Ideas for the Grievance Process
If we are going to give councils the option of handling a grievance prior to letting it move to the regional commission, keep in mind this gives councils the power to ignore all grievances (letting the grievances automatically move to the next level). NCs can also pick and choose which grievances they wish to deal with, while ignoring others. The complainant will not have the same right. This person is at the mercy of the council. If the council wants to handle a grievance internally, and the complainant feels this will lead to a biased result, the complainant will have no power to start at the next level.
prefer the idea that NCs will hear the grievance first only if both parties
agree to this process up front.
second choice is to put a time limit in place (such as 45 – 60 days) for the
council to hear the grievance. If the council fails to deal with it or if
either party is dissatisfied with the results for any reason, they have the
right to be heard by the regional commission.
grievance process was discussed in depth at my last town hall meeting. By the
end of the meeting, it was generally agreed that issues should go directly to
the regional commission because most complaints are about entire NCs or a
majority of the board. Grievances tend to revolve around abuse of power,
Brown Act violations, bylaws violations, or conflicts of interest. Complainants
will not be satisfied with results arrived at by a council that they distrust or
feel is corrupt. If these complainants have to jump through complicated hoops to
make appeals or to be heard by the regional commission, nothing is likely to be
resolved in the end. Complainants will feel frustrated and angry, and will be
likely to obstruct meetings.
Nelson said we should not have expectations about NCs that exceed the
expectations for the City Council and City Commissions. The City Council
does not handle its own grievances or legal issues. Can you envision City
Councilmembers running around knocking on doors in order to find unbiased people
to serve on Ad Hoc Grievance Committees? Then setting up the committee meetings,
listen to the findings, then taking a vote? So why should NC members spend their
valuable time in this way? It distracts from doing the business of the
community. And I disagree with Mr. Nelson that it will teach people how to get
along; the opposite has been my experience.
regional commission may decide to mediate some cases and arbitrate others. They
should have a fair amount of leeway to do what they feel is best to resolve a
should be given a title,
such as “commissioner.” Otherwise, the city will have a difficulty finding
volunteers for this potentially time-consuming job. We want people to feel
honored when they are chosen for the Regional Commission. We don’t want people
to think it is a burden that could go unappreciated. It is also a position that
could be hazardous in that “losers” may criticize the regional
commissioners should be selected in the following way. Each NC should
choose two candidates for the regional commission. (This allows NCs to choose
one person from each faction if they wish - some councils have two feuding
factions). Then the mayor and/or city council should choose commission members
from the pool of candidates. There should be no more than seven members of each
regional commission. When commissions are too large, it becomes difficult to
make decisions in a timely manner.
must be some entity who can enforce decisions made by the regional commission.
I hope these suggestions have helped.