News

Woodside council to get reports on bills paid, as code requires

When the town of Woodside pays a phone bill or a consultant's fee or buys a giant holiday wreath for the front door of Independence Hall, a check is cut in Town Hall and the transaction is recorded. So such records do exist, but they have not been seen much by the Town Council, contrary to what is specified in the municipal code.

That absence of oversight will change with the Jan. 24 council meeting, Town Manager Kevin Bryant told the Almanac.

The town code calls on the town's finance director in Woodside, that's the town manager, to "prepare and audit a register of demands against the Town and certify the register of demands to the Council at each regular Council meeting."

"You know, (a warrant list) is something that hasn't been done in all my time," Mr. Bryant said, referring to the almost nine years he's been on the staff. "I went to look to see if there is something in the code that spoke to it and in fact there is."

The council in Portola Valley receives a warrant list at every meeting. In Woodside, the matter came up recently when a member of the public asked someone on town staff about publicizing such expenses, Mr. Bryant said.

"I actually just let the (Woodside) council know that as of this month, we'll be providing that information to them," Mr. Bryant said on Jan. 6. A warrants list will be a monthly addition to the council meeting packet.

The council already receives "broad financial reports" and has for years, he added.

Asked if some routine oversight of the warrants list had been taking place anyway, such as review by the mayor, Mr. Bryant said that it had not.

"It's very rare that we get anything that's a questionable invoice," he said. If something like that does happen, it's taken on by the administrative services manager as an accounts payable matter, he said.

Mr. Bryant said that he could not recall examining the finance director's "Powers and Duties" section of the municipal code, "at least not for a long while."

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Comments

16 people like this
Posted by Lisa
a resident of Woodside: other
on Jan 10, 2017 at 10:30 pm

The Woodside Town Council is responsible for reviewing and approving all bills. If they haven't been doing this they should be recalled from office for dereliction of duty.


15 people like this
Posted by Retired Realtor
a resident of Woodside: Mountain Home Road
on Jan 11, 2017 at 9:02 am

Agree with Lisa, and this dereliction is the tip of the iceberg.


12 people like this
Posted by Jimmy
a resident of Woodside: Woodside Hills
on Jan 11, 2017 at 10:40 am


If our Town Council is not reviewing bills at monthly meetings how would our elected reps be able to spot fraud? I strongly recommend bringing in a new outside auditor and making all warrants available for public review immediately.


5 people like this
Posted by Patricia
a resident of Woodside: other
on Jan 11, 2017 at 12:40 pm

[Post removed due to same poster using multiple names]


9 people like this
Posted by Retired Realtor
a resident of Woodside: Mountain Home Road
on Jan 11, 2017 at 3:23 pm

Friends who are staying with us as a tree is down on their street used my computer to post their opinions. It is regretful that the Almanac's monitoring oversight would omit their comments.

EDITOR'S NOTE: I put the Jimmy comment back up.


14 people like this
Posted by Jennifer
a resident of Woodside: other
on Jan 16, 2017 at 11:13 am

Agree with comments above, This is likely the tip of the iceberg, and the fact that the Town Manager doesn't know what's in the Municipal Code, is simply ridiculous.


11 people like this
Posted by Alex
a resident of another community
on Jan 17, 2017 at 12:09 am

Agree completely with all the above comments. Auditing is a fundamental process for ensuring that a institution with financial dealings is well run, free from fraud, and performs the services that it's supposed to effectively and efficiently. Auditing expenditure should have been happening already!


8 people like this
Posted by TJ
a resident of Woodside: other
on Jan 21, 2017 at 7:38 am

The town's manager and town lawyer should be fired for not following the law; it's their JOB to know state and Federal laws.
Why did it take a town citizen (a citizen the town wishes would go away) to point this out?
Mr. Boyce can't even get the story right, yet again.
When will the Almanac wake up and get someone who can do a good job to cover Woodside.


8 people like this
Posted by Harry
a resident of Portola Valley: other
on Jan 22, 2017 at 9:59 am



This almost sounds like an April Fools piece. It takes the Town Manager nine years to locate the Powers and Duties Section of the Town Code! Really?!


8 people like this
Posted by Martin Walker
a resident of Woodside: Mountain Home Road
on Jan 22, 2017 at 11:47 am

Once again the Almanac misses the story. The story here is one of procedural impropriety by the Town of Woodside and by the Town Council. State law requires auditing and disclosure of warrants. The Town Manager’s claim that "It's very rare that we get anything that's a questionable invoice” is irrelevant.

Mr. Bryant also said that he could not recall examining the finance director's "Powers and Duties" section of the municipal code, "at least not for a long while.” Ignorance of the law is no excuse, in particular as Mr. Bryant himself is the finance director.

In 2015 the Almanac missed the story about the illegal campaign contributions and the significance of the recipient’s disavowal. Here again reporting about Woodside in the Almanac is slanted so as to obscure obvious malfeasance.


8 people like this
Posted by Cathryn
a resident of Woodside: Woodside Glens
on Jan 22, 2017 at 12:52 pm

I believe the election for ASRB last year was very poorly covered by your paper. A man who has not even registered in time for the election and had no idea of where his funding came from, as well as GOTV push & signage. He is now sitting member of the ASRB because his friends wanted him there. Your reporter did not follow up as well as the city not insisting on proper electoral guidelines being followed or investigating him after the fact. Partly I assume some of the town officials were involved in this act of election fraud. As the beat reporter for Woodside it is part of a long list of negligent reporting.

Adding this improper coverage of financial problems does not surprise me.

We also have a contractor in town who is a town official and regularly keeps getting jobs from the city. In short it is shameless and nobody is reporting on the facts.

Thank you for requesting the publics reply. It has been a long time coming and I hope that paper addresses this ASAP.

[EDITOR'S NOTE: Election to the ASRB last year? Are you referring to the City Council election in 2015?


12 people like this
Posted by Redwood City Resident
a resident of another community
on Jan 22, 2017 at 2:49 pm

How is it possible that the expenditure of taxpayer dollars is not open for public review? We should all be concerned if the city of Woodside is spending money to hire lawyers to investigate members of an advisory board. When the town of Woodside bullies town residents who volunteer by hiring lawyers to investigate them, they are treading on very thin ice. Then, if they hide the bills in contravention of their own municipal code, they become the ones who deserve an investigation. Woodside residents deserve better. Today, this untrammeled skullduggery is perpetrated against some town volunteers, but tomorrow, unless town politicians and managers abide by the law, this behavior could claim more innocent victims. I hope The Country Almanac continues investigating this story.


11 people like this
Posted by Rick
a resident of Woodside: Family Farm/Hidden Valley
on Jan 22, 2017 at 6:52 pm

I agree with most of the commenters above. It's time for Woodside to look for a new Town Manager and Attorney--ones that are competent enough to attend to their responsibilities. It's shameful that our well-established Town Manager seems to be picking and choosing which parts of the Munipal Code he's going to honor. And that the Town Attorney seems not to be at all concerned about it. It's also time for the Town Council to abandon their poorly considered, expensive witch hunt that's targeting one of the Town's most dedicated volunteers. Such a vendetta has no place in civilized government.


5 people like this
Posted by Mountain View resident
a resident of another community
on Jan 24, 2017 at 12:10 pm

seems like Woodside could use more good government, transparency and accountability.

the first responsibility of any elected official should be to know the laws of their jurisdiction and uphold all required duties.


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