read below by clicking on each item.  Additionally, the arguments can be found in each voter’s Voter Information Guide.

Partial Outline of Measure CC items:

  •  SECTION 3.01 – Officers and Employees
    This section is amended to clarify that the City Administrator and City Attorney are appointed, directed, and serve at the pleasure of the City Council. It also clarifies that other officers of the City are appointed by the City Council, but are directed and serve at the pleasure of the City Administrator.
  •  SECTION 3.03 – City Administrator
    This section is amended to clarify that the City Administrator is responsible for the direction and removal of officers of the City, with the exception of the City Administrator and City Attorney.
  •  The following sections are amended to clarify the reporting structure mentioned above and to make other minor clarifications:
    SECTION 3.05 – City Clerk
    SECTION 3.06 – City Attorney  SECTION 3.07 – Department of Finance SECTION 3.08 – Police Department SECTION 3.09 – Fire Department SECTION 3.11 – City Engineer SECTION 3.12 – Planning Director
  •  SECTIONS 3.10 – Dept. of Public Works and 3.13 – Dept. of Parks and Recreation In addition to being amended regarding the reporting structure mentioned above, these sections are amended to place the responsibility for maintenance of park lands and recreational facilities in the Public Works Department, which conforms the Charter to long standing practice. The word “Parks” is also struck from the name of the Department of Recreation and the title of the Director of Recreation to reflect this amendment.

Read the full City staff report HERE

2 Responses to “Controversy Arises Over Piedmont Measure CC – Council or City Administrator ?”

  1. I am writing to urge a “YES” vote on Measure CC. The City Council had several public meetings as it considered changes to the 30-year-old City Charter, and it was quite open to public input. As the City Charter currently reads, it is ambiguous regarding the City Administrator’s authority. Measure CC would resolve that ambiguity with the effect that the City Administrator would clearly have the authority and responsibility to manage and fire most City employees, while the City Council would have a role in hiring department heads, and the authority to hire, manage and fire the City Attorney and City Administrator. I believe it makes no sense for the City Council, a group of five volunteers, to attempt to manage City employees. The City Administrator would be accountable to the City Council with regard to how he or she managed City employees. At one of the public meetings, Paul commented that he would certainly confer with the Council in the managing and firing of City employees. For a detailed analysis of Measure CC, please see the Piedmont League of Women Voters site at https://my.lwv.org/california/piedmont/lwvp-pros-cons-city-piedmont-measures-bb-and-cc.

  2. Proponents of CC overstate the ambiguity of the City Charter. First, the Charter defines two job categories: officers (department heads) and employees (everyone else). The current Charter is clear that Council hires/fires and provides direction to officers. The Charter does not say that Council will “manage” departments.

    For the City Administrator, the Charter states:

    “The City Administrator shall be the chief administrative officer of the city and shall be responsible to the City Council for the administration of all City affairs placed in his/her charge by or under this Charter.

    The administrator shall have the following powers and duties:
    (1) Shall appoint, discipline, and, when deemed necessary for the good of the City, suspend or remove City employees except as otherwise provided by law, this Charter or personnel rules adopted pursuant to this Charter.
    (2) Shall supervise the administration of all departments, offices and agencies of the City, except as otherwise provided by this Charter or by law and except further
    that the internal administration of each department shall remain with each department head.”

    Two points. Google “chief administrative officer” – by definition it says this position does not have the authority to dismiss department heads. All other authority is clearly defined in the Charter – the City Administrator supervises all departments and can fire employees while department heads administer their departments.

    So drafters of the Charter crafted a very specific management structure for the city, yet proponents claim this is not how City Hall is run. If so, is the question really that of an ambiguous Charter or City Council and City Administrator who aren’t following the Charter? Department heads have been disciplined by Council and Council implemented a performance appraisal program to evaluate department heads. Specific examples of problems with the management structure would help voters understand why they need change it.

    And judging by the satisfaction most Piedmonters state with city services, they don’t. Vote NO on CC.

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