Tag Archives: Climate Action Plan

These city committees have no accountability to the public

22 May

Yesterday I wrote a post about a Sustainability Task Force meeting that had been scheduled for yesterday afternoon. This special meeting had been scheduled at the May 7 meeting and noticed to me and others on the e-mail list May 14. I received the agenda for this meeting on May 16th.

Yesterday at 4:12, I received an e-mail stating that the 5:30 meeting had been cancelled due to an expected lack of quorum. $taff  liaison Linda Herman had waited until just a few hours before the meeting to notice  the e-mail list.

Well, for Pete’s sake. She could not get enough people, from a list of fifteen members of this committee, to make a quorum for a meeting that had been noticed at the last full meeting, three weeks previous? And she didn’t know this until an hour and fifteen minutes before the meeting?

When I called her on it, Linda responded: “I am sorry for the inconvenience this may have caused for you.  This was a second extra meeting that was scheduled for this month and not the regular monthly meeting. That meeting was held on Monday May 7, 2012.  Yes, I did poll the members when I sent the agenda out on May 16 and sent an email at 8 am yesterday to reconfirm and left phone messages. Unfortunately things came up for some of the members that they didn’t plan on (flights and travel delayed, illness etc.). We are large committee so we need 8 members for a forum.  I was waiting on phone messages to hear back before I could cancel the meeting.”

Well, I’m on the list, but did not get the e-mails she mentions – nobody ever told me that this meeting was in question. And I’m on the mailing list – she didn’t post the cancellation on the website until after 4pm either, maybe later, I didn’t check. So, a member of the public who wanted to attend would have made their arrangements, for a dinnertime meeting, and then shown up — at what inconvenience who knows? — to find a locked door.

This morning when I arrived at 8am for the Finance Committee meeting, the Sustainability Task Force notice was still on the wall, as if the meeting actually happened.

The agenda for this meeting was further discussion of the “Sustainability Indicators Report.” This report has been drawn up by $taff, printed out with color illustrations and photos, and will be considered by council at a future meeting. But here, having a further chance to vet it before the public, this self-appointed “task force” can’t even come up with eight members. This is a recurring problem. When I attended a regular STF meeting regarding the plastic bag ban, two of the members skipped out at some point during the lengthy discussion, again leaving the group without a quorum. So,  the matter was scheduled again for a second meeting.

Here’s the commitee:  Ann Schwab, Chair; Dwight Aitkens;  BT Chapman; Robyn DiFalco; Tom DiGiovanni; Ken Grossman; Jon Luvaas; Jim Pushnik; Valerie Reddemann;  Toni Scott; Jon Stallman; Krystle Tonga; Tammy Wichman; Scott Wolf;  Julian Zener.

Ann Schwab and BT Chapman are the only members I have seen without fail at every meeting I have attended. I have never seen a couple of these people, at any meeting I’ve attended, but I’ll say, I don’t go to ALL the meetings.

Some of these people listed above actually get paid to sit in at these meetings, it’s part of their public job.

Finally I’ll say, the people I see at the ad hoc meetings, including PG&E and garbage company employees, are not on this list. The ad hoc committee meetings are where the real plotting and planning is done, these regular meetings are just the rubber stamp committee. If you really want to know what this “task force” is up to, you have to go to the ad hoc meetings, which are scheduled at any time the various attendees can agree to get together – sometimes with less than 72 hours notice.  These ad hoc meetings do not appear on the agendas list.

I feel most of the people listed on the committee are just there to get their name on the list. They want it for their various resumes, their company image.  But, the  ones who aren’t named on the above list who actually do all the work are doing it for their own benefit, not for Mother Earth. For example, the garbage haulers are vying for enterprise zones and the county dump wants a guarantee that all haulers will take their loads to  Neal Road instead of heading for lower tipping fees in Yuba City. PG&E has got the city running a program to install Real Time meters in people’s homes. Of course these companies pay their employees to sit in on these meetings.

And no wonder neither Ann Schwab nor $taffer Linda Herman is too concerned about our attendance.