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Mayor Carlos Romero acknowledged that the restructuring was completely in the hands of the city manager and the council’s role was to advise and consent. As a council member, Romero said,”I cannot say keep this person, fire that person….”

The city’s acting attorney Valerie Armento concurred with Romero’s statement.

Before leaving the meeting early to attend another engagement, Abrica, who was gently pressured to give his feedback on the restructuring plan, said that he would like to give the plan more thought. He agreed with the idea that the council should not get into the details of the plan, but he thought the council should see deadlines, as to how the city manager was going to implement his plan.

During the open forum session, the council heard from several union representatives, city employees and residents. Most of the speakers expressed the opinion that the proposed changes would make things harder for the remaining employees and reduce city efficiency, instead of making the city more efficient.

Sean Charpentier, who serves as a redevelopment project coordinator in the city’s redevelopment agency, spoke as the SEIU representative for the city's employees. “We love the city manager’s vision," he said. "But his vision is threatened by the reductions… 20% reductions in maintenance means 20% more potholes, 20% more graffiti…. What is being proposed is a huge reduction in services.”

Michael Francois, an East Palo Alto resident and a regular speaker during the council’s open forum sessions, pleaded with the council not to make any staff cuts at all. He told the council, “Give people comp. time, cut hours, cut pay. I don’t want to see anyone leave. … Many of these people have worked here for years to develop the city.” He said that there were a lot of deals going on and he asked that there be “no more back deals.”

Stewart Hyland, an East Palo Alto resident and a former union representative in the South Bay, said that the council needed to give plenty of time for people to deliberate and make sure that there is a dialogue. “The city manager has a plan... that’s where the discussion should begin," he said.

Nancy Ostrowski, the representative for the IFPTE Union, which represents top executives, said that she appreciated being involved in the process, but she asked that the process not be rushed.

Council member David Woods agreed. “We need to slow this process down,” he said. “It’s a timing issue.” Woods argued for the idea of combining the restructuring process with the budget process, which will take place over the next few months.

But Carlos Romero did not agree. “I would like to move this,” he said. “I don’t want to discuss this for three months. I don’t want to co-mingle this with the budget.” Romero said that he wanted the restructuring process to be completed before the council begins its discussion of the budget.

In describing his proposed restructuring plan toward the end of the study session, Gordon dropped one of the most powerful statements of the evening. “This is the first wave of the tsunami,” he said.

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