1/10/2012 Council Summary

A very long and tiring night.

We started the evening as usual, with the six of us seated and a packed audience, going back into the lobby and with overflow in the West Conference Room.  You’d think it was a special night or something…

Initially, we had a consent calendar consisting of just the minutes of the previous meeting.  But the Mayor rearranged the agenda on the dais and moved 1E, the second reading of the CalPERS contract amendment, up from the second consent item to the first.  This was because the sitting council was the one who approved the first reading, and it was thought that the sitting council should do the second reading.  A member of the public then pulled that item to object to it.  Then there was a motion to move the item back to the second consent calendar.  I seconded, because I was uncomfortable with a procedural aspect of it.  The motion failed 2-4, and then a second motion was made (which I also seconded) to approve the second reading, and it passed 5-1.  Nothing like a smooth start, I guess.

We then went to item 2, certifying the election results, and that passed on a 6-0 vote with no discussion.

Then we got into the ceremonial portion of the event.  I’m going to gloss over the speeches, because I can’t do them justice.  We recognized Councilmember Swegles first, and his wife Gail was there to accept for Ron.  Then we recognized Councilmember Lee.  After that, they recognized me as outgoing Vice Mayor.  And then I recognized Mayor Hamilton, both as outgoing mayor and outgoing councilmember (and I muffed it a bit, ah well).  At that point, I was in charge of the meeting.

Next came the swearings-in of the new councilmembers.  First up was Councilmember Whittum, who was sworn in by former Mayor Jim Roberts.   Then Councilmember Meyering was sworn in by a woman I didn’t know and whose name I don’t remember, sorry.  Then Councilmember Davis was sworn in by his wife Susan.  Finally, Councilmember Martin-Milius was sworn in by former Mayor Pat Castillo.  Councilmembers Meyering, Davis, and Martin-Milius also gave speeches.

I then took a 15-minute break so the crowd could settle.  A lot of people show up only for the swearings-in and the recognition of the outgoing members, so that gave people a chance to react to what had happened, and for some to leave.

We then reconvened with the new 7-member council seated, and I was still in charge as Mayor Pro Tem.  First item was selection of the new mayor.  There were a few members of the public who spoke on behalf of Councilmember Whittum, Councilmember Moylan, and myself.  And then we got into the voting.

There was a bit of a hiccup this year, because of an advisory letter that we learned about just last week.  The Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) is the state’s election watchdog agency.  And responding to a question submitted to them, they sent an advisory letter to the City of Ventura, stating that in their opinion, if a city has a council-appointed mayoral system, and if the mayor receives additional pay, then any mayoral candidates have a conflict of interest if they vote on the mayoral selection (for themselves or for others).  This applies to a whole lot of cities up and down the state, including us, and Mountain View had to handle it last week too.  We had a meeting on Monday, and at that point, we were advised that candidates could choose to recuse themselves from the vote, they could sign a waiver so as to decline the additional mayoral salary, or they could do nothing and risk an FPPC complaint (which would be filed against the individual, and not the city).  Anyway, for each accepted nomination, I asked which option the nominee selected.  And our rules additionally say that self-nominations aren’t permitted.

So first, Councilmember Spitaleri was nominated, and he had signed a waiver.  Then Councilmember Whittum was nominated, and he had signed a waiver.  Then I was nominated, and I had signed a waiver.  We then went into voting.  The rules are that we vote in the order candidates were nominated, and we continue with the voting until a candidate receives 4 votes.  On the first vote, Councilmember Spitaleri received 3 votes, then Councilmember Whittum received 3 votes, then I received 1 vote (myself), and I was eliminated.  On the next round, Councilmember Spitaleri received 4 votes and was selected as Mayor.

This was a difficult vote, and it was harder for me because I had to think very quickly while I was also running the meeting, which I hadn’t done before.  And some aspects of the nominations and first round of voting caught me off-guard, and I didn’t take note of a couple of things that I should have.  Anyway, I was pretty evenly conflicted between Councilmembers Whittum and Spitaleri, as a “fresh blood vs. experience” decision.  In the end, the tipping factor for me was concerns about possible interpersonal conflicts on the new council.  We face some real challenges working together as a new council, and the real work of our mayor is always the behind-the-scenes conflict resolution that keeps Council functioning smoothly.  Councilmember Spitaleri has dealt with that before, while Councilmember Whittum hasn’t, and I wasn’t thrilled with the trial-by-fire that he would have had to endure – not with issues like the budget and the downtown hitting us very quickly.  I’m confident that Councilmember Whittum can handle that, but I think he’d have an easier time in two years, for various reasons.

So Mayor Spitaleri and I switched seats, and we proceeded with the selection of the Vice Mayor.  Right out of the box, Councilmember Whittum nominated me.  But given the really tough time I had over my previous vote, I declined the nomination and instead nominated Councilmember Whittum right back.  That one was a really easy call to make, much as I enjoyed being Vice Mayor over the past year.  Councilmember Whittum accepted, and no other nominations were made.  So Councilmember Whittum was elected Vice Mayor by acclamation.

We then went on with the normal business, although it was a little out of sequence.  We took public comments as public announcements.  One speaker announced a new resident organization to examine Sunnyvale’s pension problems, which can be found at http://www.sunnyvalepensionreform.com.  One speaker talked about an upcoming meeting of the Democratic Club of Sunnyvale.  Then a couple of speakers discussed code violation problems at a complex on Acalanes, which took some time.  It sounds like there may be some real problems going on, and the City Manager is going to report back to Council about where things stand with the property in question.

We then went to the consent calendar, and a colleague pulled 1C, the list of bills, and 1F, notice of our intent for the City of Sunnyvale to act as successor to the Sunnyvale Redevelopment Agency.  The rest of the consent calendar was then approved on a 7-0 vote.  A handful of bills were questioned, and after that, 1C was approved on a 6-0 vote with one abstention.  1F was then discussed, and the point was made that the state law regarding the elimination of RDAs only requires a “notice of intent” if a city doesn’t intend to appoint a successor agency.  We were serving notice that we do intend to appoint one.  But we were advised by outside legal counsel that it was advisable to issue a notice anyway.  So we then voted 6-1 to issue the notice (I voted yes).

We then had item 5, the annual public hearing for study and budget issues.  Right off the bat, several new study issues were discussed:

  • Examining the BMR program for possible additional background checks for applicants (approved for consideration)
  • Moving elections to even-numbered years (approved for consideration)
  • Identify possible ways to provide non-fluoridated water (not approved for consideration)
  • Studying a community shuttle bus from Moffett to Sunnyvale-Saratoga and 280 (approved for consideration)
  • Anti-retaliation ordinance for officials against volunteers for whistle-blowing (not approved for consideration)
  • Establishing a financial/economic sister-city relationship program (approved for consideration)
  • Suspending the first-year business license tax for new businesses (not approved for consideration)
  • An ordinance barring councilmembers from voting on issues involving political contributors (approved for consideration)
  • Establishing a program of city-sponsored TV time for candidates to respond to attack ads, earlier than our current “last word” event (not approved for consideration)
  • Installation of a stop sign at Lily and Henderson (will be dealt with as an operational item independent of the study issue process)

We then opened the public hearing, and speakers talked about several proposed study issues.  The most popular one seemed to be DPW 12-01, establishing a cyclist anti-harassment ordinance.  One additional study issue was  then proposed, ending numbered council seats, including a ranked-choice voting option (approved for consideration).

Following that was discussion of our new intergovernmental relations positions.  We quickly approved the non-contentious ones (alternatives 1, 3, and 5) on a 7-0 vote, with the exception of the Cities Association of Santa Clara County’s Legislative Action Committee.  We then voted 7-0 to appoint Councilmember Meyering to the Subcommittee on Council Policy for Boards and Commissions, along with myself and Vice Mayor Whittum.   We then voted 7-0 to put Councilmember Davis, Mayor Spitaleri, and Councilmember Martin-Milius to the Community Event Grant Funding Subcommittee.  We then voted 7-0 to appoint Councilmember Meyering as Sunnyvale’s representative to the League of California Cities Peninsula Division, and Councilmember Davis to the the Moffett Field Restoration Advisory Board.  We then voted 7-0 to make the CASCC Legislative Action Committee a mayoral appointment, so the two CASCC positions could be jointly appointed.

What then followed was the seating assignments.  And when facing the dais, from left to right, the seats are Councilmember Meyering, myself, Vice Mayor Whittum, Mayor Spitaleri, Councilmember Moylan, Councilmember Martin-Milius, and Councilmember Davis.

We then had a couple of brief IGR reports.  A colleague moved to place four (I think) items on the next agenda, but they weren’t seconded.  We then closed the meeting in memory of two residents who passed away recently.  And that was it for the first meeting of the new council.  We’re off for three weeks, back on the 31st.

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