Thursday, January 5, 2017

GUEST POST: City Council holds open government training

By Elizabeth Warnimont

There were two items on the agenda for the special meeting of the City Council on Tuesday. One was Mayor Elizabeth Patterson’s request for a two-step process to agendize discussion of a resolution affirming the city’s commitment to being an inclusive city, tolerant and inclusive of all residents; the second part served as a training session in compliance with the Brown Act and Benicia’s open government ordinance.
   Councilmembers appeared generally amenable to Mayor Patterson’s request, though some expressed reservations about any wording that might lean toward Benicia becoming a sanctuary city. Council discussion of the issue would allow for public updates on federal and state actions regarding documented and undocumented immigrants, and would prepare the council in case of any expressed desire for corresponding policies.
   The mayor’s request was approved unanimously and will be on the agenda, for initial discussion only, at the next regularly scheduled council meeting on Jan. 17.
   City Attorney Heather McLaughlin facilitated the open government training. She reviewed the Brown Act and the city’s corresponding ordinance, which was enacted in 2005, compared Benicia’s open government process with the ordinance and the act, and explained all of the updates to the 2017 edition of the Brown Act. McLaughlin commended the council for its adherence to the ordinance and for the city’s efforts above and beyond the established requirements, which she said displayed a strong sense of ethics and mutual respect among council members and the public.
   The meeting adjourned to a closed session to perform a public employee performance evaluation. Mayor Patterson indicated that any council action or direction regarding the evaluation would be presented at the next regularly scheduled meeting.
Further information
   To read or view a complete text or video transcript of this or any city council meeting, visit the city’s web site at or call the city at 746-4200.
   The city of Benicia encourages all members of the public to participate in city government and attend city council and other city meetings. 
   City Council meetings take place at Council Chambers, City Hall, 250 East L St., on the first and third Tuesdays of each month, with fourth Tuesdays scheduled in case of special need, beginning at 7 p.m. Meetings also stream live online at the city of Benicia web site at and on Comcast Channel 27 or AT&T U-Verse Channel 99.
   Copies of meeting agendas and supporting documents, as well as minutes (written transcripts) from previous sessions, are available at the city clerk's office at city hall, the Benicia Public Library, or online at the city of Benicia web site under the heading Agendas and Minutes. Video transcripts of city council meetings are also available on the city's web site. 
   Meetings are occasionally canceled, so it is advisable to check the web site or call to confirm.

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