The Ceres City Council had a motion and a second on Monday to appoint three residents to the Measure H Citizens Oversight Committee on Monday when last-minute questions from the council and public stopped the process.
The five-member Measure H Oversight Committee is responsible for conducting annual reviews of the expenditures made with revenues from the half-cent Public Safety sales tax.
The council agreed earlier that applicants – there were five in total – would be interviewed by a subcommittee of Mayor Javier Lopez and Vice Mayor Bret Silveira to make a recommendation. On Monday the applicants were interviewed prior to the regular council meeting. Mayor Lopez announced that the recommendations were to appoint Cerina Otero, Vincent Truffa and Sopheap Dong-Carreon. Others who applied were Joseph Jenkins and John Osgood III.
Councilman James Casey said that he emailed City Attorney Tom Hallinan and City Manager Alex Terrazas saying he understood that the full council would have a chance to quiz the applicants but he didn’t hear back.
“I was just disappointed that we didn’t participate in the interview for all the candidates,” said Casey.
He added that he thought the appointment of Measure H members differed from the process of appointing other committees.
Hallinan said the council set forth the process in June or July.
“We did discuss it – my apologies if you didn’t understand how we did it,” Vice Mayor Silveira told Casey.
When it was motioned and seconded, Casey stopped to ask if any of the applicants were in the audience. He was told that they weren’t expected to stay for the full meeting and that only applicant Osgood was present.
Councilman Mike Kline then expressed a desire to consider Joseph Jenkins.
Ceres resident John Warren stated he believed there is a different procedure for selecting Measure H panel members as outlined in the ballot measure. He added, “I don’t think the City Council can change that.”
Hallinan disagreed, saying: “I don’t believe that it says the council shall, in its entirety, interview the candidates. It says the council shall only participate in the process, that’s what I recall. And what you did is what you often do for appointments, and that is you appoint a subcommittee to interview the candidates and make recommendations.”
Kline suggested tabling the matter to see if Measure H language calls for all the council to do the interview, to which Hallinan said he didn’t see such language. But he added there was no harm to exploring the issue and decide later.
Osgood had a different take than Hallinan, suggesting that the council wasn’t following the stipulations of Measure H.
Because of the lingering questions, Kline wanted to delay the appointments while Hallinan studied the issue. The motions were rescinded.
Measure H passed in November 2007 in a 74.3 percent to 25.7 percent margin.
At the time of its passage the city expected to generate millions annually to fund up to new police officers and new firefighters. The tax also purchases new protective equipment for officers and emergency rescue equipment.
Lopez said the council needs “do a better job at having these discussions before we bring it to us.”