After Santa Clara County elected officials were found to have violated the state's transparency laws, they simply revoted with minimum discussion to appoint a new county executive.
The Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors revoted 4-1 to appoint County Counsel James Williams as the new county CEO during its closed session Monday, officials said. Elected officials also revoted 4-1 to officiate Williams' employment contract during the public meeting Tuesday — after meeting with community leaders about the controversial vote earlier this month.
The vote came just days after Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeff Rosen demanded that the Board of Supervisors nullify and revote on its appointment of a new county executive, saying the October meeting and appointment of Williams — which happened behind closed doors — violated the state's transparency law.
In a letter sent to all five supervisors on Nov. 10, Rosen said the board twice violated the Brown Act, which requires public access to government meetings. The board failed to disclose to the public ahead of a closed session on Oct. 17 that it was considering appointing a new executive to replace CEO Jeff Smith, who's retiring on July 1, 2023. The board broke the rules a second time when it failed to immediately report its vote to appoint Williams to the position at a public meeting on Oct. 18.
"To maintain the public's engagement as much as possible," Rosen wrote, "the Brown Act requires that topics for discussion in a closed session be described beforehand in a publicly available agenda so that community members can offer public comment on them. The Brown Act also requires the prompt public reporting of any action taken during a closed session."
— Tran Nguyen / San Jose Spotlight
Electrification project to temporarily affect Caltrain pedestrian crossings
Select pedestrian crossings and streets in Palo Alto will be closed from now through mid-December as Caltrain works on its electrification project.
The closures will include pedestrian crossings on one side at each of the four major intersections, part of Oregon Expressway and weekend shutdowns on the rail line, according to a city press release. Here's a breakdown of the scheduled shutdowns:
Churchill, Alma, East Meadow, and Charleston pedestrian/bike crossings
Caltrain is installing ground wiring near the signal arms and attaching it to the poles for the signaling system at all four intersections. From now through Nov. 30, one side of the crossings will be closed at a time, leaving the other side passable for pedestrians and bicyclists. The following crossings will be affected during the below dates, each taking place Monday through Friday from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.: Alma Street: now-Nov. 29; East Meadow Drive and Charleston Road Nov. 28-30
Caltrain will be doing nightly repairs on the Caltrain railroad bridge at Alma Street and Oregon Expressway from Nov. 28 to Dec. 9. The following segments of Oregon Expressway will be closed at that location from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. on the following days: Southbound Oregon Expressway, Nov. 28-Dec. 2; Northbound Oregon Expressway, Dec. 5-9.
Weekend train service shutdowns
Caltrain plans to test the train-signal system at Palo Alto Avenue (near Alma Street) on the weekends of Dec. 10-11 and Dec. 17-18. Flaggers will be present at all Palo Alto crossings, and vehicle and pedestrian traffic will be stopped during the tests. For more information, go to cityofpaloalto.org.
— Sue Dremann
Man arrested for vacuum cleaner theft
A man was arrested for allegedly stealing a vacuum cleaner from a home in Palo Alto's Ventura neighborhood on Nov. 11, police said.
The home's resident, a woman in her 80s, called police at 1:32 p.m. about a burglary at her home in the 400 block of Fernando Avenue, according to a press release.
The woman heard a noise on the first floor. She then saw a man climbing the stairs and screamed, according to police. The man ran out of the home.
Officers believe the man, later identified as a 23-year-old from Santa Clara, broke a glass panel on a rear door to get into the home, police said. He then allegedly rummaged through part of the home and stole the vacuum cleaner, according to police.
At 3:18 p.m., an officer spotted the man on the east side of El Camino Real near Fernando Avenue. He ran across El Camino Real and went onto the grounds of the Creekside Inn, where police found him with part of the woman's vacuum cleaner, police said. Officers said they arrested him without any trouble.
Police believe the burglary is unrelated to the recent string of residential "dinnertime burglaries."
Anyone with information about Friday's burglary is asked to call the department's 24-hour dispatch center at 650-329-2413.
— Keith Burbank/Bay City News Service