Mar 27 2022

EDITORIAL: Greater Transparency Needed by the Piedmont City Council

Do you know who is going to be interviewed by the Council for Piedmont’s important Commissions and Committees?

Frequently, Piedmont residents have heard the City Council expound on the need for inclusion and transparency, yet the Council does not provide transparency or inclusion in some proceedings.  

On Monday, March 28, 2022, at a “Special Meeting,” the Piedmont City Council will once again perpetuate a long-held practice of interviewing candidates for appointments to volunteer positions on Piedmont public committees and commissions away from public broadcasts and records.  Although an “official” notice announces the public interview sessions, the meetings are either held in a small conference room, or, as in this case, the Police Department Emergency Operations Center (EOC) making public participation and observation of Council decision difficult. 

The March 28, 2022 meeting has:

  • No cameras for a record of the meeting (due to lack of funds)

  • No broadcasts for remote viewing (due to lack of funds)

  • No publicity of  the applicant’s names or positions they seek

  • No listing of the order of the interviews

  • No timely release to the public of the applications provided to the Council

  • No opportunity for meaningful public participation in the selections

  • No record of Council member priorities

  • No record of individual Council member preferences

The Agenda for the March 28, 2022;  (see Full Agenda > 3:28:2022 Appointees) states:

“Special City Council Agenda Monday, March 28, 2022 6:00 p.m. EOC, Police Dept., 403 Highland Avenue, Piedmont, CA

Special Session

1. Interview of Candidates for City Commissions and Committees to be Followed by Possible Appointment to Posted Vacancies 0085″ 

[No applicant names, no order of interviews, no positions are noted.  There is no staff report for public information. ]

California’s sunshine law, the Brown Act, requires interviews for appointed public positions to Committees and Commissions to be done in public. Not only should the law be followed by word, but by spirit, allowing the public to readily observe and participate in Piedmont government decisions. 

If the Council is true to a desire for inclusion, transparency, and public participation, the Agenda needs to list the volunteer positions to be filled in addition to the applicants’ names, and the “Special Meeting” would be broadcasted to the public and recorded.

Decades old hidden appointment processes are being perpetuated.  Under current procedures residents of Piedmont cannot know why individual appointments are made.  Applicant information provided to Council members is by law to be timely provided to the public.  Once appointments have been made appointee names have been withheld “until the appointee was notified. “

Past practices of placing the public at arms length from important Council appointments, processes and decisions have been allowed to continue unquestioned by the Council.  For Piedmont to become inclusive, the old ways need to end in favor of accessible, transparent meeting processes.

During the heart of the pandemic, appointee interviews were of necessity held on Zoom allowing the public to view the appointment procedures remotely. However,  Council members indicated during the Zoom selection process that the open broadcasted interview sessions made the process challenging for the public was able to view and hear the decisions being made.  A social club atmosphere prevailed in selecting  the appointees, as Council members privately sent  phone texts to the City Clerk to indicate their appointment preferences.  The Council never asked the City Clerk which Council members favored which applicants, consequently the public could not know the preferences.. 

For Piedmont to become a truly inclusive City, decision processes should be readily and easily available to all Piedmonters in a transparent manner.

Ironically, the City Council is currently paying a contractor thousands of dollars to advise the City on “transparency” in regard to adding 587 new housing units in Piedmont. Expensive banners have been erected by the City at strategic locations on Piedmont light poles to inform Piedmonters of the impending changes to Piedmont’s Housing Element involving zoning changes and 587 new housing units.

Piedmont Civic Association asked Piedmont City Clerk, John Tulloch, for an explanation on the lack of a recording and broadcast of Council appointment processes. A response is copied below:

“The interviews were conducted in a noticed, open, public meeting, consistent with the City’s past practice for Council vacancy interviews. The meeting was conducted in the EOC to allow for a space in which interviews could be conducted in an open, public, COVID safe way that allowed the Councilmembers to interact with applicants in person.”

Piedmont Civic Association Editors’ Comment:  The size of the Council Chamber (City Hall) 120 Vista Avenue, where Piedmont’s cameras are located and broadcast originate, has a high ceiling making it more airy than the Police Department Emergency Operation Center, EOC.   

During the Commission and  Committee interviews,  the Council has asked candidates  to not be present when other candidates are interviewed. The Brown Act allows all public members to be present for public decision making processes. Volunteers for appointed positions can learn from one another during the interview process, which is an advantage for Piedmont. 

Importantly, many candidates who seek appointed positions might be potential candidates for Piedmont elected office. Interview processes allow residents to observe both the Council and the candidates engendering greater participation, inclusion, and interest in Piedmont policy making.

Various staff members have participated in the appointment processes by advising the Council during their selection process on the pros and cons of some applicants.

Open broadcasted meetings encourage the greatest public participation and strengthen our democratic government.

March  25, 2022 – City notice states:

Special City Council Meeting Agenda – March 28, 2022

The Ralph M. Brown Act Requires that all agendas be written clearly and in sufficient detail to allow the public to understand the question to be decided by the City Council. Piedmont makes every attempt to comply with both the letter and spirit of this law. If, however, you have questions concerning an item on a City Council agenda, please call the City Clerk’s office at (510) 420-3040. Also available are the Staff Reports for each item of business on the agenda. 

[When going to the link for Staff Reports, there is no Staff Report for the March 28, 2022 Agenda. There are no names or positions.]

To send comments to the City Council as a whole, and/or regarding a City Council agenda item, please email To send via U.S. Mail, please use the following address:

City Council
City of Piedmont
120 Vista Avenue
Piedmont, CA 94611

To send an individual Councilmember a message, please find their contact information on the Councilmember page. Any correspondence sent to the City may be considered a public record.

Editors’ Note:  The comments made here in no way express an objection to the specific choices made by the City Council to fill positions. 

3 Responses to “EDITORIAL: Greater Transparency Needed by the Piedmont City Council”

  1. Piedmont’s lack of transparency, including everything listed, has existed for the 43 years I have been a resident.

  2. Very interesting article on transparency for appointments compared to transparency for the housing element. Is there anyway to know how much the city is spending on implementing the housing plan including the consultants, meetings and publicity. Costs would include time given to it by city employees as well.
    Since it only has to be a plan with no implementation required, is the expense out of line?

  3. I recollect that the city is paying $1M to the Housing Element consultant. Not sure if that includes EIR.

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