Oct 28 2018

OPINION: Why Measure CC Should Be Rejected by Piedmont Voters

Why I believe that Measure CC should be rejected by Piedmont voters.

Measure CC has no credible factual support in the public record. It is void of any demonstrable need. It is poorly designed. It is totally without conceivable merit. It turns good governance on its head. If adopted Measure CC would only underscore the present Council’s abdication of its responsibility to the public and waste of public resources in proposing to the voters such a vacuous and worthless proposition.

I was a California public agency lawyer for the 34 years before I retired in 2006. One of my primary responsibilities as a lawyer was providing legal advice and legal services regarding the Oakland City Charter provisions applicable to the independent Oakland Port Department. I was certified by the State Bar to provide legal instruction to members of the State Bar regarding the Oakland City Charter, and Bar members who received my instruction received credit toward their mandatory continuing legal education requirements.

The Oakland City Charter provided that the Board of Port Commissioners was responsible to both hire and fire Port officers and employees. Neither the authority and responsibility of the Port’s Executive Director for the day-to-day performance of all non-Port Attorney staff Port officers and employees, nor the authority and responsibility of the Port Attorney for the day-to-day performance of all Port Attorney staff, ran into any conflict with the Board’s exclusive power to hire and fire all Port officers and employees.

Practically, the Board acted on recommendations of the Executive Director or Port Attorney regarding proposed hiring and firing, but importantly the necessity that the Executive Director and Port Attorney justify to the Board in advance of proposed and recommended hiring and firing avoided serious disruptions, damage and liabilities that a runaway Executive Director or Port Attorney could cause.

The hiring and firing authority for top City officers should be unitary so that the authority to hire and authority to fire rest in the same hands, and that authority rightly belongs to the legislative body, not one of its appointed officers. No better day-to-day measure that combined hiring and firing authority will timely inform a City Council of the health and status of the public agency than its receiving advance notice of proposed and recommended hiring and firing of the public personnel responsible for carrying out the very public functions for which the Council or board is primarily responsible.

In Measure CC, the present Council for no good public reason effectively proposes to grant a veto power to the City Administrator over the Council’s hiring decisions. The Measure CC proposal by the present Council and each of its Councilmembers is a disgraceful failure to carry out their public obligations. The lack of any credible rationale for the proposed Measure CC suggests, at best, unanimous Councilmember thoughtlessness and laziness.

Thomas D. Clark, Piedmont Resident

One Response to “OPINION: Why Measure CC Should Be Rejected by Piedmont Voters”

  1. I admit that I have not given the measure a great deal of scrutiny, but I have spent my career working for East Bay jurisdictions. Having the City Manager responsible for hiring and firing of staff is pretty normal. Oakland is not a good example of how anything should be done. Political interference by elected officials is commonplace, and is one of the most common subjects of the Grand Jury with flagrant results.

    Editors note: The reader is correct about the numerous costly lawsuits against Cities for interference by their City Council members in the operations of their City. The lawsuits and problems arise when elected officials attempt to impact how their cities are administered, but are barred by law. Piedmont has never had these problems, because the Charter is clear; authority rests with the elected 5 member City Council and council members may not act singularly. Piedmont for over 70 years has had a City Administrator form of government, not a City Manager form with the legal restrictions Measure CC would impose.

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