Aug 24 2021

FREE COVID VACCINE CLINIC FOR ALL AGES 12+

WEDNESDAY SEPTEMBER 1st

2pm – 6pm

Piedmont Middle School Buzz Redford Gymnasium

WALK-INS ARE WELCOME!

1. Information about Consent for Minors: ACPHD Youth Vaccination Facts page https://covid-19.acgov.org/youthvaxfacts has information about minor consent, including the Alameda County Minor Consent Guidance and a downloadable Written Consent Form

2. Please see the California Department of Public Health Minor Consent Guidance for more information: https:// www.cdph.ca.gov/Programs/CID/DCDC/Pages/COVID-19/ Pfizer-Vaccine-Minor-Consent-Guidance.aspx

3. Though severe allergic reactions are rare, we will have trained staff on site.

Pre-Register Now: Select:Piedmont High School/Middle School

READ THE DETAILED  VACCINE FLYER LINKED BELOW FOR MORE DETAILS

PIEDMONT UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT Vaccine Clinic Flyer

Apr 17 2021

How does the City Council plan to oversee the use of the City owned property at 801 Magnolia Avenue?

While seniors decry the lack of senior programing and voice a need for a Senior Center in Piedmont, private business use has taken priority over public use limiting public use.

Approval of a new lease with the Art Center Board indicates various Council policies are needed:

  • Policy decision authority retained by the Council, the ultimate landlord
  • Guaranteed inclusion rather than exclusion of legitimate non-profit uses of the facility 
  • Council oversight of compliance by all users with local, state, and federal laws including: municipal, state, federal taxes, 501c3 non-profit status, workers compensation, ADA compliance, anti-discrimination, incorporation documentation, valid business licenses and  prohibition of political activities on the premises
  • Accounting of space utilization and ongoing consideration of lost City revenue
  • Evaluation and accountability of liability, risks, and costs to the City by each user and provision of appropriate insurance coverages
  • Semi-annual reports to Council on diversity of users, uses, financial statements, compliance with City policies, and City obligations
  • Staff Annual reports to Council on building structural integrity, safety measures, maintenance, ADA compliance, and interior and exterior upkeep expenditures
  • Required Council approval for all commercial subleases extending over two weeks
  • Council adoption of written conditions required for all sublets 
  • Prohibition of Art Center Board members and advisors to sublet the property for more than two weeks per year
  • Prompt staff reports to Council concerning issues arising from the lease or sublets 
  • Public access to financial records, board meetings, and minutes of Art Center Board
  • Adoption of comprehensive Council policies governing the use and rental of all Piedmont public properties

Piedmonters, owners of 801 Magnolia Avenue, have been awaiting invitations to observe Board meetings and receive regular financial reports from their tenant.  The Piedmont Center for the Arts Board is composed of well-meaning, generous, local residents of Piedmont and Oakland who may have overlooked their obligation to keep Piedmont citizens informed in a transparent manner of the use of this important public asset.

Nov 4 2020

Hats off and praise is deserved for the thousands of Piedmonters who were involved in the Piedmont City Council and PUSD School Board elections, plus Piedmont Measures TT, increase in property transfer tax, and UU pool bonds.

Despite COVID – 19 encumbrances, residents endorsed, posted signs, mailed letters, donated to campaigns, and talked to friends and neighbors and then voted. Piedmonters once more showed a keen interest in Piedmont by participating.

Out of the 9 individuals who sought public office, five were elected – Council: Jen Cavenaugh and Conna McCarthy – School Board: Cory Smegal, Veronica Anderson Thigpen, and Hilary Cooper. 

The two City Council tax measures,  TT, increase in property transfer tax, lost by approximately 50 votes, and UU, pool bonds, was handily approved by over 2/3rds of the voters. 

Thank you to everyone who participated in the Piedmont election.

Updated election returns > https://www.acgov.org/rovresults/241/indexA.htm

Sep 2 2020

Announcement:  The Piedmont Civic Association has specific policies regarding Piedmont elections:

  1.  PCA does not support or oppose candidates for public office.
  2.  PCA does not support or oppose ballot measures.
  3.  The PCA website is open for comments or opinions on election matters – ballot measures and candidates. These may be sent to editors@piedmontcivic.org.
  4. Personal attacks on individuals and attacks on organizations are not accepted.
  5. Opinions are published with the author’s name. 
  6. PCA has invited all candidates to submit information on their candidacy to our website.
  7. All Piedmont candidates have had questions posed to them by PCA, and their responses will be published on this website.

PCA will attempt to keep voters informed during this election period and welcomes community engagement in the process.

BE SURE TO VOTE ON PIEDMONT CANDIDATES AND MEASURES, TYPICALLY FOUND NEAR THE END OF EACH BALLOT. 

PIEDMONT WILL HAVE AN ALAMEDA COUNTY BALLOT BOX NEAR THE MAIL BOXES AT WELLS FARGO BANK IN CENTRAL PIEDMONT. POSTAGE IS NOT REQUIRED. 

Apr 7 2019

Charter Revisions Make City Administrator Selection Vital to Piedmont. 

Will there be an opportunity for public input on the qualifications sought in a new City Administrator?

The Piedmont City Council is moving ahead to find a replacement for City Administrator Paul Benoit, who is retiring in June 2019.

Minutes from February 25, 2019 Special Council action meeting can be read by clicking > 2019-02-25_special

Public input methods and characteristics sought in a new City Administrator by the City Council have not been publicized.  In the past, the community has been given opportunities to provide comments and ideas on desired characteristics of top Piedmont officials.

The recently voter approved Charter revisions place the decision of retention of key employees with the City Administrator rather than with the City Council.

In November 2018, the City Council and City Administrator Paul Benoit proposed and Piedmont voters approved City Charter changes transferring long-held Council responsibilities to the Piedmont City Administrator.  If the City Council and City Administrator disagree on the retention of key-officers – Police Chief, Fire Chief, Planning Director, Finance Director, Public Works Director, etc., only  the City Administrator has the right and authority to determine these key employees continued employment with the City.

The next City Administrator may require a different set of skills than previous candidates.

The Council selects the key-officers of the City, but the Council cannot terminate or retain their choices if the City Administrator does not agree.  Given a disagreement between the City Administrator and the City Council, the Council by law can terminate the City Administrator and then select another person to fill the City Administrator position who will then make decisions.  The City Administrator, by law, is singularly entitled to make firing and retention decisions regarding top officers and will bear the sole responsibility for those decisions.

This major change in Piedmont governance makes selection of an appropriate City Administrator all the more important to Piedmonters.

Some comments made in the community have suggested the following characteristics be sought in a new City Administrator:

  • Understanding of California law and application to Piedmont
  • Belief in open and transparent government
  • Familiar with Piedmont City Charter
  • Proven ability to propose and work within budgetary constraints 
  • Ability to encourage varying points of view
  • Speaking and writing skills commensurate with responsibilities
  • Foster community participation in Piedmont decisions
  • Support broadcasts of Piedmont public meetings
  • Experience with personnel decisions including terminations
  • A previous track record of administering a comparable public entity in California
  • Plans for service in Piedmont extending beyond 5 years
  • Understand the difference between Council and Administrative decisions
  • Willingness to work with the Piedmont School District
  • Ability to develop and encourage appropriate employee activities
Nov 21 2018

Thank you for being a PCA reader. Your input is invaluable.

Since the revitalization in 2011 of the 1986 Piedmont Civic Association and the transformation of the paper newsletter to a website, Piedmont civic news has been read by thousands of Piedmonters.  Yet even now, not all Piedmonters are aware of PCA News, so let your friends and neighbors know how they can easily, at no cost, keep up with Piedmont civic matters on www.piedmontcivic.org 

Opinions and articles offer Piedmonters an additional source of Piedmont civic news. 

Participation is encouraged through “OPINIONS, COMMENTS, ARTICLES, ANNOUNCEMENTS, LETTERS TO THE EDITOR, FORUMS FOR DISCUSSIONS, EXCHANGE OF IDEAS, and NEWS.”

Subscribing Piedmonters receive updates as news happens. 

The Piedmont Civic Association is not supported by advertisers and does not charge for subscription updates.  Subscriber information is considered completely private and never released.  

Happy Thanksgiving! 

PCA Editors

Aug 21 2018

The Editorial Board wants our many readers to know the Piedmont Civic Association (PCA) does not endorse, support, or oppose candidates for public office or ballot measures. Opinions expressed are those of the authors.

PCA’s goal is to inform and encourage participation in Piedmont civic matters.

Candidate and ballot measure information is welcomed free on this site.

Information, photos, endorsements, and opinions can be submitted.

PCA Editorial Guidelines do not allow attacks on persons.

Aug 12 2018

Will any group or resident submit an opposing argument in the Piedmont Voter Information Pamphlet for all Piedmonters to read regarding the November 6, 2018 Election to change Piedmont’s City Charter

A controversial Charter change example would be requiring the Council to hire key employees, but prohibit the Council from firing  these same key employees. 

The City Council set a deadline of Friday, August 17, 2018 at 4:00 p.m. for the submission of direct arguments for and against the measures to be submitted to the City Clerk’s Office. Direct arguments are limited to 300 words and are confidential until the deadline.

The Council also set a deadline of Friday, August 24, 2018 at 4:00 p.m. for the submission of rebuttal arguments to the City Clerk’s Office. Rebuttal arguments are limited to 250 words and are confidential until the deadline.

Residents or groups interested in submitting arguments are encouraged to contact the City Clerk’s Office at (510) 420-3040 for more information.

“The City Council authorized Mayor McBain and Councilmember Rood to prepare and sign a direct argument in favor (and, if necessary, a rebuttal argument) of the proposed charter amendment measures on the November 6, 2018 General Municipal Election ballot.”

There is no charge to place a pro or con argument in the Voter Information Pamphlet. 

Deadline to file Arguments with the City Clerk In Favor/Against Measures on the November 6, 2018 General Election is:

Friday, August 17, 2018  by 4:00 p.m. with the City Clerk of Piedmont, 120 Vista Avenue. 

CONTACT CITY CLERK JOHN TULLOCH AT  

420-3040

The City Council has proposed numerous changes to Piedmont’s City Charter to be voted upon at the November 6, 2018 Election.  The City Charter is the primary legal document for Piedmont governance. 

Controversy has surrounded the Council’s City Charter revisions approach, by making themselves the exclusive body to consider the changes. Groups and individual residents asked the Council to broaden the input and to thoroughly consider the language and proposed revisions. This did not happen.  None of Piedmont’s commissions or committees were asked to provide their input.  Some individuals spoke to the Council regarding proposals at their meetings while leaving subjects unresolved and questions unanswered.

One example of controversy has been the Charter revision to require the Council to hire key employees, such as the Police Chief, Fire Chief, Finance Director, but the Council would be henceforth forbidden from firing these same employees who they have hired.  Only the City Administrator would be able to fire those same employees.  This revision represents a definite change in how for decades Piedmont has been governed.  The change is presented as a “clarification.”

Ballot language approved by Council states:

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

If approved by Piedmont voters on November 6, 2018, the proposed changes become law.

Second proposed Charter Amendment states:

CHARTER AMENDMENT MEASURE ___ “Shall the measure amending the Charter of the City of Piedmont to modify procedures for filling of vacancies in elected offices for City Council and Board of Education for the Piedmont Unified School District, modify term limits for the City Council, and making other clarifying amendments regarding City record keeping, format of City ordinances, public posting, City contract approval, operation of City Council meetings, and other minor technical amendments, be adopted?”

If an argument Against one or both of the two City Charter Ballot measures is filed, there will be an opportunity for rebuttals by opponents and supporters in the Voter Information Pamphlet.

Deadline to file Rebuttal Arguments In Favor/Against a Measure on the November 6, 2018 General Election August 24, 2018.

Filing information based on City Council action:

“SECTION 4. The last day for filing direct arguments for or against the measure shall be August 17, 2018 at 4:00 p.m. and all such arguments shall be filed with the Piedmont City Clerk, 120 Vista Avenue, Piedmont, California and shall not exceed 300 words in length. The City Clerk, upon receipt of arguments and after the filing deadline, shall immediately transmit copies to any known opposing parties who may then submit rebuttals within the time period described in Section 5 below. Arguments received prior to the deadline shall be confidential until the deadline.

SECTION 5. The last day for filing rebuttal arguments for or against the measure shall be August 24, 2018 at 4:00 p.m. and all such arguments shall be filed with the Piedmont City Clerk, 120 Vista Avenue, Piedmont, California and shall not exceed 250 words in length. Arguments received prior to the deadline are confidential until the deadline.

SECTION 6. Pursuant to Elections Code Section 9295, the ten (10) day public review period for direct arguments submitted shall open at 4:00 p.m. on August 17, 2018 and shall close at 4:00 p.m. on August 27, 2018. If a rebuttal argument is submitted, the ten (10) day public review period shall open at 4:00 p.m. on August 24, 2018 and shall close at 4:00 p.m. on September 3, 2018. 

Read the staff reports on Charter changes HERE.

For additional information on the schedule and requirements for arguments, contact:

John Tulloch, City Clerk at 420-3040

Jul 14 2018

Council would hire, but could not fire.

Facing a strong Administrative staff proposal to diminish the Piedmont City Council’s authority and control, the Council appeared confused, lacking clarity or direction.  Council members questioned issues as basic as whether the Council or the City Administrator should hire and fire the City’s top managers – Police Chief, Fire Chief, Finance Director, etc.

The City Council had paid little attention to the City Charter until there was a desire to accumulate ever greater amounts of revenue in reserve, without clear and specific purposes.

Overriding the unlimited reserve issue became the Administrative staff desire to change how Piedmont is governed. 

The review and changes to the City Charter had been pushed by former and resigned mayor, Jeff Weiler, who wanted the City to not only have a permanent, potentially escalating parcel tax, but who wanted the City to garner and retain in the General Fund Reserves unlimited amounts of revenue.

The City Council asked the Administrative staff to look at the City Charter and propose changes.   The Council was eager to allow the staff to construct their proposals independent of Council originated ideas. Individual Council members were to privately, outside of Council meetings,  submit to the City Administrator Charter changes they wanted.

The Administrative staff came up with a monumental proposed change to Piedmont’s long-held system of governance. The Charter changes proposed will significantly reduce Piedmont’s City Council’s long-held authority and Council responsibility for City services.

City Administrator, Paul Benoit, proposed that the City Council should no longer appoint top Department Heads, Police Chief, Fire Chief, Finance Director, Public Works Director, etc., he, the City Administrator, should have complete hiring and firing authority.

The Council did not totally accept Benoit’s proposal and chose to continue their long-held practice of hiring key positions.  The Council however, relented on Benoit’s proposal to allow him, the City Administrator, to be the sole individuaauthorized to fire key staff members hired by the Council.

The Council, in deference to Benoit, who is well liked by the Council, was also willing to forfeit their right as a Council to direct the Police Chief, Fire Chief, etc.  The Charter revisions as proposed will require all Council direction to go through the City Administrator, even if the Administrator position is vacated or terminated.  If there is a conflict with the City Administrator and a Council hire, the only choice the Council will have is to fire the City Administrator.

Mayor Bob McBain wanted to totally relinquish to the City Administrator the Council’s hiring and firing authority, but this was not supported by other Council members.

The City Administrator proposed governance is a form of governance traditionally found in cities with directly elected mayors who have more executive authority than Piedmont’s largely ceremonial Council-selected mayor, rotating among  their members with limited powers as set out in the City Charter. 

Council questions regarding Charter language stating the Council has authority “to direct” their appointees led to further Council confusion.  Despite specific existing language in the City Charter stating Council members as individuals are not allowed to direct staff members, Benoit argued he did not want the Council as a whole to be able to direct staff members even during Council meetings or emergency situations.

Individual Council members have been known to direct staff without the knowledge of the Council as a whole perhaps encouraged by a City Administrator.  It can be easier and faster for an administrator to gain direction from one person, a Council member, the mayor, than from a majority of the Council as required by the City Charter. 

The City Council and the City Administration, including the City Attorney, in recent years have not been attentive to the intent or language in the City Charter.  Since Piedmont’s long-term attorney retired, a great amount of knowledge on the City Charter has apparently been lost or ignored.

In considering proposals for changing Piedmont’s City Charter, the City Council has held a number of poorly attended, fragmented public meetings.  No independent committee, as in previous years, was formed to carefully consider the complex and important City Charter despite a number of citizen requests. Because of various voids in the questionable proposals, it is obvious  the entire Charter was not carefully considered nor discussed leaving many questioning the process and the proposals.

Significant current issues were never considered during the Council Charter review process. 

Some examples are:

  • requirement for voters to make zoning changes
  • borrowing money for more than one year
  • Council officer vacancies
  • bid advertisements and notifications

The Council agenda for Monday night appears to acknowledge that the Council, City Administrator, and City Attorney have not upheld Piedmont’s City Charter. 

The Council agenda items for the Monday, July 16, 2018 meeting rebuffs the City Charter when it states “Conform to Modern Practice.”  No one would want the City Charter to perpetuate unlawful practices; however, “Modern Practices” infers and confirms non-compliance with Piedmont’s long successful and practical City Charter.  Prime examples of ignoring the Charter are the usurpation of Council authority, borrowing money, and negation of voter approval for zoning changes.

The Council decided to separate the governance issue from the remainder of the Charter revision proposals after sensing the potential opposition to turning over long-held Council authority to the City Administrator.  Piedmont voters will find little transparency in the attempt to change Piedmont governance as noted in the staff report below:

Amendments to the City Charter to Clarify the Reporting Structure for Officers of the City, Clarify the Departments Responsible for Maintenance of Park Lands and Recreational Facilities, and Make Other Amendments to Conform the Charter to Modern Practice 

 Council dropped notion of unlimited General Fund Reserves.

When Kathleen Quenneville, a local authority on civic governance, told the Council that the Charter proposal to eliminate the cap on General Fund Reserves would not be supported by voters, the Council promptly removed the proposal, as it is their desire to not initiate opposition to Council proposals since a prospective voter approved future facilities bond measure is being considered.  Concern was expressed by Council members wanting to keep voters positive about Council actions and proposals, leading to the unlimited General Fund Reserves being dropped, and the separation of City Administration governance from other proposals.

This article does not describe the many other proposals suggested by the Council, however urgency does not appear to be present.  Items continuing to be of concern are:

  • Inconsistencies between the School Board and Council elections – School Board members could seek re-election after sitting out for 4 years, whereas City Council members must sit out for 8 years, unknown in other communities
  • Extension of time to fill Council vacancies from 30 days to 60 days

The Charter change matter will be considered by the Council at 7:30 p.m., Monday, July 16, 2018 in City Hall, 120 Vista Avenue.  The meeting will be broadcast live on Cable Channel 27 and from the City website under videos.

Comments can be made to the City Council 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

Below are the staff reports: 

07/16/18 – Consideration of the Following Actions Related to the Possible Amendment of the City Charter

a. Approval of a Resolution and Measure Proposing Amendments to the City Charter to Modify Term Limits for the City Council, Modify the Procedures for Filling of Vacancies in Elected Offices, and Make Other Amendments to Conform the Charter to Modern Practice

b. Approval of a Resolution and Measure Proposing Amendments to the City Charter to Clarify the Reporting Structure for Officers of the City, Clarify the Departments Responsible for Maintenance of Park Lands and Recreational Facilities, and Make Other Amendments to Conform the Charter to Modern Practice 

07/16/18 – Consideration of Options Regarding a Direct Argument and a Rebuttal Argument Regarding the Charter Amendment Measure on the November 6, 2018 Ballot

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