March 26, 2009The decision of the Daly City Council regarding the salary of the Daly City city clerk is shocking in lightthat there have been no other salary cuts. I am the President of the City Clerks Association of Californiaand I would like to share vital information with you. I do know a little bit about the position of city clerk having been in local government for over 20 years.I would urge the City Council to look at the role and duties of the City Clerk position using the followinganalogy that was shared by a City Manager to a fellow City Clerk. Consider the city as a triangle of
The city council establishes the
—establishing vision and direction for the community’s future.
The city clerk oversees the
—ensuring that the decision-making process complies withfederal, state, and local regulations and that it is properly recorded.
The city manager provides the
—which is the primary reason for the existence of localgovernment: to provide services to the taxpayer that the taxpayers cannot (or will not) provide forthemselves.Success in public service requires an even-sided triangle. The city council, city clerk, and city managermust understand and respect each other’s roles and share an obligation in maintaining this balance. Ipersonally believe that it is through this balance that the integrity of democracy is ensured. Currently itappears that their triangle is very much out of balance.Let me share the “real world” description of the “duties” of a city clerk so that citizens may make theirown informed comparisons.The city clerk is the local official for elections, local legislation, the public records act, the politicalreform act, and the Brown Act (which are the open meeting laws). Before the city council takes anyaction (and after they take action), the city clerk ensures that actions are in compliance with all federal,state and local statutes and regulations. The city clerk is entrusted, without vested political or economicinterest, to ensure the integrity of the democratic process. Thousands of statutes and regulations existwhich protect democracy and provide a system of “checks and balances.” It is the city clerk’sresponsibility to ensure compliance with these laws, which are complex, and are constantly changing andevolving. The city clerk, as the local official, must have the professional education, training, andknowledge necessary to understand and administer these laws.The office of the city clerk is the key to democracy—the city clerk must be a qualified individual whounderstands the people’s rights, who understands the people’s laws, who understands due process, whounderstands professional standards, and who understands that true democracy is free of political oreconomic interest.It is prudent for Daly City, city leaders to protect democracy and ensure the integrity of our localgovernment. It is critical that the City Clerk department, not just the City Clerk, be free to function