Guest Commentary: UPDATE ON COMMISSION MERGER ISSUE 4/14-24

Elaine Roberts Musser during her public comments – screenshot, city feed

By Elaine Roberts Musser

Finally the City of Davis commission merger issue is being brought back to some of the affected commissions for their feedback. Unfortunately city staff and some of the City Councilmembers are acting as if their terribly flawed plans for merged commissions are a done deal.

For example, last week the city began recruiting members for two of the proposed merged commissions (Fiscal Commission; Transportation Commission). And, this Wednesday, the first of an expected series of hearings will be held at the Utility Commission, to review a mission statement drafted by the City Council Subcommittee (Vaitla; Chapman) for the new Finance Commission that would be created by combining Utilities Commission with the Finance and Budget Commission. The Utilities Commission staff report states that it is seeking feedback on the proposed scope of work for what it calls the newly created commissions.”

These commissions have not been “newly created,” as the full City Council only approved them in concept last January. It did not provide final approval in the form of official council resolutions and, in some cases, new city ordinances, that are needed to actually implement such mergers.

  • The actual motion that was approved by the City Council “task(s) the subcommittee with continuing work on reviewing and revising the authorizing resolutions of each Commission…(with) bringing information back to the full Council for final review and approvals.”
  • That same evening City Manager Mike Webb advised the City Council: “… ultimately … none of it becomes official until the City Council adopts updated authorizing resolutions.”

The proposal to merge commissions is still extremely flawed:

Disparate skill sets – Merging two commissions will require an incredibly steep if not impossible learning curve for commissioners to become well-versed in disparate commission missions.

More difficulty recruiting applicants – Because applicants for the proposed merged commission need expertise in both commission missions and meetings are apt to run long to cover all the ground required, it will be difficult to recruit citizens to serve on the merged commissions.

Time constraints – The agendas of commissions are often quite full. A merging of two commissions will result in half as much time spent on critical issues and much longer meetings.

Proposed scope inadequate, vague and unclear – The proposed scoping statements appearing in the city’s press release and staff reports for the new Finance Commission and Transportation Commission omit many functions of existing commissions and has been simplified so much that they are vague and unclear. The draft mission statements for the other commissions remain secret as of now.

ONCE AGAIN, PLEASE VOICE YOUR CONCERNS ABOUT THIS TERRIBLE MERGER PLAN TO CITY OFFICIALS. MAKE YOUR VOICE HEARD THROUGH EMAILS TO THE FULL

COUNCIL (citycouncilmembers@cityofdavis.org), AT COMMISSION MEETINGS (the Utilities Commission meets Wednesday, April 17, in the City Council chambers conference room), PUBLIC COMMENT AT CITY COUNCIL MEETINGS (next meeting is April 23) AND LETTERS TO THE EDITOR (to the Davis Enterprise, Davisite, and Davis Vanguard).

About The Author

Disclaimer: the views expressed by guest writers are strictly those of the author and may not reflect the views of the Vanguard, its editor, or its editorial board.

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