There are three additional letters published here that did not make the Town Crier's Sept. 25 print edition due to space constraints.
Is Mordo promoting anarchy or autocracy?
In his letter published in the Town Crier, Jean Mordo asserts that since city council members are “amateurs,” their subordinates (“professionals”) are entitled to ignore them (“Former LA mayor defends city manager,” Sept. 11).
Having 100% agreement between manager and subordinate is unnecessary and, in fact, is undesirable. However, refusing to do what he is ultimately ordered to do is called insubordination – a recipe for anarchy and worse.
Is Mordo advocating anarchy or just autocracy, with his autocrat in charge?
Housing prices are a severe impediment for attracting talent from out of the area. That is why City Manager Chris Jordan has a heavily subsidized home mortgage provided by the city. So why is this even mentioned?
Finally, Mordo decries the problem of city council turnover (“bosses change every two years”). Almost every city council member I have seen has served two terms (eight years). Further, if Jordan does not want to report to elected officials who get termed-out, he should find a different line of work, because this is the nature of being a city manager.
It sounds to me like the real reasons have yet to be listed. Sometimes, where there is smoke, there is a smokescreen.
We deserve better from city manager
Former Los Altos Mayor Jean Mordo’s letter defending City Manager Chris Jordan is inappropriate and insulting. He wrote, “staff are professionals, whereas city council members are amateurs.”
Since Mordo includes himself in the amateur category, why take him seriously?
Would a professional ask council members to authorize $93,000 for additional design studies for the community center – after a good portion of that had already been spent?
Would a professional sign a consulting contract for $40,000 with no defined deliverables, no due dates and no process for determining a successful conclusion? Jordan just signed that contract with Shaw Consulting to advise us on the Americans with Disabilities Act – several weeks after work started.
Would a professional disregard the council’s 4-1 vote to move its meetings from the Los Altos Youth Center back to council chambers? We just spent $750,000 for a new HVAC system at city hall, plus $500,000 to make the lobby and restrooms ADA accessible, but Jordan is now paying for air conditioners and a platform for council members in the youth center because he refuses to move.
What is amateurish about council members is their failure to hold Jordan accountable. Until they collectively resolve to assert their legitimate authority, we can expect more insubordination from our “professional” city manager while he burns through our tax dollars. Residents deserve better.
Jordan’s proposals Have negative impact
I believe the criticism of Los Altos City Manager Chris Jordan is justified. How can you just ignore a 4-1 vote by council members and instead just do what you want? What does that say about your character?
But even before that, there has been one thing after another that his team keeps proposing, that Jordan signs, that either negatively impacts our quality of life, costs us money or reduces services the city provides. It seems they could care less about what residents think about their proposals. I think a lot of people are getting really fed up.
I can’t think of one thing he and his team have proposed that improves our quality of life here in Los Altos. I think it is simply all about making money for themselves (the city) and making money for their developer, construction, consultant and realtor friends.
Hopefully in the next election we can elect a council that will give us a more resident-friendly city manager.
Mordo shows contempt for voters
I searched out the Sept. 6 Daily Post and digested that in order to understand Jean Mordo’s point in his letter to the editor relative to his designation of the city manager as the professional in a room full of amateurs.
We, the voters, elect our representatives and part of their job is to hire people who can help them deliver the best goods and services to the citizens. Mordo seems contemptuous of us voters in this statement, “We (council members and by extension, us voters) can easily be swayed by pressure from those who elected us to do what is popular rather than what is right or legal.”
Being “right” for me means hewing most closely to the will of the people within the framework of the law and running a city such that the will of the people is implemented to the greatest extent possible. Somehow Mordo believes the city manager knows more than the people! This is the kind of arrogance that resulted in the pushback recently seen by the residents of Miramonte Avenue and that created Measure A, resulting in a huge cost to the city. The citizens spoke by their vote that actually, they knew best.
It seems to me that our city manager failed in his duty to advise, witness the lawsuits against the city that Mordo mentions. Although being city manager is a “tough job,” perhaps our city manager should practice listening as well as he directs.
Editor’s note: Although the 4-1 council vote mentioned in the above letters was reported in another newspaper, the Town Crier has no evidence of this action taking place. The council discussed a move back to city hall at a June 25 study session, where Jordan informed members that renovations had been completed, but there was no vote. After the meeting, council members requested some ADA accommodations. An ADA consultant advised that meetings should remain at the Los Altos Youth Center until the consultant completed an investigation. No timeline has been given.
Concern raised over attacks on city staff
As longtime engaged Los Altos residents, we are increasingly concerned about the uncivil tone and shortage of facts in public discourse in our city and the orchestrated attempts to discredit our city’s professional staff.
The most recent tempest is the competing Americans with Disabilities Act claims from three city council members and organized public outcries that the city manager has ignored the council’s direction by continuing to hold meetings in an alternate venue.
In this case, the city manager is absolutely correct in retaining third-party expertise to advise on an appropriate course of action in compliance with federal law. Even this action engenders criticism from some on the council and some community members because of the cost involved. It’s a losing proposition all around and puts the city manager in an untenable position.
Much of this tempest arises from the belief that professional staff act at the exclusive whim of the city council. Such is not the case. The role of the city council is to interpret community values and establish broad policy direction. The city manager is responsible for implementing that direction to the extent permitted by federal, state or local law.
Our current city manager and city attorney are experienced professionals. We expect our elected officials to recognize this and move from confrontation to collaboration with each other and with the city manager and city attorney.
Los Altos Community Voices Steering Committee:
Dennis Young, Bill Sheppard, Marie Young and Cathy Lazarus
See ‘Admissions’ before curtain closes
The West Coast premiere of “Admissions” by Joshua Harmon is playing at Los Altos Stage Company, 97 Hillview Ave. in Los Altos, through Sunday.
This play is outstanding! If you’ve ever been involved with the college admissions process, either as a parent and/or embattled student with all the accompanying stresses involved, this play has something for you.
It touches on lots of aspects of the process, including the snootiness of admission into the “upper crust” schools such as Yale, Middlebury, etc., as compared to the “lowly” community college route. Affirmative Action is implicit in the story.
All actors superbly play their roles, but the fantastic soliloquy by teenager Quincy Shaindlin itself is worth the price of admission.
You owe it to yourself to take in this high-quality entertainment. Get tickets by visiting losaltosstage.org.