At least one person took offense with my last commentary regarding the openings available on various city boards and commissions.
It seems that they objected to my comment that applicants for the Planning Commissions "must have a thorough understanding and knowledge of the city's General Plan, Zoning Ordinance, Master Fee Schedule and Municipal Code." The key word being "must" that was questioned.
In hindsight, I should have included The Map Act.
Perhaps I could have written "should have," as many applicants are typically unaware of the various documents and laws that they have to use to rendering their decisions.
The planning commission is one body that a city must have; although the California Government Code does allow a city council to sit as its planning commission.
The person who objected to my use of the word "must" explained that the members of the City Council didn't have to have a thorough knowledge of those documents, which is true.
The difference being that being a council member or mayor is a political position elected to office; whereas the various boards and commissions are appointed to do the detail work, rendering decisions and/or recommendations to the city council.
Failure to follow the various ordinances, General Plan and laws by a commission or board can place the city in legal jeopardy if a decision is made on an emotional basis, as oppose to a legal basis.
If you have ever attended a board or commission meeting, you have found that they are totally different from a council meeting. As a general rule, you won't find commissioners or board members pontificating or pushing a personal agenda as you may find from the dais of a city council meeting. The reason is simple: Individual council members are under pressure to please their constituency if they want to get re-elected. It is a harsh reality of political life -- even though at the city level, it is by law, nonpartisan politics.
This could explain why some complain that when it comes to votes at the city council level, some believe that the city council always votes the way the city staff recommends -- but that is not true.
During my eight years on the city council I asked that staff reports include "the good, the bad and the ugly" so that I, as a member of the council, could render an appropriate decision. This was particularly true when it came to anything that involved city revenues.
I didn't just want to hear what the cost would be to the city for the current or next fiscal year; I wanted to hear and see what the costs would be for the next 5, 10 or 20 years. The reason was very simple: I didn't want to hamstring someone who would be sitting in my seat 5, 10 or 20 years later.
After I was elected to the City Council in November 2000, there was a knock on my door. There stood Antioch's Mayor Emeritus, Verne Roberts. He stopped by to congratulate me, and then informed me that I am now responsible for every stupid decision made my every council going back to 1872! And he was right.
So if in my opinion I believe that applicants for Antioch's boards and commissions "must have" a thorough knowledge of the laws and documents for the various boards and commissions on which they want to serve, it is just that -- my opinion.
Arne Simonsen is the Antioch city clerk. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.