Santa Monica’s council members are accountable to the voting public every two years. Now, the three city employees who are appointed by the council will also be accountable on an annual basis, thanks to a smooth discussion and painless decision made at the council’s retreat at the Santa Monica Main Library last weekend.
The Santa Monica City Council approved a staff recommendation at its weekend retreat on Feb. 13 to conduct “annual performance evaluations of the three council-appointed employees:” the positions of city manager, city attorney, and city clerk. In accordance with the unanimously approved recommendation, the council directed staff to “schedule a special council meeting for the sole purpose of these performance evaluations.”
The three positions are currently held by Rod Gould (city manager), Marsha Jones Moutrie (city attorney), and Maria Stewart (city clerk).
“We have all agreed amongst ourselves that we would benefit from a real candid conversation once a year with the council about how we’re doing our jobs. We take our jobs very seriously, we want to provide maximum value to the public, and we want to meet the council’s expectations,” City Manager Rod Gould said. “You would set one night per year aside strictly for the purpose of evaluating our three positions.”
As part of the annual performance evaluation process, each council-appointed position would provide “council and staff with regular and structured communication about past and future achievements, goals, and objectives.
Each of the three appointed individuals would self-assess their performance for the previous year, report on what was achieved in that same period of time, propose new goals and objectives for the following year, and outline possible areas for improvement.
Each council member would receive this information prior to the convening of the special meeting in closed session. The special meeting itself would be attended solely by council members and each of the three appointed positions.
At the outset of the meeting, council members would meet without the presence of staff to discuss each individual’s performance. Afterward, each appointed employee would individually meet with the entire council, still in closed session, to discuss the self-assessment report.
According to the staff report, a recommendation was made to convene the special closed session meeting on the first Tuesday in April.
“We can’t, in my view, delay evaluations. We need to find a day that works for everyone,” Mayor Richard Bloom said, stressing to his colleagues that while the council as a whole sometimes struggle with scheduling issues, it was vital to establish a date when all council members would be in attendance for the evaluation of the three appointed employees. “I think the spring time frame works well for the council.”
In addition to pushing forward the appointed employees evaluation process, the council also set a date for its 2012 retreat at this meeting.
Staff was directed to schedule the 2012 annual retreat on Saturday, Feb. 4, 2012. Even more, as this year’s retreat was not televised and only streamed on the City’s Website, staff was directed to arrange with CityTV to ensure next year’s special weekend meeting is videotaped.
The council also approved a staff recommendation “to eliminate the practice of appointing emeritus members to council-appointed boards and commissions … while allowing current emeritus members to serve the remainder of their term.”