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Atherton Council: Please Ask Us!

Original post made by please ask, Atherton: other, on Dec 2, 2012

The November 28th Council Meeting provided an unusual insight into the closed meeting workings of the Council. At issue was the resolution before the Council on the compensation/benefit policy for ten town employees who are not represented by a collective bargaining union. The resolution was apparently revealed to the employees after their previous offers were rejected on November 19th, published on November 21st (the day before Thanksgiving) for vote on November 28th It was unanimously approved in closed session by the five Council Members. Aside from the resolution being defectively drawn, it was a very fast procedure after being presented to employees and, importantly as well, the town residents in less than a week.

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Comments (3)

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Posted by Questions important
a resident of Atherton: other
on Dec 2, 2012 at 8:57 am

You continue to ignore getting residents a better deal on existing services, Point out to residents that:

1. Atherton makes the cops' pension contribution portion to CalPers in addition to Atherton's. The cities the APOA claims cops will flock to if compensation is cut don't do this.

2. Should cops be guaranteed free health care for life for them and their families after just one day on the job?

3. Should cops retire at 50, or should the age go up like it just went up to 60 in Sunnyvale (where cops have a much more dangerous job)?

4. Should cops make more than 70% of the cities in SMC, each city having more violent crime and risk to cops than Atherton?

Tell residents that Wiest and Lewis and Carlson think it's important to answer all of these questions (and more) in the cops' favor to maintain "morale" and then AND ONLY THEN ask them how much they want to pay.

The question of how much more are you willing to pay presupposes the deal is the best we can get and the only knob left to turn is a parcel tax. This is highly misleading. Council members REPRESENT RESIDENTS, not employees, and making sure resident taxes are as low as possible is what they are sworn to uphold.


Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Dec 2, 2012 at 8:58 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"However this is done by survey or vote is unimportant but the important thing is for the Council to ask us."

Actually HOW a survey is done and exactly which questions are asked is VERY important. A poorly designed survey instrument which is not properly administered will producing nothing but confusion. This is why the Town should participate in the national Citizen Survey which is extremely well validated and which would allow the Town to compare its results with those of more than 500 other communities that have used the same survey.

Letter: Challenge for council to take citizen survey




Whoever is elected to the Atherton City Council, now is the time for our five elected representatives to set a new direction and standard of governance. We no longer want or can afford 3-2 votes and a divided and an uncivil council.

Our five elected representatives should seek unanimity on every issue that comes before them and demand unanimity on the important issues.

A superb place to start would be for the council to unanimously vote to participate in the National Citizen Survey, which has been widely tested in communities around the nation. The survey is a low-cost service for local governments. Tested, flexible, affordable, and efficient, the NCS would allow Atherton to survey citizen opinion for program planning, budgeting, goal-setting and performance measurement.

The council would select from a set of standard questions to assess citizen opinion about basic services and community life. Additional customized questions allow the council to tailor the survey to our unique needs.

Our elected officials can use the results to set spending priorities. The town manager can use the results to measure progress and chart future steps. Staff can use the results to improve service delivery.

The survey program includes three mailings to 1,200 randomly selected households, which include the pre-survey postcard and two mailings of the survey instrument. The margin of error (95 percent confidence interval) is low, no more than plus or minus five percent.

I am so convinced of the need for a new approach to our town governance that I will personally pay for the cost of participation in the National Citizens' Survey provided such participation is approved unanimously by our new City Council.

Peter Carpenter Larch Drive, Atherton


Like this comment
Posted by Sworn to Uphold
a resident of Atherton: other
on Dec 2, 2012 at 5:20 pm

Questions -- you wrote-

"Council members REPRESENT RESIDENTS, not employees, and making sure resident taxes are as low as possible is what they are sworn to uphold."

That has not been the case. In the last decade the Council increased Taxes three time and had to issue refunds, because Tax increases have to be voted on by the residents.

What oath did those council members violate?

I do think Council Members can not "Misuse Public Funds" by law and can not use public funds for campaign reasons.


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