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By Henrietta J. Burroughs                             Follow East Palo Alto Today on
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Posted on Friday, April 8, 2011  
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City Manager ML Gordon   East Palo Alto City council and city staff
                                                                        Photos courtesy of the Media Center

                 East Palo Alto's City Manager, ML Gordon, is shown as he presents his restructuring plan
                 to the East Palo Alto City Council during a special study session held on
April 7, 2011, in the
East Palo Alto City Council chambers. The second photo shows the council and several
                 members of the city staff during the meeting.

“This is the first wave of the tsunami.”
                                East Palo Alto’s City Manager ML Gordon 


East Palo Alto's City Manager, ML Gordon, announced a restructuring plan that would bring major changes and staff cuts to city departments in East Palo Alto. The plan, which was presented during a special city council study session on April 7, would eliminate three city departments and bring major layoffs.

Under the plan, East Palo Alto's seven city departments would be reduced to four departments, leaving the community development, finance, human resources and the police department. Three departments would be eliminated: community services, housing services and the public works departments.

Gordon’s restructuring plan would also eliminate three department heads and a minimum of five clerical support positions. The department cuts will necessitate  transferring functions in the senior services division, the affordable housing division, and functions in engineering and maintenance. These transfers in department functions will impact not only engineering and maintenance, but also building services, finance, human resources, and planning.

It is estimated that the proposed changes will eliminate two million dollars in salary costs and decrease the city’s three million dollar deficit to between one and two million dollars.

When Gordon started his presentation, he asked that everyone focus only on the structure of the city and not on the individual employees whose positions might be eliminated. He made sure that the council understood that he was acting within his duties and responsibilities as the city manager in deciding on the cuts. He justified his decisions by saying that he was simply following the council’s direction in implementing the priorities that the council established for the city, especially, the priority to “increase organizational effectiveness and efficiency.”

Gordon quoted several sections of the city municipal code to emphasize that he had the power, as the city manager, to “appoint, remove, promote and demote each officer and employee of the city, excepting the city attorney and city auditor, subject to personnel ordinances, rules and regulations.”

Under the city's municipal code, he said that he was empowered to “conduct studies and effect such administrative reorganization of offices, positions and units under his... direction as are in the interest of efficient, effective and economical conduct of the city's business.”

During his presentation, Gordon also expressed his vision for the city, saying that he wanted to improve and enhance the city’s image internally and externally; encourage a diverse and vibrant local economy; keep the city council and community abreast of departmental activities; encourage redevelopment with a mixture of uses, while strengthening viable neighborhoods and commercial areas and encourage revitalization of the city's current parks and establish new parks for active and passive use.

The city manager’s vision also included a local cultural arts center, the creation of beautiful gateways and landscaped boulevards; the establishment of aesthetically pleasing roads and passageways in East Palo Alto; the encouragement of  home-owner occupancy in the city’s housing stock, with the availability of rent control and affordable housing for city residents; the design and building of a pedestrian bicycle bridge over the 101 Highway and code compliance in the appearance of the city.

After Gordon outlined his vision for the city and made the restructuring proposal, city council members gave their reactions. No one disagreed with his vision, but at least one council member questioned the small role the council had in the staff changes being proposed. Council member David Woods, even, asked why the study session was being held, if the council had no actual say in the decision making process.


Continued on page 2

See more public comments at bottom of page 2.