Discussion of City Commissions/Committees
Ms. Morad informed the committee that the minutes for this meeting would be forwarded over to City Council. She asked that the Committee Members discuss this topic attempting to be clear and concise. She stated that staff would e-mail members a draft of the minutes to confirm that their comments are clear and accurate. The actual official approval of the minutes would not take place until the Committees next meeting.
She explained the purpose of this discussion was to provide feedback to Councils proposed changes on the Commissions/Committees. They wish to see if these committees are still necessary, if they should be reduced or eliminated, or left as they are. City Council wants to be able to have each Council Member appoint a member to each committee. Specifically, the proposed changes call to reduce the CDCC to five members.
Committee Member Moreno-Sandy asked if essentially the Committee would be made up of all Council-appointed members.
Committee Member Elliott confirmed his understanding that rather than having a well-diversified Committee throughout the City by location-based appointments, Council would have members who would impose their thoughts or their call.
Ms. Morad acknowledged their concerns and stated that this is the reason for this discussion. She reviewed the current structure of this CDCC as follows:
She explained that the CDCC might be different in that although the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) does not have strict definitions on having this committee, they highly encourage citizen participation, especially from those living in CDBG areas. She read through the HUD regulations.
Ms. Morad distributed a Census tract map to explain how City staff has divided Fullerton into four sections. She also distributed a map showing the CDBG areas which are primarily in the southern part of Fullerton. She explained that the Committee has two members from each of those four areas and one from the Chamber of Commerce. She stated that City of Fullerton is not divided into districts thus there cannot be any district appointments.
She expressed that the current guidelines are set up to try to have different people from different backgrounds, age groups, etc. to have a wide variety of people making the choices of where to allocate the funds to the wide variety of needs in the City.
Ms. Morad turned the discussion over to the Chairperson so that the Committee could hold their discussion. She distributed the Final 2004 City Action Plan that was approved by Council and submitted for HUD approval.
Chairperson Jaramillo opened up the discussion by asking that they first comment on their feelings regarding the reduction in the number of members in this committee.
Committee Member Elliott shared past scenarios when Committee Members would have to go out and research items for which funding was requested. He provided the example where a stop sign was being requested and a school was requesting a playground. In both of these examples, he or other members went out, researched, and reported the findings back to the Committee. He said that if there are less people, there will be less manpower to conduct these investigations that help make better determinations and decisions as to what is funded.
Committee Member Moreno-Sandy expressed concern about absenteeism due to unforeseen emergencies or business trips. She felt her concern was a legitimate one and referenced the current meeting where three members were absent. She stated that if there are only five members, that would only leave two present and no action could be taken due to the lack of a quorum.
Committee Member Moreno-Sandy asked if anyone present could provide insight as to the reasoning for these proposed changes.
Committee Member Leon expressed concern that it might be so that City Council could appoint the people that they know.
Committee Member Moreno-Sandy also questioned whether or not a new interview process was in place. She expressed her belief that a large part of the reason for this committees structure and its size is to assure that the dollars be focused on diversified projects and to assure that they not just go to one project. She saw this committees function as there to guarantee that funds are channeled properly so there is no question as to whether everything is being done right. She expressed frustration on not understanding the rationale for the changes since ultimately Council can change the recommendations that theyre advised on and why they would not rather have a better, well-rounded representation.
Chairperson Jaramillo shared a conversation with a Council Member where she asked Committee Member Moreno-Sandys question as to the rationale. The reply that she received was that the Committees/Commissions need to run more efficiently.
Committee Member Moreno-Sandy asked what this lack of efficiency was based on and if they could provide a report. She stated that this was ultimately very undemocratic.
Committee Member Jensen-Purser asked staff if there was a problem with filling vacancies.
Ms. Morad replied that at one time they did have problems filling the south central representative but over the recent years there has not been a problem. She explained that Council did indicate that by appointing members there would be better communication. Secondly, they expressed that interviews are an issue since some Council Members work full time and do not always meet the selected committee members.
Committee Member Elliotts response to the communication issue was that there would be less quality communication with fewer members but more control for City Council.
Committee Member Moreno-Sandy concurred and stated that the result would be the opinions of a smaller grouper rather than better city representation.
Committee Members Elliott, Leon, Brannock, Moreno-Sandy, and Chairperson Jaramillo felt the second item was really a non-issue since interview times can be arranged at any times. Some members explained that their interviews were in the daytime but they could have had them in the evenings. They felt that this was not a valid argument.
Committee Member Leon expressed concern that CDCC recommendations can be arbitrarily changed by Council when Council Members never attend these meetings. She questioned the validity and value of the Committee.
Committee Member Moreno-Sandy asked staff why Council is proposing to reduce the number of members and Committee Member Jensen-Purser asked if perhaps term limitations is an issue since they might want new people on the committee.
It was confirmed that term limits are in place.
Ms. Morad reviewed the current terms for each member which showed that terms are staggered so not all members are lost at the same time.
Chairperson Jaramillo noted that based on recent conversations with Council Members, Member Terms is also a non-issue:
She shared a conversation with a Council Member where she was told that the application process is not very efficient. When she suggested that this process be revised, changed, or fine-tuned rather than generating a total change to all committees, they were not open to her suggestion. Chairperson stated that since all of the issues presented seem to be easily fixed on their own merit and Council did not seem receptive or open to suggestions that she offered, she has formed the opinion that all of these reasons must not be honest or direct.
Chairperson shared another conversation with a Council Member where he stated the fact that some committees have not met in years as the reason for these proposed changes. When she suggested that they only eliminate those inactive committees rather than changing all of them, there was no consideration given to her suggestion. She stated that based on her experience from these conversations, she believes the bottom line is that City Council wants to control the committees.
Committee Member Elliott asked staff how HUD would respond to these proposed changes since they encourage Citizen Participation and diversified groups rather than having people appointed based on the fact that they know Council Members.
Chairperson Jaramillo expressed her belief that HUD would be very proud of the way this Committee is structured and conducted since it yields fair results and good city representation.
Committee Member Jensen-Purser asked staff if Council has to appoint all the committees/commissions in the same manner or if they can have some which are appointed and some which are chosen by applications.
Ms. Morad replied that she believes that they can provide a different process for individual committees as it is now. She explained that one of the purposes of this discussion is to provide Council their comments as to how they feel that this Committee is unique vs. how it would fit into Councils proposed changes.
Committee Member Jensen-Purser asked staff regarding other cities CDCC and their selection processes. Staff was not aware of other cities structures.
Committee Member Moreno-Sandy suggested that maybe there is just one committee that is an issue and perhaps these changes are due to issues with other committees and not with the CDCC. She asked if other committees have the same function of the CDCC which is to provide an extension to the community. She questioned whether this discussion was applicable to them since this Committees process seems to be working fine.
Chairperson Jaramillo agreed that this could be true since there have been discussions over disbanding the Bicycle committee. But instead of targeting the two or three committees that are a problem and only disbanding those, they are restructuring the whole system.
Committee Member Brannock brought up the ethical question of appointing personal friends or acquaintances. She said that City Councils proposed changes are questionable.
Chairperson Jaramillo agreed since there are no clear definitions for the new selections or appointments.
Committee Member Jensen-Purser stated that this is politics and that this is how it always works even on a national level. She stated that although she does not necessarily think it right or wrong, it is the current status of how appointments are made.
Committee Member Brannock agreed that it is politics but does not agree with these changes since it will definitely create a conflict of interest.
Chairperson Jaramillo and Committee Member Leon agreed that just because this is politics does not mean it is a good decision and they would not like it to be part of this City.
Committee Member Elliott asked staff for direction on the next steps or procedure.
Ms. Morad stated that the minutes for tonights meeting would go to City Clerk and she would then forward them over to City Council.
Committee Member Elliott asked if these would be at City Clerks interpretation or if they would be verbatim. Ms. Morad confirmed that City Clerk would just report the facts as reported in the minutes and on the e-mail provided by Committee Member Bambrook. Ms. Morad stated that these would be used for consideration at the July 20th meeting. She indicated that CDCC members would be sent a reminder of this meeting.
Committee Member Elliott asked staff if City Council can unilaterally disband this existing Committee in spite of existing and pending member terms and create their own newly appointed group.
Ms. Morad stated that she does believe they can vote to do so.
Committee Member Elliott asked if the Committee has any other recourse available to help prevent this.
Ms. Morad stated that Council will vote that night but they are trying to get the Committees input. She provided the example of the SRO where they are a unique committee since the structure is defined in an Agreement with the Developer. She indicated that if CDCC Members feel that this committee is also unique in a sense, they can express that.
Committee Member Elliott asked if HUD has issued any directive on how the committee members should be appointed.
Ms. Morad stated that there is an existing Citizens Participation Plan that is already in place and has been submitted to HUD defining the current committee structure and selection process. If Council votes to change the CDCCs structure and selection process at the July 20th meeting, the Plan would have to go through a Public Hearing with time allowed for Public Comment. It would then have to be voted on by Council as a separate agenda item at a later meeting.
Committee Members Elliott and Leon suggested that a letter to HUD might be helpful and Committee Member Moreno-Sandy suggested perhaps publishing an editorial in the newspaper.
Chairperson Jaramillo informed members that were unable to attend the May 4, 2004 City Council meeting about the overwhelming representation of people speaking out against these proposed changes. She stated that there were approximately 20 people speaking out against it.
Committee Member Jensen-Purser asked staff if this topic would be on the 4pm or 7pm City Council Agenda. Staff stated that the Agenda is published the Thursday prior to the meeting and staff would notify the Committee of the scheduled time.
Committee Member Elliott asked if Committee Members would be allowed to speak at this meeting and Ms. Morad replied that they would in fact be allowed to express their opinion at the meeting.
Ms. Morad reviewed the letter from Council where they attached the agenda letters that discussed each individual committee. Committee Member Jensen-Purser stated that it was interesting reading since there were some committees that were not meeting and some that paralleled each other.
Chairperson Jaramillo agreed and recommended that these changes be made smarter only to specific committees rather than overall.
Committee Member Elliot MADE a MOTION that the current District-Area Appointment process to the CDCC remain the same and that this Committee retain its current number of members (9) due to the nature of the Committees purpose which requires a diverse city representation.
This MOTION was SECONDED unanimously by all members present. MOTION was carried 6-0.