City spends $50,000 on councilwoman’s asthma claims; City manager overrides council decision

Los Altos City Councilwoman Jeannie Bruins

BY SARA TABIN
Daily Post Staff Writer

A dispute over Councilwoman Jeannie Bruins’ asthma has cost Los Altos $50,000 and spurred the city manager to override a council majority vote.

Bruins has been complaining since January that the city hall chambers where council meetings are typically held is triggering her asthma.

Meetings have been moved to the Los Altos Youth Center to accommodate Bruins, but residents have said the new location is too hot and noisy. The center also does not have adequate equipment to stream meetings on TV, hindering the ability of homebound residents to watch the meetings.

“I’m asking that we have reasonable accommodations,” said Freddie Wheeler at Tuesday’s meeting. “We are the citizens of this city and these meetings should be accessible to us.”

Four of the five councilwomen voted to move the meetings back to City Hall at a study session on June 25, but they are still being held at the youth center.

City Manager Chris Jordan did not respond to requests for comment about why the meetings haven’t been moved back.

Jordan hired an outside expert on disability accommodations, Rachel Shaw of HR Shaw, to determine what reasonable accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act would look like for an elected official. That service has cost $40,000 so far, and another $10,000 has gone to air quality testing, according to Los Altos Mayor Lynette Lee Eng.

Jordan has yet to respond to requests to see the contract between the city and HR Shaw.

Lee Eng has another solution she thinks the city should be exploring. Los Altos spent $750,000 on a new heat, air, ventilation and cooling system in the old council chambers before Bruins began complaining.

If the air in the chambers is causing problems for Bruins, the warranty for that system should be reviewed and the company held accountable, said Lee Eng.

It’s not the first potential cause that has been suggested. City Attorney Chris Diaz asked regular meeting attendee Roberta Phillips to leave a January meeting, suggesting that the residual smell of smoke on her might have been the cause. Phillips declined to depart.

4 Comments

  1. The hive is more important than the bee.
    The rights of the people and the Council matter more than Ms Bruins’ “asthma” (which appears to be no more than her animus toward City resident and taxpayer Roberta Phillips).
    Holding Council meetings at any location other than Council chambers deprives City residents and taxpayers of their chance to hear and participate in those meetings. In contrast Ms Bruins has the option to be where she wants and call in for Council meetings.
    Mr Jordan is being the errand boy for Ms Bruins in overriding the Council’s vote. Throw them both out!

  2. Great idea by Council woman Lynette Lee Eng! Look into if there is a problem with the new system because Ms. Bruins did not complain about this until recent times and many of the same people have been going to the council meetings for many years. Other ideas: Place a personal air purifier at Ms. Bruins chair. Also, is there a chance Chris Jordon/Bruins/others are refusing to bring meetings back to council chambers because he/they are desiring to take over chambers (and the orchard) for his staff and other grandiose ideas for Los Altos?

  3. Sounds we have already gone overboard in trying to accommodate the needs one person in Council . That member should try face timing the meetings. That should solve her problem completely. Council chambers should be reserved for council meetings, certainly not taken over by the city planner if in fact that is an underlying agenda. Please get back to taking care of Council business.

  4. >Great idea by Council woman Lynette Lee Eng!
    Indeed! Excellent idea that is practical, viable, and saves us tax payers money too. Except that Ms Bruins with her cohorts in City Hall (Jordan and others) would resist. After all was it not early this year that Ms Bruins lectured incoming Mayor Ms Eng on how to conduct herself, not to engage in asking hard questions of City staff, etc.? Ms Bruins’ sense of entitlement, privilege, and condescension is what is stinking up Council chambers, nothing else.

    >try face timing the meetings. That should solve her problem completely
    Yes. It would also spare others the problem she poses. Chris Jordan and city staff may be the only ones troubled as they would miss the life jackets she keeps throwing them whenever they are in trouble.

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