Pulse of Concord

The tricky pairing of the ad hoc committee and your Brownie

Pulse of ConcordCONCORD, CA (August 18, 2022) — It is easy to misunderstand the functioning of the Brown Act, especially if you are familiar with disregarding it in the last century.

This Concord City Council has gone through a heightened education and focus on the Brown Act. We see this in the recent discussion on the selection of an ad hoc committee to work with staff on the development of a Term Sheet for the base.

One of the fundamental aspects of the Brown Act is that a quorum of the council (three members) may not discuss an item that is or will be before the council outside of the agendized council meetings.

This means that, in practice, the council breaks into pairs – or Brownies, as they are called informally. There is always one person left out. In the case of the base Dominic Aliano and I are one pair and Tim McGallian and Laura Hoffmeister are another. Carlyn Obringer is the odd person out.

When it comes to forming an ad hoc committee, there would have been only two choices: Dominic/Edi or Tim/Laura. No mixing is allowed under strict guidance by our city attorney, because it would be a violation that would create a serial meeting.

In making the pairings, you have to take into account the ability of the group to focus on the problem over many months and their experience in the area. The sudden, significant distractions at the time for one of the pairs and the fact that the Dominic/Edi team worked with staff the prior year to draft the Request for Summary of Qualification pushed things to the selection.

It is often the case that those who disagree with a decision will disregard any respectful explanation on why the decision was made and will quickly descend into hideous name-calling and innuendo. There are those who only allow themselves to perceive decisions made to enhance themselves or others rather than the simple fact that decisions will continue to be made on what is best for the city. Such folks are simply sad.

One last thing about ad hoc committees to help with staff and development: As mayor in 2018, I faced a similar situation with Lennar and staff and I appointed an ad hoc committee to deal with it. So having such committees is not a new thing.

I hope that the perception and background of the ad hoc committee function is now clearer.

Edi Birsan is a member of the Concord City Council. However, opinions expressed in this column are his alone and do not reflect those of the city. Send comments and questions to EdiBirsan@gmail.com.