The Editor's Back Fence

New: Berkeley City Manager Targets Citizen Commissions--Again

Sunday April 03, 2011 - 09:48:00 AM

Berkeley City Manager Phil Kamlarz and his staff want to get rid of some of Berkeley’s citizen commissions, according to a story in Sunday’s printed San Francisco Chronicle, which will not be available online until Tuesday. His excuse this time: Berkeley’s budget crunch—a total cost of about $1 million to run all commissions which Kamlarz cited in 2008 is quoted in the article, weighed against a projected budget shortfall of about $12 million. But it’s no secret in Berkeley that the unpaid but mouthy citizen commissions have always been a thorn in the side of Berkeley politicos of all stripes and of the paid staff who work under Kamlarz’ direction.  

The major city expense chargeable to the commissions is providing a paid staff secretary at meetings, but when commissions have offered to take their own minutes without staff supervision they’ve been turned down. Presumably Kamlarz is not planning to abolish all citizen commissions, so what his proposal would actually save has not yet been revealed.  

According to the Chronicle story, the matter will come to the Berkeley City Council in May, after Kamlarz and staff are ready to make a report on their recommendations. No word in the story about how much it will cost to prepare that report….