Video: Supervisor’s legislative aide lowers the boom on MCC over letter to LAFCO


Posted by on Wed, January 7, 2009

Used with permission of Darin Boville at Montara Fog

Yesterday, I wrote that San Mateo County Board of Supervisors won’t let our elected Midcoast Community Council speak for the unincorporated Midcoast.

For example, at the MCC’s Sept 24, 2008 meeting, the council considered a draft of a letter to the San Mateo County Local Area Formation Commission (LAFCo). LAFCo had just made some major recommendations about how the the Coastside should be governed—with limited participation from the public.  Responding to these recommendations is just the sort of situation where the MCC, and not the Board of Supervisors, should be speaking on behalf of the Midcoast community.

After a somewhat confused discussion of the draft letter by the Council, Supervisor Gordon’s Legislative Aide Andrew Berthelsen took the floor to tell our elected representatives that they could not address a letter to LAFCo.

This is followed by a fairly heated exchange in which MCC Chair Leonard Woren tells Berthelsen that a number of people, including Woren himself, are getting "more and more irritated with the way that you try to babysit this Council and tell us what to do."

We may need to get used to it.

Rich Gordon strikes again.

For those of you who get past Barry Parr’s hyperbolic headline (and inaccurate intro), the MCC’s role is to advise the Board of Supervisors. It is NOT to advise other governmental agencies (though that’s a goal). Here it is in black and white:

**The Community Council is established to advise the Board of Supervisors** on such matters which relate to the Area concerning services which are or may be provided to the Area by San Mateo County or other local governmental agencies, including but: not limited to advice on matters of public health, safety, welfare, public works, and planning and, unless the Board of Supervisors specifically provides to the contrary, to represent the Community to any state, county, city, special district or school district, agency or commission, or any other organization on any matter concerning the Community.

a. Po wers ; limitations. The Community Council shall have all powers provided by the Board Resolution and authorizing law, and shall conduct its activities and affairs subject to the limitations of the Bylaws.

So unless the BoS explicity approves it, the MCC is prohibited from directly addressing other agencies. It’s still able (and encouraged) to gather public input and “speak for the unincorporated Midcoast” to the Supervisors.

But watching the video clearly demonstrates the MCC Chair’s actions and overreaching outbursts are counterproductive if the goal is to work WITH the Supervisors to promote local residents’ best interests.

Comment 3
Mon, January 12, 2009 4:25pm
Barry Parr
All my comments

Joel, the portion of the bylaws you quote permits, but doesn’t require, the Supervisors to prohibit the MCC from speaking to LAFCO on our behalf.

Are you saying that the Board of Supervisors should be the only body permitted to speak on behalf of the Midcoast and that they should specifically prohibit our elected representatives from speaking on our behalf?

How can you defend that position?

The MCC is only an advisory committee to the Board of Supervisors. But the community wants—the community *needs*—much more.

To a degree the existing MCC has been trying to expand its role—a desirable goal. It needs to be more than just an advisory committee.

But it cant have it both ways, can it? It can’t say, “We are more than just advisory, we speak for the community and can write who we want” and at the very same time say, “We are only just advisory and the laws that apply to *real* councils and boards don’t apply to us.”


I think, Darin, that a board can be “more than just advisory"and still not reach the “public office” or “sovereign power of the state” threshold that would trigger the “incompatibility of office doctrine”.