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Input for Jan 29, 2018 Special Meeting

From: domainremoved <Lynne>
Date: Fri, 26 Jan 2018 14:19:58 +0100

Dear Mayor Ohtaki and Council,


I’m writing with public input for the January 29, 2018 special meeting.


I was concerned to find that the Menlo Park City Council Procedure Manual
(linked to the Jan 29 agenda) is almost identical to the "Procedures Manual
City of Oxnard.
<https://www.oxnard.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/Procedures-Manual.pdf>"
(I learned about this accidentally while searching for examples of citywide
strategic plans.) The order of the information across both is extremely
similar and extensive amounts of large sections of text are identical. The
similarity is too extensive for this to possibly have occurred randomly.
Either MP or Oxnard “borrowed” from the other city and/or collaborated to
develop their documents jointly – possibly deriving their work from yet
another unnamed source.


The facts need to be ascertained. The first question would be to find out
if staff relied on the Oxnard one. If so, I think that MP would need to
follow proper attribution guidelines for these types of documents so as to
avoid plagiarism. For example, do we need permission from the original
source and to name them explicitly? Should all direct quotes have quote
marks? And so on.


If MP “borrowed” its content from Oxnard, is it desirable to basically “cut
and paste” another city’s approach? While some areas of governmental work
might be the same, surely other important areas need to be customized to
Menlo Park. For example I notice that the Mission statements for the City
of Menlo Park and the City of Oxnard are essentially identical with an
important difference:


*City of Oxnard Mission Statement*: It is the mission of the City
government to ensure Oxnard is a desirable, safe, and vibrant community in
which to live and conduct business and to respond to the values and
priorities of the residents in an *open and transparent manner*.


*City of Menlo Park Mission Statement:* It is the mission of the City
government to ensure that Menlo Park is a desirable and vibrant community
in which to live and do business, and to respond to the values and
priorities of the residents so as to provide for the community’s current
and future needs


MP’s mission omits the words, “open and transparent manner” that are in the
Oxnard Mission Statement. If MP “borrowed” its mission from Oxnard, why
omit the words “open and transparent” from MP’s mission statement?


The Oxnard document explicitly states that its procedures manual was
developed by the “Oxnard City Council Procedures Committee in January
2011.” Oxnard’s Council also developed the Oxnard Mission statement, which
was adopted on March 3, 2011. It does not seem reasonable for MP to have
the same mission statement as Oxnard. What was the source of MP’s mission
statement? This source should be stated in this type of document for
transparency and historical record purposes. (I have lived in MP for almost
22 years and I cannot recall a time when the public was formally involved
in developing a mission statement for MP.) If staff alone provided the MP
mission statement it's time for a new collaborative and public effort
across Council, resident and staff to develop the mission statement.


Suggestions:


1) Determine the source of the MP City Council Procedure Manual and any
ethical and legal obligations (and changes to the process) that might
derive from the answers.

2) Instead of approving the Manual, borrow the City of Oxnard’s method
of creating their document. Specifically, appoint a Procedures Commission
(composed of Council, Staff and representative members of the Public) to
develop a document customized to our city and one balanced across Council’s
and Staff’s responsibilities. For example, the MP document omits staff’s
responsibility to carry out council decisions even if they disagree with
them. The section for the advisory committees also omits staff’s
responsibilities to provide timely and relevant information to the
commissions. This section also needs revising to better reflect the stated
expectations for individual MP advisory commissions/committees. In short,
it’s too “cookie cutter” of an approach.

3) Establish a goal to develop an adaptive, citywide vision and
strategic plan for Menlo Park, such as the City of Fountain Valley, the
City of Chula Vista, City of Norwalk, Salem, Tacoma and other innovative
and proactive cities have done. While clearly a time-consuming practice, MP
would benefit from having an overarching plan that guides decision making
-- and one that was developed with considerable collaboration across
Council, residents and staff. While we have a General Plan, that guides
development, and a Council work plan, we are missing an overarching plan.

Thank you for taking the time to read this email.


Lynne Bramlett
Received on Fri Jan 26 2018 - 05:23:24 PST

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