Pleasant Hill Mayor's Message
Oct 05, 2014 11:53AM ● Published by Jennifer Neys
Tim Flaherty, Mayor of Pleasant Hill
by Tim Flaherty, Mayor
City Clerk Redux
In the wake of the experience we had with the non-performance of our prior city clerk, and to address the inability of the city council to compel performance by an elected city clerk, the city council has put the question to voters in the November 4 election whether the position of Pleasant Hill’s city clerk is to be an appointed rather than elected position.
The city clerk is an appointed position in the vast majority of Contra Costa County cities and throughout the state, and it is time for Pleasant Hill to fall in line with this modern practice. An appointed city clerk would be selected by the city manager based on professional qualifications. Once hired, the city clerk will be held accountable for capably performing the required duties of this vital function.
I and three of my fellow councilmembers (Ken Carlson, David Durant and Michael Harris) believe that an appointed city clerk is in the best interest of the city, and they signed a ballot argument in favor of the measure. Although Councilmember Jack Weir voted to put the measure on the ballot, he declined to sign the ballot argument in favor. No opposition to this measure was filed and none will appear in your election materials.
What Does A City Clerk Actually Do?
The city clerk traditionally prepared the official minutes of city council meetings and was the caretaker for the city seal and official city records and administered oaths of office. In addition to these basic, historic duties, over the years the legislature has assigned ever greater and more impactful responsibilities to the city clerk.
The city clerk is the election official for the city and interacts with the County Elections Department during all local elections to assure compliance with all election laws and regulations. The city clerk is now also responsible for ensuring compliance with the Brown Act (Open Meeting Law) regarding the conduct of city business and responses to public inquiries. Finally, the city clerk is designated as the official responsible for coordinating, recording and retaining the Statements of Economic Interests of all elected and appointed officials and staff, and for collecting and maintaining all candidate campaign finance forms.
The City Clerk Should Be An Appointed Position
Today in Pleasant Hill, city staff already performs many of the increased obligations that have been imposed on the position of city clerk over time. The office of the city attorney is responsible for Brown Act compliance; and the office of the city manager is responsible for elections and campaign finance law compliance, public records requests, agenda preparation, public information, and overall records management. Adding the city clerk’s note-taking and ceremonial duties to the city employee job duties is sensible.
If the position of city clerk becomes appointive, the employee assigned those duties would work under the direction of the city manager, with those duties comprising only part of a larger scope of responsibilities. A city clerk function in which all of the work is performed by city staff is clearly preferable to the current arrangement, and the citizens of Pleasant Hill will be better served.
So, when you are studying your ballot and are considering how to answer the following question:
“Shall the office of city clerk be appointive? Yes _____ No _____”
I urge you to vote YES!
PG&E Tree Removal Update
Earlier this year I wrote of my concern about PG&E’s Pipeline Pathways Project and the utility’s expressed intent to denude Pleasant Hill of some of its prized trees and landscape along our city streets and adjoining our residences. After much public outcry and many meetings with City Manager June Catalano and others, PG&E relented and has agreed to not remove any trees without the city’s agreement. I am pleased to report that PG&E and the city have reached an agreement in principal, whereby PG&E has agreed to comply with all local ordinances regarding any tree removal in the city and to re-evaluate what trees actually impact public safety. The city council approved a Memorandum of Understanding, and this memorandum will be the framework under which a future agreement will be negotiated. You can read it for yourself at www.pleasant-hill.net/pge.