Opinion: Los Altos council can start the year by sending the right message

OPINION

BY DAVE PRICE
Daily Post Editor

With the new year and two new City Council members in Los Altos, here’s an opportunity to get off on the right step.

Last fall, City Manager Chris Jordan decided to switch to a new work schedule that gives most city employees every other Friday off. In exchange, the employees will work extra hours during the remaining nine days of a two-week pay period. The new schedule is called 9/80.

He said he made the change to reduce the city’s carbon footprint by reducing the number of days workers drive to their jobs. The other reason was to increase retention of workers by giving them more time off.

If he felt strongly about his reasons, you’d think he could have made his case at a public council meeting and taken a vote of the council.

Instead, it was all done behind closed doors. And the council was OK with this. In fact, when 9/80 was criticized, they covered for him.

Now is a great opportunity for the new council to put 9/80 on the agenda. Hold a public hearing and find out what the people of Los Altos think about giving city workers every other Friday off. It’s not too late to go back to traditional five-day workweeks. The 9/80 switch is only a couple of months old.

Putting this on the agenda would send a couple of important messages. First, it would show that the council believes in transparency — the days of making important decisions behind closed doors are over. Second, it would signal that the council intends to exercise more oversight over the city manager.

Editor Dave Price’s column appears on Mondays. His email address is price@padailypost.com.

3 Comments

  1. Can we expect greater transparency and more oversight of City staff by Los Altos City Council? Here are reasons why such expectations are likely to be in vain.

    Jeannie Bruins, a Council member, is on record (see link below) lecturing new Mayor Ms Lee Eng on how NOT to question City staff. Simply put, she wants Ms Lee Eng to go gentle on City staff, “not conduct an inquisition”, etc. The irony of it all: in the same edition of the Town Crier a resident refers to breaches of good faith and duty by staff, evidence of which was given Council. We now understand why the Council did not respond to residents’ demands for a public discussion and independent investigation. After all Ms Bruins and her cohorts on Council would have been unhappy if any (hard) questions were asked staff…even in the face of their unlawful conduct! With Council members enabling and complicit in staff’s shenanigans, why would staff have any cause to worry?

    https://www.losaltosonline.com/news/sections/news/199-city-affairs/59101-new-los-altos-city-council-addresses-old-divisions-at-swearing-in-ceremony

  2. Mr. Price, you’re a little too optimistic! Nothing is going to change despite the election of Anita Enander and the fact that Lynette Eng is now mayor. They only represent 2 votes on the 5 member council. I’m afraid that any attempt they make to rein in staff will fail in a 3-2 vote.

  3. Mice prance and play when the cat is away.
    And when the cat(s) join the mice things go berserk and way over the top.

    In Los Altos City staff were protected by former Mayor Mordo (and his allies on City Council–Jeannie Bruins, Mary Prochnow, and Jan Pepper–as they voted all together on all issues). These Council members were in cahoots with staff so how could they have also managed them?

    From what I understand all this is coming to bear down on the City in ongoing litigation in Federal and State Courts. In those courts the Council and City, and the individually named defendants, will soon have to explain to a judge and jury their various actions (or lack of) that contravened the law and common sense.

    Perhaps the sounds of those bells that already have started tolling would prompt the current Council to act expeditiously, to amend the excesses of the Mordo-Jordan-Diaz regime and era, to bring back the necessary transparency and open governance we residents deserve and pay for with our taxes.

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