Collaborative Council / Transparency

Collaborative Council:

Over the past two years I have often been in the minority of the council when voting on residents’ rights.  I am distressed by the apparent failure of the council majority to listen to and be responsive to residents’ concerns. I believe that council actions should reflect their representation of the majority of all residents.  Over the past years I have joined fellow council members with colleagues’ memos to council requesting attention to a more collaborative council and have been rebuffed.  Recently, I have been studying and researching how our neighboring cities build collaboration on their councils.  There are three main methods that I think would be effective:

  1. Hold an off-site, professionally facilitated Team Building workshop to build relationships; review our Code of Conduct; and Rules and Procedures.  A clause in the Preamble of our Code of Conduct stipulates:  The Code of Conduct and Procedures shall be discussed at least annually, in either a regular meeting or a study session by the council, Commissions, Committees and staff as an on-going means of developing a thorough understanding of the Code of Conduct and Procedures and the Brown Act.”
  2. Prior to each Council meeting, the Mayor should meet with the Vice Mayor, City Manager, Finance Director and City Attorney to  discuss the agenda, ensuring that all questions are vetted, without violating the Brown Act.
  3. The Mayor sets the tone of the meetings, has responsibility for maintaining decorum and has the opportunity to bring council members to compromise in their wrap up of the issue.  It is my promise look for ways to compromise and to vote for policies that are best for Atherton.

 

Transparency:

Update our website, keep it well maintained and use Social Media for better communication.  We have an opportunity to build community through better – faster – real-time communication using the technology available to us. Use of push-type information sharing through Town-wide email system giving residents the necessary meeting and agenda information in time to be able to attend meetings.

Approve term limits — not just for Council Members but also for membership on Town Committees and Commissions!  Having term limits broadens the base of political experience, gets more people involved and brings fresh ideas and perspectives, improving the quality of input and also helping to expand awareness and putting a limit on the undue influence of small groups of insiders.

Put an end to Nepotism and Cronyism — Pass a policy that Council Members are not allowed to vote for their spouses or close relatives for Committee or Commission positions.   Selection committees for key memberships should be composed of “bi-partisan” teams and selection done openly with true transparency.

 

Know your government

For residents who would like to understand protocols and procedures regarding how Atherton City Council is supposed to conduct itself, here are a few additional documents that you should know about:

Atherton Code of Conduct

Amended Rules of Procedure 03-26-09

Colleagues’ Memo May 2009 re: Council Protocols

Colleagues’ Memo August 2010 re: Code of Conduct

 

Be Involved!

More and more residents are expressing desires to be involved. This is good! Our residents have talents and skills that can help us bring community together and define the vision for Atherton’s future.  I am reminded of something that Bill Lane, founder of Sunset Magazine and Former Mayor and Founding Father of Portola Valley said about Volunteering:

“It is often said that you get out of life what you give. Through volunteerism, we not only provide support for our Town; we obtain the rich rewards of friendship and of truly making a difference, while setting a meaningful example for future generations.”

 

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