SAN LEANDRO CITY COUNCIL | To ease a strain on city resources in San Leandro last fall, the City Council suspended its collection of standing committees, including two of which were related to the area's school districts. This week, however, it reversed course and approved considerations for creating a city and school board relations committee.
Several councilmembers, including Mayor Stephen Cassidy and Pauline Cutter, who are former San Leandro school board members, spoke of maintaining a positive relationship with the school district. Cassidy credited the positive relationship of two former committees for San Lorenzo and San Leandro school districts that helped maintain communication between the city and trustees. “It is important to have a system in place for regular, as needed, conversations to help resolve issue and not have frictions develop,” said Cassidy.
The new committee is a resurrection of two former committee’s that were suspended with all other committees last year to help save money and lighten city’s staff workload. The new committee’s inception is within just six months of the council’s decision to suspend all committees. Every council member, save for Cutter who was absent, voted for the suspension last October.
On Monday, Reed and Souza sought and asked for alternatives to maintain a relationship with the school districts without resurrecting a committee that they had just decided was best to suspend temporarily. Reed’s alternative was to have a city council member attend board meetings, take notes and bring back a report to the city council and if something deemed worthy of discussion on the council then that could be arranged. Cassidy said that idea was not needed because it asks for more than what is necessary.
Furthermore, the council does have joint meetings with the school districts but they are very rare because of the amount of time and preparation necessary to execute them.“The joint meetings take a lot of effort to put together and we can’t have them for more than once a year,” said Cassidy, “Point is to be more nimble as issues come up.”
Councilmembers Ursula Reed and Diana Souza questioned the consideration heavily for its vagueness of purpose and how often it would meet. “How do we know that we won’t meet every week?” said Reed. Souza also added that she doesn’t see the difference between this committee’s purpose and the ones they had previously suspended.
Cassidy said meetings every week wouldn’t likely happen and the committee would only run for a trial period from the moment of its inception to the end of the year. “I’m not worried about that, we are all adults here and it will be just for this year,” assured Cassidy. As for vagueness, Cassidy said that it will happen, but added that “we can’t pin this down in a straight jacket.”
Vice Mayor Michael Gregory and Councilmember Jim Prola threw their support behind the consideration without argument. Despite Souza’s and Reed’s persistency on the reasoning and vagueness of the committee, they, along with the rest of the council, voted unanimously for the decision. Reed added though, “We did say we would not have any more committees for a year and we would do that for the city manager and his staff and we already contradicted what we said we were going to do and I want to make sure we are aware of that. We are going back on that,” said Reed.