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City Clerks Association

City Clerks Association

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Published by: watchdogsanmateo on Mar 27, 2009
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06/16/2009

March 26, 2009 The decision of the Daly City Council regarding the salary of the Daly City city

clerk is shocking in light that there have been no other salary cuts. I am the President of the City Clerks Association of California and 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 following analogy that was shared by a City Manager to a fellow City Clerk. Consider the city as a triangle of Policy-Process-Product.    The city council establishes the Policy—establishing vision and direction for the community’s future. The city clerk oversees the Process—ensuring that the decision-making process complies with federal, state, and local regulations and that it is properly recorded. The city manager provides the Product—which is the primary reason for the existence of local government: to provide services to the taxpayer that the taxpayers cannot (or will not) provide for themselves.

Success in public service requires an even-sided triangle. The city council, city clerk, and city manager must understand and respect each other’s roles and share an obligation in maintaining this balance. I personally believe that it is through this balance that the integrity of democracy is ensured. Currently it appears 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 their own informed comparisons. The city clerk is the local official for elections, local legislation, the public records act, the political reform act, and the Brown Act (which are the open meeting laws). Before the city council takes any action (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 economic interest, to ensure the integrity of the democratic process. Thousands of statutes and regulations exist which protect democracy and provide a system of “checks and balances.” It is the city clerk’s responsibility to ensure compliance with these laws, which are complex, and are constantly changing and evolving. The city clerk, as the local official, must have the professional education, training, and knowledge 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 who understands the people’s rights, who understands the people’s laws, who understands due process, who understands professional standards, and who understands that true democracy is free of political or economic interest. It is prudent for Daly City, city leaders to protect democracy and ensure the integrity of our local government. It is critical that the City Clerk department, not just the City Clerk, be free to function

Daly City – City Clerk issue

independently. With the City Clerk staff reporting to somebody other than the City Clerk, who the citizens of Daly City have voted into office gives the appearance of undermining the neutrality that is required of the City Clerk’s department. While the City Manager Pat Martel has been quoted as stating “justified because of the city’s current economic crisis” what is the basis for only cutting one person’s salary. The Mayor has stated that the “allegations are false and unfair” and that could be the case, but the appearance of the reduction speaks volumes. I respectfully hope that the City Council reconsider their decision, and I welcome their response and insight. Sincerely,

Margaret S. Roberts,
Margaret S. Roberts, MMC President City Clerks Association of California

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