Apr 4 2018

Can you offer help?

The Alameda County Grand Jury is looking for citizens who are willing to give their time to help good government. Alameda County Civil Grand Jurors are needed for 2018-2019.   

Alameda County Grand Jury recruiting deadline April 15.

http://www.acgov.org/grandjury/documents/App.pdf

Alameda County residents can also fulfill a civic duty by submitting a complaint to a Grand Jury. All complaints are confidential.  See below.

“Civil grand juries have been instrumental in rooting out waste and investigating city leaders suspected of breaching the public trust. Unlike criminal juries, civil grand juries do not deliberate the outcome of criminal defendants or convene for judicial trials. Recent grand juries in Alameda County have conducted investigations into possible misconduct of public officials and the operation of government agencies within Alameda County.

For example,

• In 2016, a civil grand jury investigated Fremont’s email retention policy, which prompted the City of Fremont to preserve emails for a two-year period instead of purging emails after one month periods.

In 2016, the civil grand jury investigated complaints regarding the City of Oakland’s contracting process for awarding garbage collection contracts. The grand jury found that the city’s contracting process lacked transparency and that “franchise fees paid by the ratepayers were disproportionately higher than franchise fees paid to other Bay Area municipalities and special districts.”

• In 2014, the civil grand jury noted mismanagement of fire inspections in Oakland and recommended that the City of Oakland record liens against properties that fail to pay fire inspection fines.

California State Law requires that every county impanel a civil grand jury comprised of 19 residents to serve for one-year periods. Civil grand juries are responsible for examining county departments and public officials to determine whether improvements are needed.

The range of issues reviewed by grand juries include health care, education, pensions, and special districts. Civil grand juries also routinely inspect county jails and review issues pertaining to school districts.

Each year the grand jury reviews complaints from county residents to determine what to investigate. All complaints are maintained in confidence.

To serve on the Alameda County grand jury you must:

Reside in Alameda County for at least one year on July 1st;

• Be at least 18 years old;

• Be able to commit 8 -10 hours per week, and occasionally more time if needed;

• Have an ability to work well with others.

• Commit to keeping all grand jury deliberations secret.

Civil Grand Jury

The civil grand jury acts as a “watch-dog” by investigating the workings and efficiencies of county and local governments. Past investigations have highlighted the failings of local officials in adequately scrutinizing the deal that returned the Raiders football team to Oakland – a deal which currently costs Oakland and Alameda County taxpayers in excess of $20 million every year; the failure of local school boards and county education officials in adequately overseeing the financial affairs of bankrupt school districts in Oakland and Emeryville; and exposed the county welfare agency’s complete failure to investigate welfare fraud, resulting in the district attorney assuming responsibility for those investigations and prosecutions – now numbering over 800 felony prosecutions each year.

The civil grand jury is also authorized to:

  1. Inspect and audit books, records and financial expenditures to ensure the public that public funds are properly accounted for and spent.
  2. Inspect books and records of special districts in Alameda County.
  3. Examine books and records of non-profit agencies that have substantial contacts with county or local agencies.
  4. Inquire into and inspect conditions of local jails and detention facilities.
  5. Investigate charges of willful misconduct by public officials or employees.

The next grand jury term begins on July 1, 2018. In Alameda County, the deadline for applying for the 2018-2019 term is April 15, 2018. There is a particular need for applicants from Fremont, Hayward, Dublin, Livermore, Union City and Newark.

In addition to serving on the grand jury, you can fulfill your civic duty by submitting a complaint. All complaints are kept confidential.

Any person may complain to the Alameda County civil grand jury. The grand jury can only act on complaints dealing with a county department, any city within Alameda County, local agencies that operate within Alameda County (for example BART, EBMUD, AC Transit), and all school districts within Alameda County. The civil grand jury also considers complaints against public officials typically dealing with malfeasance in office. The civil grand jury cannot investigate complaints against state or federal agencies.

Since the activities of the civil grand jury are secret, complainants can be assured their identity will not be disclosed to anyone outside the grand jury.

Complaints made to the grand jury must be in writing and include the name, address and phone number of the complainant. The civil grand jury encourages people who wish to make a complaint to use the complaint form below.

To make your complaint:

  1. Download the complaint form. (7kb)**
  2. Complete the form.
  3. Mail the completed form to the address listed in the form

How Do I Become A Civil Grand Juror?
Prospective civil grand jurors are nominated by judges of the Alameda County Superior Court. To be eligible for nomination, a citizen must first submit an application that may be obtained from the Alameda County jury commissioner. The qualifications required are: U.S. citizenship, residence in Alameda County for at least one year, and be at least 18 years of age, and have a sufficient knowledge of the English language. Convicted felons and those who have been discharged from service on a grand jury within one year are ineligible for grand jury service. Judges from the Superior Court then review the applications and the applicants’ backgrounds before conducting personal interviews of the applicants. Civil grand jurors are expected to attend grand jury meetings on average two days each week.

Once a sufficient number of citizens have been nominated, 25-30 names are selected as nominees. The nominees must equally represent each of the five supervisorial districts in Alameda County. At an official ceremony, 19 jurors are selected to serve for a one year term. At the discretion of the presiding judge, up to ten members of the prior grand jury may be held over for an additional year of grand jury service.

How to Obtain an Application

Call, Email or Write:

Cassie Barner
Grand Jury Recruitment
1401 Lakeside Drive, Suite 1104
Oakland, CA 94612
cassie.barner@acgov.org
510-208-9855

You can print the application from the link below and mail it to the address listed above.
Grand Jury Application: App.pdf (PDF – 110kb) *

For further information, Alameda County residents may contact Cassie Barner (510) 208-9855 or visit www.acgov.org/grandjury/juror.htm.

Mar 26 2018

The Piedmont City Council will hold a Special Study Session, open to the public, concerning standards for wireless communication facilities on April 17, 2018, at 6:30 p.m. in the Council Chambers, City Hall, 120 Vista Avenue.

The information is intended to provide the City with a foundation on which development standards and regulations will be considered for future wireless communication facilities in the public right-of-way.

Residents are encouraged to submit questions related to the legal restrictions and the technology for wireless communication facilities in advance of the study session.

Due to the large amount of community interest in this topic, and the desire to provide the most complete and accurate information as possible, comments and questions are requested by April 9, 2018.

Residents can submit questions to cityclerk@piedmont.ca.gov. Written comments and questions will be accepted after this date, but staff may not be able to research and provide an answer by the time of the meeting.

Residents are also encouraged to share their comments at the meeting.

The April 17, 2018 study session will be televised live on KCOM-TV [Channel 27], the City’s government TV station, and will be available through streaming video on the City’s web site http://www.ci.piedmont.ca.us/video/

For more information, please visit the Wireless Communication Facilities page on the City of Piedmont’s web site at:   http://www.ci.piedmont.ca.us/publicworks/wireless.shtml

Residents with questions for staff are encouraged to contact Senior Planner Pierce MacdonaldPowell at (510) 420-3050 or via email at pmacdonald@piedmont.ca.gov.

Read the full City announcement> 2018-03-26 Council Study Session on Wireless

Mar 18 2018

Will public participants get to have more than 3 minutes to provide input and exchange ideas?

Will the meetings be broadcast?

Will minutes be kept of the meetings?

How will the public be involved?

After the City Council changed their minds on pushing rushed City Charter amendments on the June ballot, the prevailing direction to staff was to attempt a Measure for the November ballot.  A number of residents and the Piedmont League of Women Voters asked the Council to defer any action on the important City Charter until discussion and input had involved Piedmonters.

Paul Benoit, City Administrator wants the Council at their March 19, 2018 meeting to Consider a Date for a Council Work Session to Discuss Possible Amendments to the City Charter.  John Tulloch, Piedmont City Clerk, wrote the staff report noted below.

Questions immediately arose regarding how the public would be given an opportunity to participate in the significant proposals.  The “Work Session” format proposed by Benoit and Tulloch, if following prior meetings noted as “Work Sessions,” will not be broadcast and will be held away from the Council Chambers where cameras are a fixture.

Recent “Work Sessions” have primarily involved financial matters where few, if any, public members are present.

The League of Women Voters had proposed an opportunity for broad community involvement, which a work sessions typically does not provide.  A record of the “work sessions” substance and origination of discussion is usually missing.

It has also been pointed out that when the City Charter last had a major review, there was a committee appointed that was open to the public with records kept of recommendations and discussion.

The City Council will consider the matter as the last item on their March 19, 2018 meeting agenda.

The Staff report recommending a Council Work Session on possible City Charter amendments is below:

03/19/18 – Consideration of a Date for a Council Work Session to Discuss Possible Amendments to the City Charter

Mar 14 2018

March 11-17, 2018

Throughout the United States,  it is > Sunshine Week  – a national initiative spearheaded by the American Society of News Editors (ASNE) to educate the public about the importance of open government and the dangers of excessive and unnecessary secrecy. 

 > Sunshine Week –  It’s Your Right to Know. March 11-17, 2018. Join ASNE and the Reporters Committee in the annual nationwide celebration of access to public information and what it means for you and your community.

“The American Society of News Editors launched Sunshine Week in 2005 as a national initiative to promote a dialogue about the importance of open government and freedom of information. The week-long celebration is held every March to coincide with the March 16 birthday of James Madison, the father of the U.S. Constitution.  …”

> Sunshine Week – ASNE

As part of continuing examination of threats to First Amendment freedoms and an extension of Sunshine Week 2017, The Associated Press, the American Society of News Editors and the Associated Press Media Editors have produced a package of stories focused on government attempts to promote secrecy or hinder access to information. …

> Sunshine Week – Society of Professional Journalists

The Piedmont Civic Association website provides free information online to those interested in Piedmont civic matters. There are no advertisements or subscription charges for updates. The PCA website is produced by Piedmont volunteers.

Join hundreds of Piedmonters and receive emailed updates from PCA by clicking > HERE.  

EMAIL ADDRESSES  AND NAMES ARE CONSIDERED CONFIDENTIAL AND NEVER RELEASED.

Mar 12 2018

The public will find the meeting an informative way to learn what the Piedmont City Council members are interested in pursuing.  

The Piedmont City Council will hold a Special Meeting on Thursday, March 15 at 5:30 p.m. to Interview Candidates for Commissions and Committees in the City Hall Conference Room at 120 Vista Avenue.  The meeting will not be broadcast or recorded.

The public is welcome to attend the entire meeting. 

Questions will be asked by Councilmembers of applicants who made timely application for appointment to a Commission or Committee.  The applicant pool names have not been released, but are available upon request. 

Inquiries may be made to the City Clerk at 510/420-3040. 

The Committee and Commission vacancies are noted below:

Commission/Committee No. of Vacancies No. of Incumbents Eligible for Reappointment
Budget Advisory and Financial Planning Committee 2 2
CIP Review Committee 1 1
Civil Service Commission 2 2
Park Commission 2 1
Parking Hearing Officer 1 0
Planning Commission 1 0
Police & Fire Pension Board 1 0
Public Safety Committee 2 2
Recreation Commission 1 1

No appointments will be made without a Council interview.

Mar 4 2018

Piedmont’s Research Undercuts Proposed Charter Change –

City staff sought relevant data from dozens of cities on their statutes excluding former Councilmembers from becoming candidates for the Council in the future.  The results of the survey reveal Piedmont’s proposed Charter change is radically out of step.  In the summer of 2017, without direction by the City Council on a new exclusionary candidate proposal, Piedmont City Clerk John Tulloch began extensively researching and carefully detailing practices to further limit previously serving Councilmembers and possibly School Board Members from returning to office. Unbeknownst to the public and without any public involvement, Tulloch contacted 79 cities inquiring about their rules on  limits for their elected officials.  Survey is below.

Remarkably, the City Clerk’s 2017 summer research project showed that excluding candidates was the opposite of what other cities were doing. 

During the February 5, 2018 Council meeting, Tulloch verbalized  parts of the previously undisclosed and undocumented survey.  The Council majority disregarded the verbal survey information and decided to expeditiously, without community involvement or viewing the survey information, move ahead to put a Charter change on the June ballot to exclude former Council members from becoming candidates for Piedmont elected office until 8 years had elapsed since their prior service ended.

Public participants at the February 5 meeting did not comment on the the survey, for the survey information had not been made available.

SURVEY RESULTS –

Following a citizen’s > Public Records request to the City for a copy of the survey, the July research shows the Piedmont City Council’s proposed Charter change is not in keeping with other cities. 

The procured survey was sent to PCA and is being made available to the public on this site showing that only 19 of the 79 cities surveyed (25%) have any exclusion for returning council members to office.  Eleven exclude former council members for 2 years, 7 prohibit candidacy until 4 years have elapsed, which is what the Piedmont City Charter currently specifies, and only 1 city has an 8 year hiatus, Anaheim.

Survey > PCA Term Limit Questionnaire (Responses)(1)

Three Piedmont Councilmembers, likely to be seeking reelection in November 2018, could benefit from eliminating legally qualified individuals from seeking election to their positions.  Those Councilmembers are King, Rood, and Andersen.

The Council will consider controversial, proposed Charter changes at their meeting on Monday, March 5, 2018.  The meeting will be held at 120 Vista Avenue, starting at 7:30 p.m. The meeting will be broadcast from the City website under videos and on Channel 27.

Contact numbers for the City Council members:

Robert McBain, Mayor rmcbain@piedmont.ca.gov (510) 420-3048 2nd Term Exp. 11/20
Teddy Gray King, Vice Mayor tking@piedmont.ca.gov (510) 420-3048 1st Term Exp. 11/18
Jennifer Cavenaugh jcavenaugh@piedmont.ca.gov (510) 420-3048 1st Term Exp. 11/20
Tim Rood trood@piedmont.ca.gov (510) 239-7663 1st Term Exp. 11/18
Betsy Smegal Andersen bandersen@piedmont.ca.gov (510) 420-3048 Unexpired Term Exp. 11/18
Mar 2 2018

Unlike the Piedmont City Council of 1977 (1977 City Council minutes below), the majority on the 2018 Piedmont City Council plans to put important Charter changes on the June 2018 ballot without an advisory committee, input from City commissions, the School Board, or a broad public information exchange.

The June ballot will require the City to spend up to $55,000 to stop City Council members from returning to office until they have been out of office for 8 years, which is 4 years beyond the current hiatus law.The majority on the Council, except Councilmember Jen Cavenaugh, want immediate action, calling for a Special Election in June 2018, rather than wait until the much less costly Regular Election in November 2018 and public engagement on the proposed changes.

Citizens have pointed out that the rushed Charter changes in regard to limiting citizens who can be candidates favors the current majority of on the City Council, who will be up for re-election in November 2018. The favored Councilmembers are Tim Rood, Betsy Andersen and Teddy King. All of whom have expressed support for the extended time limit on the candidacy of former elected officials.

The majority of the Council members stated that turnover on the Council would be good for Piedmont and opportunities should be opened for more volunteers to serve.  Yet, the current City Council has often rejected new volunteers from appointment to Piedmont Committees and Commissions, where new appointees would gain additional insight helpful in running for a position on the Council.  When making appointments, the Council has repeatedly reached back, recycling former appointees or transferring termed-out appointees from one commission or committee to another, while new, qualified volunteers were not chosen.

Incumbency as an advantage for prior office holders was a primary reason put forward by those Council members seeking to forbid individuals from seeking elected office until 8 years had elapsed.  However, by law, the term “incumbent” is one who is “in office seeking reelection”; former out-of-office individuals are not incumbents and can not by law seek office as “incumbents.”  

Definition: “An incumbent is an official who holds an office.” 

California law states:

  1. Pursuant to Elections Code Section 13107, subdivision (b)(4), the Secretary of State shall reject as unacceptable any proposed ballot designation which uses a word or prefix to indicate a prior profession, vocation, occupation or elected, appointed or judicial office previously held by the candidate. Such impermissible words or prefixes include, but are not limited to, “Ex-,” “former,” “past,” and “erstwhile.” Examples of impermissible designations include “Former Congressman,” “Ex-Senator,” and “Former Educator.”

(2) The word “incumbent” [can be used] if the candidate is a candidate for the same office which he or she holds at the time of filing the nomination papers, and was elected to that office by a vote of the people.

Piedmont City Council and School Board elections are frequently uncontested.  Stopping previously elected officials from seeking election potentially narrows the field of potential candidates and increases the possibility of an uncontested election relieving candidates from the necessity of campaigning / convincing citizens to vote for them.

Prominence in the community for good work is the criteria used by most voters.  History proves some Piedmont candidates seeking reelection or a return to office after an absence have not won election.

The School Board at their February meeting did not take an official position on whether or not School Board members should likewise be prohibited by law from running for the Board prior to an eight year hiatus. Mayor Robert McBain and City Clerk John Tulloch in their expedited trip to the School Board discovered the School Board members were unprepared to support the proposal of the City Administrator Paul Benoit and Mayor McBain to extend the limit from 4 to 8 years when an individual would be barred as a candidate for office.  Prior to Council consideration on March 5, 2018, the staff report indicates McBain and Benoit changed their recommendation.  The two decided against the inclusion of the School Board in their recommendation to change the City Charter. 

Some Piedmonters have wondered why the Council and City staff are so eager to preemptively spend $55,000 on a ballot measure that could wait for community consideration and placement on the November 2018 ballot.  It has been speculated that the advantage to current Councilmembers to eliminate competitors in the November 2018 election could be the impetus for spending up to $55,000 in June rather than wait until November, because the budget and fund reserve issues can continue as practiced until further exploration of the implications and consideration of the changes on the November ballot. 

Reserving excess City revenue funds as proposed in the Charter changes will be discussed in a future article.

 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Below is the language found in the 1977 City Council minutes charging a Charter Review Committee:

“On July 5, 1977, by Resolution 172-77, the City Council charged the Charter Review Committee as follows:

Resolved:  That this Council directs the Charter Review Committee to recommend to the Council the deletion of antiquated provisions and recommend updating of Charter provisions.

All Council members present voted aye: Loughran, Anderson, Rickson, Shapiro”

On the Council Agenda for 03/05/18 is Consideration of the Following Actions Related to the Possible Amendment of the City Charter –

Read the Staff reports by clicking on the items below: 

a. Approval of a Resolution Proposing Amendments to the City Charter Modifying Term Limits for the City Council, Eliminating the 25% Cap on the General Fund Reserve, and Amending Sections Related to the Filling of Vacancies on the City Council and Board of Education

b. Approval of a Resolution Calling a Special Municipal Election for June 5, 2018, Requesting the Consolidation of the Special Municipal Election with the Statewide General Election, and Adding a Measure Relating to Amendments to the Charter of the City of Piedmont

03/05/18 – Consideration of Options Regarding a Direct Argument and a Rebuttal Argument Regarding the Charter Amendment Measure on the June 5, 2018 Ballot 

Feb 26 2018

The Piedmont Unified School District Board will meet on February 28, 2018 at 7:00 p.m. in the Piedmont Council Chambers, City Hall 120 Vista Avenue. The Board will consider policies concerning emergencies and school safety. 

To view the staff reports, readers must first click on the various items noted below and then download the information to their computers.  The School District staff reports cannot be accessed directly, as found in our typical format. 

There will also be a presentation on Update on District Training on Equity, Diversity, and Social Justice .  Read > Background – Update on District Training on Equity, Diversity and Social Justice

Presentation and Acceptance of Measure H1 2017 General Obligation Bonds Financial Audit; Presentation and Acceptance of Measure H1 2017 General Obligation Bonds Performance Audit. The District’s independent auditing firm will present the District G.O. Bonds (2017) Financial Report of June 30, 2017 and the G.O.Bonds Performance Audit of June 30, 2017. The Board will be requested to formally accept these reports.Attachments:2017 General Obligation Bonds Audit Report and Financial Statements
Performance Audit Report – Measure H1

Approval of  Safe Schools Plans for Piedmont USD per Education Code sections 32280-32289

 2018-19 Beach Safe Schools Plan
2018-19 Havens Safe Schools Plan
2018-19 PHS and MHS Safe Schools Plan
2018-19 PMS Safe Schools Plan
2018-19 Wildwood Safe Schools Plan

Review of Board Policies and Administrative Regulations 

The Board will Review the following updated Board Policies (BP) and Administrative Regulations (AR) :

1. Background – 3rd Reading of Healthy Relationships and Sexual Harassment
2. BP-AR – Sexual Harassment
3. BP-AR 6142.12 Healthy Relationships/Sexual Assault Prevention
4. BP-AR 1312.3 – Uniform Complaint Procedures
5. BP-AR 4030 – Discrimination – Hate Motivated Incidents-Hate Crime- Harassment-Bullying – Employee Version
6. AR 4031 – Complaints Concerning Discrimination in Employment
7. BP 5131 – Discipline Code – Schools Rules and Procedures
8. BP-AR 5141.4 – Child Abuse and Neglect Reporting Procedures
9. BP-AR 5144.1 – Suspension and Expulsion Due Process
AR 5144.2 -Suspension and Expulsion Due Process – Students with Disabilities
BP-AR 5145.3 – Discrimination / hate-motivated incidents and hate crimes / hazing / harassment (including sexual harassment), intimidation, bullyi
Feb 23 2018

Proposed Changes to Piedmont Governance Are Missing  Community Input – 

The February 5, 2018 Staff Report has the proposed revised  City Charter. There are single lines added that are fundamental changes to the way Piedmont operates and has operated for many, many years. Example: p19 Sec. 3.01 “All other officers shall be appointed and directed by the City Administrator.” Only the City Administrator and Attorney would be appointed by the Council under the new charter.

Under the current City Charter the City Council is the final authority. Under the proposed new Charter the Chiefs of Police and Fire, City Clerk, Director of Finance, Director of Public Works, City Engineer, Planning Director, Director of Recreation and such other subordinate officers, assistants, deputies and employees would be appointed by the City Administrator. This is a fundamental change in Piedmont governance. Much more community input is required for this and other fundamental changes.

The essential character of government in Piedmont is civic involvement and public discourse. The City Charter is the central document and rushing this to a vote without more public input and a committee report seems unwise.

Recently the Planning Commission approved a recommendation that Staff have more input on window reveals. If the distance a window is set back from the horizontal exterior wall plane is worthy of committee review, surely changing the City Charter also deserves a thoughtful committee investigation and report.

As public discourse is at the heart of Piedmont governance, an Open Government Ordinance is needed and should be made part of any new charter. This would extend the Brown Act three day notice requirement to a longer period such as eleven days so that during holidays, summer vacations and other demanding family times there would be more notice and adequate time for residents to digest and involve themselves in important changes in town.

Rick Schiller, Piedmont Resident

Editors Note: Opinions expressed are those of the author.
Feb 21 2018

Piedmont League of Women Voters Joins Individual Citizens Expressing Great Concern About the Lack of Citizen Participation and Quick Timing of Proposed Revisions to the City Charter – 

Councilmember Jen Cavenaugh suggested the newly proposed office holder limits appeared to be a solution looking for a problem.

As Piedmonters find out about proposed Piedmont City Charter changes, concern has grown.  In years past when important City Charter changes were proposed, community involvement was primary.  The majority of the City Council at their February 5, 2018 meeting made no attempt to require outreach to Piedmonters.  Only Councilmember Jen Cavenaugh desired more civic engagement prior to placement on the June ballot, which would postpone the Charter ballot to November, 2018.

The City Charter requires all proposed Charter changes be placed on a Piedmont ballot and approved by Piedmont voters prior to becoming law.

The Charter changes were agendized by Mayor Bob McBain and the City Administrator with little time for general public input.  After the February 5 introduction of Charter changes, the next Council meeting for consideration has been scheduled for March 5, 2018.  A Council meeting typically would have been held on February 20, following President’s Day of February 19, however that meeting was cancelled making the Monday, March 5, 2018 the next and last regularly scheduled Council meeting to take action on the ballot measure for it to qualify for the special election in June.

City Attorney Michelle Kenyon told the City Council the numerous changes to the Charter came from the City Administrator, the City Clerk and the Council members. The public was not involved or informed of Charter changes until release of the staff report for the February 5 Council meeting.

Mayor Bob McBain immediately suggested that the June 2018 ballot measure only offer two proposed Charter changes, which evolved to: 1. Exclude former two term officials from seeking public office until an eight-year waiting period has elapsed.  2. Remove from the Charter the budget limitation of 25% in Piedmont General Fund reserves. 

 The Council has shown interest in changing the limit on General Fund reserves from the current 25% limit. To avoid the accumulation of reserves in the General Fund, the Council has recently established various reserve funds where excess money has been placed in an effort to avoid exceeding the 25% limit. 

Cost to the City of up to $55,000 to vote on the Charter changes in June instead of November 2018.

The unexpected urgent placement of the ballot measure requires Council action within weeks of their first public introduction.  The incomplete and unavailable form of the possible ballot language must receive Council action by March 8 if it is to be on the June 2018 ballot.  (See Alameda County election deadlines below).  The expedited timing eliminates the opportunity for broad citizen participation prior to a ballot measure and would cost Piedmonters up to $55,000 than  waiting for the November election when there would be one ballot measure at a reduced cost. 

Some Council members suddenly want Charter changes for Special June Ballot, rather than waiting for November Election.

City Clerk John Tulloch told the Council that City Administrator Paul Benoit had informed the Superintendent of Education Randall Booker the Council wanted to place further limitations on out-of-office former officials seeking election to the Board of Education.   Benoit’s conversation took place prior to public information or Council consideration.

City Attorney Michelle Kenyon explained that the City Council and ultimately the voters rather than the School Board would make the decision on term limit requirements.  Kenyon acknowledged that this was an “important change” to the Charter.  

Importance of the Piedmont City Charter 

The Piedmont City Charter is the underlying legal basis of Piedmont governance.  Previously when significant changes to the City Charter were considered, a Charter Review Committee was appointed by the Council to review, carefully consider issues in open meetings, and then make recommendations to the Council.

The proposed Charter change limiting former office holders’ return to the City Council or School Board originated with Mayor Bob McBain.  McBain explained to the Council he had been approached about office holder term restrictions and had decided it would be beneficial to end prior officer holders ability to ever serve again.

McBain stated he felt it was unfair, and created an uneven election if past officeholders, who he referred to as “incumbents,” sought election after an absence of only 4 years.  He noted that many people want to serve and there are many volunteers.  This City Council has had the practice of recycling prior commissioners and committee members between the various boards, raising a question of the appointments excluding new willing volunteers. Though he had suggested a permanent exclusion, McBain was later convinced during the meeting that an eight year absence from  service was an acceptable time limit for an individual to once more seek election.

Council member Jen Cavenaugh stated that only one person in recent years had wanted to come back and returning past office holders were able to hit the ground running.  She was repeatedly interrupted by other Council members during the meeting when she attempted to speak. 

City Clerk John Tulloch had initiated outreach to other cities to see what exclusions on past officials they included  in their Charters.  He spoke of no outreach within Piedmont. 

On February 13, Mayor McBain and City Clerk Tulloch made a presentation to the School Board.   Following McBain and Tulloch’s presentation, the School Board was not prepared to take a position on the Charter changes.  See Superintendent’s report below.

The City Council has not taken final action to place the term limit issue on the June 2018 ballot and despite the School Board’s inaction, Mayor McBain preemptively proclaimed to the School Board that the service limits impacting the Board members would be on the June 2018 ballot and he hoped that the School Board would vote for the new limits on public service. 

McBain’s proclamation was on a split Council vote with Council member Cavenaugh seeking further information and citizen involvement prior to expending money for the ballot measure in June. 

Given the few past office holders out of office for only four years, the limitation and barring of candidates appeared to be targeting specific individuals.

Deadlines for June 2018 Election Ballot:

Close of Nomination Period for the June 5, 2018 Direct Primary Election –  March 09, 2018

Deadline to file Arguments In Favor/Against a Measure on the June 5, 2018 Direct Primary Election – March 14, 2018

Deadline to file Rebuttals to Arguments In Favor/Against a Measure on the June 5, 2018 Direct Primary Election – March 19, 2018

Ballot arguments are filed with the Alameda County Registrar of Voters.

~~~~~~~~~~~~

The Board of Education current Policy 9110 states in regard to terms of office:

“BB 9110 Board Bylaws Terms Of Office:  The Piedmont City Charter contains the following provisions relative to the Board of Education: 1. The Board shall consist of five members elected from the city at large for a term of four years. Board members shall be elected at the times and in the same manner provided for members of the city council. Only qualified voters of the city shall be eligible to hold the office of Board member. No person who has served two full consecutive terms as a members of the Board shall be eligible to hold office until one full intervening term of four years has elapsed. Any person who serves as a member of the Board for more than eighteen months of an unexpired term shall be considered to have served a full term.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

TO: Board of Education   FROM: Randall Booker, Superintendent  DATE: February 13, 2018   RE: POSSIBLE AMENDMENTS TO THE PIEDMONT CITY CHARTER

___________________________________________

I. SUPPORT INFORMATION

At its June 19. 2017 meeting, the Piedmont City Council directed staff to review the city charter and point out provisions that may be outdated. Subsequent to that meeting, Councilmembers also reviewed the charter and made suggestions regarding provisions they thought might need amendment.

At the February 5, 2018 City Council Meeting, City staff presented on the culmination of this review. As part of the discussion, a Councilmember suggested a possible revision of term limits (which in turn, could affect the [Piedmont Unified School District] PUSD School Board). City staff then requested direction from the City Council on further proposed Charter amendments and the possible placement on a ballot for consideration by Piedmont voters.

The following are the proposed changes that could specifically affect PUSD:

Article II – City Council
Section 2.03 Term of Office

Article VII – Public Schools
Section 7.02 Membership, Term of Office

Board Bylaw 9110

A question was raised as to whether Piedmont should amend the existing term limits provided for in the Charter. Currently, the Charter (and Board Bylaws) limits Councilmembers (and by extension Board of Education Members) to serving two consecutive terms. The current provision, however, does not prohibit a Councilmember (or Board Member) who has served two consecutive terms from running again after a full term (four years) has elapsed. The question for Council (and Board) consideration is whether there is a desire to impose stricter term limits than currently exist.

If there were such a desire, an option described for Council (and Board) consideration would be to limit Councilmembers (and Board Members) to serving two full terms in office. Should the Board wish to consider this option, both Section 2.03 and Board Bylaw 9110 would need to be revised as follows:

No person who has served two (2) full consecutive terms as member of the Board shall be eligible to hold such office again. until one full intervening term of four (4) years has elapsed. [Editors Note:  This appears to have been an error.]

II. RECOMMENDATION: REVIEW AND ACTION

Review the City’s proposed changes to the City Charter and, by extension, Board Bylaw 9110 and provide direction to the Superintendent.

Read the Piedmont League of Women Voters letter to the City Council HERE.