Commission Balks At Notion To Cut Meetings To Every Other Month

Parks, Recreation, Marina and Cultural Commission will meet with the City Council on Feb. 1.

Faced with a cutback in staff and meetings, members of the Park, Recreation, Marina and Cultural Commission are preparing to rally the community to come to their assistance and convince the City Council to keep the panel intact. Members reacted Tuesday night to a proposal to cut PRMCC meetings from monthly to every other month, and to have a rotating staff member serve the panel.

The issue will be discussed Feb. 1 at a joint City Council/PRMCC meeting, which begins at 5:30 in the City Hall Council Chambers. 

The city is reeling from budget and staff cuts, and Mitch Austin, who presently staffs the PRMCC, is a contract employee. City manager Phil Vince wants Austin to devote his allotted hours specifically to the Marina. The proposal is for Public Works Director Dave Scola and City Engineer Tim Tucker to rotate staffing duties with Assistant City Manager Alan Shear, and to cut the PRMCC meetings to either every other month, or quarterly.

But those proposals are not sitting well with commissioners.

“We’re a forum to discuss issues that the council has essentially delegated to us,” said PRMCC chairman Dylan Radke. If (the council) wants longer meetings, they can cut us to every other month.  

“Measure H (a $30 million bond approved by voters in 2008 for park and recreation improvements) is spending a lot of money to keep this city going,” said commissioner Richard Patchin. “Is this a way to circumvent this commission and the oversight it provides with the expenditure of Measure H funds? I don’t understand how you can limit a commission that is overseeing these (park improvement) projects.”

“I worked on Measure H committee,” said commissioner Gay Gerlack. “One of the arguments we had against Measure H was that if the city gets its hands on the money it will disappear. We promised that the PRMCC will make sure the money would be used as written in the bond. If the council cuts our meetings to every other month or quarterly, I will use all my contacts to rally the community. The citizens have shown so much confidence in this commission. It’s an insult to the community to cut back on what we’re trying to do. A couple of (the councilmembers) are up for re-election. If they want to put some nails in their coffin, that’s a good way to do it.”

Anne Mobley January 21, 2012 at 04:28 AM
We need the "watchdogs" of the PRMCC to monitor projects on a regular basis. What is the City Council thinking? Or do we already know?
Kristin Henderson January 21, 2012 at 05:01 AM
Maria, the city employees at Mitch's level make astounding salaries that if managed well, can take them for years beyond this employment. I want to tell all of you that when the (publicly funded) Climate Action Plan consultants came, they fsaid "how great you have so many historic buildings, for adaptive reuse is a low carbon activity". The recent Orwellian "Martinez Matters" workshop generators said something of the same ilk. Mitch Austin was complicit with removing any trace in any climate action plan of reusing existing, historic, old, etc. buildings. And the Council praised him for it. It is a tremendous carbon footprint to tear down, remove, and replace existing materials. Moreover, the use of historic materials is totally green. If you need to know why, read up on it. Everyone. I have no hard feelings towards Mitch, especially if I have no hard feelings towards Corey Simon and Phil Vince whose base salaries combined equal that of the U.S. President.
Harriett Burt January 21, 2012 at 07:08 AM
This is a slap in the face of the overwhelming majority of Martinez residents who voted for Measure H in 2008 at the same time the economy was collapsing and the jobs and the mortgages of many local residents and voters were in peril. The decisions on how the citizens' money was to be spent came out of the Parks and Rec Commissions excellent Master Plan developed by then Commissioner Sherida Bush and her colleagues. The current Parks, Recreation and Marina Commission and its assigned staff person have been overseeing the thus far triumphant projects including the new swimming pool and the renovated library. Their committed and constant attention and oversight has been very effective thus far and is essential to the responsible expenditure of funds and the successful completion of all Measure H projects. To reduce that oversight could end up costing more in many ways. It's our money and we have the right to expect that Commissioner and staff oversight occurs more than once a month or once a quarter.
Cheryll January 23, 2012 at 05:20 AM
Since reducing salaries has become so popular, I would suggest that a temporary reduction in salaries of some of those top earners with the City might allow the City to continue to do the job it has an obligation to provide to it's CITY and for it's citizens. In "better times" those reductions can be returned with the gracious thanks we got from our Board of Supervisors when they reduced County salaries 2 weeks ago. Salaries are no longer based on comparable worth or market value. They are whatever the "agency" can afford to pay you. Just ask Federal Glover, Karen Mitchoff, Gail Uilkema, Mary Piepho, & John Gioia.
Gay Gerlack January 31, 2012 at 07:10 PM
Please attend the City Council meeting tomorrow night, Wednesday, February 1 at "5:30 pm" to support the PRMCC and the work it does for the community. The City Council has presented the idea of cutting back our meetings to every other month or quarterly, the reason is to save the expense of staffing the meetings. Did they forget that the PRMCC was formed "from" three commissions to save costs? The Parks and Recreation Commission, the Marina Commission, and the Arts and Library Commissions were "melted" into one commission "to save costs". Commissioners are volunteers and do not receive any compensation for their time. We not only attend the monthly meetings, but many sub-committee meetings as well. The Citizens for Measure H was chaired by Dylan Radke (PRMCC Chairman) and Katherine Hern (former PRMCC member), we have a new pool complex, a renovated library, and every park in Martinez is being brought up to ADA standards because of their work. PRMCC is overseeing all of the Measure H projects and keeping a careful eye on the expenitures incurred. We are the "bridge" between the citizens of Martinez and the City Council.


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