After reviewing the video from last night’s Brentwood City Council meeting, I am somewhat amazed at the arrogance and reasoning used that would enable the council to postpone any appointment until early 2013 as they chose a November 15 deadline with an open ended number of appointments.
First off, what kind of message does the Brentwood Council send to the remaining firefighters who are stuck protecting 250 square miles with just three stations and 9 on duty? They have essentially now delayed any real action for the Board to begin to take effect until March 2013.
The message last night’s meeting sends is Brentwood doesn’t care about the firefighters. They have essentially handicapped the ECCFPD Board to a standstil until mid-next year with their proclaimed “process”. The irony was they claimed this process ensured public safety which is a flat out lie.
Don’t take my word for it, watch the video and you can figure it out pretty easily they are trying to save their political seats as they make their exit. Listening closely to the council discussion, in what should have been an easy approval of application and appointee process, they decided to twist the issue and make it out to be more complex that it had to be which alerted me to some major issues based on their statements.
As Oakley Councilmembers are set to come off, Brentwood wants to ensure their council stays on as long as possible with the option should their next council come on, they may chose not to make appointments.
Based off the video from last night, here is my area of concerns:
November 15 closing date:
By choosing this date, it ensures that should Robert Brockman or Erick Stonebarger lose their council seat, it allows them to apply as “citizens” to continue in their role as fireboard members. Apparently, rather than putting the best interest of the District forward, they would rather be self-serving.
The Irony here is as fireboard members, they were ready to make the decision quickly to appoint—now as councilmembers they are choosing to take their time. This say one thing as fireboard members and do another as a councilmember is reason enough why councilmembers have no business serving on the ECCFPD once money is available for an election.
End result, they chose an application closing date of November 15—looking at a calendar, it will probably be Friday November 16. Basically, you now have nearly 100 day application process with another 45-60 day interview/review process. That much time is not needed.
Possible new Council Dynamics:
Discussion came up that if there was a new council dynamic that they may not want to appoint and may want to continue to have councilmembers stay on the ECCFPD board. Am I missing something? This is all the more reason to ensure the appointments occur before November which is what these same four board members voted on a the last ECCFPD meeting. This is a perfect example of the continued double talk out of Brentwood.
Open Ended Number of Appointments
This one is pretty simple that they now are making more complex than it needs to be. Make a decision and stick with it. Instead, they are going to base their decision on the number of applicants they receive.
This may sound great, but since this is occurring in November, here is a scenario. If Brockman or Stonebarger lose their seats and they apply to serve on the board, does this mean Barr will remain with Brockman, Stonebarger, and a third “citizen”?
Will they pick three appointments based on how the November election turns out? This is why they must pick the number of appointments prior to the election. It’s very suspicious.
ECCFPD Budget Excuse:
They used the budget as an excuse not to make an appointment by September. Okay fair enough, then make September the last meeting and have appointments serve starting in October. Why is there a delay until January or February 2013? It’s illogical other than to try and protect either Brockman or Stonebarger from falling off the board all together.
Nice try, by using this year’s budget as an excuse to delay, you have essentially thrown the very next appointees into a situation where their first few meetings will likely involve mid-year budget cuts. The budget excuse is a fib!
Now here is where the ultimate a dog and pony show begins because the Ad-Hoc committee is made up of fireboard members/Councilmembers going through applications and picking and choosing who they want to serve with. Then brought back to the full council (again, made up of four councilmembers on ECCFPD) for final decision. Essentially you have ECCFPD/ Councilmembers picking who they want to work with. But don’t worry there no conflict right?
Anti-Union / Firefighters on Board
Brockman made the statement there is concern that by doing an election, it would stack the board full of union folks and firefighters which he stated would be bad on some fronts—so is Brockman showing discrimination towards unions and firefighters who may want to apply?
For the record, it’s the people who would be voting in that union person or firefighter. The folks of Brentwood get to decide, not Brockman! Brockmans statement is a no-no considering San Ramon and Moraga-Orinda each have firefighters on their boards and are two of the healthiest districts in the County.
Should we then discriminate to those who have had foreclosures or have had businesses sued from serving on the council?
If firefighters really want to shake it up, get three firefighters to run for office. One can run for Mayor while two others run for council. It would end a lot of this double talk real quick.
Brentwood vs. District Interests
Robert Brockman stated he wanted someone appointed who will look out for Brentwoods interest and then the Districts.I can say it until I am blue in the face, whoever is on this board must look out for the entire district as a whole, not a single city so they are already titling favoritism in the application process towards whoever will ensure Brentwoods interests first and foremost which is not the point of the District.
I’d like to remind Brentwood that there are 9 seats on the Board. Oakley has three seats and there are two at-large seats and combined that is 5 votes to Brentwood 5. Keep up this attitude of Brentwood first and you essentially will see a lot of 5-4 votes in the future.
Barr’s list of 9
Steve Barr wants to stay on the board to complete his task list of 9 items he brought up at the last meeting. If Barr wants to stay, then fine, but he should re-insert this list after the new board is brought on because as he stated, the dynamics will change and new members will come in in the middle of the discussion of his list.
Last night is a perfect example as to why an elected board needs to occur as soon as funding is available because these political games are unacceptable to East County residents and our firefighters. As ECCFPD Board Members, they are saying they want appointed citizen board and will come off. But now as councilmembers, they want to go in another direction while using the budget as the excuse not to move immediately forward.
Again, it’s all about the Brentwood Council first and foremost as opposed to the residents, the firefighters, and surrounding communities. Enough is enough and shame on them!
Here is a recap of the Council Discussion, feel free to go to the video if you like.
Robert Brockman asked about Oakley Discussion and the outcome.
Eldredge: Oakley City Council will decide to move forward with appointing public members, at least 2 public members with possibility of keeping one councilmember on board for 1 year.
Bob Taylor: We don’t want to start over; we’ve got some pretty seasoned veteran on the fireboard who know what is going on. Who will determine, will it be this council, or fireboard, who will determine how many fireboard members will come from Brentwood or elected, volunteered, who makes that determination.
Eldredge: Ultimately it will be this council to determine if they want to appoint public members to this board or keep current configuration or some combination.
Taylor: Is the fireboard involved in this decision?
Eldredge: Fireboard is not involved at all in who will be Brentwoods representatives, that is left to Brentwood City Council to decide.
Taylor: Does that person have to live within Brentwood or within the District?
Eldredge: The Brentwood representative would have to live within the city of Brentwood
Public Comments: none
Steve Barr: my opinion is we do appoint some members (of the public), I would be in favor of partial appointment and partial remain. As you mentioned mayor having some of current members stay on as a stager and review in future. We did have progress on fireboard and it would be like starting over if you have all new representatives. I am inclined to possibly appoint two members and keep two members that are currently on board.
Brockman: I am in favor of doing something similar, I think we lose if we don’t keep at least 1 councilmember on so we can get reporting back properly and keep the input going. I think we should look at the number of applications that we get because we may not get any and if we get 50, and then maybe we can appoint 3 and consider that maybe 1 can stay. I don’t think we have to make a decision tonight do we as to what we want to do. Is it more for discussion?
Eldredge: Yes, the point of tonight is to allow council to discuss and decide if they want to move forward and direct staff to prepare for the application process, review them, and bring back recommendation to full council. As for as one, or none, or four, doesn’t have to be done this evening.
Brockman: so if we can leave it open. I think there should be at least one councilmember and we should get a consensus. If we don’t have enough citizens that want to do it, then we can go to two and we may have to go to three or something. There should definitely not be four new people.
Joel Bryant: I think its just best to do it that way, the learning curve that I experienced two years ago was shocking to say the least, the history is so extensive and the roads and rabbit trails are exhaustive that completely new fire board would have to make same efforts and repeat things that don’t need to be repeated and it makes more sense to go on this trail. We need to consider the process of choosing these individuals… how do we go in determining the qualifications that are desirable.
Taylor: I’d like to make a couple of comments and some feed back to me. This is an awful lot for the city to digest. This impacts Brentwood in huge magnitude way. First of all, I don’t want to give impression that councilmembers are walk away from duties being on the fireboard. I want to give the impression that even though it would go to the general public, I really feel as council and myself we need to choose really selective people if we are going to go to this magnitude. When I read what Oakley did, I read that they did this in haste. It’s going to take some really good thought process because Brentwood’s safety is at risk and what the decisions this fireboard will make will impact this city no matter what. Good or bad it’s going to impact this city and I am sure all the people who are on the board are getting lots of questions asked. So the impression I want to give tonight’s is that we are not going to walk away from our citizen and that impression should not be out there. The other issues are in the selective process, we need to be stringent and we need to know who, what where, and how much education they are going to have in regards to the safety of our population. Because if we turn this over to the board, they are going to make some decisions and that is what they will be chosen to do. So, I am not very pessimistic, I am optimistic, but I want to put a point across we make sure we dot our “I”, cross out “t” because it is going to have impact on our city so I don’t know if we need two people, three people, one, whatever, we all have to figure that out but I don’t want to leave a fireboard that is new and could fail. That is not in good judgment and not in good leadership on this council.
Brockman: I agree, we don’t want to do that which is why if we don’t leave at least one councilmember we would be doing that. I am thinking we would do the same type of program that we do for planning commission where we get volunteers, review the applications and vet the process and all that and to our ad-hoc committee for the fireboard since they are involved with what is going on. I for one don’t want anybody that does not understand what is going on. There are people out there who know what is going on and willing to step up that would be great. There has got to be a few of them.
Taylor: Who would put together the process? (Paraphrased)
Eldredge: We wouldn’t spend a lot of time to recreate the wheel. It would be similar to current process for other positions with information changed around with advertisements and availability of forms. (Paraphrased).
Barr: Well actually, as councilman Brockman stated he wanted to leave that option open and see how many we have apply. That is one way of looking at it. I don’t mind doing that with setting a goal that we can at least appoint two. I for one would like to remain on fireboard just because there is some work to be done that I initiated at last fireboard meeting and so would like to complete that. Again, if we are going to look at the appointments as a council, maybe what we do as a council is if we were get to appoint two public citizens and two councilmembers that those two councilmembers would go through the committee assignment that we do when we re-organize in December that those be a rotating position as a committee rather than an appointment and un-appointed I guess, but I think that to me sounds like, that if we are going to appoint citizens, we treat it like a standing committee and basically subject review every year.
Brockman: And it’s like it says on the document. The set-up of the organization allows Brentwood to have four representatives period. It doesn’t say who they have to be. The council was appointed because we really didn’t have anybody else to put out there and its being worked out now and that would work fine. We can at-will appoint four people if we want but that would be foolish. At this point, it’s up to us, but the fireboard wouldn’t have any bearing on it other than trying to change the makeup of the board would which would require the board to approve. The only thing, and I will step up and say this the concern of even going to an elected board is that the makeup with union people and fire personnel which could be very damaging in some areas as opposed to appointments with someone with the experience could be very good. That is where we have to be careful is we don’t load the board up and shoot ourselves in the foot because we want the representation to represent Brentwood’s interest on the board and the district as a whole and that is the hard part.
Barr: I would like to recommend that we move forward with an appointment process and the process is similar to what we use on other commissions. And as suggested, we run all the applications through the ad-hoc committee bringing the recommendation back. I think we should probably say how many because if we are directing the ad-hoc committee, and as one of those members, I would like to know am I bringing back a recommendation for two? Or three?
Brockman: I would say give a directive of two minimum, and no more than three maybe as the beginning so it is kind of open. The other issue is the timing, we have the other thing coming up and that could change the whole makeup of the council. And if it does, then you have people working on that which you lose that experience or have some other change so other people may apply. So you may want to make the timing of closing at the end of November so we can have someone appointed. It gives us time to vet it all out for a couple of months and give some people to advertise it or something or make the ending date right after the election period so that we don’t lose out on the opportunity to get someone in there because lets say our ad-hoc committee changes, now you have people on it or someone who we appoint is no longer on the council so then we are going all the way around spinning. It’s a wise choice, but the timing is important.
Barr: What would be the earliest if we were to give direction tonight to move forward with the appointment process. What would be the earliest we could have appointees ready to serve.
Eldredge: The earliest is sometime in September with the idea that the appointees could attend their first meeting in October—he called it somewhat ambitious but could accommodate (Paraphrased)
Brockman: That’s why I am saying we close it by November 15; you are looking at interviews setting appointments and have someone sitting for their first meeting in December…. For example, if the makeup of the council changes, they can as a public member step up if they possibly want to stay on. Or if at that time, can be one of the volunteers to stay on. I don’t think it will be a problem of at least 1 person stay on.
Barr: I would agree that the timing, one of the critical areas with timing was finalizing the district budget. I would hate to throw someone in the middle of that when we are finalizing it. I think that is September when we finalize the budget for the District and that was my concern going in on their very first meeting and throw them into that on their very first meeting and have to finalize that. We saw the draft budget and we are familiar with it so no matter what the timing was, we were not going to get their by September anyway to have a new member. I think after that, it’s probably not going to be as critical for the first couple of months. And your right, there is going to be a change, the dynamics is going to change. I am not sure when Oakley actually set a timeline for appointments.
Note: Discussion occurred on actual date as to when application process closes.
Eldredge: He explained realistically if it closed in November, you have to do interviews and with just two council meetings in November and December, realistically looking at a first meeting in January for someone to participate on Fireboard (Paraphrased).
Direction is to proceed with application process and get forms prepared. Advertise but have period open until November/December timeframe with interviews and recommendations to council to follow.
Barr: What if we actually went back to our original appointment and if we have enough applicants, we can always postpone. I hate to stretch it to terribly long. It sounds like we are getting into January, possibly February timeframe. I know where you are going, but we could get a good pool of candidates. I know the last time we did applications for Planning Commission we had 12 which is great it shows the community is participating and I think they would in this issue. It could even be stretched out longer, if there was a different council, there may be the desire not to even appoint .
Brockman: I don’t think that’s pushing it. It’s not possible to get someone in there, there are three more meetings. I still think November 15 and then get someone in their by the 1st.
Taylor: I am in agreement. Let’s not push it; this is a tough decision to be made. I want the best of both worlds. I want to get it done but I am hesitant to do it. You guys are more or less on the board but with one meeting in November and December is pushing it. Then the budget, the last thing we want to do is have someone in their by September.
Barr: We wouldn’t have it
Taylor: I am with you; I am for the later part of the year. Joel do you have any input?
Bryant: I can certainly see both sides of the argument. I do have a great concern as well that if you put someone in their who is unfamiliar, the timing is so critical because we are dealing with the safety of our families, our homes, our communities. To throw someone in the mist of the maelstrom of everything that is going on. It would be remiss on our part, if November would allow us to potentially have some more experience candidates should there be a change in this council then I think it would behoove us to wait. It’s not that much longer, but it could have long term negative repercussions if we do it before then. That is my opinion, it would benefit us to wait til November rather than close that opportunity and perhaps eliminate a brain trust that could move us forward and make us a safer district.
Brockman: Do a 60-day application process ending November 15. You have a lot of people interested in running for election (council), depending on who wins and who doesn’t. They can step up. That is the kind of thing I am thinking.
Clarification via Staff: Application process to get out ASAP. Will have closing date November 15 or some date that makes sense. Interviews to be conducted early December or first of year.