CITY COUNCIL AGENDA ITEM NO. 17
Meeting Date: April 26, 2005
Subject/Title: Adoption of Commissioner Handbook
Prepared by: Craig Bronzan, Director of Parks and Recreation
Karen Chew, Assistant City Manager
Howard Sword, Community Development Director
Submitted by: Donna Landeros, City Manager
Approve the City of Brentwood Commissioner Handbook for distribution to all
current and future appointees to all City Commissions.
In the fall of 2004 a group of Department Directors began to meet and
discuss the preparation of a Commissioner Handbook for use by all City
Commissioners. Sample handbooks were collected from various cities and after
review by the Directors and other City staff, the City of Brentwood
Commissioner Handbook was developed. We took what we felt was the “best of
the best” information for inclusion into our Handbook and tailored it to fit
This Handbook will be a useful resource and reference guide to both new and
existing Commission members. Standard Operating Procedures and consistent
decorum will help facilitate more productive and efficient meetings. This
will also assist in achieving a common vision among the Commissions
regarding how meetings are run and orientate the role of a Commissioner.
Once the Commission Handbook is approved by City Council, staff will develop
a draft “Commissioner Training” format for City Council consideration that
will outline the training needs of existing and new Commissioners and the
process for an annual meeting of City Council with each Commission.
• City of Brentwood Commissioner Handbook
COMMISSIONER’S HANDBOOK – City of Brentwood
TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGES
1. Introduction 2
2. Core Values 3
3. Organizational Chart 4
4. City Departments/Contacts 5
5. Individual Commission and Meeting Information 6
6. Roles 11
7. Commission Norms
a. Productive Norms
b. Counterproductive Norms 12
8. Responsibilities of Commissioners 13
a. Committee Relationships
b. Basic Guidelines
c. Relationships with other Committee Members
d. Relationships with Council
e. Relationships with Staff Liaison
f. Relationships with the Public 14
10. Meeting Basics
a. Preparation for Meetings
b. Attendance 18
11. Rules of Debate
b. Advisory Body Members
c. Addressing the Advisory Body 20
12. Decorum in Meetings
b. Managing Difficult Meetings 22
13. Elective Office and Commission Positions on Legislation 25
14. Conflict of Interest 26
15. Ralph M. Brown Act 27
16. Conclusion 33
1. City at a Glance 34
2. Chairman’s Manual 35
3. Council Rules 46
4. Travel Policy 51
Congratulations on your recent appointment to one of Brentwood’s Commissions
or Committees! Your appointment is an honor and reflects the City Council’s
confidence in your ability and judgment. The City Council and Staff look
forward to working with you and to receiving the benefit of your insight and
guidance during the process of decision making. As a member of a City
Commission or Committee, you have the opportunity to help mold Brentwood’s
This handbook has been prepared to help orient you concerning the functions
and activities of the Commission or Committee to which you have been
appointed. The handbook is designed to contribute to your general knowledge
and understanding of public affairs, and to aid in identifying the scope and
parameters of your duties and responsibilities. It is also part of an effort
to make it as easy as possible for you to enjoy the experience of serving on
a City commission, committee or board.
We hope that this handbook will provide you with the necessary information
to understand the role of your commission, committee or board and your
responsibilities as a member of same.
While participation on a City Commission or Committee is a major
responsibility, we hope that it will prove to be a meaningful and rewarding
experience for you. City service provides opportunities to gain a greater
understanding of the issues facing municipal government and to become
actively involved in resolving those issues in a manner that reflects the
best interests of the community.
We hope that you will enjoy your tenure as a vital part of the City’s team
and sincerely thank you for your willingness to devote your time and energy
to serve your community.
Each description of a law or legal requirement in these materials is
intentionally brief. Any questions regarding this information and requests
for additional information should be directed to your Staff Liaison or the
The City of Brentwood adopted the following Core Values and the “Brentwood
Way” on September 14, 2004:
We hold these as our core values, and use them to measure everything we do.
The Brentwood Way
• “Good enough” is never good enough and we find a way to do it better.
• Striving to be the best. The best is never defined or constrained; it is
never reached and we advance the standard every day.
• Taking the best of both business and government for the benefit of the
City Organizational Chart
Title Name Phone No. E-Mail
City Manager Donna Landeros 516-5440 firstname.lastname@example.org
Assistant City Manager Karen Chew 516-5440 email@example.com
City Attorney 516-5440
City Clerk 516-5440
Director of Community Development Howard Sword 516-5405 firstname.lastname@example.org
Director of Public Works Paul Zolfarelli 516-6000 email@example.com
Director of Finance and Information Systems Pam Ehler 516-5460 firstname.lastname@example.org
Police Chief Michael Davies 634-6911 email@example.com
Director of Parks & Recreation Craig Bronzan 516-5444 firstname.lastname@example.org
City Engineer Bailey Grewal 516-5420 email@example.com
Individual Commission and Meeting Information
The following is a list of the City Council, Commissions, and Committees:
Title No. of Members Meeting locations Meeting Times Length of Term
Arts Commission Up to 25 Tech Center 4th Wednesday of each month, 7 p.m. 3
Brentwood Advisory Neighborhood Committee (BANC) 8 Community Development
Conference Room 7 p.m. n/a
Citizens Advisory Committee Regarding Community Facilities 9 Tech Center 3rd
Monday of each month, 7:30 p.m. n/a
Parks & Recreation Commission 5 Council Chamber 4th Thursday of each month,
7 p.m. 3 years
Planning Commission 5 Council Chamber 1st and 3rd Tuesdays of each month, 7
p.m. 2 years
Redevelopment Agency (RDA) Project Area Committee 5 Community Development
Conference Room 3rd Wednesday of each month, 6 p.m. n/a
Youth Commission 13 Council Chamber 1st Wednesday of each month,
7 p.m. 2 years
Tech Center – Brentwood Education and Technology Center, 101 B Sand Creek
Council Chamber – 734 Third Street
Community Development Conference Room – 104 Oak Street
The Planning Commission recommends plans for the regulation of future
growth, development and beautification of the City. They also carry out the
provisions of the zoning ordinance.
2.20.080 of the Municipal Code states:
The planning commission shall have the following powers and duties:
A. To recommend to the proper officers of the city, plans for the regulation
of the future growth and development and beautification of the city;
B. To carry out the provisions of the zoning ordinance of the city (Title 17
of this code) and to undertake the study for, preparation and recommendation
of a master plan or amendments thereto covering a comprehensive, long-term
general plan for the physical development of the city and of any land
outside its boundaries which in the commission's judgment bears relation to
the development of the city;
C. To do such other things as may be required by other ordinances of the
city or by state law.
This five-member commission meets on the first and third Tuesdays of each
month at 7 p.m. Their Chairman and Vice Chairman are elected on an annual
basis. Staff Liaison is Planning Manager Heidi Kline. She can be reached at
Parks and Recreation Commission
The Parks and Recreation Commission provides recommendations to the City
Council with reference to construction and use of City park and recreation
facilities. The Commission reviews park designs and maintenance
standards/policies for all landscaped facilities maintained by the City.
They also provide feedback to staff in regards to recreation programming and
general use of City facilities. Another responsibility they have is to make
recommendations for the requests and suggestions they review from our
citizens and user groups.
The authority for the Parks and Recreation Commission is granted via Title
2, Chapter 2.46 of the City of Brentwood Municipal Code.
Five members compose the Parks and Recreation Commission. The officers of
this Commission are the Chairperson and Vice-Chairperson, each of whom hold
one-year terms. The Vice-Chairperson automatically ascends into the position
of Chairperson at the conclusion of the chairperson’s term. Election of
officers occurs at the regularly scheduled meeting in January.
All seats are nominated by the Mayor and appointed by the Council. Terms are
staggered so that no more than two terms shall expire in any one-year. The
maximum term for any one Commissioner is three consecutive three-year terms.
The Commission or the Chairperson may appoint several of its members to
serve on special committee assignments.
Staff Liaison is Park Services Manager Ken De Silva. You may reach him at
The Brentwood Advisory Neighborhood Committee (BANC) includes residents from
various neighborhoods throughout the City. The Committee serves on special
task forces to study City issues and to work on projects such as “Home of
the Month” program, Christmas tree lighting in November, and Christmas
lighting contest in December to help draw the citizens of Brentwood together
as a united community.
Sub-committee authorized by the City Council.
There are currently nine members on BANC, including a Chairperson and a
Vice-Chairperson. The maximum membership is 20. Terms run in three year
increments, however extensions may be granted by the City Manager and 2/3
vote by the Committee. Staff Liaison is Associate Engineer Brian Bornstein
and you may reach him at (925) 516-5173.
Enriching our community through the arts.
The mission of the Arts Commission is to promote, encourage and stimulate
the development of and interest in the fine and performing arts, and to act
in an advisory capacity to the City concerning its artistic and cultural
2.44.020 of the Municipal Code states:
The arts commission shall have the general powers and duties as follows:
A. Encourages, stimulates, promotes and fosters programs for the cultural
enrichment of the city and thereby contributes to the quality of life in
Brentwood and develops an awareness in the business community, in local
government, and in the general public of the value of the arts in Brentwood:
• Publicize arts opportunities,
• Encourage talent,
• Interpreting the community’s diverse interests in arts and striving to
meet those needs,
• Coordinating arts resources for the community and the artist,
• Commissioning and placing of public art,
• Promote art as a reflection of the historical nature of the community,
• Elevate the city’s commitment to the overall enhancement of its cultural
life to co-equal status with recreation, planning, human services, youth,
• Provide expertise in the area of public art and in-depth knowledge of the
fine and performing arts,
• Work cooperatively with the organizational structure of the city and
department of parks and recreation,
• Act as a resource in areas related to public art and the arts in general,
• Serve as a review board for requests for funding from arts-related
city-sponsored grants programs,
• Oversee the development of a city cultural plan;
B. Perform other related functions, which may come before the commission;
C. Initiate, sponsor, or conduct alone or in cooperation with other public
or private agencies and/or individuals, programs to further the development
and public awareness of, and interest in, the fine and performing arts;
D. Solicit funding from private, state, and federal sources available for
the fine and performing arts.
The Arts Commission consists of 15 members (with a maximum of 25), including
a Chair, Vice-Chair and Past-Chair. Nominations are held in October, with
elections running in November. Newly elected officers start their terms
every January, as terms last one year. However, there is a renewal option
for up to three total terms. Staff Liaison is Rebekah Burr-Siegel who can be
contacted at (925) 516-5376.
The Youth Commission’s purpose is to create a safe, youth oriented
environment that promotes motivation, interaction, and unity within the
• To promote healthy living and positive decision making among youth
• To visibly and positively represent the youth of Brentwood
• To assist youth in better understanding the relationships between business
• To positively promote the Youth Commission through activities and
• To generate a larger voice for the youth in the Brentwood Area
• To provide a forum for the youth to express their concerns and views
City Council established a Youth Commission on April 27, 1999 and passed
Resolution No. 99-112.
This commission meets the first Wednesday of each month and consists of a
Chairperson, Vice-Chairperson, Secretary, Treasurer, Immediate Past
Chairperson and Adult Supervisors. Terms are two years for the Youth
Commissioners and three years for the Adult Advisors. Staff Liaison is
Recreation Services Supervisor Tom Burt. You may reach him at (925)
The Council’s Roles are as follows:
• Make policy
• Direct City Manager to carry out policy
• Solicit input from commissions on issues in their various functional areas
unless there are legal or time constraints
The Commission’s Roles are as follows:
• Advise Council on policy that assists Council in carrying out their
• Provide citizen input by being positive representatives of the Council and
The Staff’s Roles are as follows:
• Research and investigate issues, prepare alternatives and recommendations
for commission and Council review, and to implement Council policy decisions
• Provide Staff Liaison and clerical support to the Commission under the
guidance of the Department Head (and ultimately, the City Manager)
The Advisory Role
Ad hoc committees are formed for a specific purpose and dissolve after
completing their mission. Blue ribbon committees are an example of this
type. Others, such as planning commissions, become an integral part of the
Advisory boards also differ in their duties and responsibilities. Many are
entirely advisory to the elected body. Others, such as licensing or library
commissions are empowered to decide specific issues.
If the organization is to function effectively, there must be clarity,
understanding and acceptance of the roles assigned to the elected body,
commissions and staff. If advisory board members stray from their original
charge and get into areas that rightfully belong to the staff or elected
officials, confusion, inaction or destructive conflict can result.
One of the first things members learn is that there are written and
unwritten rules (norms) that a commission follows. These rules have been
established over time and have an original basis that may or may not be
Some examples of commission norms are as follows:
A. Productive Norms:
• We do our homework
• We explain actions in concise thoughts
• We compliment colleagues and staff whenever an opportunity arises
• We try to involve residents in a solution
• We work for consensus on important issues
• Always be on time for meetings
B. Counterproductive Norms:
• Always vote with your friends
• Plot actions with friends before the meeting
• Be quiet about obvious game playing
• Grandstand on important issues to you
• Always speak on every issue even if you have nothing to add
• It’s ok to criticize staff in public
• Arriving late for meetings is acceptable
Responsibilities of Commissioners
While specific duties of each City commission, committee or board member
vary widely with the purpose for which they are formed, there are certain
responsibilities that are common to all members. The following is a summary
of those responsibilities:
1. Understand the role and scope of responsibility - be informed of the
individual commission, committee’s or board’s scope of responsibility and
2. Be careful to represent the majority views of your individual commission,
committee or board. Individual “opinions” to the public and press are
discouraged and, if given, should be identified as such.
3. Members should represent the public interest and not special interest
4. Good communications - Members are in a unique position of serving as a
liaison between the City and its citizens and can help to reconcile
contradictory viewpoints and to build a consensus around common goals and
objectives. Members serve as a communication link between the community,
staff and City, presenting City programs and recommendations and providing a
channel for citizen expression.
5. Do your homework and be thorough in recommendations - View situations
under consideration prior to the meeting in order to be fully prepared to
discuss, evaluate, and act on all matters scheduled for consideration.
Conclusions based on same will strengthen the value of the group’s
6. Supportive relationships with the City Council and City staff are
essential for successful operation of any commission, committee or board.
The proper channel to contact City personnel on items of consideration is
through the designated City staff liaison providing staff support for your
7. Establish a good working relationship with fellow group members - Respect
individual viewpoints, allow other members time to present their views fully
before making comments, be open and honest, welcome new members, strive to
minimize political action on issues.
8. Council appointments to commissions, committees and boards are made
without regard to political party affiliation. Members are not restricted
from participating in political activities. However, members should not use
or involve their membership in the conduct of political activities.
A. Committee Relationships
Individual committee members should present views and recommendations
representing the committee as a body -- not personal individual views.
Members expressing views not approved by the majority of a committee should
clearly express that their opinions as “private citizens.” Individual
opinions must be identified as such. Public statements should not include
promises that may be construed to be binding on the committee, City Council
or staff. When making a public statement, members should indicate that
committee actions are recommendations and that final action will be taken by
the City Council. Committee members may be selected on the basis of
representing defined groups; however, each member should represent the
overall “public good”, not an exclusive group, or special interest.
B. Basic Guidelines
Work to establish a good relationship with other committee members. The
success or failure of committee efforts may be dependent upon the degree of
cooperation evident among the individual members of the body.
C. Relationships with Other Committee Members
Each member should keep in mind these important points:
The association with other committee members is very important as you serve
on the committee. Before talking about relationships it may be well to point
out a few facts about committee members. Committee members come from various
backgrounds - education, occupational, religious, social, economic,
physical, and cultural - and differences do exist. It is important to
recognize that the reason for serving on a committee will vary and perhaps
some will have a special interest. Each member will contribute in his/her
own way and is an important part of the decision-making process. Do not
expect every member to give of his/her time, talent and knowledge to the
same degree. Some will give more and others will give less, but in the end
the community will benefit. Bearing this in mind, the following
relationships may serve as a guideline:
1. Always respect other individuals viewpoint even though it may be opposite
of your own.
2. Allow the other individual to articulate his/her own views and then
attempt to make an objective evaluation of those views.
3. Evaluation of our fellow member's viewpoint should be based on what is
best for the total community and what is best for all concerned.
4. There will be times when political action among the committee is
apparent; strive to minimize whenever possible.
5. Be open and honest at all times.
6. Each committee member has a responsibility to recognize new committee
members and see that they are made welcome, become oriented, and receive
D. Relationships with Council
The purposes of Commissions and Committees are to expand the opportunity for
citizen input and participation, study issues, and make recommendations to
the City Council. As an advisor to the City Council, Commission and
Committee members must be continually aware that the decisions formed by the
Council, even after receiving and evaluating the recommendations from the
various advisory bodies, are not easily made.
The Council possesses the ultimate political and legal responsibility for
the conduct of local government and the overall welfare of the community. It
is important to recognize that not all of the recommendations made by the
various Commissions and Committees will be accepted by the City Council.
Council actions which vary from Commission/Committee recommendations do not
imply a lack of confidence or disinterest in the advisory bodies’ decisions.
Council Members must weigh the advice provided by advisory bodies against a
broader scope of considerations as they reach the decisions for which they
Although a Commission or Committee may disagree with the final decision that
Council makes on an issue, the Commission or Committee should not act in any
manner contrary to the established policy adopted by the Council.
Committee members are expected to recognize the following items:
1. The committee should assist the City Council in developing public trust
in the advisory committee system; and
2. The committee should be sensitive to city priorities and know when to
take a stand.
E. Relationships with Staff and Staff Liaison
The Staff assigned to a Commission or Committee provides basic support and
technical advice for the Commission or Committee. Staff handles
administrative duties, prepares meeting agendas, staff reports, and records
minutes. Commission and Committee members may not direct Staff to initiate
programs, conduct major studies, or establish official policy without the
approval of the City Council.
Committee members should feel free to contact the Staff Liaison for
inquiries and/or support purposes. It should be understood, however, that
committee members are responsible for all committee work. Staff Liaisons
will provide direction, guidance, as well as clerical and/or organizational
or administrative support to committees on an as needed basis.
F. Relationships with the Public
Commission and Committee members serve as a liaison between the City and the
general public. Thus, each member functions as a communication link between
the community and the City, explaining City programs and recommendations, as
well as providing a channel for citizen expression.
Commission and Committee meetings should be conducted in a manner that is
conducive to a productive exchange of ideas and perspectives. A
non-threatening atmosphere should be prevalent and steps should be taken to
ensure that members of the public are free to express their views without
fear of ridicule or belittlement by anyone with an opposing viewpoint.
Commission and Committee members should conduct themselves in a manner that
demonstrates fairness and professionalism. Members should be considerate of
all interests and value differences of opinion. Additionally, members should
remain open-minded, objective, and make no judgment or engage in any
partisan position until all of the available evidence pertaining to an issue
has been submitted. Common courtesy is expected from City representatives at
all levels of the organization.
It is important to recognize that as a committee member your actions and
comments are often interpreted to be that of the entire committee, the
staff, or the City. A committee member's comments to the press or other
public utterances are sometimes misinterpreted even though you state that
you are speaking for yourself. They may be at odds with the committee’s
goals, objectives or overall policy. It is very important that an individual
be clear when stating opinion.
Members of the public are also expected to conform to an acceptable standard
of conduct. Any person who willfully interrupts a public meeting or acts so
as to render the orderly conduct of the meeting infeasible may be barred
from further attendance at the meeting by the Commission or Committee or by
the Chairperson. An individual so barred may not return for the remainder of
the meeting unless permission is granted by a majority vote of the
Commission or Committee.
The following guidelines are offered:
1. There should be no promises made to the public that are binding on the
committee, staff, or City Council.
2. Comments to the public and the press must be factual.
3. The committee members have an obligation to listen to comments or
complaints of the public.
City Commissions and Committees are not involved in the administration or
operation of City departments. The City’s Staff reports to the Department
Head, who in turn reports to the City Manager. It is, therefore, the
responsibility of the Department Head and/or City Manager to allocate staff
time and efforts and direct the priority of work.
Staff members are not considered members of a Commission or Committee and
have no power to vote in Commission/Committee matters. Because of their
support position, Staff does not respond to questions from the public at a
meeting unless requested to do so by the Chairperson.
City Staff serves Commissions and Committees in an advisory capacity – much
the same as the Commission or Committee serves the Council. Staff members
are selected on the basis of their technical and professional abilities and
are expected to provide Commissions and Committees with recommendations
based upon their professional analysis of the situation, regardless of
personal opinion or consideration of political consequence. It is not
expected that every Staff recommendation will be followed; however, because
of Staff’s technical expertise, full consideration should be given to its
Commission and Committee members should be aware of Staff’s responsibility
to also provide professional advice to the City Council. In instances where
a Staff member disagrees with a Commission’s or Committee’s recommendation,
he/she is obligated to advise the City Council, through the City Manager, of
his/her technical recommendation. The City Council values both the opinion
of the Commission/Committee as well as Staff since Staff expresses its
opinion from a strictly technical perspective, while Commissions and
Committees provide counsel and advice on the issue’s practical application.
A. Preparation for Meetings
Be prepared. Thoroughly review the agenda packet, including agenda
reports, and any other materials before the meeting. The issues that come
before advisory bodies are important to the community as a whole and demand
your consistent attention. In agreeing to serve on an advisory body, you
make a commitment to put in the time required to prepare fully for each
Understand what action you are being asked to take regarding each
particular agenda item.
If you have questions regarding the agenda or agenda report, contact the
Chair or your Staff Liaison before the meeting to clarify questions or
request further information.
Know the responsibilities of your advisory body, as well as the
limitations of your individual authority. As a member of an advisory body
you will be asked to provide recommendations to the City Council about
specific issues. Keep in mind that your appointment does not empower you to
supervise City Staff.
Keep an open mind. An objective, balanced, and receptive approach will
help you assess the facets of a given issue and evaluate new ideas. When
receiving written and oral public testimony it will be necessary to discern
between fact and opinion, as well as between those concerns which are
relevant and those which are secondary to the issue at hand. Keeping an open
mind will make it easier for you to understand all sides of an issue before
you make a judgment or take a position.
Strive to appreciate differences in approach and point of view. Likewise,
take care to articulate your own ideas; remember that your individual voice
is a critical part of the whole dialogue. Again, furthering common goals
takes cooperation, flexibility, and a broad-based view of the public
interest. If in doubt, return to the foundational documents to guide your
understanding of the complexities of an issue.
If you are unsure about something during the meeting, ask for
clarification. On behalf of the public, your understanding of issues is
important. Each advisory body has a City Staff Liaison to provide
information to assist the members throughout the decision-making process.
E-mail Communications between Advisory Body Members: Because e-mail
communications can ultimately lead to the exchange of information intended
to or may create collective concurrence among a quorum of advisory body
members, e-mail communications between advisory body members relative to
advisory body business should be avoided. While less than a quorum, for
example, may appropriately communicate with one another by way of e-mail,
the “forwarding” of such an e-mail message on to an additional member would
result in a Brown Act violation.
All commission, committee and board members are requested to contact their
Staff Liaison prior to a meeting if they are unable to attend.
Rules of Debate
The Chair may debate and may make or second motions. The Chair is subject to
the limitations of debate that are imposed on all members and shall not be
deprived of any of the rights and privileges of a member.
B. Advisory Body Members
Every advisory body member desiring to speak shall address the Chair. Upon
recognition by the Chair, the member shall confine comments to the question
under debate, avoiding all undignified language and references to
personalities and abiding by the following rules of civil debate. A member,
once recognized, shall not be interrupted except according to rules of
parliamentary procedure (e.g., for a point of order, parliamentary inquiry,
question of privilege, or appeal of Chair’s procedural ruling).
Public meetings will proceed smoothly if all participants keep the following
tenets in mind:
(1) We may disagree, but we will be respectful of one another.
(2) All comments will be directed to the issue at hand.
(3) Personal attacks should be avoided.
C. Addressing the Advisory Body from the Floor
Securing Permission to Speak
Any person desiring to address the advisory body shall first secure
permission from the Chair. Any advisory body member may also request of the
Chair that a member of the public be recognized to speak.
Remarks should be directed to the matter being considered.
Persons addressing the advisory body are requested to give their name in an
audible tone of voice for the record and sign on the sign-up sheet if
provided. Any applicable time limit shall be as stated in the agenda, or as
directed by the Chair.
All remarks shall be addressed to the advisory body as a whole and not to
any individual member or to members of the audience. Without the permission
of the Chair, only members and the person addressing the advisory body shall
be permitted to enter into any discussion. However, while advisory body
members may ask speakers questions, they should not debate matters with
All remarks shall be delivered in a respectful manner.
Addressing the Advisory Body after Motion Made
After a motion is made by the advisory body, no person shall address the
advisory body in regard to that topic except upon the request of the Chair,
or a member of the advisory body through the Chair.
Decorum in Meetings
Start meetings on time. Keep the agenda in mind in order to give each item
the appropriate time.
Announce at the start of a meeting if the order of agenda items is to be
rearranged for convenience, for response to those attending only for certain
items, or for better pacing of the agenda.
Let the Chair run the meeting.
Be fair, impartial, and respectful of the public, staff, and each other.
Give your full attention when others speak.
Learn to trust your own good judgment on decisions.
Remember that people may be attending a meeting for the first time, and
may be unfamiliar with your procedures. In your discussion, either avoid or
explain technical terms or verbal shorthand.
Listen to audience concerns. Don’t engage in side conversations or
otherwise be distracted during public testimony. The opportunity for public
testimony is central to the strength of democracy, and is therefore
encouraged. Active listening, however, does not mean engaging the public in
debate. Your response is appropriately saved for after the public testimony
Close the public testimony before you begin serious deliberation on an
Sometimes questions can most effectively focus discussion and direct
decision-making. For example,
What is the history behind this item?
What are the benefits and drawbacks?
What other alternatives did you consider?
For other advisory body members:
What do you think about this item?
What have you heard from the residents?
What would it take for you to support this?
For the public (at a hearing):
What are your concerns?
How will this proposal affect you?
What specific, constructive, alternatives can you recommend?
What are we trying to accomplish?
What are the long-range interests of the community?
What guidance can be found in our foundational documents?
Often you must balance multiple views, neither favoring nor ignoring one
individual or group over another. Your obligation is to represent a
broad-based view of the community’s long-range interests.
Remember that your advisory body exists to take actions. It is not simply
a discussion group or debating society.
Endeavor to end meetings at a reasonable hour. Short breaks may be helpful
during long meetings. Extending the meeting beyond an appointed hour may be
subjected to a vote when that hour nears.
B. Managing Difficult Meetings
From time to time, commissions are faced with conducting highly charged
controversial meetings. These meetings may involve one unified group or two
or more conflicting groups. The group demeanor may be characterized by
aggressiveness and hostility. Such meetings really test the mettle of the
commission and staff. Consider the following:
Before the Meeting
• Have the participants designate one or more spokespersons, if possible.
This may help reduce redundancy and make sure that all sides of the issue
will be heard.
• Make agendas and back-up reports easily available to participants.
• Make sure adequate seating is available. Consider moving to larger
quarters if necessary.
• Make sure sound and recording equipment is adequate and operational, if
• Establish and announce rules before the meeting.
• Chairperson and staff should engage in contingency planning before the
During the Meeting
• Explain the issues, the possible actions and the procedures that will be
followed at the meeting.
• Have speakers address the commission and not the audience. Some speakers
are very adept at inciting audiences; especially if they are permitted to
face the audience.
• Stop clapping and shouting early. Explain the reasons why such actions are
disruptive and counterproductive.
• Don’t hesitate to use recesses to help diffuse hostility or
• Consider limiting speakers to a set time such as three to five minutes. If
such a procedure is used, make sure it is applied fairly and consistently.
• Consider using speaker cards. These can help identify how many people wish
to speak and also whether they support or contest an issue. They also are
invaluable too, in recording the names and addresses of speakers. Recognize,
however, that if a person does not wish to fill out a card, they may still
have the legal right to speak.
• Make sure commission members address colleagues and not the audience.
Directly addressing the audience can result in loss of control of the
• Continue items that cannot be decided at the meeting. This does not
preclude the commission from allowing anyone who wishes to speak on the
issue, to do so.
Elective Office and Commission Positions on Legislation
Commission Members Running for Elective Office
Members of the City’s commissions, committees and boards shall be permitted
to retain membership on such appointive bodies while seeking any elective
office. Members of appointive bodies shall not, however, use the meetings,
functions, or activities of such bodies for purposes of campaigning for
Commission Positions on Ballot Proposals and Legislation
Commissions, committees and boards may review and make recommendations to
the City Council on ballot proposals and legislation. The City Council shall
review all such recommendations.
Commission, committee and board members shall only represent the majority
position of the City Council on such matters unless speaking as an
individual or indicating a minority opinion.
Conflict of Interest
The City of Brentwood has adopted a Conflict of Interest Code, that states
no person shall make or participate in a governmental decision which he or
she knows or has reason to know will have a reasonably foreseeable material
financial effect distinguishable from its effect on the public generally.
The City Attorney is available to help advisory body members decide if they
should declare a disqualification on any issue. There may be instances where
financial conflict of interest is not the issue, and again, the City
Attorney will provide guidance in determining whether an advisory body
member should disqualify him/herself from acting on the item. In these
instances, members should recuse themselves from a vote using the phrase,
“…to avoid the appearance of impropriety.”
In addition, advisory body members may be required by the City’s Conflict of
Interest Code to declare personal financial information by filing a
Statement of Economic Interest. Those advisory bodies whose members are
required to do so are indicated by an asterisk after the advisory body title
on the advisory body application. Upon appointment, the City Clerk shall
provide the advisory body member with the documents necessary for filing.
Ralph M. Brown Act
The Ralph M. Brown Act, “Open Meeting Law,” more commonly referred to as The
Brown Act, is California’s “sunshine” law for local government. It requires
local government to conduct business in meetings that are open to the
public. Chapter 9, Sections 54950 - 54962 of the California Government Code
provides the complete text of The Brown Act. However, the following may be
useful as a guide to understanding the basics of The Brown Act: GC §54950.
In enacting this chapter [The Ralph M. Brown Act], the Legislature finds and
declares that the public commissions, boards and councils and other public
agencies in this State exist to aid in the conduct of the people's business.
It is the intent of the law that their actions be taken openly and that
their deliberations be conducted openly. The people of this State do not
yield their sovereignty to the agencies which serve them. The people, in
delegating authority, do not give their public servants the right to decide
what is good for the people to know and what is not good for them to know.
The people insist on remaining informed so that they may retain control over
the instruments they have created.
1. Who is subject to the Brown Act? [See GC §54952 & §54952.1]
All members of legislative bodies which include the City Council, Standing
Advisory Committees, Planning Commission, Standing Subcommittees, as well as
new members of these bodies who have been elected or appointed but who have
not assumed duties of office.
2. Who is not subject to the Brown Act? [See GC §54952]
Non-standing ad hoc committees as well as ad hoc subcommittees composed of
less than a quorum of the legislative body.
3. What is the difference between standing and ad hoc committees or
A standing committee is formed by ordinance or resolution with a continuing
subject matter or meeting schedule fixed by ordinance, resolution, or other
An ad hoc committee is formed for a specific period of time for a particular
A standing subcommittee is composed of less than a quorum of members of a
legislative body with a continuing subject matter or a fixed meeting
An ad hoc subcommittee is composed of less than a quorum of members of a
legislative body existing for a specific period of time for a particular
4. What is a meeting? [See GC §54952.2]
Any congregation of a majority of members, in the same place, at the same
time, to hear, discuss or deliberate on anything within the subject matter
of the jurisdiction. Meetings include any communication through
intermediaries or technological devices such as a telephone, fax machine,
computer, etc. to develop a collective concurrence as to action to be taken.
5. What are not considered meetings? [See GC §54952.2]
Individual contacts between members; individual contacts between members and
third parties; conferences that are open to the public and involve a
discussion of matters of general interest to the public or public agencies
as long as members attending do not discuss local business; attendance at a
community meeting other than that of the local agency, provided the majority
do not discuss business; attendance at a purely social occasion.
6. Can meetings be teleconferenced? [See GC §54953]
The legislative body of a local agency may use teleconferencing for the
benefit of the public only if the following requirements are met: 1) All
votes taken during the teleconferenced meeting shall be by roll call; 2) The
agenda must be posted at all teleconference locations and the meeting must
be conducted in a manner that protects the statutory and constitutional
rights of the parties or the public appearing before the legislative body;
3) Each teleconference location must be identified in the notice and agenda
of the meeting, and each teleconference location must be accessible to the
public; 4) The agenda must provide an opportunity for members of the public
to address the legislative body directly at each teleconference location.
7. What is a regular meeting? [See GC §54954; FCMC §2.36.160;EMIDC
A regular meeting is a meeting held on a regular basis at a time and place
established by resolution, ordinance, by-laws or other rule.
8. What is an adjourned meeting? [See GC §54955]
The legislative body of a local agency may adjourn any regular, adjourned
regular, special or adjourned special meeting to a time and place specified
in the order of adjournment. Less than a quorum may so adjourn from time to
time. If all members are absent from any regular or adjourned regular
meeting, the secretary may declare the meeting adjourned to a stated time
and place and cause a written notice of the adjournment to be given in the
same manner as provided for special meetings unless such notice is waived as
provided for special meetings. A copy of the order or notice of adjournment
shall be conspicuously posted on or near the door of the place where the
regular, adjourned regular, special or adjourned special meeting was held
within 24 hours after the time of the adjournment. When a regular or
adjourned regular meeting is adjourned as provided, the resulting adjourned
regular meeting is a regular meeting for all purposes. When an order of
adjournment of any meeting fails to state the hour at which the adjourned
meeting is to be held, it shall be held at the hour specified for regular
meetings by ordinance, resolution, by-law, or other rule.
9. What is a special meeting? [See GC §54956; FCMC §2.36.170;EMIDC
A special meeting is any meeting other than a regular meeting or adjourned
10. What are the requirements for holding a special meeting?[See GC §54956;
FCMC §2.36.170; EMIDC §2.28.170]
A special meeting may be called at any time by the presiding officer (e.g.,
Committee Chair), or by a majority of the members of the committee, by
delivering personally or by mail written notice to each member of the
legislative body and to each local newspaper of general circulation, radio
or television station requesting notice in writing. The notice shall be
delivered personally or by mail and shall be received at least 24 hours
before the time of the meeting as specified in the notice. The call and
notice shall specify the time and place of the special meeting and the
business to be transacted. No other business shall be considered at these
meetings by the legislative body. The written notice may be dispensed with
as to any member who at or prior to the time the meeting convenes files with
the secretary of the committee a written waiver of notice. The waiver may be
by telegram. The written notice may also be dispensed with as to any member
who is actually present at the meeting at the time it convenes. Notice shall
be required regardless of whether any action is taken at the special
meeting. The call and notice shall be posted at least 24 hours prior to the
special meeting in a location that is freely accessible to members of the
public. The call and notice should be forwarded to the City Clerk for
posting in the public notice board outside the Council Chambers at least 24
hours prior to the special meeting. Every notice for a special meeting at
which action is proposed to be taken on an item shall provide an opportunity
for members of the public to directly address the legislative body
concerning that item prior to action on that item.
11. Where must meetings be held? [See GC §54954; FCMC §2.36.160; EMIDC
Regular and Special Meetings must be held within the boundaries of the City
of Brentwood with certain exceptions. These include:
a. Complying with State and Federal law;
b. Inspecting real or personal property;
c. Participating in a meeting that involves multiple agencies outside
d. Complying with a Court Order;
e. Meeting with State or Federal elected officials;
f. Visiting legal counsel for a closed session.
12. What type of facility can meetings be held in? [See GC §54961]
No legislative body of a local agency shall conduct any meeting in any
facility that prohibits the admittance of any person, or persons, on the
basis of race, religious creed, color, national origin, ancestry, or sex, or
which is inaccessible to disabled persons, or where members of the public
may not be present without making a payment or purchase.
13. What needs to be on an agenda? [See GC §54954.2]
An agenda must specify the time and location of the regular meeting and show
a brief general description of each item of business to be transacted or
discussed, not needing to exceed twenty (20) words per agenda item. See also
FCMC §2.36.230 and EMIDC §2.28.230 regarding Order of Business for advisory
14. When does an agenda need to be posted? [See GC §54954.2]
An agenda for a regular meeting must be posted at least 72 hours before the
15. Where is the agenda posted? [See GC §54954.2; FCMC §2.36.160; EMIDC
The agenda is posted by the City Clerk in the public notice board outside
the Council Chambers and may be posted in other locations.
16. Can an item be discussed or acted upon if it is not on the agenda? [See
No action or discussion can be taken on any item not appearing on the posted
agenda, except that members of the committee may briefly respond to
statements made or questions posed by persons exercising their public
testimony rights. In addition, on their own initiative, or in response to
questions posed by the public, committee members may ask a question for
clarification, provide a reference to staff or other resources for factual
information, or request staff to report back to the body at a subsequent
meeting concerning any matter. Furthermore, a committee member or the
committee itself may take action to direct staff to place a matter of
business on a future agenda.
17. When can an item not on the agenda be discussed or acted upon? [See GC
The committee may take action on items of business not appearing on the
posted agenda under any of the conditions stated below. Prior to discussing
any item, the committee shall publicly identify the item, and (1) upon a
determination by a majority vote of the committee that an emergency
situation exists which prompt action is necessary due to the disruption or
threatened disruption of public facilities, as defined in Government Code
§54956.5; or (2) upon a determination by a two-thirds vote of the committee,
or, if less than two-thirds of the members are present, a unanimous vote of
those members present, that there is a need to take immediate action and
that the need for action came to the attention of the local agency
subsequent to the agenda being posted; or (3) the item was posted on an
agenda for a prior committee meeting occurring not more than 5 calendar days
prior to the date action is taken on the item, and at the prior meeting the
item was continued to the meeting at which action is being taken.
18. Is it required for an agenda to allow public comment? [See GC §54954.3;
FCMC§2.36.180; EMIDC §2.28.180]
Yes. Every agenda for regular meetings shall provide an opportunity for
members of the public to directly address the legislative body on any item
of interest to the public, before or during the legislative body's
consideration of the item. However, the agenda need not provide an
opportunity for members of the public to address the legislative body on any
item that has already been considered by a committee, composed exclusively
of members of the legislative body, at a public meeting wherein all
interested members of the public were afforded the opportunity to address
the committee on the item, before or during the committee's consideration of
the item, unless the item has been substantially changed since the committee
heard the item, as determined by the legislative body. Every notice for a
special meeting at which action is proposed to be taken on an item shall
provide an opportunity for members of the public to directly address the
legislative body concerning that item prior to action on that item.
19. Can the committee limit the total amount of time for public testimony?
[See GC §54954.3]
The legislative body may adopt reasonable regulations limiting the total
amount of time allocated for public testimony on particular issues and for
each individual speaker.
20. Can the committee prohibit public criticism? [See GC §54954.3]
The legislative body shall not prohibit public criticism of the policies,
procedures, programs, or services of the agency or the acts or omissions of
the legislative body.
21. Are there any conditions of attendance for members of the public? [See
No. A member of the public shall not be required, as a condition to attend a
meeting of a legislative body of a local agency, to register his or her
name, to provide other information, to complete a questionnaire, or
otherwise to fulfill any condition precedent to his or her attendance. If an
attendance list, register, questionnaire, or other similar document is
posted at or near the entrance to the room where the meeting is to be held,
or is circulated to the persons present during the meeting, it shall state
clearly that the signing, registering, or completion of the document is
voluntary, and that all persons may attend the meeting regardless of whether
a person signs, registers, or completes the document.
22. Can secret ballots be used? [See GC §54953; FCMC §2.36.110 & EMIDC
§2.28.110 will be amended]
No action can be taken by secret ballot, whether it is for a preliminary or
23. Can the public tape record or use a video camera to record a meeting?
Recording of a meeting by a member of the public can be done either by audio
or visual means. Meetings may also be broadcast in either one of those
mediums. The Brown Act allows the legislative body to disallow recording of
the meetings only if it disrupts the meeting due to noise, illumination, or
obstruction of view.
24. What materials, such as agendas, must be made available to the public?
[See GC §54957.5]
Agendas of public meetings and any other writings, when distributed to all,
or a majority of all of the members of a legislative body of a local agency
by any person in connection with a matter subject to discussion or
consideration at a public meeting of the body, are public records under the
California Public Records Act and shall be made available to the public
without delay. Writings which are public records and which are distributed
during a public meeting shall be made available for public inspection at the
meeting if prepared by the local agency or a member of its legislative body,
or after the meeting if prepared by some other person.
25. What is the penalty for holding an unlawful meeting? [See GC §54959]
Each member of a legislative body who attends a meeting of that legislative
body where action is taken in violation of any provision of the Brown Act,
with wrongful intent to deprive the public of information to which it is
entitled, is guilty of a misdemeanor.
There is no desire on the part of the City Council or City Staff to control
a member’s independent thought or judgment. Council appoints only those
persons who have knowledge, ability, and interest in the commission’s
purposes so that their contributions will be of assistance. All suggestions
and ideas are most welcome, whether presented as a citizen, a commissioner,
or as a majority vote of a commission. However, commission membership limits
a member’s freedom of advocacy before the city council or other commissions
on those issues that are to be considered by the member’s commission; the
corporate recommendation of the commission to the city council will include
the positions of all members.
A commission is created as an advisory arm of the council as the result of a
policy decision. Each has been charged with responsibilities in specified
areas. It may be that a member may disagree with an established policy. This
is part of the democratic process, as is the expression of that disagreement
in a minority vote. In spite of conflicting viewpoints, however, it is the
process of addressing the issues that is served by commission action.
The City is proud of its citizen participation and extends a hearty welcome
to all commission appointees.
CITY AT A GLANCE as of 2003
Area (square miles)……………………………………………………………………….14.83
Assessed Net Valuation $3,573,037,432
Schools: Elementary 6
High School 1
Full-time City Employees 260
City Parks Open Space Acreage 148
You have been on a commission now for some time. Your fellow members have
just elected you their chairman. You feel very honored and pleased to accept
this new responsibility. But, you have certain concerns. You have not
chaired many meetings, certainly none in the public eye and with the press
looking over your shoulder. You want to do well; live up to the trust
everyone has placed in you. It is easy to run a meeting when everyone
agrees, but what do you do when there is disagreement/conflict? How have
others found their way through the many traps awaiting the uninitiated? That
is the purposed of this Manual, to point out what others have learned the
hard way. Hopefully, you will have a better understanding of the nature of
conflict in the public meeting and the role you as chairman, can play in
managing conflict before it gets out of hand.
Why Manage Conflict?
Government is not doing well these days. Articles appearing in the news
media point out the worst of government actions, but most people believe
that these actions are the norm, not the exception. Most people have a very
limited exposure to government. Rarely are they brought into contact with
Federal or State government in action outside of what they see or read on
the news. This is also true with local government, except by way of the
public meeting. Citizens will attend a public meeting with there is a
pending action in their town that will have some impact on them personally.
What goes on in that meeting will affect their approval or disapproval of
local government and, to some degree, their attitude toward democratic
government in general.
Put yourself in their shoes. If the last public hearing you attended was
your only exposure to City government outside of the news media, what would
be your lasting impressions? Too often the public hearing is a minor
disaster from the spectator’s point of view and, therefore, local government
loses a little more credibility. Public perception is long lasting and not
easily reversed. On the other hand, when a public meeting is run smoothly,
with all points of view given fair consideration, the common negative myth
is shaken. The chances of that meeting running smoothly and working toward a
successful conclusion are enhanced by your ability as chairman to understand
the dynamics of the meeting and to master the skills of conflict resolution.
What is Conflict?
A conflict exists whenever incompatible activities occur. The incompatible
actions may originate in one person or in a group. An action that is
incompatible with another action prevents, obstructs, interferes, injures,
or in some way makes that action less likely or less effective. The idea of
conflict has two general meanings. First is difference of opinion, view,
belief, etc. The second is fight. If these differences lead to the
enlargement of each party’s view, we call the outcome desirable. When
differences lead to battle, the outcome is often undesirable for one or both
parties. Conflict can occur in a cooperative or a competitive context.
Competition implies an opposition in the goals of the parties so that the
probability of goal attainment of one decreases as the probability of the
other increases (a win-lose mode). Cooperation implies similar goals of the
opposing parties and the opportunity of goal attainment increases for both
parties (a win-win mode). We often find that conflict is over the wrong
things, such as misinformation or personality clashes, rather than over the
right things, such as the accomplishment of objectives or the health of the
Meetings are a particular place where a wide variety of conflict-causing
factors may be seen. Ongoing conflicts between individual personalities and
decision-making styles are often compounded by the inappropriate use of
power and by a lack of clarity of objectives. In addition to these factors,
meetings frequently adopt a subconscious mind of their own which pushes them
unwittingly into conflict. These subconscious group dynamics are a frequent
and seemingly recurring source of conflict, both inside the organization and
between the organization and its member organization.
Some Basic Philosophies of Conflict Management
We have seen that conflict results when forces stand in opposition. Five
basic styles have been identified to handle conflict:
1. Forcing. This is where you say, “I’m the one who has the power here; this
is my authority; this is the way things are going to be. Now we seem to have
a difference of an opinion here. This is my opinion. Anybody have any
problems with this? The conflict is hereby resolved. OK, the next item.”
Now, notice what has happened. Has the conflict gone away? Not a chance.
2. Smoothing. This is when you say or imply, “Well, I know from time to time
in an organization like this we are going to have differences of opinions,
but I know you all care about the organization more than you care about your
own petty needs and interests. And I know we all want the greater good in
the long run, and so I know that we all will be willing to let go of our
diverging needs here. Won’t we? It’s important that we maintain the sense of
family we have developed over a long period of time. There’s no conflict
here. Let’s just smooth it over.”
3. Withdrawing. “Well, no, really, I know I felt that way at one time, but I
didn’t feel all that strongly about it. And I can see that your position is
right and that is really the correct approach. I certainly think that the
best man has won. I didn’t feel very strongly about that at all. No, really,
you’re right. It’s really OK. I don’t mind.”
The three most common styles of approaching conflict are forcing it out of
existence, smoothing it over, and withdrawing from it. Throughout history
there have been great leaders who were leaders until they began to stifle
conflict within their countries or organizations. Once they began to stifle
conflict they became sheer wielders of power. Conflict is necessary and
healthy. For the past twenty years psychologists have been saying that
conflict is healthy, so we have developed another style of dealing with
conflict. It is called compromise.
4. Compromise. “I’ll give up something if you will give up something. Now
that is the way you’ve got to do this to be fair. What are you going to give
up? You’ll give up that and you expect me to give up this? Are you kidding
me? You call that fair? So we’re going to hassle for awhile about what
you’re going to give up and what I’m going to give up.”
Compromise is a step forward, but compromise is still a lose-lose
5. Confronting and Integrating. This requires the courage and wisdom of true
leadership. It’s rough. It has two parts:
A. You confront the conflict. You say, “We’ve got a problem. We have
differences here. So far as I can tell, there are these differences.” The
process is different from compromising in that it is a win-win assumption.
You go into it with the assumption that there is some overall perspective
that will integrate the divergent opinions. It assumes that if the person in
the position of responsibility hears it all; works with it all; takes it all
in; stays close to everybody; and backs off far away from the issues, there
will be some overall perspective that puts it all together. It may be
difficult to find and it may mean that we will end up compromising and
giving up something, but our assumption is win-win.
B. Anytime people are involved in conflict they are behaving rationally from
their point of view. It also means that if you are in conflict with someone,
they think that you are a lunatic. You cannot imagine how anybody could hold
the position they hold. They cannot imagine how you hold your position. As
long as you operate on that assumption, there is no possibility of
integrating. If you stop and say, “Wait a minute, there is some perspective
from which that person is actually rational”, then it becomes possible to
put them together.
Any conflict that surfaces can be managed. The conflict that comes up will
allow for leadership. The conflict that is suppressed is the conflict that
will do you in; it is the conflict that will result eventually in
dissatisfaction and disloyalty.
Eight Suggested Conflict Maxims
1. Catch the conflict early before hardening of positions occurs.
2. Keep boundaries open. Keep information flowing. Silence or avoidance
escalates paranoia and the struggle.
3. Involve as many related systems as possible. Open things up.
4. Try to modulate the context within which the conflict exists. Look at the
assumed constraints, rethink the setting.
5. Don’t get into a battle if there is a chance you cannot win.
6. Don’t stake out ground (harden your position) unless you are prepared to
defend to the finish. Be clear to yourself. Just what is your bottom line?
7. See if there is any other way to achieve your wishes.
8. What are you really after in the conflict? Is the issue really important
to you or is it the thrill of the chase and the fight that turns you on?
Six Suggested Propositions for Conflict Resolution
1. Conflicts are generated and maintained by objective and subjective
factors, and the subjective factors must be dealt with first in the process
2. Conflict becomes more regulable as the threat factor is increasingly
balanced with trust.
3. Conflict regulation ultimately requires moving a dispute from the status
of a fight to that of a debate.
4. Conflict is often regulated by modifying the environment-giving rise to
5. In crisis situations, violence can be minimized or eliminated through
proper training and control of those directly involved.
6. The development of commitments to more inclusive communities among
members of conflicting groups can reduce a conflict.
The maxims and propositions are listed here to help define the parameters in
conflict resolution. The basic ideas that appear to underline the management
of conflict are trust, change from competition to cooperation,
communication, understanding, desire, courage, and leadership.
The Chairman’s Understanding of the Group
As a commission member, you have spent most of your public life
participating in public meetings. You receive your agenda, study the
material, have a field trip or two, and then head off for the regular
meeting. Up to now the preparation for the many meetings has been that of a
group member; as chairman your role has changed considerably. You now have
responsibility for interaction with the staff for agenda preparation, a
responsibility for understanding the dynamics of your meeting and your
commission, and how it operates. Let’s look at two roles found in most
groups: the leader and the central person.
The Leadership Role. We are of two minds about leadership in our country. If
a member of a new group suggests that another person would be a good leader,
that person’s response typically is “Oh, no! Not me.” Despite such protests,
nearly every member of every group would like to lead. Some people have more
skills in the leadership area and become leaders in more groups. But never
underestimate the desire of every member of any group to take over the
The most satisfactory explanation of leadership is that it is a result of
the individual’s traits (inherited characteristics plus training); the
purpose of the group; the pressures put on the group from outside and the
way the persons in the group talk, work, and relate with one another. The
members of a group spend time on selecting leadership because it is so
important to the success of the group. We are touchy about the people who
boss us around. We do not like to take orders. If we have to, we prefer a
leader who gives wise orders in a way we can tolerate.
Central Persons. Some people are so dominant in their verbal and nonverbal
communications in a work group that they fascinate the others. They may be
positive or negative people and are called central persons. A central person
may be unusually capable and a potential asset to the group’s productivity
or the central person may be exceptionally skillful at human relations and
unusually charming. A central person may be one who seems extremely hostile
to the group and its purposes, who downgrades the work, or who makes it
plain he feels the other members are incapable. Such a person is a potential
threat to the group.
A common threatening central person is the manipulator. He comes to the
group with the intention of exploiting it for his own ends. He intends to
take it over and run it. Manipulators tend to be either hard sell or soft
sell. The hard-sell manipulator usually comes on strong. He talks a great
deal and takes charge immediately with a strong hand. When the group resists
his leadership, he tries to argue and browbeat the others into line.
Sometimes the hard-sell manipulator is not immediately challenged. When he
gives orders, however, they are not followed. Inevitably another contender
emerges and becomes leader. The manipulator is now extremely frustrated. His
self-image is badly dented. He came into the group confident of his
superiority and his ability to run the group his way and the group has
rejected him. Usually he turns on the group members. If he remains in the
group, he is often a troublemaker. Finding him an acceptable role takes
The soft-sell manipulator is often much more successful. He often emerges
for a long time as the leader. He has many tricks and formulas of human
relations at his command. He is friendly and congenial. He seems less bossy
and more democratic. He sizes up the group to see who can be conned and who
will be troublesome. He is a politician. After several weeks of working with
him, however, the others find him out. They discover that he is getting his
way and that under his apparently congenial and democratic facade, he is
using the group for his personal ends. When the soft-sell manipulator is
found out, a challenger comes forward and the group reshuffles roles until a
new leader emerges.
It is important to you as a new chairman to understand the nature of the
Role-playing. A role is the part a person expects to play and the part other
members expect him to play in the group. It includes the duties he
specializes in and the way he socializes with others. People often assume
different roles in different groups. The authoritarian bosses, meek and
submissive at home, the sparkling receptionist, quiet and reserved with her
church group. In one group you are the “take charge” member who gets things
rolling; in another you are likable and fun loving; in another you are the
quiet, steady and responsible worker. The group is partly responsible for
the way each member acts because the role a member takes in a group is
worked out (either consciously or subconsciously) by the member and the
group together. A chairman who understands this will search for ways to
change the role structure of his work group so that every member can
contribute to the full extent of his ability. This should be a primary goal
of the commission chairman.
By understanding the nature of role-playing in the group, the chairman will
be able to better manage group conflict.
Conflict Within the Group Meeting
One of the important ways of resolving conflict in the group meeting is to
listen to what is said and then to repeat, making sure that that is what the
person or group has said. This requires listening to the other person, then
letting him understand that you have heard him and that you understand his
feelings and his point of view and really value him. Some behavior theorists
have called this technique active listening. It could just as appropriately
be called creative listening or sensitive listening or responsive listening.
It embodies all of these qualities: sensitivity to what people are really
saying, creative responsiveness in dealing with information, active feedback
of what you understand the speaker to have said.
In verbal communication the speaker is usually sending two messages. One is
articulated and is usually taken to be the subject of the statement or
question; it is called the content message. The other message is not always
so evident: it deals with what the speaker is likely to have most on his
mind and covers matters such as whether his input or emotions are being
accepted or rejected. This is the feeling message.
A great deal of misunderstanding can result from the manner in which we try
to convey our own feelings, or explicate what we understand those of other
people to be. Ineffective listening on the part of the chairman can lead to
problems in the work group if he is not hearing and responding to people’s
feeling messages in addition to acknowledging their content messages.
Frequently people attempt to convey they’re feeling messages by implication.
These are like trial balloons. The speaker sends out a content message
covering a little bit of his real feeling message, until the speaker is
frustrated because he is not being understood. This frustration can lead to
outburst of the true message: “Can’t you see that I have been trying to tell
you how unhappy I am at the way this meeting is not dealing with my
problem?” Listen carefully both for content and feeling messages.
Learning to accept people as they are -- sounds like a pat statement. But it
is not meant in the traditional “charitable” sense. Instead -- don’t expect
people to be rational, logical or objective, in your view, all the time.
Especially because everyone is rational from his point of view. Assume that
communication is very difficult and work at it.
A more important skill in dealing with conflict is to confront each little
issue or irritation as soon as possible. This may mean lots of small
confrontations, but eventually all those “little” things that you ignored or
avoided facing tend to build up into a serious conflict that will be much
harder to deal with. When you confront, be precise in your communications by
describing what you see, hear, and feel. Also, avoid generalizing and
talking in terms of personality traits.
The DESC communication tool is often helpful in-group settings.
D Describe the facts of the situation. “When you interrupt me in commission
E - Express your feelings about the situation. “I feel annoyed and
Empathize -- “I know you often want to respond spontaneously to something I
may be saying and don’t want to wait for fear of losing your thought...”
S - Specify what behavior change you would like, or can live with. “I would
like you to wait until I complete my own thoughts and sentences before you
begin to speak...”
C - Consequences of the requested behavior change -- “I will feel more
comfortable in expressing my views and will be more willing to give you my
attention while you are speaking...”
You will only be successful with the DESC method if you are speaking to
someone who cares about you. This method depends on the necessity of the
listener cooperating with you because of a personal regard, working
commitment, and a need for gaining your cooperation on certain matters, etc.
Another benefit of going through this exercise for you is that it forces you
to clarify your own feelings and organize in your own mind the kind of
situation you desire and the best manner to achieve it.
Troublemakers in the Group Meeting. Studies have shown that group members
can be classified as 10% troublemakers, 70% unable to cope with
troublemakers, and 20% not bothered by troublemakers. If you have a
troublemaker in your group, try these ideas:
The Hostile Aggressive Type. Stand up to him, but don’t fight. Smoke him
out, ask for an explanation. Let him run his course. Don’t push. Hostile
people escalate battles.
The Complainer and the Whiner. Don’t agree or disagree. Paraphrase their
complaint back to them so they know you understand it.
The Indecisive Type. Give him a date and a deadline. Point out what is
good for the organization. Don’t push and don’t enthuse.
The Unresponsive Type. Out wait them. Don’t talk, but look expectantly at
The Expert (real or phony). Don’t argue. Do your homework and ask
When dealing with the emotional situations, don’t try to settle them right
away. Try to prevent the situation from blowing up. A few suggestions: An
apology or statement from the chairman like, “I am really sorry what
happened...”, may calm things down. It is helpful, even if the cause is not
related to anything the chairman did. Don’t say anything at all. Letting the
other person blow off steam may be all that is needed, but not in every
situation. Agree whenever possible. If the charged-up person is right about
some things, you can absorb some of his anger by agreeing immediately on
those things. However, if he is uninformed or mistaken, then say so calmly.
Exercise authority if things can be postponed until cooler heads prevail.
State that you will talk about the issue at hand on a given date.
Four methods that do not work are:
Joke or laugh about it.
Attempt to avoid your own emotions.
Cut in or try to shout down either side.
Try to settle everything on the spot.
Conflict in the Public Hearing
The public hearing is often the most difficult for the new chairman. Most
conflict within the group or organization exists between members who care
about the group and one another. Therefore, it is within everyone’s interest
that conflict be favorably resolved. This is not the situation in most
public hearings. Often there are two or more sides to the issue at hand, and
a win-win solution is not often attainable. Nevertheless, the basic ideas of
group interaction expressed so far in this manual are generally applicable
to the public hearing conflict.
The Agenda. When reviewing future agenda items, it is important to
anticipate conflict possibilities. If you are mentally prepared for a
conflict meeting, you have the battle half won. Make sure you do your basic
homework, so when the meeting is underway you can concentrate on the
dynamics of the meeting rather than learning about the subject at hand.
If in doubt, meet with staff beforehand so that you are prepared for any
meeting surprises that might develop. A rule you might consider: “Never ask
the staff a sensitive question at the public hearing to which you do not
know the answer.”
Most all participants in the public hearing are usually highly motivated and
often very nervous. When potential adversaries gather in one room, the
possibility of uncontrolled conflict is very high. Your role is not to
eliminate the conflict but rather guide the conflict to positive results.
Look for cooperation and that win-win solution - even if it is unattainable.
In any event, make sure that you treat all sides of the issue fairly. Set
out the rules of the hearing early and make sure everyone, without
exception, obeys them. Your insistence on “playing by the rules” is your
best management tool for conflict management in the public hearing.
Rules of the Public Hearing
Make sure the rules are known.
Make sure that the rules are clear and understood.
Make sure that rules are not perceived to be biased against one side or
Make sure that everyone adheres to the rules.
Make sure that violations are quickly known, acknowledged, and stopped.
Adherence to the rules will reward all participants.
The public hearing should begin with your clear recitation of the rules you
intend to follow. You should explain carefully the purpose of the public
hearing and what action is requested and possible at the conclusion of the
hearing. All persons speaking should identify themselves, not only for the
record, but also so you can speak to them by name. They must be recognized
by you before speaking and an acceptable time limit may be set by you.
Whenever possible, place the most controversial agenda item on early in the
evening. Be fresh and at your sharpest. Don’t let the participants in the
public hearing wait until the wee hours of the morning. Don’t let weariness
complicate the basic conflict. You control the meeting, using your power to
make sure everyone is treated fairly. Make decisions as promptly as
possible. Many commissions get so bogged down in procedural distractions,
petty details, and endless searches for more information that matters
brought before them never seem to get resolved. The commission should take
action promptly enough to avoid holding over after the public hearing is
over. The chairman should spur his colleagues to be decisive. Set time
limits on the public hearing; don’t let it ramble on, causing many to leave
before a decision is made.
The role of the chairman in the public hearing is not to compete with the
members of your commission. The chairman must be careful not to give
precedence to his own ideas at the expense of those of the commission.
Many inflammatory comments are made in public hearings. Be careful not to
overreact. Try to understand the role the speaker is playing. He may be
angry with government and you may be the manifestation of that government.
Such comments as:
“Who thinks up these ideas anyway?”
“You must be in the developer’s pocket.”
“What you are doing is illegal.”
“In all my days as a government expert, I never heard such a ridiculous
“I demand that this item be voted on by all the people!”
“You have not answered my question”, or “I have a number of questions I
want to ask you (the commission).”
“This whole thing stinks of politics to me.”
Try not to overreact to these types of comments. They do not require
answers. Most are expressions of frustration. Try to turn their frustration
to constructive avenues. Ask them questions about their view of the item
before the commission. Be specific if you can. Refer to them by their name.
Reinforce areas where you agree. If you feel that some comments must be
responded to, be calm and informational. Do not return insult for insult.
Your insults will have a devastating result on the public hearing. Often the
audience will turn against the chairman for lack of control and unfairness.
Be a pillar of understanding, forgiveness and strength. Many times members
of the audience will come to the defense of the commission and will
apologize for the past speaker’s loss of control.
At most public hearings you are trying to understand the citizen’s view of
the proposal. Be careful not to prejudge the action of the commission. Take
the long view. Use the hearing to gather necessary information about
community, neighborhood and individual desires concerning the proposal. Do
not get trapped in a dialogue with the speaker over trivial matters. Try to
reinforce the speaker. Help him overcome his anxiousness and nervousness.
You may want to repeat back to the speaker what you believe his position is.
You may want to take notes as he speaks. If you do, make sure he is aware of
your actions. This will also reinforce his presentation. Don’t look into
space while he is speaking. Try to avoid speaker to audience conversation.
The purpose of the hearing is to help your commission to act, not engage in
debate with every individual’s differing view in the room. Each speaker
should be given only one chance to speak. If many want to speak, everyone
should have his turn. By letting one speaker speak twice, all must be able
to speak twice. Set the rule at the first of the meeting and stick to it. If
other commission members have questions of the speaker, only permit these
questions during the speaker’s time at the podium. By opening up
conversation with one side or the other after the hearing is closed, you
open yourself to the perception of unfairness.
Your commission members should not express their views on the proposal until
after the public hearing is closed. Their comments and questions should not
suggest a position one-way or the other. After the public hearing is closed,
then each commission member should be invited to discuss his views on the
proposal. Comments made by the audience during the hearing are particularly
helpful interwoven into the discussion as this reinforces the perception
that the commission was listening to the speakers. In attempting to bring
the subject to a vote, look for that win-win solution. Particularly look for
that win-win solution among your commission members.
View the public hearing as an art form -- basic democracy in action at the
City level. The building blocks of American democracy start with home rule
and local government. Set your personal goal to make the public hearing
work. This means that everyone will feel fairly treated and that the
commission had all the facts. The commission was open in its deliberations
and acted accordingly. No one person dominated the meeting and there was
sufficient time for all to speak. No one left the meeting feeling
City Council Meetings Rules and Procedures Policy No: 110-1 Date: 4/27/04
Resolution No: 2004-97 Page 37 of 67
TABLE OF CONTENTS
RULE NO. 1 - APPLICABILITY 38
RULE NO. 2 - MEETINGS 38
RULE NO. 3 - ADJOURNMENT 39
RULE NO. 4 - QUORUM AND MAJORITY VOTE 39
RULE NO. 5 - OFFICERS AND THEIR DUTIES 39
RULE NO. 6 - DUTIES OF MAYOR AND VICE MAYOR 40
RULE NO. 7 - CITY CLERK 41
RULE NO. 8 - CITY ATTORNEY 41
RULE NO. 9 - COUNCIL ADVISORY COMMITTEES 42
RULE NO. 10 - VOTING 42
RULE NO. 11 - DISCLOSURE OF INTEREST 43
RULE NO. 12 - EFFECT OF NONOBSERVANCE 43
RULE NO. 13 - TIME AND PLACE OF MEETINGS 43
RULE NO. 14 - AGENDA--ORDER OF BUSINESS 44
RULE NO. 15 - MINUTES 45
RULE NO. 16 - VOTING 45
RULE NO. 17 - PUBLIC HEARINGS 46
RULE NO. 18 - SPEAKING RIGHTS OF COUNCILMEMBERS 46
RULE NO. 19 - MOTIONS 47
RULE NO. 20 - RULES OF ORDER 47
RULE NO. 21 - ADDRESSING THE COUNCIL 47
RULE NO. 22 - RULES OF DECORUM -- ENFORCEMENT 49
RULE NO. 23 - CONSIDERATION OF MAYORAL APPOINTMENTS 50
RULE NO. 24 - PETITIONS 50
RULE NO. 25 - RECONSIDERATION 50
RULE NO. 26 - PRIORITY OF BUSINESS 50
RULE NO. 27 - NEW RULES AND AMENDMENTS 51
RULE NO. 28 - POLICIES AND PROTOCOL RELATED TO CONDUCT 51
RULE NO. 29 - COUNCIL CONDUCT WITH ONE ANOTHER 53
RULE NO. 30 - COUNCIL CONDUCT WITH CITY STAFF 54
RULE NO. 31 - GUIDELINES FOR COUNCIL CONDUCT WITH THE PUBLIC 54
RULE NO. 32 - COUNCIL CONDUCT WITH OTHER PUBLIC AGENCIES 55
RULE NO. 33 - COUNCIL CONDUCT WITH COMMISIONS 56
RULE NO. 34 - COUNCIL CONDUCT WITH THE MEDIA 57
RULE NO. 35 - SANCTIONS 57
RULE NO. 36 - COUNCIL TRAVEL AND EXPENSE 58
The purpose of the Meeting Rules and Procedures is to establish protocol
that will be convenient for the public and contribute to the orderly conduct
of City business.
RULE NO. 1
The following rules of order and procedures of the city shall apply to all
regular, adjourned regular and special meetings of the city council.
Reference to “Mayor,” “Council,” “Councilmember,” and “City Clerk,” where
appearing in this chapter, shall respectively mean “chairperson,” “planning
commission,” “commissioner” and “secretary of the planning commission,” when
applicable to planning commission meetings, etc. and as appropriate for
other boards, commissions and agencies.
RULE NO. 2
The term “meeting” means the gathering together of three or more members of
the city council or a majority of the total members of any board,
commission, or agency, each member within normal hearing distance of the
other, at the time and place established by ordinance, resolution or motion,
for regular or adjourned regular meetings or at such other time and place as
authorized by law for special meetings, for the purpose of acting in their
official capacity as the legislative body of the city in the case of the
city council, and in their official capacity as a board, agency or
commission, to make decisions, commitments or promises by a majority of the
council, board, commission, or agency, or by actual vote by a majority of
the vote of the council or a board, commission or agency when sitting as a
body or entity upon a motion, proposal, resolution, order or ordinance.
Unless otherwise authorized by law to be held in closed session, all such
meetings shall be open and public; provided, however, the city council may
hold closed sessions from which the public may be excluded for the
consideration of such matters as are specifically provided by the laws of
Special meetings of the Council may be held at any time upon the call of the
Mayor or in his/her absence or unwillingness or make such a call, upon the
call of a majority of the Council. Notice of any such meeting shall be given
in accordance with the Ralph M. Brown Act, Government Code Sections 55950,
et. seq., as amended. The definition of a meeting in addition to that set
forth above, shall include all legislative or final appellate court
RULE NO. 3
Any meeting may either be terminated or continued to another time, place or
date by adjournment, regardless of whether or not all matters on the agenda
or under discussion have been completed, acted on or concluded.
Notwithstanding the above, no meeting shall be terminated before closing all
public hearings which were notified for such meeting, without first
continuing such public hearings to another time, place and date. Subject to
the above, a motion to adjourn shall always be in order and decided without
No meeting shall be adjourned to a date beyond the next regular meeting.
Where a meeting is continued to a future date, if either the time or place,
or either of them is not stated in the order of adjournment, it shall be
deemed to be at the hour and place specified for meetings of the council.
If less than a quorum of councilmembers appear at a meeting, any member or,
if all members are absent, the City Clerk, shall adjourn the meeting to a
stated day and hour. The City Clerk shall cause a written notice of the
adjournment to be given in the same manner as provided for special meetings,
unless such notice is waived by a member of council.
Once adjourned, the meeting may not be reconvened.
RULE NO. 4
QUORUM AND MAJORITY VOTE
A majority of the total members of the council shall constitute a quorum and
shall be sufficient to transact regular business. Such a quorum shall be
required notwithstanding absences or vacancies. A councilmember present but
abstaining shall be counted for purposes of constituting a quorum. A
councilmember disqualified from voting by law shall not be counted for
purposes of constituting a quorum. The foregoing shall not prevent less than
a quorum, otherwise gathered at the time and place and for the purpose of
conducting a meeting, from adjourning from time to time in accord with the
law until a quorum is present.
RULE NO. 5
OFFICERS AND THEIR DUTIES
Councilmembers are expected to attend all meetings of the city council. If a
councilmember fails to attend without permission all regular, adjourned
regular or special meetings for sixty days consecutively from the last
meeting attended, that office becomes vacant and shall be filled as any
Every December in even number years, Council shall select a Vice-Mayor from
the four councilmembers eligible.
RULE NO. 6
DUTIES OF MAYOR AND VICE MAYOR
A. The Mayor shall be the presiding officer of the Council. In the absence
of the Mayor of the Council, the Vice-Mayor shall preside over the Council.
In the absence of the Vice-Mayor, the City Manager shall preside over the
election of a temporary chair, who will preside until the return of one of
the officers. The Mayor shall have the power, authority, and discretion,
without a vote of the majority of the council to:
1. Open all meetings of the Council at the appointed hour by taking the
chair and calling the Council to order.
2. Maintain order and proper decorum.
3. Announce the business before the Council in the order prescribed by these
4. Receive and submit all matters properly brought before the Council, to
call for votes upon the same, and to announce the results.
5. Authenticate by signature all acts of the Council as may be required by
6. Make known all Rules of Protocol when so requested, and to decide all
questions of order, subject to an appeal of the Council.
7. Except as otherwise provided by these Rules, to preside at all closed
sessions of the Council.
8. Perform such other duties as may be required by law or as may pertain to
9. Sign all instruments requiring execution or agreement by the Council.
10. Serve as the chief spokesperson and representative for the Council for
matters concerning public policy.
11. Delegate by administrative directive any of the duties assigned to the
Mayor to the City Manager.
12. Set time limits on council discussion on any matter, subject to
13. Set time limits on any communications from members of the public to the
council; in no event shall any individual public communication exceed five
minutes without the consent of the Mayor and/or the City Council
14. Declare the opening of public hearings.
15. Rule any motion on a subject not on the agenda as being out of order, in
which case the motion shall thereafter be void.
16. Continue or postpone any matter until the next regular, adjourned
regular or special meeting whenever the city attorney advises that there is
a question as to the validity or constitutionality of the particular
proposed course of action which is the subject matter of such motion subject
to Council’s approval.
17. Rule any speaker out of order, terminate any communication with the
council from a member of the public and/or declare a recess in order to
establish order at any meeting. Mayor may move, second and debate from the
chair, subject only to such limitations of debate as are by these rules
imposed upon all members. The Mayor shall not be deprived of any of the
rights and privileges of a councilmember by reason of being Mayor or acting
as the Mayor.
B. It shall be the duty of the Vice-Mayor:
1. In the absence of Mayor, the Vice-Mayor shall exercise the duties and
powers of the Mayor.
2. To serve with the Mayor as spokesperson and representative for the
3. To assist the Mayor in anticipating issues and problems deserving or in
need of special meetings.
RULE NO. 7
The City Clerk shall be appointed by the City Manager. The City Clerk shall
have power and be required to:
A. Be responsible for the recording and maintaining of a full and true
record of all the proceedings of the Council in books that shall bear
appropriate titles and be devoted to such purpose, and attend all meetings
of the Council either in person or by deputy;
B. Maintain separate books, in which shall be recorded respectively all
ordinances and resolutions, with the certificate of the Clerk annexed to
each thereof stating the same to be the original or a correct copy, and as
to an ordinance requiring publication, stating that the same has been
published in accordance with state law; keep all books properly indexed and
open to public inspection when not in actual use.
C. Maintain separate files, with appropriate indexes thereto, of all
contracts the execution of which was specifically authorized by Council
action, and of all official bonds of the City.
D. Be the custodian of the Seal of the City.
E. Administer oaths or affirmations, take affidavits and depositions
pertaining to the affairs and business of the City and certify copies of
F. Maintain in appropriate books and files such other records, documents,
instruments, and papers as the Council shall provide by ordinance.
G. Except as may be otherwise provided by ordinance or resolution of the
Council the destruction or other disposition of City records, documents,
instruments, books, and papers in the custody of the City Clerk shall be
governed by the laws of the State regulating the destruction or disposition
of the records of general law cities and procedures adopted by the City
RULE NO. 8
The City Attorney shall be appointed and serve at the pleasure of the
1. The City Attorney shall have power and may be required to:
(a) Represent and advise the Council and all City officers in all matters of
law pertaining to their offices;
(b) Represent and appear for the City in any or all actions or proceedings
in which the City is concerned or is a party, including the prosecution of
violations of this Charter and ordinances enacted by the Council, and
represent and appear for any City Officer or employee, or former City
Officer or employee, in any or all actions and proceedings in which any such
officer or employee is concerned or is a party for any act arising out of
his/her employment or by reason of his/her official capacity provided the
interest of the City in such action or proceeding is not adversely affected;
(c) Attend all regular meetings of the Council and give his/her advice or
opinion in writing whenever requested to do so by the Council or by any of
the boards or officers of the City;
(d) Approve the form of all contracts made by and all bonds given to the
City, endorsing his/her approval thereon in writing;
(e) Review any and all proposed ordinances or resolutions for the City and
(f) Join in amicus briefs if there is no cost to the City;
(g) Surrender to his/her successor all books, papers, files and documents
pertaining to the City’s affairs;
(h) The Council shall have control of all legal business and proceedings and
City Attorney may employ other attorneys to take charge of any litigation or
matter to assist the City Attorney therein;
RULE NO. 9
COUNCIL ADVISORY COMMITTEES
Advisory committees may be created as needed with the concurrence of a
majority of the Council.
Advisory committees shall assist in the resolution or study of issues
arising from specific areas of concern resulting from the main subject
matter assigned it by the Council.
All communications and advice from an advisory committee shall be made to
Advisory committees shall serve until discharged by a majority of the
RULE NO. 10
Every vote taken by the Council shall be by open ballot.
There shall be four methods of ascertaining the decision of the Council upon
First, by a voice vote;
Second, by a call of the roll of the members in alphabetical order, except
the Mayor who shall be last and a record made by the City Clerk of the vote
of each member;
Third, electronic vote; or
Fourth, by unanimous consent.
Upon the request of any member of the Council on any motion, the City Clerk
shall call the roll. A member’s silence shall be recorded as an affirmative
If a member does not vote in the affirmative or negative or does not respond
in a manner permitted under this paragraph, the member shall be deemed to
have voted in the affirmative.
The City Clerk shall record each vote and each abstention in the Minute
Book. Whenever the ayes and noes are called, a Councilmember shall not be
permitted to explain a vote or an abstention without the unanimous consent
of the Council. After the announcement of the result, a Councilmember shall
not be permitted to vote or to change a vote or an abstention, except in the
case of a motion to reconsider as set forth in Rule No. 25.
RULE NO. 11
DISCLOSURE OF INTEREST
As to conflict of interest issues, the Council shall comply with all rules,
policies, and regulations approved by the Fair Political Practices
RULE NO. 12
EFFECT OF NONOBSERVANCE
Failure to observe the rules set forth in this chapter shall not invalidate
any action taken which is otherwise lawful but defective only for failure to
follow the procedure outlined in this chapter.
RULE NO. 13
TIME AND PLACE OF MEETINGS
The City Council shall hold regular meetings in the council chambers of the
City Hall, or at such other place as may be determined by the council. The
times and dates of regular City council meetings shall be determined by the
city council resolutions.
When the day for any meeting falls on a holiday as provided in this chapter,
no meeting shall be held on such holiday, but a meeting may be held at the
same hour on the following business day that is not a holiday.
Special meetings may be called at any time by the Mayor or by a majority of
the members of the city council by delivering personally or by mail written
notice to each councilmember and to each local newspaper of general
circulation, radio or television station requesting notice at least
twenty-four hours before the time of such meeting as specified in the notice
and by posting, at least twenty-four hours prior to the special meeting in a
location that is freely accessible to members of the public.
A. The call and notice shall specify the time and place of the special
meeting and the business to be transacted.
B. No other business shall be considered at such meetings.
C. Written notice may be waived by any councilmember who, at or prior to the
time the meeting convenes, files with the city clerk a written waiver of
D. Such waiver may be given by email or other written documentation.
E. Such written notice may also be dispensed with as to any councilmember
who is actually present at the meeting at the time it convenes.
RULE NO. 14
AGENDA--ORDER OF BUSINESS
All reports, communications, ordinances, contract documents or other
matters, including basic fact and matters pertinent thereto, to be submitted
to the council, shall be delivered to the City Clerk not later than 9 a.m.
on the Tuesday preceding the meeting. The City Clerk shall thereafter
arrange a list of such matters according to the order of business, and
furnish each member of the council with a copy of the list not later than
five p.m. on the Thursday preceding the regular or adjourned regular
meeting. Whenever feasible, each item on the agenda shall contain a staff
recommendation and the specific action requested to be taken by the council.
All material pertaining to and accompanying the agenda shall be made
available to the public when made available to the city council.
No matters other than those listed on the agenda shall be finally acted upon
by the council provided, however, that matters not on the agenda may be
submitted for council consideration and action pursuant to state law or
under any of the following conditions:
A. Upon a determination by a majority vote of council that an emergency
situation exists, as defined in Government Code Section 54956.5;
B. Upon a determination by a two-thirds vote of council, or if less than
two-thirds of the members are present, a unanimous vote of those members
present, that the need to take action arose subsequent to the agenda being
C. The item was posted for a prior meeting of the council occurring not more
than five calendar days prior to the date action is taken on the item, and
at the prior meeting the item was continued to the meeting at which action
is being taken.
The business of the council shall, except upon an affirmative vote of the
city council or a determination by the Mayor, be taken up for consideration
and disposition at its meeting.
The regular order of business may be changed or suspended for any purpose at
any particular meeting by the Mayor with the consent of a majority of the
RULE NO. 15
Summary minutes for all minutes, including city boards, commissions, and
agencies shall consist of a clear and concise statement of each and every
council, board, commission, or agency action, including the motions made and
the vote thereon. The city council shall determine the scope and format for
all minutes including city boards, commissions and agencies. The City Clerk
shall have exclusive responsibility for preparation of the City Council
minutes. If a majority of the City Councilmembers approves a verbatim
transcript, the City Clerk or his/her designate shall prepare the
Minutes may be approved without reading if the City Clerk has previously
furnished each councilmember with a copy.
RULE NO. 16
When any motion is in order for the question, a vote thereon shall be taken
by voice, roll call, or voting device and entered in full upon the record.
A member’s vote may be changed only upon a timely request to do so
immediately following the announcement of the vote by the city clerk and
prior to the time that the next item in the order of business is taken up.
Ordinances, resolutions and other matters submitted to the council must be
adopted by a majority vote of the total membership of the council unless a
greater number of votes may be required by law. The word “majority” means
three votes for the city council and all city boards, commissions and
agencies with a total of five members. In instances where a majority vote
cannot be obtained and no additional action is taken and one or more members
of the council is absent, such matter shall automatically be added to a
future agenda of the council to be considered at least once by the council
with all members present.
RULE NO. 17
The term “public hearing” includes all public hearings having specific
notice requirements by state law or city ordinance, including employee
disciplinary proceedings and proceedings for the revocation, suspension, or
reinstatement of permits, licenses, and franchises.
Public hearings shall be conducted in the following order:
1. Staff Reports;
2. Hearing opened by Mayor;
3. Public testimony;
4. Close hearing by majority vote;
5. Discussion among city council; and
6. Action by majority vote.
On the date and at the time and place designated in the notice, the council
shall afford any interested person or his or her authorized representative,
or both, the opportunity to present witnesses, to present documentary
evidence, to present statements, arguments or contentions orally and/or in
writing, subject to the rules on addressing the council and rules stated in
All oral statements, documents, exhibits, communications, petitions, maps,
or displays submitted at the hearing may be considered by the council as
evidence and in such event retained as part of the record. Whenever
practicable, a written staff report shall be prepared and presented as part
of the staff presentation. Evidence shall not be taken outside the council
chambers and shall not be considered by the council, except when, during the
hearing, the meeting is adjourned to a particular date, place and time for
the purpose of taking visual or demonstrative evidence.
In the event a councilmember is absent at a meeting where a hearing is held
which has been continued to a subsequent meeting, such member may
participate in the matter at such subsequent meeting if otherwise qualified
upon stating for the minutes that such councilmember has reviewed the
written minutes of the prior portions of the hearing and is prepared to
Any hearing being held or noticed or ordered to be held by the council may,
by minute action, be continued to any subsequent regular or adjourned
regular meeting of the council in compliance with the laws of the state.
RULE NO. 18
SPEAKING RIGHTS OF COUNCILMEMBERS
Every councilmember desiring to speak shall address the chair, and upon
recognition by the Mayor shall confine comments to the question under
debate, avoiding personalities and indecorous language.
A member, once recognized, shall not be interrupted when speaking unless it
is to call such member to order, or as herein otherwise provided. If called
to order while speaking, a member shall cease speaking until the question of
order to be determined, and, if in order, shall be permitted to proceed.
The councilmember moving the adoption of an ordinance, resolution or council
action shall have the privilege of closing the debate.
RULE NO. 19
No motion may be debated nor voted upon unless it has received a second.
Only one motion may be before the council at any time.
A motion to table takes precedence over all other motions and shall be
subject to debate. When a motion to table is passed, the matter shall not
again be considered by the council unless such matter is taken from the
table by a majority vote of the council.
A matter once tabled shall not be placed on the agenda nor discussed unless
a member who had voted to table such matter requests the council to have
such matter taken from the table, or requests the clerk to place such matter
on the agenda for the purposes of determining whether or not such matter
shall be taken from the table.
RULE NO. 20
RULES OF ORDER
Except as otherwise provided in this chapter, proceedings of the council
shall be governed by common sense and good taste. In the event of a dispute
concerning procedural matters not specifically covered in this chapter, the
majority vote of the council shall prevail.
Rules adopted to expedite the transaction of business of the council in an
orderly fashion are deemed to be procedural only, and the failure to
strictly observe such rules shall not affect the jurisdiction of the council
or invalidate any action taken at a meeting that is otherwise held in
conformity with the law.
RULE NO. 21
ADDRESSING THE COUNCIL
Any person desiring to address the council shall first secure the permission
of the Mayor to do so. Notwithstanding this provision, the majority of the
City Council may vote to recognize any speaker and determine the length of
time allowed to the speaker.. In addition, but unless the Mayor rules
otherwise, any person shall have the right to address the council upon
obtaining recognition by the Mayor to speak subject to the following:
A. Public Hearings. Interested persons or their authorized representatives
may address the council orally or in writing relating to the matters which
are then subject to a public hearing.
B. Non-“Hearing” Matters. Interested parties or their authorized
representatives may address the council with regard to matters with which
they are concerned and are then the subject of council discussion. When
copies of such communications are furnished each councilmember present, such
written communications shall not be read aloud at the meeting unless so
ordered by a majority vote of the council. Written communications from the
administrative staff shall not be read aloud unless requested by any
C. Oral Communications. Any person may address the council under oral
communications with regard to any matter with which they are concerned. The
council shall not discuss any matter not on the agenda pursuant to state law
and this chapter nor take any action except to refer such matter to a future
D. Addressing the Council. Each person addressing the council shall speak
into the microphone at the speaker’s podium, and should state his or her
name and address in an audible tone of voice for the record, and unless
further time is granted by the Mayor shall limit the remarks to five
minutes. All remarks shall be addressed to the council as a body, and not to
any member thereof. No person other than the council and the person having
the floor shall be permitted to enter into any discussion, either directly
or through a member of the council, without the permission of the Mayor
E. Limitation to Agenda Item. Except under oral communications, the Mayor
shall not permit any communication, written or oral, to be made or submitted
unless such communication addresses the agenda item then under discussion.
F. Consent Required. No person shall address or question a councilmember,
the staff or any other person without the prior consent of the Mayor.
Notwithstanding this provision, a City Councilmember may address a question
to staff or any other person without the consent of the Mayor if the
majority of the City Council approves the request to speak to staff or
G. Permission to Speak. After a motion is made by a councilmember, no person
shall address the council without first securing the permission of the
council to do so.
H. Anonymous Communications. Anonymous communications shall not be
considered nor placed on the agenda.
I. Group Communications. When any identifiable group of persons, as opposed
to the general public at large, wishes to address the council on the same
agenda item, the Mayor may request that a spokesperson be chosen by said
group to address the council. If additional issues are to be presented at
the hearing by any other member of such group, the Mayor may limit the time
periods to address the council, so as to avoid unnecessary repetition of
issues before the council.
J. Additional Opportunity to Address the Council. Subject to the needs of
the council to expeditiously perform its business and to avoid repetitive
testimony, any person may be permitted by the Mayor to address the council
more than once on any particular item. No person shall be allowed to address
the council more than once on an item until all persons present and wishing
to address the council have been provided the opportunity to do so. The
Mayor may limit the time period allowed any person to address the council on
an item more than one time, and shall not permit repetitive testimony from
RULE NO. 22
RULES OF DECORUM -- ENFORCEMENT
While the council is in session, all persons shall preserve the order and
decorum of the session; and a member shall neither by conversation or
otherwise delay or interrupt the proceedings or the peace of the council nor
disturb any member while speaking, or refuse to obey the orders of the
council or its Mayor, except as otherwise herein provided.
Any person making personal, impertinent or slanderous remarks, or who
becomes boisterous while addressing the council, which conduct delays or
interrupts the due course of the meeting, shall be forthwith barred from
further audience before that session of the council by the Mayor, unless
permission to continue is granted by majority vote of the council.
While the council is in session, any person who acts in a disorderly,
contemptuous or insolent manner towards the council or any councilmember
thereof, or who becomes boisterous while addressing the council or any
councilmember thereof, which conduct delays or interrupts the due course of
the meeting, or any member of the public in attendance who fails, on demand
of the Mayor, to comply with any order of the Mayor made in accord with the
authority of this chapter, is subject to possible criminal penalties No
person, except city officials and their representatives, shall be permitted
within the area beyond the rostrum which is reserved for staff and council
without the express consent of the council.
The city manager may designate such appropriate person or persons to act as
sergeant at arms to carry out all orders and instructions given by the Mayor
for the purposes of maintaining order and decorum at the council meeting.
Upon instructions of the Mayor, it shall be the duty of the sergeant at
arms, or any of them present, to place any person who violates the order and
decorum of the meeting under arrest, and cause such person to be prosecuted
under provisions of this code, the complaint to be signed by the Mayor or
other appropriate person present.
RULE NO. 23
CONSIDERATION OF MAYORAL APPOINTMENTS
Action by the Council on requests by the Mayor for confirmation or approval
of an appointee or nominee to a public office or position shall be taken by
minute action confirming or not confirming the appointee or nominee.
RULE NO. 24
Any person may petition the Council. Petitions and other matters shall be in
writing, signed by the petitioners or persons presenting them. All petitions
shall be made part of the official records kept by the City Clerk and
referred to committee, as appropriate.
RULE NO. 25
A motion to reconsider any action approved by the Council shall be made by a
member of the majority no later than the end of the next public meeting of
the Council. It may be either immediately during the same session, or at a
recessed or adjourned session thereof. Such motion may be made at any time
and have precedence over all other motions or while a member has the floor;
it shall be debatable.
RULE NO. 26
PRIORITY OF BUSINESS
The majority of the entire membership of the Council may, by motion,
designate any matter to be a special order of business, which shall take
precedence over all other business. A special order of business action is
limited to matters properly noticed and placed on the agenda under the Ralph
M. Brown Act, Government Code Sections 54950 et. seq.
The Mayor or a majority of the Council shall decide all questions relating
to the priority of business to be acted upon by the Council.
The order of business will be as follows:
Pledge of Allegiance
Awards, commendations, proclamations, and honorary resolutions.
(Council quorum not necessary.)
Approval of Agenda
Adopt Uncontested Consent Calendar Items & Minutes
Contested Consent Items
Proceed with Order of Agenda.
Closed Session (Can be conducted before the meeting or after all items of
Agenda have been completed)
Consent calendar items will be enacted by one motion. There will be no
separate discussion of such items unless requested by a Councilmember. Items
pulled for discussion will be considered immediately after the uncontested
consent items have been approved. A Councilmember may also pull a consent
item simply to move an item or oppose an item without discussion. An item
pulled to move or to oppose with no discussion may be voted upon during the
Uncontested Consent Calendar section of the agenda.
RULE NO. 27
NEW RULES AND AMENDMENTS
A rule of the Council may be altered or rescinded and a new rule may be
adopted by a resolution approved by an affirmative vote of a majority of the
entire membership of the Council at an open meeting. Any amendments would
have to be placed on the agenda before Council may take action to amend
RULE NO. 28
POLICIES AND PROTOCOL RELATED TO CONDUCT
A. Ceremonial Events.
Requests for a City representative at ceremonial events will be handled by
City staff. The Mayor will serve as the designated City representative. If
the Mayor is unavailable, then City staff will determine if event organizers
would like another representative from the Council. If yes, then the Mayor
will recommend which Councilmember should be asked to serve as a substitute.
Invitations received at City Hall are presumed to be for official City
representation. Invitations addressed to Councilmembers at their homes are
presumed to be for unofficial, personal consideration.
B. Correspondence Signatures.
Councilmembers do not need to acknowledge the receipt of correspondence, or
copies of correspondence, during Council meetings. City staff will prepare
official letters in response to public inquiries and concerns. These letters
will carry the signature of the Mayor unless the Mayor requests that they be
signed by another Councilmember or City staff. If correspondence is
addressed only to one Councilmember, that Councilmember should check with
staff on the best way to respond to the sender.
C. Endorsement of Candidates.
Councilmembers have the right to endorse candidates for all Council seats or
other elected offices. It is inappropriate to mention endorsements during
Council meetings or other official City meetings.
D. Non-agenda Items.
During a designated time period on the agenda, citizens, Councilmembers and
staff may bring forth issues or questions that are not on the meeting’s
agenda. Topics should be legislative items requiring action by the Mayor or
the Council, study issues for future consideration, and requests for
information. Each speaker, citizen, or elected official will be limited to
E. Public Announcements in Council Meetings.
Councilmembers are encouraged to report on their activities and other items
of public interest. Councilmembers speak during the Council Comments portion
of the Council meeting. Councilmembers who wish to recognize achievements or
promote an event should place the matter on the agenda under “Proclamations,
Presentation, Recognitions, Announcements and Appointments.”
F. Public Meeting Hearing Protocol.
After presentation of the matter by staff, if appropriate, the applicant or
appellant shall have the right to speak first. The Chair will determine the
length of time allowed for this presentation. Speakers representing either
pro or con points of view will be allowed to follow. The Chair will
determine how much time will be allowed for each speaker, with three to five
minutes the standard time granted. The applicant or appellant will be
allowed to make closing comments. The Chair has the responsibility to run an
efficient public meeting and has the discretion to modify the public hearing
process in order to make the meeting run smoothly. Councilmembers will not
express opinions during the public hearing portion of the meeting except to
ask pertinent questions of the speaker or staff. “I think” and “I feel”
statements by Councilmembers are not appropriate until after the close of
the public hearing. Councilmembers should refrain from arguing or debating
with the public during a public hearing and shall always show respect for
different points of view.
G. Travel Expenses.
The policies and procedures related to the reimbursement of travel expenses
for official City business by Councilmembers are outlined in the City’s
Travel Policy and Procedures. All Council travel in excess of the allowed
budget, in which the Councilmember expects to officially represent the City
and/or be reimbursed by the City for travel costs, must be approved in
advance by the Council. The travel policy and budget for Council should be
reviewed at each two-year budget cycle.
H. City Letterhead
City Councilmembers are prohibited from using City letterhead for personal
use or when acting solely in the capacity as a councilmember . Any
correspondence using City letterhead shall be used only by staff or when the
Council has taken action at a regular or special City council meeting.
RULE NO. 29
COUNCIL CONDUCT WITH ONE ANOTHER
Councils are composed of individuals with a wide variety of backgrounds,
personalities, values, opinions, and goals. Despite this diversity, all have
chosen to serve in public office in order to preserve and protect the
present and future of the community. In all cases, this common goal should
be acknowledged even as Council may “agree to disagree” on contentious
A. In Public Meetings.
(i) Use formal titles. The Council should refer to one another formally
during public meetings as Mayor, Vice Mayor or Councilmember followed by the
individual’s last name.
(ii) Practice civility and decorum in discussions and debate. Difficult
questions, tough challenges to a particular point of view, and criticism of
ideas and information are legitimate elements of a free democracy in action.
This does not allow, however, Councilmembers to make belligerent, personal,
impertinent, slanderous, threatening, abusive, or disparaging comments. No
shouting or physical actions that could be construed as threatening will be
(iii) Honor the role of the Chair in maintaining order. It is the
responsibility of the Chair to keep the comments of Councilmembers on track
during public meetings. Councilmembers should honor efforts by the Chair to
focus discussion on current agenda items. If there is disagreement about the
agenda or the Chair’s action, those objections should be voiced politely and
with reason, following procedures outlined in parliamentary procedure.
(iv) Avoid personal comments that could offend other Councilmembers. If a
Councilmember is personally offended by the remarks of another
Councilmember, the offended Councilmember should make notes of the actual
words used and call for a “point of personal privilege” that challenges the
other Councilmember to justify or apologize for the language used. The Chair
will maintain control of this discussion. If the Mayor is the offending
party, the Vice Mayor shall act in the role of Mayor provided in the Council
RULE NO. 30
COUNCIL CONDUCT WITH CITY STAFF
(i) The City Council and its members shall deal with the administrative
service solely through the City Manager and pursuant to Brentwood Municipal
RULE NO. 31
COUNCIL CONDUCT WITH THE PUBLIC
A. In Public Meetings.
Making the public feel welcome is an important part of the democratic
process. No signs of partiality, prejudice or disrespect should be evident
on the part of individual Councilmembers toward an individual participating
in a public forum. Every effort should be made to be fair and impartial in
listening to public testimony.
(i) Be welcoming to speakers and treat them with respect.
(ii) Be fair and equitable in allocating public hearing time to individual
speakers. “The first thing the Mayor said to me was to be brief because the
meeting was running late and the Council was eager to go home. That
shouldn’t be my problem. I’m sorry my item was at the end of the agenda and
that there were a lot of speakers, but it is critically important to me and
I should be allowed to say what I have to say and believe that the Council
is listening to me.”
The Chair will determine and announce limits on speakers at the start of the
public hearing process. Generally, each speaker will be allocated five
minutes, with applicants and appellants or their designated representatives
allowed more time. If many speakers are anticipated, the Chair may shorten
the time limit and/or ask speakers to limit themselves to new information
and points of view not already covered by previous speakers.
No speaker will be turned away unless he or she exhibits inappropriate
behavior. Each speaker may only speak once during the public hearing unless
the Council requests additional clarification later in the process. After
the close of the public hearing, no more public testimony will be accepted
unless the Chair reopens the public hearing for a limited and specific
(iii) Give the appearance of active listening.
(iv) Ask for clarification, but avoid debate and argument with the public.
Only the Chair – not individual Councilmembers – can interrupt a speaker
during a presentation. However, a Councilmember can ask the Chair for a
point of order if the speaker is off the topic or exhibiting behavior or
language the Councilmember finds disturbing. If speakers become flustered or
defensive by Council questions, it is the responsibility of the Chair to
calm and focus the speaker and to maintain the order and decorum of the
meeting. Questions by Councilmembers to members of the public testifying
should seek to clarify or expand information. It is never appropriate to
belligerently challenge or belittle the speaker. Councilmembers’ personal
opinions or inclinations about upcoming votes should not be revealed until
after the public hearing is closed.
(v) No personal attacks of any kind, under any circumstances. Councilmembers
should be aware that their body language and tone of voice, as well as the
words they use, could appear to be intimidating or aggressive.
(vi) Follow parliamentary procedure in conducting public meetings. The City
Attorney is available to answer questions or interpret situations according
to parliamentary procedures. The Chair, subject to the appeal of the full
Council, makes final rulings on parliamentary procedure.
RULE NO. 32
COUNCIL CONDUCT WITH OTHER PUBLIC AGENCIES
Be clear about representing the City or personal interests. If a
Councilmember appears before another governmental agency or organization to
give a statement on an issue, the Councilmember must clearly state: 1) if
his or her statement reflects personal opinion or is the official stance of
the City; and 2) whether this is the majority or minority opinion of the
If the Councilmember is representing the City, the Councilmember must
support and advocate the official City position on an issue, not a personal
viewpoint. If the Council-member is representing another organization whose
position is different from the City, the Councilmember should withdraw from
voting on the issue if it significantly impacts or is detrimental to the
City’s interest. Councilmembers should be clear about which organizations
they represent and inform the Mayor and Council of their involvement.
Correspondence also should be equally clear about representation. City
letterhead may be used when the Councilmember is representing the City and
the City’s official position. A copy of official correspondence should be
filed in the Council Office as part of the permanent public record.
City letterhead is not to be used for correspondence of Councilmembers
representing a personal point of view, or a dissenting point of view from an
official Council position. However, if a Councilmember uses City letterhead
to express a personal opinion, the official City position must be stated
clearly so the reader understands the difference between the official City
position and the minor viewpoint of the Councilmember.
RULE NO. 33
COUNCIL CONDUCT WITH COMMISSIONS
The City has established several Commissions as a means of gathering more
community input. Citizens who serve on Commissions become more involved in
government and serve as advisors to the City Council. They are a valuable
resource to the City’s leadership and should be treated with appreciation
(i) If attending a Commission meeting, be careful to only express personal
opinions. Councilmembers may attend any Commission meeting, which are always
open to any member of the public; however, they should be sensitive that
their participation – especially if it is on behalf of an individual,
business or developer – could be viewed as unfairly affecting the process.
Any public comments by a Councilmember at a Commission meeting should be
clearly made as individual opinion and not a representation of the feelings
of the entire City Council.
(ii) Limit contact with Commission members to questions of clarification. It
is inappropriate for a Councilmember to contact a Commission member to lobby
on behalf of an individual, business, or developer. It is acceptable for
Councilmembers to contact Commission members in order to clarify a position
taken by the Commission.
(iii) Remember that Commissions serve the community, not individual
Councilmembers. The Mayor appoints, with City Council approval, individuals
to serve on Commissions and it is the responsibility of Commissions to
follow policy established by the Council. Commission members do not report
to individual Councilmembers, nor should Councilmembers feel they have the
power or right to threaten Commission members with removal if they disagree
about an issue. Appointment and re-appointment to a Commission should be
based on such criteria as expertise, ability to work with staff and the
public, and commitment to fulfilling official duties. A Commission
appointment should not be used as a political “reward.”
(iv) Be respectful of diverse opinions. A primary role of Commissions is to
represent many points of view in the community and to provide the Council
with advice based on a full spectrum of concerns and perspectives.
Councilmembers may have a closer working relationship with some individuals
serving on Commissions, but must be fair and respectful of all citizens
serving on Commissions.
(v) Keep political support away from public forums. Commission members may
offer political support to a Councilmember, but not in a public forum while
conducting official duties. Conversely, Councilmembers may support
Commission members who are running for office, but not in an official forum
in their capacity as a Councilmember.
(vi) Inappropriate behavior can lead to removal. Inappropriate behavior by a
Commission member should be noted to the Mayor, and the Mayor should counsel
the offending member. If inappropriate behavior continues, the Mayor should
bring the situation to the attention of the Council and the individual is
subject to removal from the Commission.
RULE NO. 34
COUNCIL CONDUCT WITH THE MEDIA
Councilmembers are frequently contacted by the media for background and
(i) The best advice for dealing with the media is to never go “off the
record.” Most members of the media represent the highest levels of
journalistic integrity and ethics, and can be trusted to keep their word.
But one bad experience can be catastrophic. Words that are not said cannot
(ii) The Mayor is the official spokesperson for the Council on City policy.
The Mayor is the designated representative of the Council to present and
speak on the official City position. If the media contacts an individual
Councilmember, the Councilmember should be clear about whether their
comments represent the official City position or a personal viewpoint.
(iii) Choose words carefully and cautiously. Comments taken out of context
can cause problems. Be especially cautious about humor, sardonic asides,
sarcasm, or word play. It is never appropriate to use personal slurs or
swear words when talking with the media.
RULE NO. 35
Members of the public who do not follow proper conduct after a warning in a
public hearing may be barred from further testimony at that meeting or
removed from the Council Chambers.
Councilmembers’ Behavior and Conduct
City Councilmembers who intentionally and repeatedly do not follow proper
conduct may be reprimanded or formally censured by the Council, lose
committee assignments (both within the City of Brentwood or with
inter-governmental agencies) or have official travel restricted. Serious
infractions of the Code of Ethics or Code of Conduct could lead to other
sanctions as deemed appropriate by Council.
RULE NO. 36
COUNCIL TRAVEL AND EXPENSE
The City will pay actual and necessary expenses incurred by Councilmembers
when on official duty on order of the City Council pursuant to the following
A. Councilmembers’ attendance at conferences and meetings.
Attendance at conferences and meetings can be both beneficial and cost
effective to the City. For those Councilmembers who choose to participate,
attendance would be viewed as an extension of official City
responsibilities. Councilmembers may choose to attend a conference for one
or more of the following reasons:
1. Voting Delegate.
The City is usually requested to designate an official delegate from among
the Council who will cast the City’s vote and represent the City’s position
on business presented before the conference delegation.
2. Committee Membership.
Councilmembers may choose to serve on local, state and national committees
which provide the opportunity to represent state or City interests in key
policy and legislative areas. Meetings are often held in conjunction with
annual conferences, as a means of saving cost and encouraging wider
Most conferences are workshops and seminars which are used to brief
Councilmembers on key legislation, policies or programs impacting local
A conference environment offers Councilmembers the opportunity to articulate
the City’s position on key legislation and funding policies with key
elected/appointed officials on both the state and federal levels.
5. Sharing of City’s Expertise.
Brentwood Councilmembers may, on occasion, be invited to present papers or
presentations to a conference or workshop with the goal of improving the
efficiency and performance of local government in general.
Each year the Council will assess the benefit of City membership in the
following organizations which have traditionally been identified as
providing support and service to local governments:
The National League of Cities (NLC)
U.S. Conference of Mayors (USCM)
League of California Cities (LCC)
The following conferences and meetings are approved for inclusion by
Councilmembers in the annual Council Travel Budget:
Annual Meeting (National League of Cities)
Local Government Commission
Annual Conference (LCC)
New Councilmembers Conference (LCC)
Bi-Annual Legislative Conference (LCC)
Contra Costa Mayors’ Conference
Planners Institute (LCC)
General Conference (GVC)
National Association of Cities
Brentwood Agricultural Trust
Attendance at one-day workshops not requiring air travel and which meet any
of the purposes cited in Section A above may be included in the travel
Councilmembers traveling at City expense to conferences and committee
meetings of National League of Cities. U. S. Conference of Mayor, the League
of California Cities, shall submit a written activity report to the entire
Council. The written activity report shall be submitted at the same time the
expense statement is submitted.
The cost of the proposed travel must not exceed the fiscal year adopted
budget. Beginning in fiscal year 2003-04, the annual appropriation for
general travel shall be divided equally among the five members of the City
Council. It is not always possible to anticipate all future plans of every
organization or group. As such, the adopted travel budget can be amended
during the fiscal year by approval of the City Council at a public meeting.
The budget for Council travel should be reviewed at each two-year budget
E. Approval and Monitoring.
Specific Council authorization is not required for Councilmembers to attend
conferences and meetings which fall under Section C of this policy, subject
to the Councilmember’s budget limitations. In addition, Councilmembers may
attend conferences and meetings that meet one or more of the following
purposes, subject to individual budget limitations and prior Council
approval to attend:
Committee/board meetings of NLC and LCC
Conferences that are of obvious benefit to the City
Councilmember has been invited to present a City/State position
Councilmember is lobbying on behalf of a City/State program
Conferences that provide professional development for Councilmembers in
carrying out official City responsibilities
Staff will work with each Councilmember to prepare an individual annual
budget, based upon the Councilmember’s travel plans relating to appointments
to organizations and individual interests. This will be amended as
necessary. The purpose of this budget is to provide a monitoring tool for
each Councilmember’s travel budget. This budget does not need Council
approval, as it is subject to the overall guidelines of this policy. In the
event that a Councilmember’s travel budget, as amended, will result in the
individual allocation being exceeded, the budget must go to Council for
approval. As Councilmembers request authorization to attend any conference
requiring Council approval above, the effect of that travel on the
individual Councilmember’s budget will be provided to Council at that time.
Each Councilmember will be provided with an update of his/her travel
expenses compared to budget as expenses are paid. In addition, the City
Manager (who authorizes payment of expenses) will receive current
information on each Councilmember’s expenditures in a timely manner.
F. Expense Reimbursed.
Expenses will be paid by the City for conferences, conventions, meetings,
workshops, seminars, activities and the like in accordance with the City’s
Travel Policy and Procedures.
G. Reporting of Expenses.
1. Statements of expense shall be submitted to the City Manager on forms
provided for such purpose. The statement shall show all expenses incurred
which are chargeable to the City.
2. Documentation. Written receipts shall be required to show expenses
3. Statements of expenses for conferences, which include all expenses
incurred, shall be submitted no later than 10 calendar days after return
from a conference or meeting. Statements of expenses incurred for local
meetings or activities should be submitted within 10 calendar days of the
time such expense was incurred; provided, however, that statements of
expense for local mileage should be submitted monthly. Statements submitted
after the dates specified shall be received and claims based thereon be paid
if in order.
4. The City Manager shall review and approve statements of expense for all
5. Any Councilmember who believes that the City Manager has denied approval
of an expense may appeal the decision to the entire City Council.
TRAVEL / EXPENSE POLICY Policy No: 20-4 Date: 7/22/03
Resolution No: 2933 Page 62 of 67
The purpose of this policy is to establish guidelines for the expenditure of
public funds for authorizing attendance, travel, and reimbursement of
expenses for City employees, Council members and Commissioners attending
conferences, training, meetings and other City related business. Contract
employees and consultants are not covered under this policy.
It is the intent of the City of Brentwood to assure compliance with IRS
regulations. Reimbursement of business-related expenses paid to employees is
generally tax-free; however, employees must substantiate the expenses with
This policy supersedes all previous policies.
2.1 Pre-Travel Authorization: City employees must complete the Pre-Travel
Authorization Form and secure approval from their department director and/or
City Manager prior to attendance of any non-local conference, seminar or
meeting. “Non-Local” shall be defined as travel requiring an overnight stay.
2.2 Post Travel Expense Reconciliation: Within 10 calendar days of return to
the work place, the Post Travel Expense Reconciliation Form must be
completed for non-local travel, approved by the department director and/or
City Manager and submitted to the Finance Department wherein actual travel
expenses, including amounts advanced, must be reconciled. If actual costs,
within the limits prescribed below are greater than the amount advanced, the
difference when authorized by the employee’s department director and/or City
Manager will be refunded to the traveler. If the amounts advanced are
greater than the actual expenses, the employee must return the funds to the
City with the Pre-Travel Authorization Post Travel Expense Reconciliation
2.3 Local Travel Advance/Reimbursement Form: City employees must complete
the Local Travel Advance/Reimbursement Form within 10 calendar days of event
or date of purchase requiring reimbursement. “Local” shall be defined as
travel not requiring an overnight stay.
2.4 Brentwood Police Department Training Expense and Course Control Form:
The Police Department must complete this form prior to registration for
2.5 Employee Responsibility: City employees are required to have proper
regard for economy in the conduct of City business.
2.6 Registration: All registration fees for approved conferences, seminars
or meetings shall be paid directly by the City whenever possible, either by
City check or City credit card. If registration is paid directly by the
employee, reimbursement will be made with proper documentation after
attendance at the conference, seminar or meeting. Employees should register
at the earliest time possible to avoid late registration charges. If a
conference needs to be cancelled, cancellation should be before the deadline
to avoid a penalty.
2.7 Lodging: The cost of lodging accommodations for approved conferences;
seminars or meetings will be paid directly by the City, either by check or
City credit card, or employee personal credit card for reimbursement after
return from travel.
Hotel and motel charges shall be based on single occupancy rates. The City
will not reimburse employees for lodging expenses incurred for additional
guests. In instances where conference hotels are filled, the employee should
attempt to secure comparable rates at the nearest hotel.
Pre-conference lodging will be allowed for travel requiring extensive travel
time and must be identified in the travel request, supported by a copy of
the conference schedule and approved by the Department Head and/or City
Manager. Note: Starting time is for actual conference, not registration or
optional tours or conference sponsored events unless related to professional
development as approved by Department Head and/or City Manager.
Lodging will be allowed for travel if the following conditions are met:
• The length of the conference is more than one day, extensive travel time
is required or the distance is more than 100 miles from City Hall or the
employee’s residence, whichever is more or,
• If the employee’s presence is required for activities before or after the
regular conference hours.
2.8 Transportation: Use of air, train, private car or bus shall be selected
on the basis of the most reasonable and appropriate method, taking into
consideration distance, time and total costs to the City.
2.9 Air Travel: City officials and employees shall endeavor to book air
travel to take advantage of discounts and non-refundable ticket fares where
practical. All flights shall be booked at coach class or equivalent level.
2.9.1 Mileage reimbursements shall be limited to the equivalent of the most
economical fare. When approved, mileage will be reimbursed at the current
rate set by the Internal Revenue Service.
2.9.2 Airline tickets shall be paid directly by the City, either by City
check or City credit card, or personal credit card for reimbursement. If an
employee has been issued a City credit card but chooses to use his or her
personal credit card, reimbursement will be made with proper documentation
after attendance at the conference, seminar or meeting. If an employee does
not have a City issued credit card and uses their personal credit card for
the purchase of airline tickets they may receive payment with proper
documentation prior to the attendance of the conference. If the airline
tickets are not used, it is the employee’s responsibility to reimburse the
City within five calendar days of notification of cancellation.
2.9.3 Mileage shall be reimbursed when traveling to and from the airport, at
the current mileage rate set by the Internal Revenue Service. When
available, courtesy shuttle services should be utilized between airports and
meeting locations. Parking at the airport is reimbursable with the original
2.10 Rental Vehicles: When rental vehicles are used, the least expensive
vehicle practical will be used.
2.11 Mileage Reimbursement: No City employee shall be authorized mileage
reimbursement for the use of his or her privately owned vehicle in the
performance of City business if a City-owned vehicle is available and
suitable for such use.
2.11.1 If the distance from the employee’s home to the conference site is
less than the distance from the work site, use of personal vehicle may be
used and the employee will be reimbursed as set forth in this policy.
2.11.2 When authorized, private vehicle usage will be reimbursed at the
current rate set by the Internal Revenue Service. Mileage reimbursement will
be based on actual miles traveled for City business, via the most direct
2.11.3 In cases where more than one employee is attending the same event,
employees will normally be expected to travel together when feasible and
mileage reimbursement will be for one vehicle only.
2.11.4 Employees receiving monthly auto allowances may not receive mileage
reimbursement in addition to the monthly allowance.
2.12 Unauthorized expenses: Items of a personal nature are not reimbursable
including: movies, entertainment, premium television services, alcoholic
beverages, dry-cleaning, spas, gyms, barber, magazines, shoe shines, travel
insurance, purchase of clothing or toiletries, loss of tickets, fines or
traffic violations, excess baggage costs, spouse and/or guest expenses,
repairs to personal vehicles, office equipment and other items of a personal
nature. Optional tours, banquets or other activities not related towards
professional development offered through the conference, but as an
additional cost to registration, are solely at the discretion of the
employee and will be considered as a personal expense. The department head
and/or City Manager shall determine what constitutes professional
2.12.1 A local elected official purchasing meals for third parties, such as
constituents, legislators, and private business owners at meetings held to
conduct City related business is an unauthorized expense (Attorney General
Opinion No. 02-711).
2.12.2 The use of a City credit card to pay for unauthorized or personal
expenses is discouraged. If unauthorized expenses have been paid by the
City, the employee will be responsible for reimbursement to the City within
five days. If unauthorized charge was on a City credit card, the employee
should submit to Finance a check made payable to the credit card company.
2.13 Family Members or Guests: Travel arrangements and payment of costs for
family members or guests are not eligible for payment by the City. Travel
arrangements and payment of costs for family members or guests are to be
handled directly by the employee.
2.14 Phone Calls: Two five-minute personal phone calls a day will be
reimbursed by the City. Employees must use discretion when calling home. Use
the most economical method. City business related calls made by the employee
will be reimbursed.
2.15 Internet Usage: When traveling on City business, employees must use the
most economical method possible when accessing the Internet, such as a local
Internet provider. Internet use is reimbursed by the City up to a maximum of
two five-minute calls a day when a local provider is not available.
2.16 Meal Allowance: Receipts are not required if you stay within current
IRS per diem regulations. Receipts are required to substantiate expenses
over the current IRS per diem regulation. Notwithstanding, employees may
receive a meal allowance in excess of IRS per diem regulations, but the meal
allowance shall not exceed $60 per day, which includes taxes and reasonable
tips. The following amounts represent the per meal breakdown of the current
$60 per day allowance.
Breakfast - $12 Lunch - $18 Dinner - $30
Meals provided by the conference or included in the registration fee will
not be eligible for per diem and will only be eligible for reimbursement
with a receipt. A continental breakfast is not considered a meal for
purposes of calculating meal allowance.
In calculating the meal allowance for partial days, the following guidelines
should be used:
2.17.1 If you depart after 7:00 a.m., you may not claim meal expenses for
breakfast for that day.
2.17.2 If you depart after 1:00 p.m., you may not claim meal expenses for
breakfast and lunch for that day.
2.17.3 If you depart after 7:00 p.m., you may not claim meal expenses for
2.18.1 If you return after 8:00 a.m., you may claim the breakfast allowance.
2.18.2 If you return after 1:00 p.m., you may claim the breakfast and lunch
2.18.3 If you return after 7:00 p.m., you may claim expenses for the full
2.18.4 Meals and food charged to a motel/hotel room via room service shall
be counted on the final reconciliation of the Post Travel Expense
Reconciliation Form as part of the daily meal allowance.
2.19 Travel Advance: The only payment that will be made to employees in
“advance” will be for the IRS per diem, bridge toll and mileage, when
documentation in writing is attached to the form. Payments in advance must
be submitted to Finance no sooner than one month prior to departure.
2.20 Discretion: This policy does not claim to have addressed all
contingencies and conditions. Any necessary and reasonable expense that may
from time-to-time be justified due to circumstances or opportunities for the
City will be honored upon authorization by the department director and
approval of the City Manager or Finance Director. Those expenses will be
reimbursed to the traveler with adequate documentation and justification.
3.1 Non-Local Travel/Expense Reimbursement (requiring an overnight stay)
3.1.1 Complete the Pre-Travel Authorization Form. Backup must be attached to
the form including flight itinerary, car rental and hotel information. A
complete schedule of the conference, seminar, meeting, etc. must also be
attached to the form. Department Director and/or City Manager approval is
required. Submit the form to the Finance Department for the processing of
checks for travel advance payments.
It shall be customary that conference registration, lodging and travel shall
be paid by a City check or City credit card or personal credit card for
3.1.2 Upon return to work, within 10 calendar days, complete the Post Travel
Expense Reconciliation Form. Submit to the Department Director and/or City
Manager for approval and then submit to Accounts Payable, whether or not any
reimbursement is due.
3.2 Local Travel Advance/Reimbursement (not requiring an overnight stay)
3.2.1 Upon return to work, within 10 calendar days, complete the Local
Travel Advance/Reimbursement Form. All receipts including a complete
schedule of the conference, seminar, meeting, etc. must also be attached to
the form. Department Director and/or City Manager approval is required.
Submit the form to Accounts Payable for the processing of checks.
It shall be customary that conference registration shall be paid by a City
check or City credit card or personal credit card for reimbursement.
3.3 Brentwood Police Department Training Expense and Course Control Form:
Must be completed by the Police Department prior to registration for
3.4 A maximum travel or training reimbursement of $20 may be paid from petty
cash if the only cost associated with the training or travel is parking or
bridge toll. Original receipts and copies of the conference schedule will be
required to substantiate ALL expenses. No reimbursement will be granted
without a receipt or outside the 10 calendar day submittal restriction
without City Manager or Finance Director approval.