Clerk feels her $135,000/year time is best spent hunched over her computer picking and choosing what goes into the minutes – that’s why the minutes are seven months behind

11 Sep

Well, my questions to the city clerk and staff regarding the production of meeting minutes has started quite a conversatin.  It’s gotten weird – with Stephanie Taber and Sean Morgan asking me to “back off.”  But here’s the answer I was waiting for, from Debbie Presson:

Hi Juanita.


I thought I would provide additional clarification regarding the preparation of minutes that is clearly my responsibility.


First, let me set the record straight, the Council action regarding minutes which carried 7-0 on November 7, 2000 was to “approve “action-only” minutes, with staff to provide summary detail when needed.”  This action was based on the fact that VHS videos (at that time) were available for check out the day after the meeting.  We then moved to DVD’s when that technology became available and then in 2009, started streaming the meetings and making all Council meeting videos available on the website so our citizens would have immediate access to the meeting information.  For citizens who cannot access the videos on the internet, we still maintain a DVD copy available for citizens to check out and take home to view.


So, yes… the City Council minutes are behind at this time.  Back in May 2010 through the first part of 2011, they also got behind when nine additional Council meetings were held in order to take in public comment for the General Plan Update.  Public input was critical to that process and therefore needed to be reflected accurately.  I had to watch those meetings over and over again in order to capture what each citizen stated for the record. 


The second note that I would like to make is that I do not pick and choose what goes into the minutes.  The detailed minutes were in many cases “verbatim” in order to capture anything related to the budget issues that the Council was grappling with at that time.  I began to provide more verbatim minutes when Council kept asking questions regarding the financial situation but was often told by the Finance Director that she didn’t have that information with her.  Detailed or verbatim minutes were solely related to those financial discussions and contained all the comments from all speakers related to the item, not just the items I wanted to see included.


I am honored to serve as the City Clerk of Chico and my duties surrounding the legislative history are very important to me.  I strive at all times to provide minutes that accurately reflect what actions were taken at each and every meeting and more importantly, what the video can attest to…. at any given moment.  As mentioned by both the Mayor and Stephanie Taber, there is no statute that provides a deadline or time line for the presentation of minutes to the Council for review.  Having said that, I am committed to getting them caught up as quickly as I can.  However, there are other things that are deadline driven and required by State law that will always need to be completed within the time frames allowed by law.  Those types of items by their very nature, take priority over the minutes.


I do appreciate your suggestion of annotated agendas where the motion, second and vote are indicated.  At this time, I am just trying to get the minutes caught up…. but should a backlog of minutes occur again in the future, I believe the annotated agendas would be helpful to those individuals who choose not to watch the videos.


Thank you for your comments. 


Debbie Presson  

I answered:

Debbie, you do pick and choose. I still have the e-mail exchange where I had that conversation in which Jennifer gave me erroneous information about the employee share, and you and Dani just “chose” to leave that whole conversation off the record. I wondered if Jennifer had asked you to strike it – is that allowed?  You’d put another question I’d asked in the record, so I knew I was at the meeting.  It was Sorensen who pointed out Jennifer gave me the wrong figures, and I had to ask you to add that. It’s pretty clear that you guys listen to the tapes and type what you want into the record.


I’ve seen the verbatim minutes. With a video for back up, I see absolutely no reason for verbatim minutes. 


It is my belief that you would better serve the public if you gave us the annotated agendas where the motion,  second and vote are indicated. That would be best for all the meetings, not just council. I think it is a terrible waste of expensive staff time to strain over an hour’s tape for 5 – 6 hours trying to pick and choose. 


Here’s why I choose not to watch the videos – all I want is the motion, second and vote, why should I have to sit at my computer, pushing the button, trying to find the exact moment of the motion, when you get paid over $135,000/year to take notes?  Why can’t the notes be available within a week? A month? That’s not unreasonable, other towns do it with less resources than Chico. 


Thank you for doing the job you are generously paid for, and I’d also like to add, you guys need to pay your own pensions and healthcare package. That would really establish some good will on your part. 


Sincerely, Juanita Sumner

This is a catharsis – FINALLY the city clerk drops that “have a wonderful day” bullshit and talks straight – I’ve been waiting for this through years of phony ass-kissing and superficial conversation.   I don’t hate Debbie Presson, I hate phony people, and she doesn’t present her true face, she uses that sugary coating as a defense mechanism, so nobody will tell her to cut the crap and do her job. Well, I’m telling her, damn the feel-good torpedoes. 


6 Responses to “Clerk feels her $135,000/year time is best spent hunched over her computer picking and choosing what goes into the minutes – that’s why the minutes are seven months behind”

  1. Mary September 11, 2013 at 9:00 am #

    Hmmmmmm…. testy. Stephanie has also been trying to get us to back off via her business from the floor comments. She is clearly drinking Nakamura’s kool-aid, and that is such a disappointment, seemingly having been transformed from a watchdog to a lapdog.

    • Juanita Sumner September 11, 2013 at 9:04 am #

      And Mark Sorensen went from private businessman to public worker in about a second when he took that city manager position in Biggs. He forgot everything he ever learned about the private sector as soon as he shimmied up to that trough. Now he’s one of them, and makes no bones about it. He knows which side his bread is buttered on, and who keeps that butter coming.

      • Mary September 11, 2013 at 10:02 am #

        The thing that bothers me most about Mark Sorensen and Sean Morgan is they claim to be conservatives, yet they only seem to be interested in truth if it supports Nakamura’s agenda. I am conservative to the core, and I always believed we follow the truth wherever it leads. It was so disheartening to me that they stood beside the mayor while he conducted that press conference and attempted to stifle any unapproved dissent. The fact that folks from both sides of the political aisle are after Nakamura should be a wake-up call.

      • Juanita Sumner September 11, 2013 at 3:04 pm #

        I agree, I was shocked to see them at the news conference. I thought Sorensen looked uncomfortable, but there he was. I thought Schwab’s absence was pretty noticeable, and I’m shocked we haven’t heard more out of her in this whole thing.

        It is weird, you need a program to know who’s where on what.

  2. Mary September 11, 2013 at 5:20 pm #

    Now, that’s an interesting point. Gruendl said at the beginning of the press conference (yes, we were there) that Ann had another meeting and couldn’t attend… BUT, as we left the press conference, we saw her through the window sitting in CR2 with staff, presumably waiting for closed session to begin. She has been pretty relentless in speaking her truth during meetings. I don’t agree with her politics, but I do greatly admire her courage in the face of the open hostility and condescension she endures from some others on the Council.

    • Juanita Sumner September 12, 2013 at 4:51 am #

      frankly, I don’t trust Ann either. She’ll indulge herself in the same kind of political games these people play, except this time, she got on the wrong side of it, got left out in the cold. They needed somebody to blame, and she’s not happy about that. I think that’s the only reason she’s not going along with Nakamura – everything he does casts a shadow on her administration. I think that’s the only reason she’s mad – she got made the scapegoat. Baaaa!

      And, along with Scott, Ann signed that MOU that linked pay to revenue increases but not decreases. That was a very slick mechanism for raising public salaries across the board, very determined on their parts, and very unsustainable. People like Ann Schwab and Scott Gruendl put our economy where it is today with that MOU and the subsequent contracts. The management salaries went up like rockets, while the lower level salaries just puttered along. Now we have a ridiculous disparity in wages that I know has caused problems in the ranks. She sat over that, and signed every bad contract that came along. She’s one of the multiple heads of the stinking fish, I have no use for her whatsoever.

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