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Limit initial Charter -- Prefer some form of Option 1

From: domainremoved <Lynne>
Date: Mon, 7 May 2018 22:13:26 -0700

Hello Council,

I am out of town, or would attend tomorrow's Council meeting. I ask you to
limit the proposed initial charter to a form of Option 1 to basically keep
MP as a General Law city with the exception of a placeholder provision
until we have a broader public engagement/input process.

The Charter idea came up at all as a consequence of a lawyer suiting MP to
force district elections so as to give Belle Haven residents representation
on Council. To avoid a potential law suit, MP needed to go to district
elections for the Nov 2018 election. However, a charter was proposed as one
way to give MP for electoral options for Nov 2020 and beyond elections,
such as Ranked Choice Voting which is considered by many to be an even
fairer way of electing officials.

In short, becoming a Charter City could give MP more opportunities to
improve our local city government. So a potential charter should be
approached thoughtfully and with ample public input. For example, we could
add a "Better Government" or "Sunshine Ordinance" to a charter that would
force more private meetings to be open to the public. We could also add a
section that gave Menlo Park greater control over its schools, to hasten
the process of finally having all MP elementary schools becoming part of a
MP school district. Some other cities have also added charter sections that
would prohibit interference by members of Council with members of the
Administrative service. That provision cuts down on any attempts by staff
to lobby Council or vice versa. These are just some of the provisions that
could be included that would deliver a fairer and more ethical and
inclusive government to the residents of MP. A thoughtful and inclusive
public engagement/input process, into what residents would like to see in
their charter, would bring forth many good ideas that would need to be
prioritized and further improved as a part of the public vetting process.

So let's not rush the process.

Instead of attempting to solve real problems that residents are concerned
with, the proposals 2-4 present vague problems that can only be of concern
to some staff. For example, I've never heard the public express concerns
over the generalities listed as problems in the report. Who's ever heard a
complaint about MP needing to "protect local control?" Or when have the
residents expressed a concern about the "state's increased incursion into
areas of municipal affairs in recent years?" The reports mentions vague
problems without supplying any real evidence that these are actual
problems. The chart at the end, also has very weak content in the column
"How it Impacts MP." I've already written with concerns about this chart,
but they have not been addressed. I don't have the time here to research
and present how the third column is inadequate, but if I see this column
again -- with the same content -- I will find the time do do so! Overall,
the report is inadequate for rational and informed decision making by
Council and the public. The proposals also are mostly ones that serve the
staff's interests, not the public's.

Instead, the report should have supplied relevant specifics, such as
answers to the below questions:

1) What are the sources of the (so-called) problems? What forces are
contributing to it?
2) What is the magnitude of the problem? How many people are groups are
affected? What will the problems' dimensions be in the future?
3) Which specific groups are affected by the problem? How is the general
public affected? If other than the general public, what are the special
characteristics of the affected groups?
4) Which other cities are working on the problem? How have they handled the
problem? And so on. .

As yet one more reason to reject options 2-4, a number of California cities
-- with too broad charters -- have wound up needing to seek bankruptcy
protection with some of their officials/staff even winding up in jail on
various forms of corruption charges. Being able to set their own rules,
with inadequate safeguards to protect the public's interests, has led to
multiple California charter cities having serious problems due to having
too much leeway in setting their own rules, especially in elections,
salaries and contracts.

Please vote for rational decision-making that puts the residents first by
rejecting Options 2-4 (especially 4 which would surely be defeated at the
polls).

Lynne Bramlett
Received on Mon May 07 2018 - 22:14:47 PDT

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