"The city clerk shall keep an accurate record of the proceeding of the legislative body ... in books bearing appropriate titles and devoted exclusively to such purposes, respectively. The books shall have a comprehensive general index."
-- California Government Code 40801
When Kimberly Lehmkuhl ran for Pleasant Hill city clerk in fall 2012, she called for making city government more transparent. She has done just the opposite. During her first year in office, she produced no City Council meeting minutes, the most important task of her office.
It's disgraceful. Lehmkuhl should resign.
Minutes are critical and basic public documents, the historical record of council actions and votes. There is no excuse for failure to produce them in a timely fashion. Indeed, state law requires it.
Rather than do her job, Lehmkuhl spends council meetings sending out tweets. Her Twitter account, @KimPHClerk, mixes postings of council comments and actions with personal and political opinion. It's embarrassing.
Don't misunderstand: There's a role for social media. However, Lehmkuhl first must perform her essential duties with the neutral professionalism expected of a city clerk.
Amazingly, the City Council, city manager and city attorney never alerted the public. Instead, emails obtained through the Public Records Act show, City Manager June Catalano's staff tried unsuccessfully to privately prod Lehmkuhl to produce. When that failed, Catalano should have stepped up to find a solution, but she didn't.
We'll give City Attorney Janet Coleson a partial pass because she wasn't hired until this past summer. But she, too, had time to sound the alarm, and didn't, even though state law was broken.
Councilman Michael Harris, who served as mayor from December 2012 to December 2013, says he spoke privately with Lehmkuhl and is now "extremely disappointed" with the results. Newly appointed Mayor Tim Flaherty says he also talked with her and is "cautiously optimistic" she will fix the problem.
It was Councilman David Durant who finally made this a public issue, as it should have been all along. At the Jan. 6 council meeting, he proposed that city staff produce the minutes Lehmkuhl failed to deliver.
He also wants to ask voters to eliminate the elective office of city clerk and make it an appointed position, like in nearly three-fourths of California cities. The council set dates to further consider Durant's proposals.
The next day, Lehmkuhl suddenly sent out drafts of minutes for seven of the 24 council meetings from the past 13 months. It's too little too late. And she won't commit to a deadline for the rest. She must go.