Aug 13 2018

Piedmont Election – November 6, 2018

Candidates seeking election to the three open City Council seats are:

  • Betsy Smegal Andersen – Appointed Council member
  • Nancy “Sunny” Bostrom-Fleming
  • Teddy Gray King -Vice Mayor – Incumbent
  • Tim Rood – Council member – Incumbent  

The nomination period for City Council candidacy ended on August 10th because the two incumbents filed re-election nomination papers. 

The Board of Education Nomination Period has been extended to Wednesday, August 15th because Incumbent Doug Ireland is not seeking re-election. 

Candidates seeking election to the two School Board seats are:

  • Julie A. Caskey
  • Megan Pillsbury
  • Amal Smith – Incumbent
  • Hari Titan

Louis Wu has had nomination papers issued, but has yet to submit all qualifying nomination papers which are due on 8/15/18.

For more information on the candidates, click the link below:

> Candidate List 2018

(current as of 8/13/18)

Aug 13 2018

The Piedmont Recreation Commission will meet on Wednesday, August 15.  Residents are invited to attend the meeting in the City Council Chambers, 120 Vista Avenue at 7:30 p.m.  The meeting will be broadcast live on Cable Channel 27 and from the City website under videos.

Regular Agenda
1.Approval of Minutes-July 18, 2018
2. Chair’s Report
3. Director’s Report
4. Summer 2018 Recap
5.Update on Schoolmates for 2018-19
6. Update from Subcommittee
on Tennis court use and Pickleball
7. Update from Subcommittee on Skateboarding and Scootering
8. Ceremonial Presentation
Read the Draft July Recreation Commission Meeting minutes to learn about interesting items the Recreation Commission is working on. 
Aug 11 2018

Nomination Period Extended for Board of Education Candidates to New Deadline: Wednesday, August 15, 2018 5:00 p.m. 

School Board Member Doug Ireland is not seeking re-election.

The City Council Nomination Period has ended, as all City Council incumbents have filed for re-election.

The Nomination Period for the two seats on the Board of Education which are up for election at the November 6, 2018 General Municipal Election has been extended to Wednesday, August 15th, due to incumbent Doug Ireland not seeking re-election. The nomination period for seats on the City Council has closed.

Currently, five candidates have taken out nomination papers for seats on the Board of Education and four have qualified for the ballot.

Residents interested in taking out nomination papers for the Board of Education should contact the City Clerk’s Office at (510) 420-3040 as soon as possible to set up an appointment to be issued papers. The California Elections Code requires that nomination papers be issued in person to the prospective candidate at City Hall. The process of issuing nomination papers takes approximately one hour.

The extended deadline for submitting completed nomination papers is 5:00 p.m. on Wednesday, August 15th. Details on the nomination process are available in the Guide to Nomination and Candidacy, which is available on the City’s web site.

Residents with questions about the process or wishing to make an appointment can call the City Clerk’s office at (510) 420-3040.

Contact: John O. Tulloch, City Clerk

The names of candidates filing and qualifying for the School Board and City Council November 6, 2018 Election have not been announced by the City Clerk, as of 8/10/18.

Aug 9 2018

PIEDMONT UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT PRESS RELEASE
August 9, 2018

On August 9, 2018, the Piedmont Unified School District announced the selection of Alphonso Powell as the new Director of Athletics for Piedmont High School and Millennium High School. Mr. Powell has extensive coaching experience, as well as an impressive background in Athletic Administration.

Mr. Powell has served as the Executive Director of Athletics and Activities for the Oakland Unified School District since 2015. During that time he also was the CIF Commissioner for the Oakland Section and Oakland Athletic League. Mr. Powell was instrumental in increasing athletics across Oakland schools, as well as establishing middle school athletic programs to provide extra-curricular activities and increase opportunities for athletic participation.

Mr. Powell has served as an athletic coach for over 25 years. He has been a head coach in football, basketball, wrestling, and soccer, as well as a varsity assistant coach in football, basketball, baseball, and tennis. He led Fremont High School to six consecutive winning seasons and two Silver Bowl appearances. He has also coached football at the Community College level.

Mr. Powell played four sports while attending Cordova High School, winning Metro League titles in football and basketball. He played football at Sacramento City College, where he was a member of the Panther’s 1989 Camino Del Norte Conference championship team.

He also has extensive experience as an educator at the school site and in the classroom. Prior to his role as the Executive Director of Athletics and Activities for the Oakland Unified School District, Mr. Powell was an Assistant Principal for six years at Father Keith B. Kenny K-8 School in Sacramento—a public K-8 school in the Sacramento Unified School District.

He was also the Director of Student Athletics, Curriculum and Academic Achievement for the Twin Rivers Unified School District and a Special Education Teacher in the Grant Joint Union High School District.

Mr. Powell attended California State University, East Bay, where he received his Bachelor’s of Science in Recreation Administration. He received his Level II Education Specialist Credential from Project Pipeline and his Administrative Services Credential from California State University, Sacramento.

PHS Principal Adam Littlefield coordinated the recruitment and selection process. Administrators, teaching staff, coaching staff, members of the PHS Athletic Boosters, the City of Piedmont’s Recreation Director, and a student representative participated in the interviews.

PHS Principal Adam Littlefield commented, “The Piedmont High School and Millennium High School communities are fortunate to have a new Director of Athletics with Mr. Powell’s experience. His attitude, skills, and knowledge will serve as the foundation for a successful athletics program. I am excited to have him as a member of our administrative team.”

“Mr. Powell brings incredible coaching, teaching, and athletic administration experience for our student-athletes, coaches, and Piedmont Community,” Superintendent Randall Booker commented. “I’m really looking forward to working with him and know that our athletic community will truly benefit from his leadership.”

The District’s Director of Athletics is responsible for: recruiting, hiring, supervising, and evaluating 175 coaches; developing and overseeing the Athletic Department budget; monitoring student eligibility; serving as the school representative of the Western Alameda County Conference; partnering with the PHS Athletic Boosters; coordinating team schedules, transportation, equipment, and supplies for 49 teams; and ensuring a safe and supportive program for over 500 student athletes. The Director of Athletics, which is a full-time administrative position funded jointly by the District and the Piedmont Education Foundation, requires a coaching certification. The position was broadly advertised, and there were 25 applicants.

Mr. Powell will start in this position on August 21, 2018, at an annual salary of $106,139.

 

Aug 9 2018

At the November 6, 2018 General Election, Amal Smith seeks re-election to the Piedmont School Board  –

Amal Smith

Piedmont school board member Amal Smith filed candidate nomination papers for one of the open seats on the Board of Education in the November 2018 election. Amal was elected to the board in 2014 after serving as an active volunteer in the school community for almost 14 years, ranging from classroom volunteer to leadership roles on parent club boards and the Piedmont Educational Foundation.

Ms. Smith and her husband, Rick, moved their family to Piedmont in 1998. They have two sons: Connor who works in San Francisco after graduating from Vanderbilt University, and Luke, a senior at University of Texas in Austin. “The idea of community and community work is very important to me. I have a deep interest in building and supporting community, especially this one where we were able to establish roots and raise our sons. It has been a real privilege and honor to work with the smart and thoughtful people who support our community and its schools,” she explained.

“I have almost 20 years of volunteer service and with every year of service, I learn more and more about how things work in our district: the rules, the finances, the partnerships, the people, the context in which decisions are made,” she said. In addition to her current tenure on the school board, Ms. Smith has extensive volunteer experience. She was active in the Beach Elementary School community, serving as president, vice president, and treasurer, as well as a volunteer for the Parent Educator and Meet the Masters programs. She served for six years on the Piedmont Educational Foundation board, serving on the grants committee, as treasurer for three years, and president for two years. She was treasurer for two years on the PHS Parents Club, a member of the PHS Wellness Center Advisory Board, and a facilitator for the Piedmont Parent Network. She was a member of the District’s Budget Advisory Committee for 10 years, and a volunteer on school parcel tax and bond measure campaigns.

“My primary priorities are to continue to hold a strategic, long-term perspective to build and sustain an educational program—from the sciences to the liberal arts—that gives all our students a strong academic base, intellectual curiosity, and skills to meet career goals and life challenges; attracting, developing, and retaining excellent teachers and district leaders; and on-going strong fiscal stewardship, including thoughtful and judicious oversight and implementation of the H1 school facilities bond program.”

Ms. Smith is currently the Associate Dean for Finance at the UCSF School of Medicine. She has almost 30 years of experience in higher education consulting and administration, including budget and resource allocation; financial analysis, management, and reporting; strategic planning and change management; and compliance, controls, and accountability. She has a BA in Psychology from UCLA, and a MBA from USC.

“During her service on the school board, Amal has shown her commitment to our children’s education. She combines a drive for high achievement with concern for student well-being, and applies her financial expertise to manage the district’s budget constraints,” says former school board president Rick Raushenbush, a member of Ms. Smith’s campaign committee. Her campaign committee also includes Hilary Cooper, Charlotte Ero, Cathie Geddeis, Anne-Marie Lamarche, Conna McCarthy, June Monach, and Rick Smith. Doug Ireland, Valerie Matzger, and Sue Smegal are the campaign committee honorary co-chairs.

Editors’ Note:  The Piedmont Civic Association welcomes information and comments  on candidates for public office.  PCA does not support or oppose any candidates.
Jul 19 2018

Now is the time for Piedmonters to step up and seek election to the City Council and Board of Education.  Candidates are needed to fill available seats and guarantee an active and informative election.

Council members recently stated they wanted more and different Piedmonters to seek election to the City Council instead of formerly elected Council members who might be better known.  The Council wanted more citizens to have an opportunity to be elected to the City Council. During recent City Council discussions of the City Charter, the City Council specifically added a proposed provision limiting City Council members ability to seek a return to the Council until 8 years had intervened rather than four years, noting that more Piedmonters should have a chance to be elected.   

The time is now to be a candidate for City Council and Board of Education.  

The Board of Education, according to Piedmont staff, declined a proposed change to the City Charter to exclude former Board members’ as candidates for 8 years, thus former Board members would continue to be able to seek a return to the Board following a 4 year hiatus.  Apparently, there was no issue regarding former Board members seeking re-election to the Board of Education. 

Numerous potential candidates are Piedmonters who have been active on commissions, committees, as volunteers and activists proving they care about their community and its schools.    

There are 3 positions on the City Council and 2 positions on the School Board to be filled at the election on November 6, 2018.

Uncontested elections:

A number of Piedmont City Council and School Board elections have been uncontested in the past, meaning only enough candidates seek election to fill the open positions and all candidates are automatically elected to the positions they seek.  Uncontested elections engender less interest and little discussion of issues, as there is no competition or true election by voters.

ISSUES:

Some City Council issues:

  • potential new bond ballot measure for sports facilities
  • City Charter adherence 
  • zoning changes and construction regulations
  • taxation increases
  • garbage rates and contract terms
  • cell tower installations
  • police officers in schools
  • employee hiring and oversight
  • facility improvements
  • citizen involvement – open participatory processes
  • road and sidewalk repairs
  • fire and emergency safety
  • environmental matters

Some School Board issues:

  • school construction within constraints of  bond funding limits
  • student population changes
  • revenues sufficient to support operations and programs
  • comparisons to other public and private schools
  • school safety
  • police officers in schools
  • taxation increases
  • community engagement and participation through information to community
  • personnel selections
  • prompt responses to students and parents concerns
  • communications between school and home
  • community use of school facilities
  • environmental matters

The time to begin the process is now.

Those interested in Piedmont elective office must act before  the August 10 deadline in completing and filing the necessary paperwork to be a candidate in the November 6, 2018 election.

Candidates need to contact the City Clerk at 420-3040 for an appointment to receive filing information including taking out and returning candidate paperwork.  The session with the City Clerk is projected to take one hour. 

Procedures for Candidate’s

The City of Piedmont will hold its General Municipal Election on November 6, 2018. The nomination period for the three (3) vacancies on the Piedmont City Council and two (2) vacancies on the Board of Education opened on Monday, July 16th. The deadline for submitting completed paperwork is:

Friday, August 10th at 5:00 p.m.  with the City Clerk at Piedmont City Hall, 120 Vista Avenue.

There is no cost to candidates to file for election.

The California Elections Code requires that nomination papers be issued in person to the prospective candidate at City Hall.

It is strongly recommended that residents wishing to take out or return candidate paperwork set an appointment with the City Clerk. 510/420-3040

This ensures prompt service for the candidate and allows the Clerk to devote full attention to the process. Residents without appointments will be seen on a time available basis and may be subject to interruption. Contact the Piedmont City Clerk at 510/420-3040. 

…………..

The Piedmont “Guide to Nomination and Candidacy” is > HERE.

STAFF REPORT ESTABLISHING ELECTION  > http://www.ci.piedmont.ca.us/html/govern/staffreports/2018-06-18/electionprocedure.pdf

………….

If an incumbent does not file for re-election, of which there are 2 incumbents* for the 3 Council vacancies and 2 incumbents for the two Board of Education vacancies, the nomination period will be extended by 5 days as below:

– Elections Code Section 10225.

(a) Notwithstanding Sections 10220 and 10224, if nomination papers for an incumbent officer of the city are not filed by or on the 88th day before the election, during normal business hours, as posted, the voters shall have until the 83rd day before the election during normal business hours, as posted, to nominate candidates other than the person who was the incumbent on the 88th day, for that incumbent’s elective office.

  • *On the City Council there is presently an appointed Council member, who is not considered by law to be an incumbent (Section 13107), but who can seek one of the 3 vacant seats on the Council at the November 2018 Election.

If there is a tie vote Section 15651 shall apply:

In the event of a tie-vote for any office which is being voted on at such General Municipal Election, the provisions of Section 15651 of the California Elections Code, relating to determining the tie by lot, shall apply.

Residents with questions about the process or wishing to make an appointment should call the City Clerk’s office at (510) 420-3040.

Jul 5 2018

On the afternoon of June 19, 2018,  a City Council/School Board Liaison meeting was held.  Members of the School Board, City Council, and their staff members met at the Piedmont Unified School District (PUSD) Administrative Offices on Magnolia Avenue to discuss various issues, which included: upcoming summer facilities projects, H1 Bond projects, solid waste management education, recreational renovations, and school safety.

Present at the meeting were School representatives: Board Vice President, Amal Smith, Board Member, Andrea Swenson, Superintendent Randall Booker, Director of Facilities, Pete Palmer, and Director of Curriculum and Instruction, Cheryl Wozniak. Representatives from the City were Mayor Bob McBain and City Administrator Paul Benoit.

The meeting began with Booker introducing the agenda and starting off the conversation with updates on the H1 Bond measure and the issue of the various District Summer facilities projects.  These projects include climate control renovations to elementary school facilities and the rebuilding of the 30’s complex at Piedmont High School for the high school’s new STEAM building, with construction beginning in June of 2019 as part of the H1 Bond measure.

During the April 2019 Spring break, the real projects begin removing the Alan Harvey Theater and drainage work on Witter Field.

“We’re starting these summer renovations at Havens Elementary, where five classrooms on the top floor can reach as high as 90 degrees while teachers are instructing students,” said Palmer. “The new climate control systems we will be installing are some of the most efficient units available on the market.”

Palmer explained that the same climate control systems would be installed in certain classrooms at Beach and Wildwood Elementary schools that are also at risk for reaching high temperatures.

“These new highly efficient systems will allow us to cut energy costs, which means putting more money right back into schools and facilities,” said Booker.

The High School’s new STEAM building will have 7 new classrooms, expanding the capacity of the school’s computer lab facilities. Booker stressed the importance of adding these new classrooms and computer facilities because 50 students had to be turned away from the school’s computer program during the previous school year due to insufficient class space.

“It’s great that we have so many students interested in computer science; however; right now we just don’t have the space.  With these new facilities, we will be able to accommodate everyone,” said Booker.

Booker noted the School District was exploring options to install a new computer system that would cut down on the purchasing of expensive Computer Processing Units (CPU) by allowing as few as one control CPU unit to feed many students’ computer monitors without the need for them to have their own CPU unit.

Palmer related a break in the waterline under Wildwood Schoolmates, requiring a temporary waterline and the closing down of El Cerrito Avenue, as well as P.E Hill, in order to fix the break.

Witter Field will be closed during the installation of new LED field lights, which would be more directive, project less light on neighbors, and be better for player safety visibility. Palmer stated the installation should go quickly unless the current light structures are revealed to have rusted bolts or fixtures, in which case they would need to be cut and repaired during renovation.

Booker discussed the High School Master Plan beginning construction in March 1, 2019, when the closure, salvage and abatement of the Alan Harvey Theater will occur,  along with the closure and drainage renovation of Witter Field.

An inspector from Division of State Architects (DSA) will come to survey the Witter Field area and check its Americans with Disability Act  (ADA)  compliance.  Witter Field has areas of concern, such as the Wildwood steps leading down to the field, which are not ADA compliant, according to Booker.

A passing inspection regarding the ADA and approval from the state are necessary prior to construction, as clarified by Vice President Amal Smith.

City Administrator Paul Benoit addressed the issue of solid waste management.

“We only received one bidder for Piedmont’s solid waste contract. Waste Management as a firm did not want to do backyard service, and Piedmont doesn’t want to give up backyard service. We’ll be continuing to work with Republic Services as our contractor,” said Benoit.

In addition to the City’s new contract with Republic, Abbe and Associates, a green education and waste management consultant, will aid the community, including the schools, in environmental awareness and sustainable living.

When Vice President Smith raised questions as to expectations with Abbe, Benoit replied that the consulting firm’s community-wide involvement will be collaborative with no set expectations or requirements.

Mayor Bob McBain stated that Abbe would work in situations managing waste from City events like the Harvest Festival and everything Abbe does should be constructive leading to reduced waste and proper disposal.

“It’s not gonna work, if it is a burden to everyone,” McBain said.

There are pending renovations and resurfacing of several tennis courts.   Linda Beach Tennis courts are desired by Pickleball players. Pickleball is a hybrid game of tennis and ping pong. The Piedmont Pickleball Association rents the Linda Beach courts on certain weekdays from 9 a.m. to 12 noon for $12 an hour according to Benoit, and will continue to do so until school begins on August 13th.

Mayor McBain stated there is the possibility for the City and the Piedmont Pickleball Association to work together in order to resurface the Middle School courts to be used for the sport when not in use by the schools.

Benoit introduced the topic of School Safety which he stated was a big topic.  While School Safety was talked about at the staff level, thus far it had not received extensive discussion at the Council level. School Safety has risen in salience as the national climate around school shootings has intensified at an alarming rate.   There are uncertainties on how to move forward with this initiative in Piedmont, according to Benoit.

Superintendent Booker brought up the implementation of onsite security personnel in Piedmont schools.

“From experience and time spent with Albany High School, I found the presence of a police officer on campus an extremely effective and beneficial resource,” said Booker.

Booker went on to explain that the presence of a security person on campus at the High School, such as one on-duty soft uniform officer from the Piedmont Police Department, would be helpful. These resource officers in soft uniform, meaning they are wearing uniform pants and Piedmont Police Department polo shirts instead of a full patrol uniform, would receive very specific and intensive training to acclimate them to a campus environment. The resource officer would carry the same equipment that other police officers do on their belts, including a firearm.

“I would consider myself a strong advocate for the resource officer as a solution to school safety, as in my experience they are incredibly effective at communicating safety,” said Booker.

The resource officer would report to the Piedmont Chief of Police and the hope is that the officer costs would be paid half by the City and half by the School District.

McBain emphasized the need for the City to find the money for the resource officer and introduce the idea to the community.

Benoit informed the attendees that the City is actively recruiting for a new Fire Chief.

Report by Joe Creason, Journalism Intern

Jun 21 2018

PIEDMONT CITY COUNCIL TO HOST TOWN HALL MEETING ON POSSIBLE AMENDMENTS TO THE PIEDMONT CITY CHARTER

Monday, June 25, 2018 at 6:30 p.m. in the City Council Chambers

Comments in this article are in response to the City’s public notice and were written by the Piedmont Civic Association aggregating some of the comments by Piedmonters knowledgeable and concerned about the proposed Piedmont City Charter changes. 

The City’s meeting notice was provided by Piedmont City Administrator Paul Benoit and  John Tulloch City Clerk /Assistant City Administrator, a recently created position,   

Town Hall Meeting – Monday, June 25

“The Piedmont City Council will hold a town hall meeting on Monday, June 25, 2018 at 6:30 p.m. in the City Council Chambers to receive public input on possible amendments to the City Charter, which may be placed before the voters at the City’s General Municipal Election in November 2018.”

“The discussion of possible Charter amendments began in June 2017 and Council has subsequently discussed the issue at meetings on February 5, 2018, March 5, 2018, April 30, 2018, and June 4, 2018.”

BIG CHANGES TO THE CITY CHARTER

The proposed City Charter changes were devised by the City Administrative staff and the Piedmont City Council to potentially be voted upon by the Piedmont electorate at the General Election in November 2018. For the proposed changes to take effect, Piedmont voters must approve the changes.   All portions of the Charter were not considered in the Charter review.  For instance, Piedmont’s method of borrowing money was not taken up, nor was a clarification on the controversial zoning language in the Charter.  Also, when a mayor recently resigned, the Council  arbitrarily created a new position outside of the Charter called an “Acting Mayor.”   These items and others were not addressed in the proposed changes.

A number or Piedmonters and the Piedmont League of Women Voters had asked the Council to involve the community in the City Charter changes, however all considerations were made at the Council level garnering little public participation and no input from City commissions, committees, or a special committee charged with assessing potential City Charter changes.

ADMINISTRATIVE CHANGES

Administrative changes, although de-emphasized in the City’s  presentations on proposed Charter changes, represent the greatest alterations to Piedmont’s form of City Administrator government.  Piedmont has had the City Administrator form of government for generations, and most would agree Piedmont has done well during those many years under the City Administrator form of government. As will be read below, authority historically held by the City Council is being transferred to the City Administrator.

The proposals to change the City Charter would take authority from the City Council and transfer it to the City Administrator.

The Council would retain authority to hire Department Heads, such as the Police Chief, City Clerk, Fire Chief, Finance Director, but the Council could not fire their appointees.  The Department Head termination authority would be granted solely to the City Administrator, presenting a new and different complexity to Piedmont  governance.

The City Administrator in Piedmont, by the current Charter language, has the responsibility for the administration of the City – the day to day operations and administration of the City. The City Administrator reports to the Council on employee performance.  The current Charter language states the Council can direct top managers, however the Charter also makes it clear the Council members are not administrators and  as individuals cannot act to “direct” the managers or the City Administrator.

Taking the authority to direct Department Heads from the Council, as a whole, and bestowings the authority solely upon the City Administrator, is governance commonly considered a City Manager form of government with a directly elected mayor, which Piedmont does not have,.   In Piedmont, the Council appoints from their members an individual to be Piedmont’s Mayor.  Piedmont’s mayor has essentially the same authority as the other four Council members other than what is allowed by the Charter or granted by the Council.  In recent years, Council observers have noted more authority has been given by the City Administrator to mayors than the Charter allows without consideration by the  Council as a whole.

 UNLIMITED RESERVES 

The original idea for reviewing the City Charter arose at a Council meeting when it became apparent Piedmont revenues greatly exceeded the Annual Budget 25% limit in the General Fund Reserve. One or more Council members wanted to accumulate larger amounts of money in the General Fund Reserve.  The Charter limit on reserves was intended to stop Councils from excessively taxing Piedmont property owners.

Much of the increase in Piedmont revenues stems from the sale of property resulting in transfer taxes and a higher basis on Piedmont property taxes.  To retain the excess revenues  when the 25% General Fund Reserve limit had been met, the Council has directed the excess  revenue into various newly established reserve funds,  At the same time, the City Council has continued to levy the full voter approved property tax, plus an annual percentage increase regardless of the windfall tax revenues.  The practice of placing excess revenues into special reserve funds has been put into practice without changing the City Charter.

The following language in quotes is from the City notice followed by PCA comments:

“At its June 4th meeting, the City Council directed staff to schedule a town hall meeting in order to allow residents an additional opportunity to review the changes that have been discussed at previous Council meetings. This is an opportunity for residents to ask questions and express their opinions on the proposed Charter amendments prior to the Council placing a measure on the November ballot.”

Unlike past reviews of the City Charter, there has been no comprehensive look at the entire Charter nor an independent committee focused on the pros and cons of the proposed Charter changes.

Presumably, the Council does not want to put something on the ballot that is likely to be rejected by Piedmont voters.  Yet, the Town Hall Meeting comes after Council decisions have essentially been made regarding proposed changes to the City Charter. The Council must now decide if their proposals will be accepted by Piedmont voters and if it is timely to place the proposals before the voters.  Each time the Charter is placed on a ballot, it incurs cost for the City.

“Because the Charter is effectively the City of Piedmont’s constitution, the City Council wants to receive as much resident input as possible on the proposed amendments.”

The Town Hall meeting will not include a comprehensive discussion and exchange of ideas on the Charter changes – the pros and cons – for each public speaker is typically given only 3 minutes to address even this voluminous subject. Decisions were made by the City Council and staff on the proposals to be considered at the meeting.

Depending on citizen input on the proposals, the Council may or may not decide to place the changes on the November ballot.  The Council could defer action pending further consideration of unintended consequences and/or benefits to Piedmont. 

Some of the proposed amendments to the Charter are as follows: [The order of the City changes has been changed here to prioritize important issues first. The most significant proposed changes were previously placed by the City staff toward the end of their announcement, which might lead readers to assume the administrative changes are minor.] 

  • ” In Article 3 – Administration, several changes are proposed to clarify reporting structure for the Officers of the City (Department Heads). At the April 30th meeting, Council directed staff to clarify sections in this article to make clear that the City Council appoints Department Heads, but that they are directed by and serve at the pleasure of the City Administrator.”

This is one of the most important, if not the most important change being proposed to the City Charter. The above statement by the City hints at the split authority of the Council.  For example, the Council would appoint Department Heads, but the Council could not dismiss problem Department Heads, creating confusion and potential problems for the City Administrator, who would be the sole authority in dismissal, “serve at the pleasure of the City Administrator.”

Department Heads in Piedmont have always served at the pleasure of the City Council and could be directed by the Council as a whole, but not by individual Council members.  For example, the Council might direct the Police Chief to step up night patrols: the Council might direct the Finance Director to find ways to save the City money; the Council might direct the Recreation Director to develop more programs for senior citizens. The Department Heads were held accountable to the City Council with advice from the City Administrator.

In meeting identified needs of citizens, the change proposed totally eliminates the Council’s authority to direct Department Heads.  The Council authority would  be transferred to the City Administrator.

Piedmont, as a small city, has thrived under the City Administrator form of government; the City Manager form of government found in other, many larger, cities, with a directly elected mayor, has the potential for creating new problems regarding Council authority and responsiveness to citizens.

  • ” In Section 4.03, the limit on the General Fund Reserve of 25% is proposed for removal. In addition, an aspirational minimum for the General Fund Reserve of 15% of the General Fund operating budget is inserted.”

The General Fund Reserve limit of 25% originated from concern to not levy more taxes than was necessary to operate the City while providing an emergency reserve during an economic slump or great emergency.  The City Council and City staff in recent years have  diverted excess revenues from the significant property and transfer tax windfall into various fund reserves.  There is no language proposed to limit the Council’s ability to tax property owners.

  • ” In Section 4.11, bidding requirements are changed to remove a low threshold for costly formal bidding requirements, rather leaving it to the Council to set the thresholds for formal bidding by ordinance.”

Bidding requirements are one way to publicly open up the procurement of public services, consultants, contractors, and other City needs rather than continuing with current contractors on a long term basis without going through an open bidding process.  Most  cities and the state encourage open bidding to benefit taxpayers and the community at large.

  • “The Council also directed staff to prepare amendments to several other sections of the Charter to remove outdated provisions and modernize language.”

This part of the City Charter proposals presents many questions for it is largely unidentified.  What  provisions and what antiquated language?  Why not list the outdated provisions? New Department Head positions have been added with no general public notice.  Is Piedmont’s bureaucracy inadequate to serve our small community? Once new positions are added to the Charter, employment cost can be greater and more permanent.

  • ” A modification of City Council term limits to lengthen the period of time during which a former Councilmember is ineligible to run for office again from four to eight years after leaving office. (Section 2.03)”

The change listed above is of little impact for the City Council has only had two Council contenders seeking re-election after a 4 years hiatus. One contender was elected, the other was not.  Changing this in the Charter is of debatable value.

  •  “An amendment to the provision for filling of vacancies on the City Council to allow the Council sixty days to fill a vacancy. If the Council doesn’t act within those sixty days, a special election would be called to fill the vacancy. Under current provision, the Council has thirty days to make an appointment and if it doesn’t act, the Mayor can make an appointment. (Section 2.05(c))”

A thirty day period in which to fill a vacant Council seat is common for elective bodies.  Waiting 60 days to fill a vacant seat potentially leaves the Council vulnerable to inaction on important civic issues when there are only four members of the Council and a split vote occurs.  There has never been a time when the Council could not fill a vacant seat during the mandated thirty day period.

  • ” A requirement that the Council hold two regular meetings per month is eliminated. The proposed language would require the City Council to hold meetings on a regular basis. (Section 2.07 (a))\”

Councils throughout the area hold two or more regular Council meetings per month. Language could be proposed to accommodate changes in schedules. 

  • ” The proposed amendments also modernize the prohibition against employment discrimination to include all classes protected under U.S. and state law. (Section 5.02)”

Prohibition against employment discrimination is the law and does not require a Charter change.  Including the proposed language in the Charter will make no change to how Piedmont handles employment discrimination because Piedmont honorably and consistently follows state and federal laws barring discrimination.

  • ” The provision for filling vacancies on the Board of Education is changed to match the proposed amendments for the City Council, as described above for Section 2.05 (c). Staff consulted with the Piedmont Unified School District which agreed that this amendment, along with one other technical amendment to Article 7 should be included in the proposed amendments.”

The Board of Education must take a position on the City Charter changes by resolution. The details of the proposed changes are not noted here.

  • “A marked up version of the Charter containing each of the proposed amendments is available on the City’s web site at http://www.ci.piedmont.ca.us.   Pursuant to section 9.07 of the Charter, any proposed amendments must be presented to the qualified voters of the City for approval.”

The marked up version has been difficult to follow, making the sweeping changes difficult for the public to understand.

  • “Public comment is invited and encouraged at this meeting. Written comments may be submitted to the City Council at citycouncil@piedmont.ca.gov or by US Mail to City Clerk, 120 Vista Avenue, Piedmont, CA 94611. All comments submitted will become part of the public record.
  • The meeting 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 www.ci.piedmont.ca.us.For further information, contact Assistant City Administrator/ City Clerk John O. Tulloch via email at cityclerk@piedmont.ca.gov or via phone at (510) 420-3040.”

The full staff report for the meeting can be accessed > HERE.

COMMENTS MAY BE SENT TO THE COUNCIL MEMBERS AS BELOW:

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
Jun 10 2018

End of the year letter …

Dear Families and Community,

It’s hard to believe the school year has come to an end! As we reflect on the 2017-18 school year, educators across the District are feeling great pride in the academic and social-emotional growth of students. Together, let us celebrate students’ hard work and engagement in their learning process.

Please click on the following link for a year-end report that highlights many District initiatives from this year. The District’s ultimate goal is to provide an extraordinary education for all students. Each initiative furthered this goal in one of the following ways: updating and refining our curriculum and instruction; promoting deeper levels of student engagement, critical thinking, and inquiry; providing a safe, appropriate and inclusive learning environment for all students; or adapting our administrative practices and structures to better meet the needs of students and better support educators.

I would like to thank our teachers, staff and administrators for their incredible dedication and for all they do on behalf of our students. They are making a remarkable team of professionals who continually strive to improve teaching and learning. I would also like to thank the many organizations, families, and volunteers who partner with the District to enhance and expand opportunities for our students. I am grateful for this breadth and depth of community support for public education, and proud of what we have accomplished together this year.

Have a wonderful summer!

Sincerely,

Randall Booker
Superintendent of the Piedmont Unified School DistrictMay 31, 2018

Jun 10 2018

NOTICE OF PUBLIC HEARING ON INTENT TO ENTER INTO CONTRACT  FOR CONSTRUCTION OF  ENERGY CONSERVATION FACILITIES

The Board of Education of the Piedmont Unified School District (“Board”)
shall hold a public hearing to authorize the award of one contract for construction of energy conservation facilities. (“Contracts”) Pursuant to the provisions of California Government Code Section 4217.12 (a), the Board will determine whether it is in the best interests of the Piedmont Unified School District to enter into the Contracts.

Date: June 13, 2018
Hearing Body: Piedmont Unified School District Board of Education
Time: 7:00 p.m., during a Regular Board of Education meeting
Place: PUSD District Office, 120 Vista Avenue, (Board Room)