All Incumbent LB Councilmembers Just Met For About Two Minutes As Members Of Their "Housing Authority"...For Which They Can Now Collect $50 Each; Records Show Their Housing Authority "Meetings" In 2019 Have Run Mainly 1 to 4 Minutes
|(August 16, 2019, 6:15 a.m.) -- All of LB's incumbent City Counclmembers -- Jeannine Pearce, Suzie Price, Daryl Supernaw, Stacy Mungo, Dee Andrews, Roberto Uranga, Al Austin and Rex Richardson -- assembled in LB City Hall's new "Bob Foster Civic Chambers" for roughly 1 minute, 52 seconds on August 13 for which each of them can now collect $50 for convening as members of City Hall's "Housing Authority." On an hourly basis, collecting $50 for attending a meeting of less than two minutes amounts to an hourly rate of $1,500 per hour ($50 x 30 = $1,500)
Although the "Housing Authority's" stated duties sound impressive (City Clerk text: "Serves with the City Council as members of the Board of Directors on matters pertaining to housing programs sponsored by the federal government and Housing Authority operations"), public records (minutes and video) show that meetings of its 11 members (all 9 Councilmembers + two Mayor-chosen "tenant Commissioners") ranged in length from one minute (1 such meeting), two minutes (1 meeting), three minutes (1 meeting), four minutes (3 meetings) and 22 minutes (1 meeting). For each meeting, its members present can collect $50.
An August 6 city management memo -- sent to all Councilmembers and reported by LBREPORT.com here -- recommended continuing the monthly $50 payable for attending Housing Authority "meetings" as part of a broader possible policy change to compensate all Mayor-chosen members of Council-created bodies. Management's memo left open the possibility of doubling the collectable sum to $100 per month if the "Housing Authority" holds two meetings in a month instead of one.
[Scroll down for further.]
2019 "Housing Authority" meetings [source: City Clerk minutes and City Clerk video]:
A few minutes before the August 13 two-minute Housing Authority "meeting," Councilwoman Mungo chaired a meeting of the Council's "Budget Oversight Committee" (Mungo, Price, Austin) that discussed the city management report (requested by Mayor Garcia) on possibly increasing/expanding sums paid to members of Mayor-chosen Commissions. The agenda item offered Committee members an opportunity to recommend changing compensation paid to themselves for attending the few-minute-long "Housing Authority" Meetings. None of them did.
Committee members Suzie Price and Al Austin didn't raise the subject the Housing Authority payments. Committee chair Mungo seemed to momentarily refer to the issue (mangled the "Housing Authority" name) in a noncommittal statement; she implied future housing and homeless related issues might make future "Housing Authority" meetings important and indicated she was unsure if the "Budget Oversight Committee" she chairs should make recommendations to the Council on the payments (although Councilmembers are the only persons with the power to change the current practice.)
Councilwoman Mungo: ...and then I know that over the next several years or several months we'll be looking at housing related issues like homelessness, I don't know if it would make sense, I don't know if it would be best for us to make a recommendation for that committee because I know some of us serve on Housing and Oversight Housing Committee, um, but I'm open to learning more about [changes subject]...
There is no such thing as the "Housing and Oversight Housing Committee." Under an ordinance approved over a decade ago by a previous LB Council, all LB Councilmembers (not just "some") plus the two Mayor-chosen Housing Authority "tenant representatives" can currently collect $50 each time they attend meetings of LB's "Housing Authority" (which LB's incumbent Councilmembers presumably know have run mainly a few minutes long.) Any Councilmember(s) could agendize an item on any Tuesday to amend LB's 2006 ordinance to exclude Councilmembers from collecting the $50 payments for their "Housing Authority" meetings. Or they could just give the money back.
[Amnesia File: On November 21, 2006, the City Council under then-recently-elected Mayor Bob Foster adopted an ordinance paying $50 per meeting attended to members of LB's "Board of Examiners, Appeals and Condemnation" and "Disabled Access Appeals Board" (on which no Councilmembers sit) and tossed in the "Housing Authority" board (on which all Councilmembers sit.) Those voting "yes" were then-Councilmembers Bonnie Lowenthal, Suja Lowenthal, Gary DeLong, Patrick O'Donnell, Laura Richardson, Tonia Reyes Uranga and Val Lerch; Absent were Councilmembers Schipske and Gabelich.]
Management's Aug. 6, 2019 memo offered the option of paying all Mayor-appointees to "advisory" bodies (most of whom volunteered to serve) $50 per meeting. Management also suggested increasing (from $100 to $200 per meeting) sums paid to Mayor-appointed/Council-approved "Charter" Commissions (Harbor, Water, Planning and LBTransit; members of LB's Citizen Police Complaint Comm'n are currently all volunteers.) (In November 2018, LB voters approved two new Charter Commissions (on "Ethics" and "Districting") that the Council could choose to add to the list of recipients.)
The "Budget Oversight Committee" made no recommendation on any aspects of the item on August 13. Committee chair Mungo indicated she favors reducing the management-suggested meeting increases by capping them annually at a lower total sum than management suggested by individual meeting payments. The Committee asked city staff to bring the item back with possible changes for Committee discussion in about three weeks (a date potentially after the Council votes on including increased budgeted sums for the various Commission payments in the FY2020 City budget.)
The Mayor-sought memo regarding pay for his Commission appointees follows a July 10, 2018 Council agenda item that stirred public controversy by suggesting that the Council change LB's Municipal Code in ways that could effectively tighten control over subjects discussed or voted on by its Mayor-chosen "advisory bodies." The Council ducked a vote on the item when Councilmembers Uranga and Austin moved to lay it over to an unspecified future Council meeting (passed 8-1, Richardson absent).
On January 8, 2019, City Manager West advised Councilmembers that the offices of Mayor Robert Garcia and the City Manager had taken the following steps:
[Jan. 8, 2019 memo]...To conduct a thorough review of the City's advisory bodies and receive information from a diverse cohort of stakeholders, the City Manager's Office collaborated with the Mayor's Office to create an informal working group of current Commissioners to review the status of the City's advisory bodies and report back to the City Council. The working group will conduct a comprehensive review of the proposed changes to the City's advisory bodies, as well as provide input and recommendations to the City Manager. Members of the working group will be selected by the Mayor and City Manager.
On June 14, 2019, city management sent a memo to Mayor Garcia and the Council suggesting a plan to recommend paying sums to "advisory commissions" and discuss the cost in the context of the upcoming FY20 budget. The June 14 memo indicated that city staff plans to move forward with putting select changes into effect "that address common administerial enhancements" including compensation changes before moving forward to implement "the full menu of proposed changes to the advisory bodies..."
In other words, any future limits on what Mayor/Council "advisory" Commission members may or may not be able to discuss may come after the appointees learn they'll be paid or paid more for attending their meetings.
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