tv [untitled] December 2, 2011 3:00am-3:30am PST
director of transportation and the secretary, your own secretary, the secretary to the board. the sf mta board approved settlements recommended by our office, and you approve the rates and fees and fares that are relative. you also approve the sf mta budget, and the board also has the ability to acquire intuit any matter in the jurisdiction. so i want to talk about a few of your roles and duties in a little more detail. regarding policy direction, the board sets policy for the agency consistent with the city's legislation, most importantly including the city charter, and the board gives direction to the staff of the agency through the director of transportation.
as part of your policy-making function, the board can require the director of transportation to get board approval for specific action. that is where the balance of power is not really set out in the charter in any great degree. approving the budget. as you all know, the sf m.t.a. has a degree of control over their budget. this is unique among city budgets. the sf mta segments a balanced two-year budget to the mayor and the board of supervisors for an even number year. odd numbered years such as this one, the sf m.t.a. was required to submit a budget amendment only if it was seeking an increase in appropriations or fare increases, or things that were not included in the two-
year budget that you submitted. the sf mta budget is approved by operational law. this is different than any other agency. their budgets are approved by the board. this is unless it is rejected by a supermajority by the board of supervisors. if the sf mta wants an increase in general fund spending that is over the guaranteed base amount, then you would have to receive the normal, but you would go through the normal budgetary review process and get approval from the mayor and the board of supervisors for increases over your general fund spending. and of course, as you have heard today, the sf mta board with the board of supervisors approval can issue debt without voter reproval.
i want to talk about the concept that has two parts that are commonly referred to as interference in administrative affairs, and the first part of that is a chain of command. so the board and its members may seek information from the director of transportation about the sf mta operations, and with the directors'approval, can seek information from staff, so an individual board member with approval can seek information from staff. in sum, the board must work for the director of transportation. that is how the chain of command those. this last bullets is interference with administrative affairs. an individual member of the board in administrative affairs other than through the director is official misconduct.
i want to make sure that you understand that chain of command does not mean that the board as a body cannot talk to individual staff. the chain of command limitation does not affect the full board powers of inquiry. you can call any mta officer or employee to speak to the board as alan colmes about any matter. that is within your jurisdiction at any time. the other part of what is commonly called interference with administrative affairs is the distinction between action by an individual member of the board and the board's action, so board members make a decision only as a body. an individual board member does not have any policy-making authority.
individual members cannot exercise the powers of the mta board. and, of course, when the the board asks and exercises its power at a notice meeting, by means of a vote. any questions about any of that? president nolan: this year, we are looking at like a $22 million deficit in the budget. how does that fit in in terms of the board of supervisors? what are our options? >> director, as you know, the past five years, we have always had a budget deficits, and the way we have addressed it is by either not hiring or enhancing our revenues. as long as we do not go to the board to ask for more money, we are ok, and we usually have to do that.
president nolan: thank you. ms? >> i know you did this ever you through -- every year through our online training. so the basic rules about open meetings is that all policy bodies operate in public meetings. those meetings must be publicly noticed, and the policy body must fix public comment at those meetings. what is a meeting? it seems painfully obvious, but people in my office spend a lot of time talking about this and thinking about this because we want to avoid the situation in which there is a gathering of a quorum of a policy body, and the members do not realize that this
is a meeting, and therefore the meeting has not been noticed, and then it is an unlawful meeting. a basic definition of a meeting occurs when the majority of the members of a policy body come together at the same time and place. it is important to note that both the board and any of your committee is our policy bodies, so a gathering of two or three would be a meeting. that retreats, workshops, site tores, gatherings, which are now not as common, but when i came into this office, it was very common to have a new gathering before or after a board meeting. those are meetings, and they have to be noticed. of course, there is nothing wrong with having a retreat. no you're having one next week, in two weeks, but a retreat is just a meeting that has to be
noticed just like any other, and the public has the right to attend and participate. there are some important exceptions to the basic definition of a meeting. meetings can occur even though the majority of a policy body is not in the same place at the same time, so the most obvious example is a telephone conference among the majority of the members of the policy body. you are not in the same physical place, but a telephone conference is a meeting, and you would not be allowed to have a delicate bone conference. -- to have a telephone conference. that also be an illegal meeting. a more subtle situation our
meetings that occur when members of a policy body and of discussing an issue that is within their jurisdiction, even though those discussions occur may be between one member and another member. they do not occur at the same time, they do not occur in the same place. the simplest is when they occur by telephone, when member calls member b, and them member b decides she wants to hear what member c has to say about that, and then member c calls member d. those are unlawful, and they do occur mostly through technology, telephones, facts, email, text messaging.
they also can occur through human intermediaries, a member of your staff talking to one board member, find out what one board member things about a particular issue and goes to another board member and says, "well, board member a tells me this. what do you think?" and that process goes on until it includes a majority of the members, and then you have an unlawful seriatim meeting. one thing we have cautioned board members a lot is that it is very easy to have email exchanges turned into an unlawful meeting. someone sends an email addresses it to all board members, and the members start replying. they hit reply all, and then it becomes a discussion among a majority of members about an item that is within the board
jurisdiction. that discussion is not taking place in public. the public does not know. today, we're not talking about public records, but i also wanted to remind you that when you use technology to communicate by email or by text or other means, even if you are using your own, personal device, if you are communicating about the public business, it is at least possible -- the lot is not very well developed on this issue, there have been a couple of cases, but we have not been given enough guidance yet, but it is possible that that could be subject to disclosure. i want to make sure you are all aware of that. ok, so now we know what a meeting is. we can go on to public notice.
of course, all of your public meetings have to be noticed, and your secretary is an expert in that in making sure that is done properly, and that notice includes your agenda, and you cannot act on any matter or discuss any matter that is not on your agenda. i think you all are well aware of this issue, and just a reminder, it includes discussion. an item that is not on your agenda. director: can i ask for a clarification of the process? >> sure. director: for an item to be on the agenda. >> the way that that works is that your agendas are sent by
the director of transportation and the president or the chairman of your board, who sets the agenda and decides when items will come before the board, so an individual board member does not have the authority to command that a certain item appeared on the agenda at a certain time. that is how the process works. president nolan: but as often happens, and during comments, as director brinkman did, that is -- >> that is ok, because you are hearing from the board, know what items the individual members went on, and you are discussing it with the director, especially if it requires some kind of staff action or staff report. you are making sure. you are doing that in your
function as a chair as administrative matter to make sure that everything can come before the board in due course. and there is no problem with individual board members stating what they would like to have on the agenda, telling the executive director, that they would like to have something on the agenda, asking the chair to place it on the agenda. that is perfectly fine. that is what you do. there are some exceptions to the rule about not discussing items on the agenda. they are extremely rare, but there are some in emergencies. you sometimes will be able to discuss matters that are not on the agenda. of course, our office would be giving you advice about this. i have been in this office for 22 years, and i think the only time i have ever seen this happen was after loma prieta.
and this goes back to your question, about not discussing items on the agenda. it does not prevent people from asking to put something on a future agenda, from a board member following up on public comment, for asking for clarification about what their concern is, a public common with the reference to staff or other resources or asking staff to report back on something that a member of the public is commenting about. so one of the other tenants for public meetings is that the public has a right to comment at all public meetings. they have the right to comment anonymously. your secretary asks for people to provide a speaker card, and that is fine, but if the speaker
does not want to fill a speaker card, they have a right to address you. they have the right to criticize the policy body, criticize members of the policy body, to criticize staff. again, they need to keep on topic. and they do not have the right to discriminate against members of staff, make discriminatory comments. that, again, is a matter that the deputy who is present would be advising about if you got into a situation like that. speakers have a right to equal time. you must give speakers equal time on the particular item, and speakers have the right to translation. the members of the public that do not speak english have a right to have their comments translated, and one more point of clarification because we have had that come up a bit, our understanding is, for example, if we are giving three minutes
of public comment, and the person needs translation, it is three minutes for their comments and three minutes from the transmitter, but if they are translating their own comments, it is a total of three minutes. >> i think that is right, click. >> madam chair, three minutes for the speaker, and then i do not time and all the translator. >> the limits on public comment, speakers have up to three minutes on an item. i know you are all familiar with this. sometimes you get less for everybody. they do not have the right to speak off topic or to discuss other meetings. they do not have the right to a response from the board or staff members. that is absolutely discretionary. and they do not have the right to discriminate against city staff. >> can i?
so the no right to speak off topic, sometimes in a meeting we have some guy talking about steve jobs, just going off, and there was another person who came up and sang a song in the past, and i am wondering -- i understand that they do not have the right to do that so to speak, but i am just curious as to how we should be handling those things in the future because i also want to encourage a sense of discipline from within this room, and i am wondering -- >> president nolan: the singer, i understand that he addresses the board, and it is topical.
i had someone injected it from the room by sheriff's because he just would not stop. it was a very tense situation. in the event that it was kind of widespread and people would not respect that, we have the ability as in the chair to ask for a recess and actually clear the room, but you have to allow them back in, is my understanding, there may be only a few at a time. >> yes, and i have definitely seen that happen. it can be quite effective. it can be really effective to recess the room, to allow people to calm down, to tell people that you want to go on to the meeting and that you want to hear from them and that you
do not want them to shots of the people can be heard. i have seen that on more than a few occasions. i have never seen a chair just let a few people back in at a time, but our office has advised that you can do that if it is absolutely necessary. president nolan: there is something that takes their 2 billion minutes, and they are speaking about something that is fairly jermaine, it is sometimes easier to let them finish. director: maybe some directors do not like that so much. >> that is what i have seen cheers do, interrupt the speaker and say this is the topic, or we are on this item. you can comment on this item, or we are in general public comment. do you have something to say
about things that are under our jurisdiction, and generally that leads to it. you do have a situation sometimes where people for whatever reason, maybe because of a mental disability, really cannot stay on topic, and i think years handle it in different ways. director: i have been thinking that you have done a good job so far , so the thank you. president nolan: we had a meeting before the was almost seven hours long.
>> the policy body has to meet in public, and you are allowed to meet in closed sessions in very limited circumstances. personnel matters, pending litigation, labor negotiations, realistic negotiations. there are a few others that occur from time to time. in terms of closed session, one of the most important things to know is that although some actions that you have taken must be disclosed when you return to open session, and, of course, the board votes after every closed session about whether it wants to disclose the closed session. in general, the closed session is confidential, and if the board has voted to not disclose, then the material, what was said, is confidential, and it is a violation of state law for individual board members to
disclose the closed session discussion. president nolan: have you ever seen in 22 years someone disclose it? >> no, i had never seen the city go after someone. director: what is it that allows us to all go to something like the recent streetcar presentation? >> if it is open to the public, maybe a public meeting, but it is not your public meeting. it is the meeting of a state
board or a federal board, it is a ceremonial gathering or other gatherings, or even a social gathering that is not put on by you, that is not, for example, a christmas party. it happened to be in your circle, and more than a majority showed up. the important thing to remember there is not using that gathering as an opportunity without thinking about it to talk about things that are under your jurisdiction. thank you. president nolan: not coming to my house for christmas. secretary boomer: some members of the public that when it to
there are so many ways that the internet provides real access to real people and resources and that's what we're try to go accomplish. >> i was interested in technology like video production. it's interesting, you get to create your own work and it reflects what you feel about saying things so it gives perspective on issues. >> we work really hard to develop very in depth content, but if they don't have a venue, they do not have a way to show us, then this work is only staying here inside and nobody knows the brilliance and the amazing work that the students are doing. >> the term has changed over time from a very basic who has a computer and who doesn't have a computer to now who has
access to the internet, especially high speed internet, as well as the skills and the knowledge to use those tools effectively. . >> the city is charged with coming up with digital inclusion. the department of telecommunications put together a 15 member san francisco tech connect task force. we want the digital inclusion program to make sure we address the needs of underserved vulnerable communities, not communities that are already very tech savvy. we are here to provide a, b and c to the seniors. a stands for access. b stands for basic skills and c stands for content. and unless we have all three, the monolingual chinese seniors are never going to be able to use the computer or the internet. >> a lot of the barrier is knowledge. people don't know that these computers are available to
them, plus they don't know what is useful. >> there are so many businesses in the bay area that are constantly retiring their computer equipment that's perfectly good for home use. computers and internet access are helping everybody in the community and people who don't have it can come to us to help with that. one of the biggest problems we see isn't whether people can get computers through programs like ours, but whether they can understand why they need a computer. really the biggest issue we are facing today is helping people understand the value of having a computer. >> immediately they would say can i afford a computer? i don't speak any english. how do i use it. then they will start to learn how to do email or how to go back to chinese newspaper to read all the chinese newspaper. >> a lot of the barrier still is around lack of knowledge or confusion or intimidation and not having people in their peer network who use computers in their lives. >> the important thing i
learned from caminos was to improve myself personally. when i first came to caminos, i didn't know anything about computers. the second thing is i have become -- i have made some great achievements as an individual in my family and in things of the world. >> it's a real issue of self-empowerment where new immigrant families are able to communicate with their families at home, able to receive news and information in their own home language, really become more and more connected with the world as well as connected even inside their local communities. >> if we value the diversity of our city and we value our diverse neighborhoods in the city, we need to ensure that they remain economically viable. equiping them and equiping residents in those areas with jobs that will enable them to stay in san francisco i