Depending on where you get your news, you might think Los Altos has completely gone down the proverbial (storm) drain. What is clear is that some members of our city council are at odds with each other, and our city manager is under siege.
Recently, the Palo Alto-based Daily Post newspaper has published several slanted articles about where our city council has been meeting, and the articles have questioned the competence of our city manager and city attorney. The Post also has published articles attacking Councilwoman Jeannie Bruins. Add a few cranky Nextdoor posts, and you soon have a murky mix of misinformation.
What is a Los Altos resident to believe? Is our fair city really in dire straits? One thing is certain: Some residents and at least two council members are working to oust our city manager and city attorney, and drive out an experienced council member. Their “case” is built on inaccurate newspaper articles and an amateur YouTube video. Before we rush to judge our elected representatives and hardworking city staff, let’s make sure we’re reacting to facts, just as we would want if any of us were under fire.
What is clear is that Los Altos City Manager Chris Jordan, who previously was the longest-tenured city manager in Clackamas County, Ore., was credited with restoring the city of West Linn’s financial integrity. His exit from that city four years ago was hastened by “the city’s contentious politics” following the election of “limited-growth” candidates, according to an article in The Oregonian, a newspaper in Portland. Sound familiar?
Now, there are those in Los Altos who would have you believe that the city manager simply disregarded a “vote” or “direction” by the city council to move meetings back to city hall. However, council members requested Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) accommodations, which prompted the city to hire a consultant and delay the move pending an investigation. State law prohibits discrimination against any “qualified individual with a disability.”
Whether a particular individual is protected requires a careful analysis of, first, whether an individual is an “individual with a disability,” and then, whether that individual is “qualified.” Moreover, California definitions and protections can be broader than protections under federal law, and there are no clear answers as to what accommodations an elected city official may request. It is appropriate that Jordan sought help to understand this complex ADA issue.
Overall, this situation is a sad commentary on where Los Altos and our city council stands today. Do we want to be part of a group working to get rid of a competent city manager, under false pretenses, who is respected by city staff, and who we need if we want to continue to function as a well-run city? Or do we want to work together to solve real, serious issues in our community?
Sadly, these attacks on our city manager and other city officials trying to do their jobs reflect a top-down approach that mirrors what is happening on a national level. As Los Altos residents and voters, let’s all be part of the solution; do your own research, listen to both sides, strive to understand the issues and the underlying conflicts. Let’s all focus our energy on making Los Altos an even better place to live and raise a family.
The Los Altos Partners of Progress Steering Committee comprises Larry Baron, Nancy Bremeau, Julie Crane and Autumn Looijen. For more information, visit losaltospop.com.