Shine a light on city council's thought process

When I was new to the council in 2006 a former council member complimented me on a vote but also said, "I wish you had said more about how you arrived at the decision." I was being careful not to talk too much. Her comment caused me to reflect on what transparent government means.

Council members are prohibited from talking about agenda items outside the public process. The Brown Act allows for two of the five to talk but seeks to prevent a series of conversations with each other that influence a vote before the public conversation. All input is part of the public record. The council must make sense of this in full view of what is before us. Any agenda item should be vetted by hearing a staff report, inviting public comment and then engaging in a critical thinking conversation that results in sound decision making.

This critical conversation becomes even more crucial with a new council. We receive the staff report a week before the meeting. Often we will hear from interested parties; I visit the site because seeing helps me better understand the issues, however each council member approaches the information differently. This comes together at the council meeting when the real discussion takes place. It is imperative that we ask the questions of staff and listen to the public and each other to enable that give-and-take. There are three reasons why a council member asks a question. The first is to clarify information. Equally important is to make sure the information is reflected on the record. Lastly, it helps our community understand how we balance competing interests.


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The decisions we make affect thousands of people for generations. Sometimes our decisions cost millions of dollars. It helps to hear our thought process, especially with a new council. In the long run it will help this current council to better serve the citizens of Pleasanton. It is what we were elected to do.

Cheryl Cook-Kallio

vice mayor of Pleasanton

Chart's driver data does not support story

Based on the "brake reaction time" chart in the June 13 Times article on hands-free phones, it's difficult to understand what all the fuss is about. It appears that, with the exception of speech-to-text, reaction times are about 950 milliseconds plus or minus 50 milliseconds.

Are the data really correct? Someone should take a close look at the source data and the uncertainty in the results. I'm surprised that hands-free phones are slightly more dangerous than handheld phones -- not the horror story we've been led to believe. I'll bet someone got this story really wrong!

Stephen Massey

Livermore

Farewell to a great canine unit officer

The Livermore Police Department is saddened to announce that we lost a beloved member of our team last week. Canine "Caro" went on to a better place where he is no longer in any pain.

Caro served as a K9 for the department under his handler, Officer Rich Hill. Caro worked from January 2004 to January 2009. He had two bites, one on a suspect that attacked Officer Hill, causing Caro to jump out of the car to protect him, and one on a (burglary) suspect found hiding in an elderly female's garage under her car. Caro was credited with 28 arrests.

He was a POST-certified patrol canine and certified as a narcotics detection canine. He won his first Western States Police Canine Association Narcotics Competition the same day he completed narcotics detection school. He won 14 trophies in WSPCA competitions. He took fifth place out of more than 150 dogs in the WSPCA competition for the overall year of 2005 in narcotics detection.

He also was awarded the O'Keefe Award for the best teamwork between handler and dog at the Lodi K9 competition in 2006. This was the most coveted award among all the competitors.

Caro's health was quickly failing, and he was laid to rest peacefully to ease his suffering in his old age. He will be missed. We want to thank Caro for his many years of dedicated service to the men and women of the Livermore Police Department and the Livermore community.

Sgt. Keith Graves,

Livermore police K9 unit leader

Must one have license to say the 'n-word'?

I was informed yesterday that Paula Deen of the Food Network had her contract terminated for using the "n-word" a long time ago.

Most of us are familiar with what happened to Sergio Garcia recently and years ago with Fuzzy Zoeller for fried chicken remarks in regard to Tiger Woods.

I agree that these comments are hurtful and inappropriate. What I can't figure out is why there are no repercussions for rap singers.

My son plays his music rather loudly in the house and garage and it seems to me that most of the songs incorporate the use of the "n-word" almost every other sentence. Why is it OK that this is not only tolerated, but that individuals are allowed to profit from it while others lose everything because of it. It needs to be banned everywhere or not banned at all.

Kevin Vickers

Livermore

How it adds up -- marriage = man + woman

Two plus two equals four, three times eight equals 24, seven minus two equals five. No matter how you calculate the math, the end results will always be the same and will never change. The same goes for marriage: i.e., one female plus one male equals marriage. It always has and always will, so get used to it. Period -- end of discussion!

LaVerne Walters

Dublin

Should we just have state spy on everyone?

A reader writes that the NSA should be allowed to snoop on "gun owners of America". That's just insane on the most basic level. Absurd!

This person probably believes in the idea of a "utopian" society, and 175 words are not enough to describe how inanely ridiculous both ideas are. Out of the millions of registered gun owners, the writer picks three names widely distributed in the news involved in fatalities associated with possible mental illness. People look at media and data all day long on the Internet out of curiosity or necessity. Who is to determine if one, many or any of these people are planning to be mentally ill, deranged or emotionally unbalanced, resulting in harm to another human being?

You might as well have the NSA monitor everyone for the reason that we are all capable of anything. Even that letter-writer. Anything becomes a weapon, especially the human mind.

Michael Greene

Pleasanton