Goldberg Library Variations

By staff consultant Rube Goldberg

Matthew Leslie

The Fullerton City Council is having another go at the Library Board appointment process Tuesday night, October 2. “Based on community input on September 18, 2018, the Mayor requests that the City Council discuss, and members of the public to provide input, into an alternate process for appointing members of the Library Board of Trustees“ reads the Staff Report accompanying the Agenda (reproduced below).

While it is true that the community criticized the City Council for not asking the volunteer library support groups Friends of the Library or the Fullerton Library Foundation for their respective opinions on the idea of needlessly changing the Trustee appointment process, as far as we know, nobody ever asked for an alternative process in the first place, other than City Councilmemeber Jennifer Fitzgerald. On May 1 she unilaterally suggested that the City Council appoint themselves as Trustees and create what would essentially be a subservient and powerless Library Advisory Board. What the community did two weeks ago at the last City Council meeting was to roundly reject this idea the Council making themselves the Trustees when we said to just leave the Library Board alone. The community did not say to try to solve a problem that doesn’t exist by terminating a perfectly clear and functional process by which members of the City Council each appoint a Trustee from the community to serve as Trustees.

Like the last agenda two weeks ago, this one does not specify anywhere why any change at all to the Library Board appointment process is needed. As far as we can tell, it is just another solution–and probably a bad one–looking for a problem.

The Staff Report continues…“Such a process could include stakeholders in the Library to include the Friends of the Library, the Library Foundation, and local school districts. A panel of stakeholders could then make a recommendation to the City Council for appointment as Library Board of Trustee appointments become available.” One would hope that members of the City Council were already consulting with these groups when considering appointments to the Library Board, but if it must be codified that people who know a thing or two about the library ought to be listened to, then such an action  seems harmless enough…

…unless, the whole thing is just cover for a majority of the City Council to control the Library Board outright. As it now stands, each Councilmember appoints a single Trustee to a five member Board. This arrangement ensures that the balance of the Library Board reflects the balance on the Council, which is as balanced as the electorate collectively sees fit to make it. If another process is adopted whereby the entire council must approve appointees recommended by the Library Foundation or Friends of the Library, a bare majority will be able to make all five appointments. This is not a strategy for making the Library Board more “independent,” as Mayor Doug Chaffee suggested during his attempted damage control at the last meeting.*

One possible method of adding informed voices to the Library Board would be to allow the Library Foundation and the Friends of the Library each an ex-officio seat on the Board, but allowing them to directly appoint members with voting power changes the way the library is governed, and any such change should be justified somewhere in an agenda report, but isn’t at this time. It’s still a mystery why this entire issue is being bought forth in the first place.

*And since when does Doug Chaffee care so much about a more independent Library Board? He objected to any member of the current Library Board serving on the 2018 Library Ad Hoc Committee, claiming they were too “biased” about what to do with the Hunt Branch. The 2012 Library Ad Hoc Committee included all five Trustees as members.

100218 ADM Library Board Appointment Process Agenda Report

100218 ADM Library Board Appointment Process Agenda Report2

Coyote Hills Vista

by Angela Lindstrom

Reprinted from the Early October Issue of the Fullerton Observer

The Friends of Coyote Hills vs. The City of Fullerton and Chevron-Pacific Coast Homes (PCH) appeal was heard in court on September 20, 2018. The Friends sued the City in 2016 after it approved the West Coyote Hills Vesting Tentative Tract Map (VTTM) that gave Chevron-PCH vested right to develop the site. This was despite a successful 2012 Measure W referendum that should have overturned the City Council’s approval of the Development Agreement.

 The lawsuit was first tried in October 2016. The judge ruled against the Friends, reasoning that Measure W did not overturn or terminate the Development Agreement. Rather Judge Claster said it negated the Mayor’s authority to sign this Agreement. Therefore the Development Agreement never came into effect.

While this may seem like splitting legal hairs, terminating the Development Agreement is significant because the City wrote in other ordinances that upon the termination of the Development Agreement, all of the West Coyote Hills development approvals are automatically nullified.

The City holds the view that only they and Chevron-PCH can end the Development Agreement, not voters because that is the power the City gave themselves in the Development Agreement. In the event of a successful referendum, they have the option, not mandate, to terminate the Development Agreement (Section 2.3). Since they didn’t choose to terminate it after Measure W, all other development approvals are still valid; no auto-nullification.

That raises the question: what was the point of Measure W if the people’s vote could not overturn the Council’s approval of the Development Agreement?

The California state constitution grants voters the right to overturn laws made by their government.

The City Council approved the Development Agreement. Sixty-one per- cent of Fullerton voters rejected that approval. And yet, the City took no action to end the Development Agreement.

The appeals court judges challenged both sides on whether the Development Agreement was terminated by Measure W. Does the City have the last say to terminate the Development Agreement over the people’s referendum?

If so, what would be the point of a referendum? The Friends’ attorneys argued that when the Development Agreement was terminated by Measure W, all development approvals were auto-nullified — just as the City wrote in other ordinances they approved (No. 2011-32 and 2011-33, Condition 26).

Chevron-PCH’s attorney stuck to the lower court’s reasoning — the Development Agreement was never effective due to Measure W, so it can’t be terminated and that Measure W was a single-issue referendum. Fullerton voters were just trying to strike a better deal than the City for the development of West Coyote Hills. This case is not about the people’s referendum right he said.

 The City’s attorney argued that the Development Agreement was an exchange of public benefits for the City and private benefit for Chevron-PCH (vested right to develop West Coyote Hills). They would never allow the development to proceed without this guarantee, so after Measure W, it re-codified the terms of the Development Agreement in the VTTM (which is not subject to a referendum).

In a final remark, the Friends’ attorney pointed to recent cases where the California Supreme Court upheld the people’s right to referendum over city policy making that interfered with that right.

“It’s a complex case,” concluded Judge Bedsworth. 

The judges have up to 90 days from the September 20th hearing to publish a ver- dict which will be determined by agreement of at least 2 of the three judges. 

For updates on this and other Coyote Hills issues visit http://www.coyotehills.org 

Sept 17 2018 Letter to Council v2

Letter to the Fullerton City Council from Fullerton’s Library Board of Trustees

Matthew Leslie

Tonight at an emergency meeting at Fullerton’s Main Library, the Library Board of Trustees adopted a strong statement against a proposal that members of the Fullerton City Council appoint themselves as Trustees of the Library instead of members of the public. The proposed change is to be considered at the regular meeting of the Fullerton City Council on Tuesday, September 18, 6:30 p.m. at City Hall.

Unilaterally suggested by Council Member Jennifer Fitzgerald during a May 1 meeting, the proposal has met with nearly universal condemnation, prompting the obvious question of why Ms. Fitzgerald would risk such political damage on something so high profile with so little seeming chance of success. Two other votes would be necessary to pass the item, and even Mayor Doug Chaffee, who frequently votes with Jennifer Fitzgerald, seems doubtful about that happening. In a Voice of OC story today he is quoted as saying:

‘“I’m unaware of any one of us wanting to take it over,” Chaffee said. “I don’t see support for it.”’

Like Jennifer Fitzgerald, however, Doug Chaffee favors selling off the Hunt Branch Library, and is quoted in the same article in reference to its possible sale:

‘Chaffee said, should the city sell the Hunt building, some of the money would go back to the library system. “It is city property for the council to decide on, without the library board,” Chaffee said.,’ revealing that our current mayor thinks it is perfectly fine to take property gifted as a branch of the Fullerton Public Library, sell it, and keep at least some of the money to use for whatever purposes the City Council decided would be appropriate.

The same day, the Trustees met to discuss both the proposed takeover and the utter lack of consultation about it with their body or the Fullerton Library Foundation or Friends of the Fullerton Library. Even Joshua Dale, Ms. Fitzgerald’s own appointee to the Library Board, speculates in the same Voice of OC story that the city’s general need for money is behind the proposal, revealing that she evidently hadn’t even consulted with him on the plan. According to the Voice of OC, “Fitzgerald did not return a phone call Monday seeking comment.”

The text of the Trustees’ letter in opposition to Jennifer Fitzgerald’s proposal is below, co-signed by her own appointee:

“September 17, 2018
Dear Mayor Chaffee and the Honorable Members of the Fullerton City Council:
The Fullerton Public Library has been governed by an administrative Board of Trustees for over one hundred years. In that time, generations of Fullertonians turned billions of pages of millions of books, but more importantly the Fullerton Public Library has been supplemented in its mission through the open hearts of volunteers and the open wallets of its generous patrons.
We find it deeply disturbing that the City Council would direct staff to prepare an ordinance to replace a century of precedent concerning the library’s governance without collecting input from the individuals and associations deeply invested with making the library the success that it is today.
The Council has not made its case for change, so it is impossible for this Board to offer a constructive argument for why it ought to justify its own existence, but the purposeful exclusion of the Library’s support groups from this important conversation does not require an argument to understand its obvious offense. The City Manager and the City Attorney had ample time and ability to include supporters and volunteers in this process. They chose not to. We strongly object.
Should the Council desire to assume direct management of the City Library, it ought to start with an inclusive conversation and receive input from its volunteers and supporters.
If the Council has a case for change, we invite an open and transparent discussion in the form of a joint meeting with the Library Board of Trustees. We traditionally include the Friends of the Fullerton Library and the Fullerton Library Foundation in all our discussions.
As such, we insist they have a seat at the table when discussing the future of our free and public library. Until this conversation occurs, it is in the best interest of the City and the Library to table decisions related to how our hundred-year library operates, serves its patrons, and promotes continuing lifelong learning.
Sincerely,
Sean Paden, President, FPL Carl Byers, Vice-Chair, FPLJoshua Dale, Trustee, FPL Ellen Ballard, Trustee, FPL Ryan Cantor, Trustee, FPL”

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