City Council Study Session Citizen Minutes – Jan. 28, 2014

City Council Study Session – Citizen Minutes

Jan. 28, 2014

The first portion of the meeting was a presentation by the new auditors to the city council.  (Littleton’s Charter requires a new auditor every five years.  This was the first meeting with the new auditor and the council.)

Board and Commission Applicant Interviews

Wendy Heffner, city clerk, reported on the number of applicants, number of openings and the number of current board or commission members that have not reapplied for appointment.  The deadline is Jan. 31st.

Debbie Brinkman suggested if there weren’t more applications coming in at the last minute they should delay the deadline a couple of weeks.  Maybe we did not get the word out.

Bruce Beckman said the Ordinance states a deadline of Jan. 31st – how do we honor what is in the ordinance?  We should select from the applicants for the majority and meet the ordinance requirements then fill the remaining vacancies later.  We need to honor the ordinance.

Penny told the council that he has suggested that they eliminate the date certain in their ordinances for this reason.  He suggested that an amendment could be brought forward that would provide more flexibility.

Peggy Cole thought it was important to have dates and to honor them so everyone knows the rules.  She suggested that the time of the year, right after the holidays and with the excitement of the Superbowl, might be contributing to the problem.

Phil Cernanec said they needed to move ahead with what they have.  If they have positions left open they could be filled as they have in the past.  Cernanec asked for input on the idea of having the Chair of each board/commission providing input to the council on the reappointments of current members.

Cole thought they should define what information they want from the Chairs – attendance reports, how well they were prepared for the meetings.

Brinkman thought the Chairs should sit in on the interviews as well as the staff liaisons – but only the quasi-judicial interviews.

Randy Stein said if the Chair is up for renewal then they would need to have the Vice Chair attend.  He preferred to have the Chair and staff liaison available during the interview meeting(s).

Cernanec said the interviews span 2 evenings and they would be asking the Chair and the staff member to be present during those evenings; unless we cluster the interviews by board.  Scheduling the candidates can be challenging.

Jerry Valdes said he was OK with the council making the decision.  If we bring others in it puts some responsibility on them.  We can make the right decision.  Is the process broken?

Bruce Stahlman said the process was not broken but this would be an enhancement.

Beckman said they were required to hold the interviews in an open session and that would be a challenge to a citizen that did not know they were going to have to provide input; the benefit may not be that great.

Cernanec acknowledged that the meetings were open and they hope that people appreciate not sitting in on someone interviewing for a competing position.  He suggested that they record the interviews but not broadcast them live.

Stein asked what the purpose of recording the interviews is; he saw no value in it.

Beckman said the ordinance states the interviews will be open.  Penny said that they will be open but what’s the expectation?  Stahlman said there are many boards that do not televise interviews.  Cernanec returned the group to the question of whether or not to include the Chairs and the staff liaisons.

Cole was concerned about anyone giving the council advice.  If we need additional information we can ask the group itself – ask them to let us know what would make them a stronger group.  We could end up with staff and board not liking an applicant – we need to focus on qualities.

Stein thought the Chairs would have first hand knowledge about the performance of current members who want to be reappointed and they should be able to advise if asked.

Valdes agreed with Cole.  He would rather have a variety of people sitting on boards and commissions as long as they go to the meetings.   He was not looking for 7/0 boards.  We don’t need to hear from someone else why we should make an appointment.

Brinkman said she did not want them to make the appointment but saw value in getting their input.

Penny said having the Chair and the staff liaison in the room would not circumvent the council’s decision.  You could ask what skill set you need, what’s working, what’s not working, and what do you need.

Cernanec mentioned one way to deal with it would be to have the Mayor go and talk to the Chairs and liaisons prior to the interviews and report to the council.  Or, we could have them sit in the room and come forward during our deliberation to answer our questions.

Stahlman thought the upside would be to have “those people” involved in the process.

Cole restated her desire to have written input rather than having the individuals present.

Brinkman restated her desire to see both present for the interviews and the deliberations.  Stein said have them present but not pro-active.

Valdes said it was not necessary; there is no reason to add another layer.

Cernanec asked staff to bring back a document stating expectations for observers and responsibility if questioned.

Regarding the questions that are asked – in the past there has been a written set of questions that would be asked of each candidate.  Brinkman said it was such a challenge to ask the questions.  We never get what we want to hear.  She would rather know how they make decisions and what would they bring to a dynamic group.  She was for a free-wheeling interview.

Beckman said they could discuss some different decisions the candidate has had to make but he would like to have some standard questions.

Stein wanted to go a different way.  He watched the last interviews and thought the standard questions were awkward and mechanical and not designed to make a candidate feel at home.  We need to allow people to talk to us – he hated the questions that were used too.

Stahlman said the canned questions are oriented to help them understand that they did some homework.  Need to ask more open-ended questions that will allow them to talk to us about their thought process.

Cole said some boards it is important to ask specific questions.  We might want to know if someone wanting to sit on the licensing board supports marijuana.

Valdes said asking open-ended questions is a good way to go.  We need to ask all applicants for the same position the same questions.  Free-wheeling is not the way to go.

Cernanec volunteered to create standard questions and open-ended questions for the group to consider next Tuesday.

Economic Development

Penny reported that a Lunch & Learn Development and Redevelopment was held and 26 people were there.  The intent is to talk to developers, real estate people and investors what we are working on in Littleton.  Many of them want to meet one on one with Denise in Econ. Dev. and Glenn in Community Dev.

A business website for Littleton is being developed called “Go To Littleton”.  They are working on keeping that web site separate from the city’s website but at the same time making it seamless.

There are four projects underway with the Revitalization Grants outside of the downtown area.

The business survey will be included in the 2013 Economic Development Report.

The downtown merchants have asked a staff person to serve on their board – it will be Denise.  They are working on three projects; gateway, wayfinding, and RFP for rebranding downtown that ties in with the work that has been done citywide.  A kiosk is part of the plan.

A trifold has been updated with a list of updated business resources the city can provide.

The Community Scorecard is upcoming.

They are moving from Outlook email to Google email.

They have received 250 applications for the Marketing Coordinator and they are now down to the top 3.

A leadership-mentoring course that provides in-depth training is being attended by two employees per month.

Beckman stated that there have been several letters of concern about the King Soopers closing.  This is a great opportunity to make this type of redevelopment a memorable achievement – to use it as a model.  We need to look for opportunities to make this disruption good.  Cernanec said they do not want to get in the way of the developers.  Penny said he has passed the emails received to King Soopers and the Community Development department.  Wendy Heffner is working with the buses and the Shopping Cart to get those that live around Littleton Blvd and Broadway down to the King Soopers at Mineral and Broadway.

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