It appears that John Steinbeck was right! Sometimes "the best-laid plans of mice and men" don't always work out as planned. Then again, a few of them did work!
First, I was able to move the city clerk's office back down to the first floor with the intention of being there Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
But it quickly became apparent that there were several days during any given month that those fixed hours were just not going to work.
For instance, I am the clerk to the Board of Administrative Appeals, which meets on the first Thursday of every month (if there are any appeals) at 3 p.m.
Then there are the days when I have to receive sealed bids on city projects, which are then opened in the City Council chamber right after 2 p.m.
And on those days when the deputy city clerk has to go to training, take a personal day or vacation, I am in there from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
On the Thursdays before a council meeting, agenda materials don't always arrive on time. Once they do, the agenda packets for the City Council, staff, library and public have to be assembled and delivered, as well as having all materials scanned and emailed to the webmaster for posting on the city's website.
And what about those days when the City Council meetings begin early for closed session?
Yes, there have been several 8-hour days; and I even logged a 12-hour day when the council held an early closed session followed by the regular council meeting.
I do get ribbed for not adhering to my "10-to-2" schedule as outlined in my candidate statement; and trying to come up with a published list of hours that I am in the office has been like trying to get a wet noodle to stand up.
Fortunately, the deputy city clerk who is a fulltime city employee and actually reports to the city manager (not the city clerk), is available to handle all the routine duties of the office.
This has allowed me to work on projects, which have long been overlooked.
I have a 3-inch stack of slips for documents, which have been removed from the archives that date back a couple decades. And there are boxes of documents, which are missing their inventory lists.
Having worked in the library at Acalanes High School, I am very familiar with the Dewey Decimal System (which for you young folks was similar to Google today) and how to keep track of books and materials that were checked out and returned.
So I have instituted a system to keep track of who has custody of checked out materials. But the bigger task is going to be tracking down the host of documents, which have been checked out over the past 20 years and getting all the inventories up-to-date.
I have been working with Antioch resident Jeffery Belle on establishing an intern program at no cost to the city. Jeffery has been working with the county Workforce Development, Los Medanos Community College and the Antioch Unified School District; and will soon be making a presentation to the City Council.
But one of the more enjoyable aspects of being back on the first floor of City Hall is being able to help residents with questions they have and getting them to the right people at City Hall to resolve their issues.
That has been the one area where having served on the City Council for eight years provided me with the background to answer questions and helps them resolve their issues.
And for those young children with their parents waiting patiently in the line to pay their water bill, get water service or obtain a business license, I do have a jar of candy for those who are behaving themselves, and it brings a smile to their faces and particularly their parents.
Arne Simonsen is the Antioch city clerk. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.