The primary role of City Boards, Commissions and Committees is to provide increased public input and citizen participation in City government.
- REVIEW AND RECOMMEND
More specifically, City Board members review and make recommendations to City Council on matters within their scope of responsibility. They perform as a citizen's advisory arm of City Council, focusing attention on specific areas of the City. However, certain Boards or Commissions may take final action in prescribed areas. Most importantly, these bodies give the citizenry an opportunity to voice their opinions on City programs and policies.
- ASSIST WITH GOAL IDENTIFICATION
One primary function is to assist in the formation of City goals. What do people say they want in their City? How can this be translated into a set of compatible, consistent, long- and short-range City goals? The advisory groups can help feed these goals into the decision-making process, remembering the distinction between wants and needs is a policy decision and therefore, ultimately rests with City Council.
- REPRESENT GENERAL INTERESTS
The advisory bodies must be careful to represent general interests of the City, not special interest groups. Boards, Commissions and Committees must not become involved in the administration or operation of City departments, and should not direct the administrative staff to initiate programs, conduct studies or establish official policy without approval of the City Council and/or the City Manager. Commissioners, however, are encouraged to review and comment on relevant department programs as they affect the community.
- CITY LIAISON PERSONS
City staff liaisons assigned to Boards, Commissions and Committees are available to provide general staff assistance. This includes preparation of agenda materials, general review of department programs and activities, and performance of limited studies. If members have questions or are concerned with particular issues, the City Manager or City staff liaison should be contacted to review the matter.
- OPEN MEETINGS
All meetings of City Boards, Commissions and Committees must be open to the public pursuant to the Ralph M. Brown Act enacted in 1953. The intent of the Act is to ensure that "actions be taken openly and that deliberations be conducted openly." Furthermore, advisory bodies must announce a time, place and date for holding any regular or special meetings.
- YOUR PARTICIPATION
Selection as a member of a City Board, Commission or Committee provides an opportunity for genuine public service. Although the specific duties of each of Santee's advisory bodies vary widely, there are certain responsibilities common to all members. Following is a summary of important responsibilities which will assist in maximizing one's contribution to the City.
- Understanding the role and scope of responsibility of the Board, Commission or Committee:
Board, Commission and Committee members should become acquainted with programs within their scope of interest by consulting Department Heads and staff liaisons accountable for these programs. The role of the Board, Commission, or Committee, however, is to advise City Council on specific program areas and related policies, not to establish City policy or administer City programs.
- Properly Represent the Board or Commission:
Individual advisory body members must be careful not to represent their own views or recommendations as those of the body unless the majority has officially voted on the issue. Public statements should contain no promises binding the Board, Commission, or Committee.
- Be Concerned with the Entire Community:
Although Board, Commission, and Committee members may be selected in part on the basis of representing clearly defined groups, in order to assume that all interests are voiced and considered, each member should represent the overall public and not that of an exclusive group or interest.
- Keep the Lines of Communication Open:
Advisory bodies serve as liaisons between the City and the general public in helping to reconcile contradictory viewpoints and building a consensus of opinion. Therefore, each member must serve as a communication link between the community and the City, explaining City programs and recommendations, as well as providing a channel for citizen expression. To properly represent the community, members must be accessible to the public so they can receive input as to the sentiment and opinions of their fellow residents.
- Be Conscious of your Relationship to the City Council and City Staff:
Good relations with the City Council and City staff are necessary for the successful operation of any Board, Commission, or Committee. It is important that each member respect the authority of those who, in the end, will be charged with the final responsibility for action taken by the City. To avoid placing the City staff in a compromising position and to facilitate effective communication, your actions as a member should be done with the approval of the body. In contacting City personnel on business matters, the proper channel is through the staff liaison appointed to your advisory group.
- Establish a Good Relationship with Other Members:
On many occasions, the success or failure of a Board, Commission or Committee will depend upon the degree of cooperation among the individual members. In order to build a consensus around common goals and objectives, members will often first have to reconcile contradictory viewpoints and show a willingness to objectively consider the issues. Another way of developing this cooperation is for each member to do their part to ensure that meetings proceed in an orderly manner. The Chairperson is primarily responsible for seeing that meetings are conducted in an expeditious and thorough fashion. However, each member can help by becoming familiar with the basic rules of parliamentary procedure and by adequately preparing for meetings.
- Participation in Political Activities:
Local government elections in California are generally nonpartisan. Council appointments to a City Board, Commission or Committee are made without regard to political party affiliation. Acceptance of such appointment, however, does not restrict an individual's participation in political activities at any level of government. Nevertheless, appointees should not use their appointed office or title to conduct political activities.
- Conflict of Interest:
The Political Reform Act is intended to prevent conflict of interest by requiring designated public officials to disclose financial interests which could potentially cause conflicts. In addition, you may be required to disqualify yourself from making, participating in, or attempting to influence any governmental decision which will affect your financial interests, including those required to be reported on a statement of economic interest where appropriate. The Fair Political Practices Commission's Guide to the Political Reform Act, California's Conflict of Interest Law for Public Officials, explains what a conflict is and when disqualification is required by law. If in doubt, the staff liaison person will assist in acquiring legal clarification.
- Other Important Points to Consider:
Always show respect for the other individual's view point. Allow other members adequate time to present their views before making comments.
Be open and honest at all times. Welcome new members and see that they become acquainted with their duties. Strive to minimize political action among members.Be aware that, in the public's eye, you represent the City you serve. Your comments and actions, therefore, should express your sensitivity to the diverse viewpoints held within the City. Your membership on a Board, Commission, or Committee does not entitle you to exercise undue influence upon individuals in the community.
Last updated date: 10/20/2006 1:24:27 PM