The City Council has taken some very controversial actions in the last year or so, with no permanent Town Manager. It is noteworthy that, as long as a year ago (last June), the council knew that they needed to find a permanent town manager. Yet, they did not approve the then interim manager, John Danielson, to initiate a search, even though that was his specific purpose when he was hired. They had him spend his time firing most all of the town staff. They unwisely planned to have Danielson’s term extended by getting an exemption for him from his Calpers restriction on working mor than a year. When that didn’t work after more than a year, he quit suddenly (rather than risk losing his pension) and the town council was left looking like idiots. In response, they pretended to assign the young city clerk to the job of Interim Town Manager.
In effect, there is no Town Manager, as Theresa has no capacity to stand up to the over-reaching council. What have they gone ahead to do, while there is no professional in place? Have they focused on finding a Town Manager to manage the town? No. Six months later, they do not appear to have not found the right candidate. Yet, let’s look at the things this council has spent their time doing or at least threatening to do:
1. Ramming the Library EIR through on an expedited basis, at an extra cost of almost $100,000 for the EIR due entirely to the controversy which development plan conflicts entirely with the Town’s General Plan and Zoning Ordinances.
2. Abruptly halt accepting rentals of the facilities in Holbrook-Palmer Park without first submitting that question to an agenda item for the full council to review, prior to any council approval of the library, in conflict with the provisions of the General Plan.
3. Attempted to disband but had to make do with merely suspending the town’s environmental committee when individuals step up to oppose the Library Plan.
4. Disbanded the General Plan Committee during the comment period of the EIR.
5. Assign the City Clerk now Interim Town Manager to re-write all the rules for committees and commissions.
6. Raise the issue of the Tennis Courts not supporting themselves and discussion of a whole new plan (amendment to the EIR?) to use the land where the tennis courts are for a new parking lot.
7. Propose changing the Town from being a General Law town to a Charter City.
8. Attack the 8 year old resident-run email list after several posts from members shine a light on what the council is doing, in particular with the Libary EIR. Claim suddenly that residents are “confused” about the group’s name.
9. Launch a discussion of possibly moving the administrative offices to the park also, after the comment period for the EIR has ended!
10. Challenged the Town Center task force’s plan with the possibility of asserting that the decrepid town administrative buildings having historic landmark status (yet denying that the 60 year old Main House in the park has landmark status).
This is a sampling of the things that I have heard about. Why has the council majoritychosen to take these actions without an experienced town manager in place? Were these part of the mayor’s stated agenda for his term? Is Mayor Widmer driving this council (when he is actually in town and not traveling in Europe for his job)—or is his term being hijacked by Kathy McKeithen and her ALBSC’s efforts to confused and distract town residents away from her goal of ramming the Library project into the town’s only Open Space zoned park? Things have been thrown into the mix so quickly, there is just no opportunity to evaluate all of these issues in a clear and coherent way. Does anyone have any other theories about why all these issues have been opened at this time?