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.

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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.

Feb 10 2018

Application Deadline Fri. Mar. 9th – 5:00 p.m.

The City of Piedmont is looking for a few talented volunteers for vacancies on commissions and committees. Interested residents may > apply online or download the > Application for Appointive Vacancy. Applications are due to City Hall, 120 Vista Avenue, on or before the deadline of Friday, March 9, 2018 at 5:00 p.m.

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

Interviews with the City Council for these positions will be scheduled for the evening of Thursday, March 15, 2018. No appointments will be made without a Council interview.

You can read about the duties of the commissions and committees by clicking here.

Residents with questions are encouraged to call the City Clerk’s office at (510) 420-3040.

Feb 6 2018

The deadline for completing the survey on Linda Beach Playfield and Park is Thursday, February 8!

The City and its consultant, landscape architecture firm Groundworks Office, have developed a survey to gather resident input on the proposed designs. The three concepts were presented to the public at a Community Workshop on January 18th.

See the three concepts below:

Read previous articles describing options here and here.

Give your input on the survey of the three concepts to be considered in a master plan for Linda Beach Playfield and Parkhere.

Feb 4 2018

Big changes have been suggested for how Piedmont is administered. 

City Administrator form of government is evolving toward City Manager form of government, further limits on Council terms, increase in tax funds held in reserve, reduced meeting requirements, etc.

On the Monday, February 5, 2018 Council agenda is an item that potentially starts a change to long held principles within the Piedmont City Charter. The City Charter is in the domain of the voters of Piedmont, who must approve any changes to the City Charter..

When the Charter was updated and revised approximately 35 years ago, a citizen Charter Review Committee appointed by the City Council was established to develop recommendations for City Council consideration.  After review of the recommendations, the City Council placed the recommended revised Charter on a Piedmont ballot, and it was readily approved by Piedmont voters.

The Piedmont City Charter specifies expenditures, revenues, budgeting, decisions to be made by the Council, decisions to be made by voters, personnel roles, zoning, loan mechanisms, etc.

City staff actions are subject to Council direction and Council action in many instances is subject to citizen approval of major issues such as zoning, taxation, borrowing, and reserve fund limits.  Some staff members over the years have resisted  the requirement of gaining Council approval in a public forum before taking action on policy matters.  The result has led to some policy actions taken without Council authorization.

The City Council has exceeded its authority in some instances, supporting a reinterpretation of the City Charter diminishing voter controls.

Recent issues questionable under the City Charter reinterpretation have been:

  • Election process for selecting a mayor following a resignation
  • Loans taken out without voter approval
  • Refusal to allow a citizen vote prior to making zone use changes

City Administrator form of government evolving toward City Manager form of government –

Piedmont has for generations benefited from its City Administrator form of government, giving citizens and their elected representatives the primary authority and responsibility over numerous governmental actions.  The proposed Charter changes in a number of instances would alter this authority.

Unlike the proposed changes, the City Council, rather than the City Administrator, currently has the responsibility to appoint the top administrators of the City.  Some of these positions include:

  •  Police Chief
  •  Fire Chief
  •  Public Works Director
  •  City Clerk
  •  City Engineer
  •  Finance Director

The process for changing the Piedmont City Charter, foundation of Piedmont governance, will receive consideration by the City Council on Monday, February 5, 2018, on how to proceed with review and any updating of the Charter.

Residents interested in following this issue can attend the meeting, observe the Council live on Cable Channel 27 or from the City website under videos. This item is last on the agenda.

Read the staff report regarding Charter changes HERE.

Read the agenda HERE.

Jan 25 2018

Piedmont Police Department – PRESS RELEASE –

On Wednesday night, January 24, 2018, at approximately 8:40 PM, three armed suspects forced their way into a residence on Lorita Avenue in the City of Piedmont.

Once inside, the suspects ordered the residents into one room. One armed suspect watched over the residents while the other two suspects ransacked the house. The suspects stole jewelry, electronics (laptops and cellular telephones, wallets containing credit cards, and cash).

The suspects fled at approximately 8:50 PM in a white or light colored, possible SUV, which was parked nearby.

The three suspects were described as African American males, in their late teens to early 20’s. Two of the males were approximately 5’10” with thin builds. The third suspect was taller at between 6’01” to 6’03” with a thin build. All three suspects wore dark clothing.

Anyone with information and/or inquiries related to this case are asked to please contact Detective Jeff Spranza or Detective Bob Coffey at (510) 420-3013.

Jan 23 2018

Update regarding a home invasion robbery that occurred on October 10, 2017, at approximately 10:30 PM, on the 1300 block of Oakland Avenue in the City of Piedmont.

Piedmont Chief of Police – Press Release

Through the diligent efforts of Piedmont Police detectives, with the assistance of the Oakland Police Department, the first of three home invasion suspects has been charged with Robbery, Burglary, Kidnapping, False Imprisonment and Elder Abuse. The suspect listed below is currently in custody on other unrelated charges and has a lengthy criminal history including two non-violent strikes.

Charged is Dante Brown, 35, a resident of Oakland. The Piedmont Police Department’s investigation to identify the two remaining suspects is still ongoing. They are described below:

Suspect # 1 was a male black adult in his 20’s, 6’00” tall, average build, last described wearing an all-black North Face jacket, a white mask, jeans, and black and white shoes. He was armed with a small revolver.

Suspect # 2 was a male black adult in his 20’s, 5’8” tall, average build, and unshaven. He was last described wearing all black, possibly a black zip up sweater, beanie, and Nike Air Jordan basketball shoes. He was armed with a black semi-automatic firearm with an extended magazine.

If anyone has any information related to the suspects or this incident, please call Detective Jeff Spranza at (510) 420-3013. If you wish to remain anonymous you may call the Piedmont Police Department Tip Line at (510) 420-3055. For press inquiries, please contact Captain Chris Monahan at (510) 420-3012.

403 Highland Avenue ▪ Piedmont, CA 94611 ▪ Phone (510) 420-3000 ▪ Fax (510) 420-1121

Prior PCA articles can be read > HERE.

Jan 17 2018

At the City Council meeting of January 16, 2018, numbers of very upset Oakland residents spoke to the Piedmont City Council regarding the dangerous and damaging changes to their quality of life as parking spaces next to their apartment buildings had been preempted for use by Piedmont residents.

The speakers addressed the City Council under the Public Forum agenda item preventing the Council from commenting other than to refer the crowd to City Administrator Paul Benoit and Public Works Director Chester Nakahara for further information.

Press announcement is below:

Long Requested Linda-Kingston-Lake-Rose Parking District to Become Effective January 18, 2018 – 

On January 18, 2018, the parking restrictions in the Linda-Kingston-Lake-Rose Parking District will come into effect. This district, which covers portions of these streets, will provide for Resident Parking only between 10:00PM and 7:00AM, 7 days a week. The sections of each street where the new parking restriction will be enforced are designated by signage. Click to view a map of the Linda-Kingston-Lake-Rose Parking District. Please note that the portions of Greenbank Avenue colored green on the map are not part of the district.

This district was approved by the City Council on October 16, 2017, after extensive consultation with residents of the area. For a full history of how the district came to be, please read the October 16, 2017 City Council Agenda Report. Click to read the October 16, 2017 City Council Minutes, this item is on page 47. The video of the meeting is available on the On-Line Video Page of the City’s web site.

Both Piedmont and Oakland residents whose properties are included in the district will be provided parking passes for the district. These passes were mailed to the property owners or their designee on January 10th. Residents of the area who have questions are encouraged to contact Public Works Director Chester Nakahara at cnakahara@piedmont.ca.gov or via phone at (510) 420-3050.

 

Dec 19 2017

PIEDMONT POLICE DEPARTMENT

Office of the Chief of Police

PRESS RELEASE

On 12-19-2017 at 1:48 p.m., the Piedmont Police Department received a call from the 500 block of Scenic Avenue in Piedmont reporting two individuals in a vehicle engaged in suspicious activity. Upon arrival, officers located the vehicle and discovered it was occupied by two individuals.

As the Piedmont officer approached the vehicle, one individual jumped from the back seat into the front seat and attempted to start the car. The officer repeatedly ordered the occupant not to start the car. The officer, who was near the front of the vehicle, drew his weapon as the car was starting and continued to order the individual to stop the vehicle. The individual turned the car toward the officer. The officer was able to step back to avoid being struck by the vehicle;  the officer then ran to his patrol car and initiated a pursuit.

The suspect fled at a high rate of speed and was pursued by two Piedmont officers. A computer check identified the vehicle as a stolen car that had been reported to Oakland Police. Piedmont officers pursued the vehicle into Oakland where it collided with an occupied vehicle at Piedmont Avenue and Ridgeway Avenue. After the suspect’s vehicle struck the victim’s vehicle, he backed up and struck a Piedmont police vehicle. This resulted in a complaint of pain to the officer in that car and that police vehicle suffered moderate damage.

After striking the police car, the suspect continued to flee pursued by Piedmont officers. The vehicle continued on without stopping until it jumped the curb on San Pablo Avenue in Oakland. It narrowly missed striking two pedestrians on the sidewalk and eventually struck the wall of a Market on the corner. A Piedmont officer used his vehicle to intervene in the suspect’s path and end the pursuit.

Two individuals were taken into custody and booked at Santa Rita Jail. They were charged with the following crimes:

  • Assault with a deadly weapon
  • Possession of a stolen vehicle
  • Evading an officer while driving recklessly
  • Hit and Run causing injury to another
  • Probation violations
  • Felony warrants

Suspect driver = Harris, Jamario – DOB/04-17-1998

Suspect passenger = Lewis, China – DOB/01-01-1999

For additional information, contact Captain Chris Monahan at (510) 420-3012.

403 Highland Avenue ▪ Piedmont, CA 94611 ▪ Phone (510) 420-3000 ▪ Fax (510) 420-1121

Dec 15 2017

Piedmont Middle School 8th grade male student arrested for criminal threats.

PIEDMONT POLICE DEPARTMENT

Office of the Chief of Police

PRESS RELEASE

On December 14, 2017, the Piedmont Police Department was notified by the Piedmont Unified School District of a Piedmont Middle School student who posted several threatening videos on-line, some of which included hate speech.

The student posted several videos which depicted him making threats, while displaying several different weapons.

The Piedmont Police Department initiated a criminal investigation in relation to the student and videos. Police and school officials contacted the student on campus, conducted a search of the student’s belongings and locker which revealed no threat to students or staff as no weapons were discovered.

Officers conducted a search of the student’s home and located pellet guns which resembled those used in the videos. Those pellet guns were confiscated by police. Two other firearms belonging to the student’s parents were surrendered to the Piedmont Police Department for safekeeping. The juvenile was charged with making Criminal Threats. The investigation is on-going.

The Piedmont Unified School District continues to work with the Piedmont Police Department to ensure safe campuses throughout the City of Piedmont.

For additional information, please contact Captain Chris Monahan at (510) 420-3012.

Click below for media coverage detailing the arrest of the Piedmont Middle School student.

8th Grader Charged With Making Threats At Piedmont School « CBS …

sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com/2017/12/15/piedmont-8th-grader-school-threats/  – An eighthgrade boy is being charged with making criminal threats against a school in Piedmont, police said Friday.

8th grader arrested for making criminal threats against Piedmont MS …

https://www.sfgate.com/…/8th-grader-arrested-making-threats-Piedmont-School-1243…  – PIEDMONT (BCN). An eighthgrade boy is being charged with making criminal threats against a school in Piedmont, police said today. The boy’s name is not being released because he is a juvenile. He’s being charged with making threats against Piedmont Middle School at 740 Magnolia Ave. in four …

Piedmont Shocker: 8th Grader Arrested For Criminal Threats – Patch

https://patch.com/…/piedmont/piedmont-shocker-8th-grader-arrested-criminal-threats

Piedmont, CA – The teen made criminal threats against his middle school.

Piedmont 8th Grader Arrested For Allegedly Threatening School

america.easybranches.com/…/Piedmont-8th-Grader-Arrested-For-Allegedly-Threateni..– An eighthgrade boy is being charged with making criminal threats against a school in Piedmont, police said Friday.

Piedmont 8th Grader Arrested For Allegedly Threatening School …

today.black-galaxy.com/…/piedmont-8th-grader-arrested-for-allegedly-threatening-sc…– An eighthgrade boy is being charged with making criminal threats against a school in Piedmont, police said Friday….

Dec 13 2017

PIEDMONT POLICE DEPARTMENT

Office of the Chief of Police

The Piedmont Police Department would like to thank one of our residents who recently called the police department to report an unknown subject who had walked onto his property. The subject looked into the kitchen window and when contacted by the resident asked for a person by name who didn’t live there.

When the resident took a picture of the subject, the subject fled. The resident noticed the vehicle the subject entered and the other passenger in the car. The resident was able to provide a detailed description of the vehicle and the direction of travel. He also posted this activity on Nextdoor. An initial area check for the vehicle was conducted, but they were not located.

Later in the afternoon, another resident reported seeing a suspicious vehicle driving on Blair Avenue. This vehicle matched the description posted on Nextdoor. She notified the Piedmont Police Department. Piedmont Police responded to the Blair Avenue area and found the suspicious vehicle.

A vehicle stop was made and officers made contact with the occupants. Officers located narcotic paraphernalia, checks, mail, credit cards and a driver’s license not belonging to the subjects. A further search of the vehicle revealed .22 caliber ammunition. The subjects were on active probation for other crimes. Both parties were processed and arrested.

Piedmont detectives discovered that the vehicle in question was related to a series of burglaries in and around Oakland over the past two months.

We want to remind residents to never place themselves in harm’s way, but when possible to notify police immediately of suspicious activity. When possible, collect as much information as possible about the suspicious persons or vehicles and provide that information to police.

Our CORE 4 principles to maintaining a safe community highlight some important reminders about knowing your neighbors, not opening your doors to strangers and reporting all suspicious activity.

For additional information, please contact Captain Chris Monahan at (510) 420-3012.

Police Department: 403 Highland Avenue ▪ Piedmont, CA 94611 ▪ Phone (510) 420-3000 ▪ Fax (510) 420-1121

SEE SOMETHING, SAY SOMETHING!

510/420-3000