City spends $5,000 per council meeting for a rented stage, audio equipment

The city of Los Altos is paying $2,500 per council meeting to rent the stage on which the council members' desk and chairs sit. Post file photo.

Daily Post Staff Writer

Los Altos spends $5,000 per city council meeting at the youth center to rent audio equipment and the foot-tall stage on which the council members sit.

The cost was discussed in October emails between City Manager Chris Jordan and Rachel Shaw of HR Consulting in Newbury Park, the $70,000 disability consultant that Jordan hired over the summer. She also asked Jordan about the cost of renovating the youth center.

Shaw told him to keep their emails a secret from council.

Jordan moved council meetings to the youth center in April after Councilwoman Jeannie Bruins complained that the City Hall council chambers were triggering her asthma.

The Post obtained the emails between Jordan and Shaw by making a request under the California Public Records Act. The Post confirmed the rental costs with Assistant City Manager Jon Maginot. Maginot said the city pays $2,500 to rent the stage or platform on which the council members sit, $2,500 for the audio system and a few hundred for portable air conditioning units. He said the city did not purchase a stage because they weren’t sure where Shaw would advise the city to hold meetings in the future.

The youth center lacks many of the amenities of the council chambers including a raised podium. Residents have complained that the space is hot and has bad acoustics.
In the October emails, Shaw asked Jordan to look into replacing the carpet and ceiling in the youth center and adding a heating and air conditioning system.

$1 million in improvements

Jordan told Shaw that if the city makes those improvements it would have to make other ADA required changes. The total cost would be about $1 million.

Shaw told Jordan to make sure her inquiries were kept secret from the council.

“If there are leaks to council on the following they could start to get concerns with what I will recommend,” she wrote on Oct. 26.

Council members suspended Shaw’s contract in November after she told them they can’t move back to chambers because it is dangerous for one member of council, but wouldn’t say what is causing the danger.

Council meetings were moved to the youth center in April.

What’s the problem with City Hall?

Councilwoman Jeannie Bruins complained last year that the chambers in City Hall were triggering her asthma. At the time she said the problem might be the smell of regular council observer Roberta Phillips, who smokes. Bruins tried to get Phillips to leave a meeting but Phillips would not go.

Councilwoman Lee Eng, who also suffers asthma, told the Post at the time that she sometimes has to use her inhaler when she sits in the audience of the council chambers to attend commission meetings. She said the chambers’ carpet could be an irritant.

Air quality tests that Shaw had conducted found no dangerous chemicals or mold in the youth center or council chambers. City commissions still meet in the council chambers.


  1. > Bruins tried to get Phillips to leave a meeting but Phillips would not go.

    Yes, “Her Majesty the Imperial Queen” Jeannie Bruins demanded Ms Phillips be ordered out of the Council Chambers. Her reason? Ms Phillips cigarette smoke odor was unacceptable and offensive to “Her Majesty”. Her factotum City Attorney Chris Diaz immediately scurried over to demand Ms Phillips leave. To her credit Ms Phillips reminded City Attorney Diaz of her Constitutionally provided rights and remained put. Diaz, being left like the fool he is, slumped back to “Her Majesty” admitting he could not evict Ms Phillips. Guess what Her Majesty did next? She filed an ADA complaint about odor…and thus imposed City residents to additional costs and drama. Just because she couldn’t get her way.

    For all the work the Founders of this country did in gifting us a Republic free of monarchs it hasn’t stopped some from attempting to behave as Queens (or Kings)…and they are enabled by others that stoop to serve as their henchmen. Reference in point: Los Altos City Government.

  2. They need a stage? For $2,500 a meeting? This is unbelievable. I’m voting against every incumbent. I can’t believe they throw our tax dollars around like this. Is the city manager insane?

  3. >I’m voting against every incumbent.
    Four Council members voted AGAINST the move from the Council Chambers.
    One–guess who?–voted FOR it.
    Of the five on Council there’s one, maybe two, that consistently demand accountability from the City Manager, City Attorney, etc. However they are stymied by the other three (or four) who are in thrall to Jordan and Diaz.

    We’d do well to direct our ire against that one…and to also demand the three (or four) explain themselves to us. It makes no sense to hurt the one person on Council who has voted, as common sense suggests, against the antics of Bruins and Jordan and their enablers.

  4. >We’d do well to direct our ire against that one…

    We’d do well to direct our ire against that ONE who voted FOR the move of Council meetings from Chambers to the Youth Center.

    We’d do well to lend all support possible to the ONE (or TWO) that consistently demand accountability from the City Manager and City Attorney even while those two are being given the carte blanche by the other three (or four) Council members.

    In short, in the elections come Nov, we’d do well to support the good. The trash are termed out and can’t run; we’d do well to insure their replacements are not their proxies.

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