Palo Alto City Clerk Donna Grider to retire

Popular official set to step down after Election Day

After 15 years at City Hall, Palo Alto City Clerk Donna Grider is preparing to administer her final election.

Grider, the longest serving of the four council-appointed officers, announced Monday that she will retire on Nov. 6, two days after the council election. She said she plans to move back to her home state of Illinois.

At the beginning of Monday's meeting of the City Council, Grider said that it's been a privilege to serve the public and the council.

"It's been a fun ride," Grider said. "I always worked in municipal government. There's no city like Palo Alto."

Her announcement was greeted with applause from the Council Chamber and words of appreciation from Mayor Nancy Shepherd, who thanked her for being the "face of Palo Alto" in the clerk's office.

"You've been a real model for this community," Shepherd said.

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Like this comment
Posted by Not-Sorry-To-See-Her-Go
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 6, 2014 at 9:07 pm

Grider is a nice lady--but has never distinguished herself as a person who understands not only the totality of the job, but any of the solutions available for providing a state-of-the-art city clerk's office.

[Portion removed.]

2 people like this
Posted by Greenacres
a resident of Green Acres
on Oct 6, 2014 at 10:18 pm

I disagree. Thank you, Ms. Grider, for your service. In the middle of conflict and controversy, you were a refreshing honest broker, and I know many of us appreciated your work for the City and citizens.

1 person likes this
Posted by Sea-Seelam REDDY
a resident of College Terrace
on Oct 7, 2014 at 4:06 am

There is no person like DONNA.

She is the most helpful, thoughtful, dynamic person that I have known.
She is a 10+. Wish you the very best retirement.

You will be missed.


1 person likes this
Posted by Will miss her
a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 7, 2014 at 9:28 am

Refreshing is correct. She is straightforward, nice to everyone, and as Greenacres said, an honest broker. Not a government clone, but a genuine intelligent person doing a good job.
I hope her successor can live up to her high standards.

1 person likes this
Posted by Wilson
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 7, 2014 at 9:40 am

The recent Grand Jury report slammed the City Clerk for her failure to manage public records requests properly. While it did not name her directly---this function is in the Clerk's domain--and she never once stood up and said: "I failed". It's almost as if she had no idea that anything was wrong.

Maybe the next Clerk will take the matter of public records more seriously than Ms. Grider did.

1 person likes this
Posted by Greenacres
a resident of Green Acres
on Oct 7, 2014 at 11:07 am

Given the culture in City Hall, I would not put the burden of that on Ms. Grider.

I think she served the citizens well in a difficult environment.

1 person likes this
Posted by Fred Balin
a resident of College Terrace
on Oct 7, 2014 at 2:08 pm

Fred Balin is a registered user.

The City Clerk receives the public records requests but they are often then passed on to various departments for the actual materials, e.g., Provide all Communications about X, among A, B, and C with Person D and with regard to Y during the period Z. In many cases it is other departments (e.g. Planning, Public Works, City Mangers Office) that must complete its task first.

When I have asked for materials from the clerk’s office that they have direct access to (e.g., old staff reports, minutes, ordinances, FPPC filings all from the days before online access) or had questions about anything to do with the ballot, I have received materials or answers quickly and clearly.

With regard to other materials, the clerk's office has incrementally and consistently enhanced the public's access to information. Over the years, that has included first, posting the council agendas on line, then including links from within all agenda items to their staff reports and almost all attachments. Then sending out push notifications of this material as well as agenda and staff report revisions to the subscribers (with signup publicly available).

Also, now included in what has became the current Agenda and "Full Packet,” we benefit from correspondence (emails, letters, staff responses, items at places) to the council; inclusion of tentative, upcoming council agendas, standing council committees, informational reports, and separately, the council action and verbatim minutes, and also receiving as much of this mass of material as possible in PDF-searchable format.

Donna Grider and her staff have done a wonderful job and are invariably courteous and helpful to the public.

This is a big loss in this crucial independent slot that reports (i.e., answers directly) to the council.

It is also a critical period as the city manager has stated he is ready for, and the council Policy and Services committee has discussed, long-awaited plans for increasing the packet release window by an additional week.

Whether this forthcoming hire is to be handled by the current or January's council configuration, that body must accept no less in experience, management, adaptability, and dedication to public service in her replacement.

Thank you.

Like this comment
Posted by Enid Pearson
a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 8, 2014 at 11:47 am

I agrees totally with Fred Balin. I have seen a lot of City Clerk's and she is one of the best. Let's hope the new
City Clerk will be able to live up to her standards. The trend might be, though, to hire two clerks to replace
Donna to get out the enormous packets in the time-line demanded. Good Luck, Donna

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