Where is the public discussion?

Fiscal restraint was not on the agenda at last week’s LCF City Council budget workshop, nor was any variation from what the city staff requested in the way of budget modifications. New projects were approved to use up every last dollar of a projected revenue increase.

When asked why the customary council resolutions justifying and clarifying expenditures were not provided, the city manager testily answered in an open meeting (on behalf of the city council?) that such resolutions were not required. Apparently the city staff is no longer required to answer for how it spends public funds — nor is the city council.

California’s Brown Act requires that the only items discussed at all council meetings be those listed on the agenda. New projects were discussed and public input was received from the beneficiaries of these city gifts of public money, in spite of the fact that the agenda spoke only of budget adjustments. We have seen this abuse of “study sessions” in the past. What the public doesn’t know about public spending can’t hurt them, right?

At Monday’s regular City Council meeting, every action item was on the consent calendar, to be passed by one vote without individual discussion. Even the one item taken off the consent calendar was discussed without a proper public hearing and referred to closed session to end further public discussion. We can’t allow public discussion of the hazards posed by poorly designed and maintained traffic medians.

On the same consent calendar was another item quietly giving city staff a pay raise retroactive to July 1, 2010. Apparently the “Association MOU” gave the city’s “agency shop” much more than just the $500 deferred compensation and four free lunches.

These are issues that deserve vigorous public discussion. These issues will never see the light of day so long as the LCF City Council remains intent on covering up all city failures. Will this community join us in holding our city council accountable for its actions — or inactions? Will this community join us in calling for transparency and open discussion at city council meetings?

James Stoker

La Cañada Flintridge


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