Press

Excerpts from Jean Mordo’s Letter to the Town Crier Editor in the June 16, 2021 Edition follow.  It should be noted that people and performances change over time.  How our CM worked when Mr. Mordo was on the LAH council does not seem relevant to his actions over the past 5 years.  Residents of Los Altos chose not to reelect Mr. Mordo for City Council for a reason(s).  People and performances do change.

Former LAH Mayor Regrets Endorsements

Reading about the situation in Los Altos Hills in the June 9 Town Crier, I am extremely disappointed with several people who took advantage of my friendship (“Staff turnover debate deepens divide among Hills residents, council recall effort brewing”).At the request of Linda Swan and Stan Mok, who are people I considered as friends and thought of as reasonable, I endorsed the slate. They valued my support because as past mayor, having served eight years on the council, my endorsement was a plus. What a mistake I made endorsing three, including one I did not know at all!I……


Town Crier Coverage is not consistent….The Los Altos Hills’ coverage is mainly focused on the “divisive debate” of citizens and not the poor performance issues of our City Manager.  The paper seems to be trying to create distracting shiny objects (e.g. the divisive debate amongst citizens) and NOT focus on the substance, which is the performance mistakes over the years by our City Manager.  Often times when people don’t like the facts, they create distractions!  Who has the power over the paper’s coverage to change the title and emphasis of the June 9th printed version versus the digital version of the article?

As TTAGS has stated many times, this is a performance-based discussion and not a personality-based debate.  To highlight this double standard in reporting, following are excerpts from the most recent Town Crier article annotated with our observations.  Our annotations are in RED.

Los Altos Town Crier Article – June 9, 2021

Staff turnover debate deepens divide among Hills residents, council recall effort brewing  (Note…the original title in the printed copy did not have “council recall effort brewing” in it….Why is that? – A new shiny object for the digital version?)

…….

The storm of emails (define storm of emails – recall effort was listed as two residents) that followed, each magnifying the division between two competing factions in town, include at least two from town residents who announced they are part of an effort to remove newly elected Councilmember Linda Swan from office because they believe she is essentially serving as a puppet for her husband, John Swan, a fierce critic of Cahill’s.  Ms. Morgan seems to be the self-proclaimed leader in this 2-person effort to recall  Councilmember Swan.  Ms. Morgan’s actions of the past are suspect.  Previously, Ms. Morgan accused Councilmember Swan of illegally sharing information from a special closed council session.  She was wrong.  It became obvious to everyone, including the Town Attorney, that the information was easily deduced using Boolean logic from public information.  Now, Ms. Morgan is saying that Councilmember Swan is being directed by her husband to enable his agenda.  She does not know Councilmember Swan and has not talked to her since she was elected.  What century is Ms. Morgan living in?  It seems the height of misogyny to promote the idea that she cannot weigh the evidence presented to her and make her own decisions.  It shows that, even today, women can be misogynistic and sexist.”

“Discussions are underway about how to recall Linda Swan since her husband is directing her to enable his agenda,” Bridget Morgan wrote in an email to the Town Crier.  See note above.

Former town Planning Commissioner Jim Basiji sent a similar message.  (Jim Basiji, who previously served a partial term as a Planning Commissioner, but is currently only on the joint Los Altos/Los Altos Hills Senior Commission, wrote a similar email, without any evidence of his allegations just like Ms. Morgan.  The Town Crier, you are giving a voice to two people who have made things up.  TC, focus on the facts!)

Within his May 28 resignation letter, Dahl said he planned to remain at town hall for at least three to four years – up until approximately six months ago.

…..

Although Dahl did not name any individual or group in his email, he likely referred to residents whose grievances against Cahill include his handling of the town’s controversial 15-year, $50 million Greenwaste Recovery garbage contract and the construction of a port to protect maintenance equipment; a contested, $3.5 million town hall expansion; proposed staff salary increases; disagreements over the use and development of a town park; and staff turnover.   (Here is a more complete list of the mistakes our CM has made over the years…..)

John Swan leads TTAGS, “Townspeople for better Transparency Accountability Governance and Safety/Service.”

“Our City Manager’s consistent and desperate tactics to vilify residents and taxpayers who are simply seeking transparency and accountability should be a huge red flag to current council members and residents,” John Swan wrote in an email to the Town Crier sent last week. “Even after he has stated he will retire, the City Manager is still trying to rewrite the narrative …..  His common theme, placing the blame for every fiasco that occurred during his administration on anyone but himself, has cost the taxpayers of the town millions of dollars. This behavior strongly suggests that he does not have the town’s best interests in mind.”

……

Calculating turnover

City Clerk Deborah Padovan has recently fielded numerous California Public Records Act requests from both residents and this publication for statistics about staff retention. The average rate of turnover gleaned from the documents varies depending on which fiscal years are examined. A list Padovan provided the Town Crier June 1 did not include several names. A subsequent list Padovan provided Friday revealed the average staff turnover for the last three complete fiscal years, 2017/2018, 2018/2019 and 2019/2020, during which an average of 24.87 staff positions existed, is 29.55%.

The differences in the two lists, Padovan explained, is due to a miscommunication among city departments. She said the lists were pulled from the town’s payroll system and that it’s possible a filter wasn’t selected during the first pull.

Padovan bristled upon hearing accusations town staffers intentionally tried to mislead people.

“We don’t have anything to hide,” she said. “We are a small town, and people leave for different reasons.”  Great, you have nothing to hide!  So why are councilmembers instructed not to interview recently resigned staff and current disgruntled staff?  Are Freedom of Information (FOI) requests being redacted like the recent staff turnover FOI or is it just incompetence?  Will staff salaries be published like other cities do to see if we are overpaying for some positions?  Was there a  Grand Jury inquiry that the CM responded to without councilmember review or input?  Were the Tractor Port documents doctored after the fact?  Was embezzlement committed by a former staff member? What other staff-related problems are going on, like administrative leaves and personal leaves of absence, that councilmembers should be aware of?…..

Cahill said he doesn’t consider turnover excessive considering the small size of the staff; the lack of a competitive, defined contribution plan for employees; and the lure of more prestigious positions with larger municipalities.  What is the staff turnover rate at other cities similar to ours in size and functionality?  We believe the data will show that we are well above the average.

“I think this is just a smoke screen for a political issue, knowing the people involved,” he said.  The smoke screen is saying this is a “political” issue….NO it is a lack of performance issue!

In a March 18 email to the city council, however, town Finance and Investment Committee member Allan Epstein noted Nichol Bowersox, former Public Works director, and Kaho Kong, a former senior engineer, departed earlier this year within approximately a month of one another.

“As you have been informed, they did not leave because of lack of advancement opportunity, job dissatisfaction, or uncompetitive salaries or benefits,” Epstein wrote. “They left because of dissatisfaction with how Town employees are treated. They are clearly not the first.”

…..
Councilmember Stanley Q. Mok offered potential explanations for Bowersox’s reluctance to go on the record.

“I did speak with Nichol after her departure, and it would be better for her not to comment” to reporters, Mok said.

……

Cahill’s supporters speak

The Town Crier asked Dahl last week about his resignation. He said TTAGS’ formation contributed to his decision to leave, but that he began thinking about departing in the fall when the Mok-Sutaria-Swan slate formed and hostility toward staff members also increased.  Odd…..this was not in Mr. Dahl’s original email.  Supporters of our CM seem to be heavily weighted by former council members who covered up repeated mistakes of our CM.  They seem to be doubling down on mistakes made by them to NOT hold our CM accountable for mistakes he made.

…….

When Dahl’s May 28 letter was forwarded throughout town, residents who support Cahill, including former Mayor Courtenay C. Corrigan and Duffy Price, applauded its contents.

“I agree with all of Zach’s points about the creation of a very toxic situation by miscreants, who obviously didn’t anticipate the second-order consequences of their actions,” Price wrote in an email. “While we all may not share the same assessment of the Town Hall situation, it is my feeling that it is incumbent upon those who contributed and created this very toxic situation to help resolve it.”

……

Uncertainty remains

Despite Cahill’s intention to extend his employment agreement through Oct. 29, some members of the council hope to sever ties sooner.

During the May 20 city council meeting, Linda Swan requested pulling a resolution that would have solidified Cahill’s contract extension. The resolution text described reducing the town’s severance pay obligation to the city manager should he continue to work past June 30. But Tankha told her colleague removing the item was not necessary because Tankha awaited a response from the city attorney regarding the resolution.

Linda Swan did not respond to a Town Crier email inquiring why she asked to pull the agenda item. Tankha declined to share the nature of her question to the city attorney and stated she generally does not comment on her private discussions with him.

Mok, however, supplied a possible explanation why some council members might object to allowing Cahill to continue at his post.

“The longer this occurs, the more uncertainty our people have about their jobs, and that’s not a good thing,” Mok said.

……

Council members are expected to review the resolution about Cahill’s contract at their June 17 meeting.


June 3, 2021 – Letter to Megan Winslow of the Town Crier

Hi Megan,

Thanks for reaching out to get my response regarding Mr. Dahl’s email titled, “Follow-up on my Notice of Resignation”.  My email also reflects input from others who have been working with me to improve the governance of our town. 

 

I was going to end with this paragraph but I felt it too important to not state it up front.  Our City Manager’s consistent and desperate tactics to vilify residents and taxpayers who are simply seeking transparency and accountability should be a huge red flag to current council members and residents.   Even after he has stated he will retire, the City Manager is still trying to influence the narrative.   His common theme, placing the blame for every fiasco that occurred during his administration on anyone but himself, has cost the taxpayers of the town millions of dollars.  This behavior strongly suggests that he does not have the town’s best interests in mind.  If LAH Town Hall has such a family-friendly environment, why does it have an employee retention rate of less than 35% over ten years?  Why are current council members, who have direct oversight of the City Manager, discouraged from speaking to employees when they leave?  If the City Manager (CM) is so proud of the operations, why not become more transparent and let current and former staff speak freely to council members?   It is puzzling to the taxpayers and voters why the CM is protesting so loudly (as well as enlisting the assistance of his enablers) and consistently stonewalling investigations.

 

Mr. Dahl stated in his email, “Up until about six months ago, my goal was to serve the Town for at least three to four years.”  For the record, TTAGS efforts to inform residents did not start until March 10, 2021 when the TTAGS website was announced to the public via an email.  We have been around for less than 3 months.  Mr. Cahill sent an email to you on March 15, 2021 commenting on the content of TTAGS’ website.The position Mr.Dahl applied for and accepted had a closing date of March 19, 2021 for submission of applications. If the recruiter held to the published schedule, that means Mr. Dahl had to apply for that position prior to March 19, 2021.Mr. Dahl’s statement and the position recruitment timeline make it clear that Mr. Dahl was actively looking for another position well in advance of any issues that TTAGS brought up.So the statement in his email, “….given the ongoing campaign of mean-spirited accusations and hostility toward our City Manager and Town staff, I feel compelled to speak up and share the real reasons for why I chose to leave.  I do not want my departure to be used against Carl or distorted to further the agenda aimed at Town Hall.”, should be viewed with skepticism.  TTAGS attributes no meaning to Mr. Dahl’s departure other than for his personal benefit and rejects his negative characterization of TTAGS’ effort to ensure that the performance of the City Manager was thoroughly evaluated prior to any decision to extend his contract.  The timing, claims and distribution of Mr. Dahl’s letter appear intended solely to bolster Mr. Cahill’s backing and provide fodder for his supporters’ criticism of TTAGS assessment efforts.A few comments on some other statements Mr. Dahl made; his comments are in BLUE and my responses are in RED.I have enjoyed working with Carl and being a part of the family-like atmosphere that he tried to foster at Town Hall.This “family-like atmosphere” has been likened to a mob-like family by former employees.  If you are loyal to the CM, you are rewarded.  If you question the public benefit of his decisions, you are treated very poorly.  I heard this directly from two former staff members who resigned this year.In particular, as we have navigated our way through the COVID-19 pandemicIt is well documented that the CM did a poor job at first responding to the pandemic.  He was a reluctant follower and not a leader.There is a hostile work environment at Town Hall right now, but it is not of Carl’s making…it is the result of the words and actions of those outside of Town Hall.This does not pass the smell test.  TTAGS started in March of this year.  The toxic work environment at Town Hall predates TTAGS by years.  When you look at the turnover rate of approximately 25% per year dating back to 2016, how can Mr. Dahl and Mr. Cahill blame TTAGS for this horrible environment? It is ludacris.  How we came to this 25% annual turnover rate is summarized below.  If our City Council would initiate a confidential interview with current staff and former staff (which was suggested back in March), the true cause for this toxic work environment would be uncovered.  We recognize that change can cause uncertainty, but employees should be assured that their efforts are appreciated and that one of the goals in replacing the City Manager is to create a positive work environment for all.With this effort to oust the Town’s City Manager now well documented in local news articles and in public meeting records, do you think it will help the Town’s recruitment effort for a new Public Works Director or City Manager? Does it strengthen the Town’s ability to retain the staff that we currently have?TTAGS effort to hold the City Manager accountable for his performance should  make clear to City Manager candidates that only those with demonstrated ability and integrity should apply.  Recruiting for lieutenants when the captain is changing is more difficult, but that challenge is the result of actions by Mr. Cahill and not caused by TTAGS.  Council should recognize the importance of taking strong, clear, and timely action to replace Mr. Cahill and reassure current staff.I could make other comments to his statements but you see where Zach was headed and where I am coming from.  His email sent out days after his resignation late on a Friday night appears to have had one objective, discredit TTAGS for Carl’s benefit.The goal of our group TTAGS is stated on our website TTAGS.org, “Empower residents to help make our town better by truly partnering with council members and staff.”  TTAGS has identified many serious mistakes, shortcomings, and possibly improper acts by our City Manager over the years.  This effort led TTAGS to conclude that Mr. Cahill’s contract did not deserve being renewed.  Mr. Cahill decided to retire.  Residents have every right to expect reasonable performance from their City Manager.  They have not been getting what they paid for.Best Regards,John SwanAKA by some as a Miscreant


HOW WE DETERMINED STAFF TURNOVER

 

Your note states that you calculated the turnover rate from a document “which was released by Deborah Padovan as part of a public records request.”  Thank you for the link.  We have reviewed this document and compared it to a CPRA document provided by the Town that shows the starting and ending date of all employees, which has been updated to include the most recent departures.  The comparison document is attached.   It appears that the employee turnover document provided to you by Ms. Padovan omitted 12 full-time employees who departed during the five-year period in question, and whose names have been highlighted in yellow.  You will have to inquire with the Town as to why so many long term employees were excluded from the list provided to you; including a PW Director, two Finance Managers and a Building Inspector, just to name a few.  We should also clarify that in addition to the full-time employees, the Town had many “part-time” employees that came and went but were not included in the calculation.  Employee departures during the five-year period from April 1, 2016 to March 31, 2021 were used to calculate the turnover rate. The attached table shows 29 departures during that period.  29 employees divided by 5 years equals an average turnover of 5.8 employees per year.  With 24 Full Time Equivalents (FTEs), that equals (5.8/24) or 24.2% turnover per year, or as mentioned, slightly less than 25%.

 

Public records show that Mr. Epstein sent a letter to the Council at its March 18, 2021 Council Meeting summarizing the Town’s longstanding staff turnover problem and recommended an independent consultant be hired to perform interviews with former employees to ascertain  the cause. He stated, “By my count, 28 employees have left the Town in the last five years, which is almost a 25 percent annual turnover rate in a Town of 24 FTEs.” His letter is shown below.

 

Please let me know if you have any further questions on how turnover was calculated.

 


The Letter

Subject: Council Special Meeting Agenda for March 18, 2021

 

Hi Deborah,

Please attach this letter to the Council Special Meeting Agenda for March 18, 2021.

Thank you.

Best,

Allan

Mayor Tankha, Council members,

In the last month two staff members have resigned, Nichol Bowersox, Public Works Director and Kaho Kong, Sr. Engineer.  As you have been informed, they did not leave because of lack of advancement opportunity, job dissatisfaction, or uncompetitive salaries or benefits.  They left because of dissatisfaction with how Town employees are treated. They are clearly not the first.  By my count, 28 employees have left the Town in the last five years, which is almost a 25 percent annual turnover rate in a Town of 24 FTE’s.  In that time, the Town has had five Administrative Service Directors and will have four Public Works Directors.  Excluding the City Manager, only seven employees have remained with the Town more than five years, and four are members of the maintenance crew. This turnover rate is 2 to 3 times higher than typically observed in government operations.

Excessive turnover is not new to the Town.  In 2018, in response to high turnover, Council asked Staff to address the issue.  Staff responded with a “Value proposition proposal to attract and retain Town staff.”  The proposal was basically more money and a better dental plan.  This did little to address the true cause of turnover.

Keeping the best employees is an essential part of managing a successful organization.  High turnover is an indication of low employee satisfaction.  Government agencies typically experience the lowest level of employee turnover; however, the Town’s turnover rate is extremely high.  High turnover is costly, incurring recruitment, hiring, and training costs.  More detrimental than the additional financial cost is the impact on progress due to the time consumed in recruiting and training, lower productivity, and loss of institutional knowledge. High turnover predicts low performance and project delays.

Dissatisfied former employees are poor ambassadors for the Town and make recruiting good employees more difficult.  Exit interviews can provide information on the reasons why employees seek employment elsewhere.

  • Recommendation: Conduct a Post-Exit Employee Survey

Town should hire an independent HR consultant to conduct an anonymous Post-Exit Employee Survey and report the results directly back to the Council. An external consultant typically has several advantages over an internal interviewer, including expertise in exit interviewing and a complete lack of bias, so he or she is more likely to produce reliable data.   Such a survey could be completed for less than $5000 and a qualified consultant is available.

Survey Goals: (Taken from a Harvard Business Review Study)

  1. Uncover issues relating to HR.
  2. Understand employees’ perceptions of the work itself.
  3. Gain insight into managers’ leadership styles and effectiveness.
  4. Learn about HR benchmarks (salary, benefits) at competing organizations.
  5. Foster innovation by soliciting ideas for improving the organization.
  6. Create lifelong advocates for the organization.

 

Look forward to the Council taking meaningful action to address this continuing problem.

 

Best,

Allan Epstein


The Comparison of Staff Turnover


On Saturday, May 29, 2021, 08:59:01 AM PDT, Zach Dahl
Morning Courtenay and Roger,As immediate-past Council members, you are more familiar than most with the dynamic at Town Hall, so I wanted to share a note with you that I sent to City Council last night.It has been great getting to know you during my time with LAH and it was a distinct pleasure to work with you while you were on the City Council.Have a great Memorial Day weekend!

Zachary Dahl, AICP

Planning and Building Director

Interim Engineering Services Manager

Town of Los Altos Hills

(650) 947-2507 | zdahl@losaltoshills.ca.gov

 

From: Zach Dahl
Sent: Friday, May 28, 2021 10:58 PM
To: Kavita Tankha <ktankha@losaltoshills.ca.gov>; George Tyson <gtyson@losaltoshills.ca.gov>; Lisa Schmidt <lschmidt@losaltoshills.ca.gov>; Stan Mok <stanmok@losaltoshills.ca.gov>; Linda Swan <lindaswan@losaltoshills.ca.gov>
Subject: Follow-up on my Notice of Resignation

 

Hello Mayor, Vice-Mayor and Members of the City Council,

 

As you are aware, I submitted my notice of resignation at the beginning of this week and will be wrapping up my time with the Town on June 11th.  Under more normal circumstances, I wouldn’t feel the need to reach out, however, given the ongoing campaign of mean-spirited accusations and hostility toward our City Manager and Town staff, I feel compelled to speak up and share the real reasons for why I chose to leave.  I do not want my departure to be used against Carl or distorted to further the agenda aimed at Town Hall.

 

When I joined the Town in 2019, I came, in part, because I had heard good things about the community and work environment at Town Hall. And over the past 21 months, I have enjoyed working with Carl and being a part of the family-like atmosphere that he tried to foster at Town Hall.  In particular, as we have navigated our way through the COVID-19 pandemic, I have really appreciated Carl’s leadership and focus on trying to what was best for the Town, and I feel very proud of the fact that we were able to safely keep the lights on at Town Hall and serve the community this entire time. Up until about six months ago, my goal was to serve the Town for at least three to four years.  But unfortunately, the proliferation of this very public campaign to force out Carl by any and all means necessary gave me pause, and forced me to begin exploring career alternatives.  There is a hostile work environment at Town Hall right now, but it is not of Carl’s making…it is the result of the words and actions of those outside of Town Hall. There is nothing wrong with a healthy debate about the future of the Town, but what is transpiring right now is very toxic for those of us that work for the Town, and it has the potential to destabilize Town Hall for a long time to come. With this effort to oust the Town’s City Manager now well documented in local news articles and in public meeting records, do you think it will help the Town’s recruitment effort for a new Public Works Director or City Manager? Does it strengthen the Town’s ability to retain the staff that we currently have?  The Town has a great team of talented and hard-working individuals who are very dedicated to serving the Los Altos Hills community and I also feel the need to speak up on their behalf. Please take the necessary steps to encourage a more respectful and civil community dialogue.

 

I have enjoyed working with many of the talented and engaged residents in this community, and plan on doing everything I can to help ensure a smooth transition of roles and responsibilities before my departure.  Los Altos Hills is a great community and I wish nothing but the best for the Town as it charts its path forward.  Thank you for your public service and I am happy to speak with any of you further if so desired.

 

Zachary Dahl, AICP

Planning and Building Director

Interim Engineering Services Manager

Town of Los Altos Hills

(650) 947-2507 | zdahl@losaltoshills.ca.gov

Update: April 28th 2021Statement from Los Altos Hills Mayor Kavita Tankha

Los Altos Hills City Manager Carl Cahill has advised the City Council of his intention to retire from his position of City Manager effective as of October 29, 2021. Carl started work with the Town in 1999 and served as Planning Director before being appointed to the position of City Manager. Carl has served as City Manager for the Town of Los Altos Hills for fifteen years.

As Mayor and on behalf of the City Council, the City Council appreciates Carl’s 22 years of service to the Town and its residents. Carl and the dedicated staff he has managed have provided thoughtful analysis and recommendations to the City Council, the Planning Commission and Town Committees, and we wish Carl the very best.

The City Council will now commence a process for selection of a new City Manager. We anticipate that process will take four to six months to complete. This process will start with issuance of an RFP to select a recruiter followed by a nationwide search for qualified candidates who will assist the City Council and staff to continue to implement the Town’s goals and priorities and to identify innovative ways to continue to provide excellent services to our Town residents. Los Altos Hills is an exceptional Town to live and work in and the City Council looks forward to finding a City Manager who can serve the needs of our diverse and engaged community.


Resignation Letter from Carl Cahill can be found:

Cahill Memo announcing retirement final (PDF)


Town Crier Article Published 4/21/2021

Views of Hills city manager continue to divide residents

A faction of Los Altos Hills residents intent on forcing the termination of the town’s city manager doubled down on its efforts last week through both public comments made during council meetings and social media posts encouraging others to speak out.

City Councilmember Linda Swan is leading the charge from the dais as her husband, John Swan, does so from the private sector. During discussion of multiple agenda items council members considered at their regular meeting Thursday, the Swans sought to publicly add to a growing dossier of grievances some residents have against City Manager Carl Cahill. They often compared his recent actions to those that led to the renewal of a contentious 15-year, $50 million contract between the town and garbage hauler GreenWaste Recovery; as council members continue to conduct Cahill’s routine performance evaluation, the Swans and others aim to convince them to vote against renewing Cahill’s employment contract.

In a move Vice Mayor George Tyson called an upsetting and “stunning rebuke,” Linda Swan on Thursday called for her colleagues to officially reprimand Cahill for issues that arose when town staffers last May constructed a tractor port to protect an assortment of Public Works Department equipment from weather.

Permits were not secured prior to construction, the structure resulted in a setback encroachment requiring a Planning Commission variance and the total project cost, $62,659.91, exceeded the city manager’s signing authority of $25,000, Linda Swan said. She also alleged Public Works Department staff who completed the work were not properly trained to do so, making the town potentially vulnerable to liability should injuries have occurred.

“I don’t think this is a case of ‘all’s well that ends well,’” Linda Swan said to Cahill. “You’ve been city manager for 15 years, and it seems to me the procedures for doing this should have been followed.”

Mayor Kavita Tankha broke the brief period of awkward silence that followed by uttering an “all right” meant to move the discussion along. She instructed Cahill to remember that even though the project came in under the $80,000 the council approved as part of the 2019-2020 annual budget, he can’t expend above his signing authority by piecemealing costs without council authority.

Cahill said he understands that and takes full responsibility for any “procedural errors.”

“We fixed it,” he said. “We took care of the problems. I really applaud our Public Works maintenance staff. They really wanted to do this in-house, save the town money, and they did.”

Tankha, Tyson and Councilmember Lisa Schmidt have thus far remained steadfast in their support of Cahill. Schmidt said she is satisfied the project came in under budget without any remaining problems to fix. The three voted in favor of accepting Cahill’s report on the project. Linda Swan did not. Councilmember Stanley Q. Mok said Cahill deserved to be punished via a monetary fine, probation or additional supervision, but abstained from voting.

Private-sector assault

John Swan is responsible for publishing ttags.org (“Townspeople for Transparency, Accountability, Garbage contract, Safety & service”). The website calls for residents to apprise themselves of town issues, sign a petition urging council members “to align our town management so the needs and values of our Townspeople are met,” tune into Zoom meetings about issues and watch TTAGS-created videos.

A YouTube video TTAGS posted April 12 features former town Mayor Gary Waldeck interviewing Jim Cogan, former Paso Robles assistant city manager and current managing partner of an agriculture-related, Silicon Valley startup.

“A group of us believe the town is in a key inflection point in history,” Waldeck said. “We want to look back at the guiding principles that were followed when our town was formed.”

During the 46-minute exchange, Waldeck prompted Cogan to compare his own city management experience with Los Altos Hills practices. Cogan shared some insight, but he did not go so far as to criticize anyone.

By Friday, the video had acquired 41 views.

At one time, John Swan envisioned a webinar with Monte Sereno City Manager Steve Leonardis. In a March 14 email exchange with Tankha, he requested a copy of the town’s list of resident email addresses, the list staffers consult to provide alerts of official town events residents have elected to hear about, so he could advertise the webinar.

The town does not share such lists, Tankha told him.

Leonardis did not immediately respond to a Town Crier request for confirmation he planned to participate in a TTAGS webinar.

Another former Hills mayor, Michelle Wu, posted a prompt to residents on Nextdoor, encouraging them to speak up during the public comment portion of Cahill’s performance review, a special meeting that started approximately an hour before Thursday’s regular council meeting. Aside from the public comments, the review unfolded during a closed session unavailable to the public, as is protocol.

Wu instructed residents to select from eight questions she prepared, including ones about the garbage contract, the town hall addition some residents don’t want and staff turnover, especially where it pertains to departed staffers of Asian descent.

“Is (Cahill) the only option and best option to manage this affluent town with poor internet, crumbling infrastructure, and lacking a resident community center?” read question No. 6.

Wu did not speak during either council meeting Thursday, but she submitted an agenda supplement summarizing the issues she raised on Nextdoor.

Planning Commissioner Jim Waschura provided the closing verbal comments for the special meeting.

“I’m disappointed that, from my view, a small group of people are continuing to feel it’s Carl who is responsible for decisions made by past city councils related to policies they don’t agree with,” he said.