Measure L committee moves forward with letter, budget request

Discussion of the two-pronged budget approach, adoption of a regular meeting schedule and a formal response to Mayor Dan Clark’s recent direction to the Measure L Citizens Oversight Committee were the highlights of the committee’s Monday night meeting.

Although many members of the public and the committee expressed disappointment that Clark had not rescinded his previous message — which sparked a firestorm from the public at both city council and committee meetings — the unanimous consensus of the committee was to put the matter behind them.

“I do not believe this issue needs to continue, but we do need to submit something voicing our displeasure, as a committee, of the mayor’s position,” said Committeemember Scott Garver.

“We don’t want to drag this out, but there needs to be some recognizable and final détente so this doesn’t come up again.”

Clark’s direction to the committee called for the members to rein in their scrutiny of the city budget, saying that the city could not afford to support those efforts, and reminding the members that they serve at the pleasure of the council.

Member Michael Petersen drafted a “respectful but firm” letter responding to each item. Member Phil Salvatore, a cost analyst who developed a baseline of the city budget, requested the addition of the language, “Measure L is a general fund tax measure under the law, and therefore the committee has not only a right, but a duty, to provide visibility to the public into general fund revenues and expenditures.”

With that amendment, the letter was unanimously approved by the committee and will be sent to Clark.

Several members of the public also went so far as to call for a formal apology from Clark.

“One thing I learned is if you say something unfortunate, you stop, say you’re sorry, and rescind the comment,” said former Council-member Tom Wiknich. “This whole thing could have been over if the mayor had just stood up and said, ‘Never mind.’”

“We’ve now had several committee and council meetings to resolve this issue,” said Robert Eierman. “But the mayor is the only one who can do that.”

Mike Neel further expressed concern that Clark stated that he was speaking on behalf of the council. “The mayor is still just a member of the council with no executive authority. Our mayor things he has a lot more power than he really has.”

A resolution establishing a formal meeting schedule was tabled until the committee’s next meeting on Feb. 20, when the city attorney will be on hand to make the appropriate revisions to the document. The board has tentatively proposed to meet the second and fourth Mondays of the month at 5:30 p.m. in the City Hall conference room.

The committee also gave unanimous direction to Petersen to draft a resolution calling for a two-part budget, a concept proposed by former Councilman Jerry Taylor at a previous council meeting. Taylor said that if the council publishes a budget without Measure L, then a supplemental overlay that shows L-funded expenditures, the public will have the transparency of seeing exactly how the council made cuts across all departments, rather than just shifting the burden of police and streets to the new tax.

Story First Published: 2013-02-13