Special City Council Meeting Jan 22, 2013 at 5:30pm for Public Input for Hiring a New City Manager

At the City Council meeting on January 15, the City Manager announced the Council has hired a firm to search for a new City Manager. The criteria used for the search will be determined at this Special Meeting. This is time to provide input to the consultants, in the formative stage, to insure they have all of the necessary information to find the right person for the job. This short time for community input simply continues the on-going practice of shutting out the community on important decisions. The City Manager is shown below describing the upcoming Special Meeting.

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The EPOA suggests delaying the beginning of the search for TWO WEEKS to allow for community input on this important issue. THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT DECISION THIS CITY COUNCIL WIILL MAKE.  We understand the interviews with prospective candidates must be confidential. Potential applicants currently holding other jobs could jeopardize their existing employment, if there was any disclosure of their intent to seek work in Emeryville. We urge the council to allow for meaningful public input. considering the magnitude of this decision a two week delay is reasonable. —————————————————————————————–

There is a shortage of qualified applicants for this position on a state wide basis. This is a field of employment where it is very difficult to find out past information and history of prior employment.  We have provided a list of questions which will be updated and changed based on feedback.These questions are designed to highlight past practices and discourage future problems. It would seem many answers would be based on City Council direction. However, the City Manager is the leader of the City. It is very important to understand their preferences. The City Manager controls all of the City personnel, police enforcement policies, city building inspection, and has the use of  city resources to hire consultants used to investigate ideas to change city policies, and look for solutions to problems. Such resources are not available to the individual council members. A City Manager typically directs consultants to provide information to support their proposed direction, often based on the ability to obtain City Council support after ideas are developed.

The City Manager is an employee of the City Council.  A council member deserves the right to know what private parties, or organizations the City Manager is meeting with, and why,  and if commitments are being made?

1.  Do you think a City Manager should have semi- or annual retreats with the City Council to insure all of the council members are tuned into the policies being carried out by Staff?   If the City Manager hires someone to facilitate the meeting does that hired hand control the outcome of the meeting.?

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2. What do you think about raising taxes to cover the cost of city operations…?

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3. What is the role of the City Economic Development Department..?  Should the city reach out to individual property and business owners to encourage economic development, or should the city pass regulations to accomplish the adopted community goals, and wait for property owners to come in to enforce those objectives..?

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4. if the city is considering the creation of a new assessment district, should all the affected property owners be involved in planning to create the new district..?   Or should the City put together the framework for new district, organize a majority of land owners in a proposed new district, and then provide a SEVEN day advance notice to the minority owners to inform them their land is included in the boundaries of a new assessment district, and then seek city council support to proceed with the project?
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5. If the City is going to place a measure on the ballot to raise taxes or sell a bond,  should affected property and business owners be notified, and thereby create the opportunity for it to be opposed?  Is it important to provide an opportunity for naysayers who pay most of the taxes to object?
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6.  Should the City Council cosider direct negotiations with the labor union leaders and Staff, or should every aspect of negotiations be communicated only through city staff?
Would this practice expose practices a City Manager would not want the Council to be aware of?
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7. Should the City Committees be empowered to interview and recomend the choice of consultants necessary to provide information to carry out the purposes of the Committee, or should City Staff conduct the initerviews and make the recomendation to the City Council to hire them.? (controlling the information for council to make decisions)
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8. Should the Calendar of the City Manager be open to the Members of the City Council…?   Should the City Manager be open to reporting on meetings with various members of the community, during the City Manager portion of the Agenda.?  This is public business….?
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9.  Should any aspect of the City Manager’s performance be evaluated by the public…?  Should City employees provide any feedback on the performance of the City Manager?OR should city manager performance be based on how well individual members of the council are served?
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10.  Should there be a standard of performance be adopted by the Council, with a list of things the City Manager should NOT do, based on past experience, to help insure everyone in the City is treated fairly and equally.?
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11.  Should the Staff make agreements to accomplish loans from the city, for the School District and/OR other private parties, which are really intended to be forgiven at a later date, without full disclosure of that intent to the City Council?
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12.  What does a city manager think about allowing future general fund money to be collected from a private project, to reimburse a property owner’s cost to clean up toxic waste to allow a project to move forward. ?   Is this another way to accomplish goals which used to be funded by redevelopment ?  Should such opportunity be provided to other property owners who would develop their land?
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13. What does a city manager think about using revenue from parking enforcement as a major source of city income.?  Doea paying for parking add costs to the operation of smaller businesses making it more expensive for their employees to work in the city?
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14.  Should the City consider allowing higher density development as a tool to meet the city’s future financial needs or to help pay for capital projects?
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15.  Should the City provide a free office for the Chamber of Commerce and pay them $25,000 per year for business outreach to encourage economic development?  Would you consider a 5% response from the business community to be satisfactory?
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16. Should a City Manager attend monthly closed door meetings of the Chamber of Commerce Board without any disclosure of what is discussed at such meetings?  Should at least one council member also be invited to attend?
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17.  Do you think the city should maintain ECDC as a city facility or contract out the services. ?
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18.  Do you think City Building Inspection should be performed by an outside consultant, or a city employee, and if so what are the advantages of using an outside
consultant?
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19. Does a City Manager think city checks issued to pay for goods and services should be signed by the Mayor and City Manager, OR should the checks be signed by the City Manager and a subordinate employee ie the City Finance Director?  If the checks are not signed by the Mayor, could a City Manager spend all of the City’s available resources during a disaster, or other circumstance, without the approval or knowledge of the City Council?   The importance of how the money is controlled is a key point of accountability. It is why communities had elected city treasurers, to insure a community that an elected community official shared oversight responsibility for issuance of checks. .

20. Does the city manager think the suggested reforms of the Public Banking Institute are a possible economic solution for California government?  www.publicbankinginstitute.org

21.  Does the city manager think employee grievances should go to the city council, as a last step before binding arbitration?   A grievance is an alledged violation by management. Does it make sense for the City council to look at the issue before binding arbitration? . Present practice has the City Mamager (the alleged violator) making the final decision of whether a violation has occurred. Can a city manger make an unbiased decision about such alledged violation? Wouldn’t it be better if it could be resolved in house rather than a court.?
22.  Should the City Council Members be made aware when grievances are filed..?  If that doesn’t happen, does that impair the City Council’s ability to manage its employee?  Does that allow on-going violations to just continue until a court says otherwise.?   Should a council member be prohibited from talking to city employees?

23.  Should the City Manager have any input on the budget of the legal department?

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24. Should the City Manager have access to funds which could be used to obtaiin another legal opinion, if the City Manager and City Attorney do not agree.?
25.  In a Council/Manager form of government, is it the role of the City Council member to talk to individual business people directly, and convey concerns or needs to Staff, or  is it the role of the City Manager to deal with the business community directly?
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26. Should the city manager be encouraged to provide more than one point of view, or reasonable alternatives, to influence decision making, if requested..?   Should any part of the city budget be available for use by a council member who may need resources to reasearch other points of view, contrary to Staff?

27. If the city consistently sends out notices, with poor response, should a different approach be tried, or should the City be satisfied if only the minimum requirement is accomplished?

28.  If the city is going to approve a new hotel, is the question of whether the proposed new hotel is union vs. non-union, something the city should be involved with?  Should the City Council approve project labor agreements? Should the City Council increase the prevailing wage rates, if the City has a deficit budget?  Should City Staff negotiate beneifits for City employees which will be applicable to them?

29. ECCL and priorities. Should the City make commitments to fund this project as a way to help pay for the operation of the School District..?   How would you wegh the priority of spending between public safety/public works and ECCL.?  Is the lack of a draft operating budget for ECCL a major conern before making committments?  What is the amont of City Staff time which should be devoted to ECCL?  If the project is buillt in phases, will the project planning ever end?

30. Are you aware that measure C, passed by Emeryville voters in 2005, demonstrated the city has the ability to determine the amount of wages and benefits paid to employees, for specific tasks, in a private workplace?  This is a new level of authority which was uncovered after the passage of Measure C. The Woodfin Hotel sued the City claiming a local City ordinance did not have the power to legislate the specific amount of compensation paid to hotel housekeepers,  or any other task in a private workplace. However, after years of litigation the court found in favor of the City. ? Should such power be used by the city to help workers in the city earn more money from private businesses.

31.  If ideas for economic development come into the City Manager’s Office, should there be any obligation to share those ideas with the City Council?

32. Do you think it is important for the City to closely monitor the planning counter, and provide assistance to property owners seeking to improve their property.  Should there be some mechanism for a property owner to alert the City, they are about to lose an important major tenant, and should the city be prepared to act in such circumstance, as appropriate. to expedite approvals to help the City be more competitive with neighboring jurisdictions.?
33.  Should the city have design review guidelines which were never vetted or approved by a community process?  Should the financial impact of the cost of these new designs be considered?  Does this limit the ability of a property owner to accomplish another design without going through a costly process for approval ?

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