Tuesday, January 31, 2012

2012-01-31 "Vallejo City Council to revive debate on public safety panel" by Jessica A. York and Irma Widjojo from "Vallejo Times-Herald"
A controversial proposal to seek resident input on city public safety services will receive a second pass at tonight's Vallejo City Council meeting.
A proposed citizens' advisory panel, unveiled in December by Councilwomen Stephanie Gomes and Marti Brown, initially received such a highly emotional response that city leaders backed off on it until tonight.
The latest version recommends formation of an ad-hoc group, in which each council member names one resident member. The panel would be required to hold public meetings and provide a final report by Oct. 1, before dissolving.
The group would be tasked with researching:
* A permanent citizens police review board;
* Efficient police and fire department operations of other cities, and;
* Public safety employee salary and benefit trends.
If created, the group would report to a council Public Safety Committee, made up of Mayor Osby Davis and Gomes. City management said the panel would not weigh in on pending public safety contract negotiations.
The council also will be asked to define the purpose and responsibilities of the committee. Staff recommends the two review potential cost savings, revenue and technology enhancement opportunities and provide oversight of ongoing improvement efforts.
In December, the idea of creating a citizens police oversight board was condemned as "insensitive" by past and present city police and fire employees and their supporters. They noted that the proposal was made less than a month after Vallejo police Officer Jim Capoot was shot and killed on Nov. 17.
Others at the time, however, applauded the proposed panel, saying the city needs a public watchdog group at this time of city financial difficulties.
Approval of the citizen panel would lead to applications being made available Thursday at the Vallejo City Hall City Clerk's Office. They would be due by Feb. 20, with appointments made on Feb. 28. Applicants would need prior experience in finance, budgeting, human relations and/or public safety.

In other agenda items, the council will consider:
* Authorizing the city manager to execute a $180,000 agreement with Industrial Employer and Distributors Association through June 30, 2015 for upcoming labor contract negotiations.
* Rejecting all bids for the Vallejo Ferry Maintenance Facility, and authorizing the public works director to re-advertise when appropriate.
* Authorizing two police clerk positions.
* Scheduling a special council study session on Feb. 21, on the use of "participatory budgeting," to seek public input on uses for the recently approved sales tax increase revenues.

If You Go -
What: Vallejo City Council meeting
When: Tonight at 7
Where: Vallejo City Council Chamber, 555 Santa Clara St.
At issue: Ad-hoc Citizens Public Safety Advisory Committee, management of Blue Rock Springs golf course, emergency preparedness.

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