By Paul Losch
PA City Council's Use of Commissions and Advisory BoardsUploaded: Mar 20, 2013
I read about the PA City Council's Policy and Services Committee discussion about banning smoking in some or all Palo Alto Parks in their recent meeting.
Fine topic, well worth examination and discussion.
I am bothered, and concerned.
I only read the report of the Committee's discussion on Palo Alto On-Line, so I base my point of view from that source.
My impression from the article is that this topic more or less "spun out of control." One Council Member after another offered up what they would like to have as policy in some or all of Palo Alto's city parks, with little information provided to them, merely their own points of view.
What bothers me is that there did not appear to be any suggestion by members of the Policy and Services Committee that perhaps this deserves further examination at the appropriate Commission level, in this case Parks and Recreation (of which I was a member for nine years, 3 terms, stepping down this past month. And this is not about my ego.)
What concerns me is that there are too many instances, across a number of issues, cutting across many Commissions, when our Council Members do not seek deeper understanding of an issue by requesting a point of view from the appropriate Commissions or Advisory Boards that it has appointed. Instead, there has been behavior at the Council Committee level (e.g., Finance and Policy and Services) to address matters and then take them up the food chain to full Council without the benefit of the thinking of the many volunteers who serve on these Commissions and Advisory Boards.
There is plenty of room for improvement in the proverbial "Palo Alto Process."
By the same token, there is no need or benefit for Council Committees to act compulsively about any topic when they have people whom they have appointed as public officials to drill down into various issues, and advise the Council accordingly.
If Council Members do not see the value in getting the advice on myriad issues that various Commissioners and Policy Advisory Board Members spend countless hours on before they get to the Council level, get rid of them! Don't waste people's time.