The Water Cooler – The City of Pleasant Hill -vs- the City Clerk

January 9, 2014 12:00 pm · 65 comments

The “Water Cooler” is a feature on where we ask you a question or provide a topic, and you talk about it!

The “Water Cooler” will be up Monday-Friday in the noon hour.

Watch the video above and answer this question: After learning that the City of Pleasant Hill’s City Clerk has failed to produce any meeting minutes since taking office a year ago, should the City of Pleasant Hill make the position of city clerk an appointed position, or should they leave it as an elected position?

Talk about it….

Spencer January 9, 2014 at 12:05 PM

Is there no way to fire her? How on God’s green earth does she still have this job?

ClayDen January 9, 2014 at 12:07 PM

The KTVU 10 O’clock news did a similar story on this last night too, and she was really “tap dancing.”. I don’t live in PH, but if I did, I would be livid and ready to start a recall on this irresponsible twit. Also, the City Council should be held accountable for being “asleep at the switch.” Saying that the council meetings are available as videos is a total cop-out.

Ted K. January 9, 2014 at 12:15 PM

‘Sounds like her side job with that non-profit is getting in the way of her normal duties as PH City Clerk. Either she should resign or do her job.

The position should be an at-will, appointed position so that he or she can be fired for poor job performance.

Lori January 9, 2014 at 12:16 PM

And she gets paid how much for doing nothing but playing with her twitter account?

VikingPrincess January 9, 2014 at 12:19 PM

@Spencer… you took the words out of our mouths 😉

This is embarrassing, they should be ashamed. She knows it is part of her job, so that is not the mystery. Until the clipped closed with the camera comments I kept thinking “isn’t this a requirement? ” I was under the impression that minutes are paramount to their existence….no minutes = didn’t happen = PH does not have local govt meetings… but who am I?
Hopefully the powers that be will step in. Elected vs appointed? Well, did the previous person in this position do the same? I’d have to know more to decide. But I do know they need to fix this asap. Heck, I’ll do minutes twice a month…geesh

VikingPrincess January 9, 2014 at 12:26 PM

OK …I know, I know …she’s just ticked cause someone came at her hair with a buzz saw…..
Oops? Did I say that?
Maybe I’ll tweet it

Dorothy January 9, 2014 at 12:32 PM

Before retiring I was a Certified Records Manager and there were several City Clerks in our professional organization (ARMA). I would bet each and every one of them is now turning beet red from both anger at this tweeter and the embarrassment she has caused to these very hard working people. It isn’t that hard to take proper minutes and this tweeter had the video of the meetings to work with as well.

As to the question, by all means make it either an appointed position or one that is open to the job seeking market of people who would be qualified to do the work.

Jobless January 9, 2014 at 12:36 PM

Get rid of her. I’ll do it. I don’t have a job and I’m sure she gets paid well. I’ll even take a pay cut. Lol Also what’s going on with her hair? I thought city hall was conservative.

Incognito January 9, 2014 at 12:41 PM

Perfect example of getting paid for doing nothing….

Anonymous January 9, 2014 at 12:46 PM

She gets paid 7 grand per year

BCuzItzClaycord January 9, 2014 at 12:52 PM

On the news last night it said she made $7000 & change……Well I don’t care if it is $7 or $700,000 she had a job to do and didn’t do it. She needs to be fired/terminated/dismissed whatever….she needs to be gone. And where is the council????????? Concord & Martinez approve the prior meeting minutes at each meeting. Didn’t they think something was odd if they didn’t get copies of minutes to approve???????????????

Theo January 9, 2014 at 12:59 PM

As indicated in the Contra Costa Times in regards to City Clerk, Kimberly Lehmkuhl: “The city clerk shall keep an accurate record of the proceedings of the legislative body … in books bearing appropriate titles and devoted exclusively to such purposes, respectively. The books shall have a comprehensive general index.” It is doubtful that her excessive “Tweeting” qualifies as accurate recordings of official City Council meetings. Her demeanor is outrageous as well unprofessional.

— California Government Code 4080

slow down January 9, 2014 at 1:07 PM

slow down. there’s a reason these positions are elected. the city council shouldn’t be held accountable, because she doesn’t report to the council. would you want her to report to the council? remember this is the council that just childishly denied a fellow councilman an honorary title.

she should report to the people as it is currently. the people should now remove her or elect someone else next election. i would not want the council to have the power to fire or hire a clerk who may record minutes in the manner a politician wants, rather than what the people want.

this is civics. unfortunately, people don’t want to get involved until something negative happens. and then when something negative does happen, people want to hand over the power to someone else, rather than deal with it as a democratic society.

making this position an appointed position removes a (minor) balance of power. it should be silly to do so.

SAR January 9, 2014 at 1:15 PM

If anyone has an opinion that you would like to share with her, she can be reached at (925) 671-5267

PH Dad January 9, 2014 at 1:16 PM

Why didn’t the outgoing mayor do anything about this? Could it be because he was one of the city council cabal members who endorsed her election to the position of City Clerk?

The elected officials in my city are really looking pretty amateurish at this point. The whole deal with skipping Jack Weir in order to front load the council with pro-union leadership just prior to contract negotiations stinks to high heaven. Maybe it’s time to ask the Grand Jury to start an investigation?
Hmm, perhaps applying to become a member of the Grand Jury would be in order…

anon January 9, 2014 at 1:31 PM

I have attended public meetings in different localities and I remember all council members reviewing and voting to approve the minutes of the preceding meeting. I think the person responsible for the meetings agenda has dropped the ball as well as the board members who have the failed to approve the minutes of all their meetings.

Weak Mayor January 9, 2014 at 1:39 PM

The Mayor of Pleasant Hill is a “weak mayor” form of government. Purely ceremonial. The mayor has one vote as does all other council members.

The city clerk should resign. She obviously is occupied with other priorities.

This is again, the telling and prominent indicator of what is wrong with politics and government in our country, local, state, and federal.

NO ONE is minding the store, no one cares. It’s no one’s fault. And worst of all, NO ONE IS EVER HELD ACCOUNTABLE for being a major screw up.

Blink January 9, 2014 at 1:40 PM

Lol looks addicted to phone

? January 9, 2014 at 1:44 PM

More dysfunction going on in Pleasant Hill. No surprise here.

You’re right PH Dad.
Any council loaded with pro-union leadership ALWAYS effects contract negotiations. Big mistake for private sector peon-taxpayers.

Anon January 9, 2014 at 1:44 PM

There is another city close to this one that pays the City Clerks & his wife’s medical to the tune of $15,000 a year…

Ms. Kitty January 9, 2014 at 2:13 PM

The Clerk sure doesn’t make much–that salary is over 50% below the poverty limit.

Cassandra January 9, 2014 at 2:28 PM

I attend council meetings at several organizations, and I’ve never heard of not taking minutes.

I’m currently taking the minutes at two different organizations, and I hand out copies to everyone on the council. How did she get away with this?

I saw this on the news last night, and I think she’s just being lazy. I would fire her.

I don’t think it matters if it’s an appointed or elected position. As long as the person takes the minutes!

Theo January 9, 2014 at 2:33 PM

Under current policy Pleasant Hill’s seven elected officials – five city council members, city clerk and city treasurer – are treated like employees by receiving:

• An annual salary/stipend of $7,020 for city council; $6,672 for the clerk and treasurer;
• Health, dental, vision and employee assistance insurance for elected official and eligible dependent(s), at individual cost of $660 annually (the city’s actual cost ranges from $7,939 to $28,988 annually);
• Term life/accidental death insurance policy for elected official at no cost (the city’s actual cost is $130 annually); and
• An option to participate in the city’s PERS pension plan, with individual 7% employee contribution (the actual annual cost to city is $900 for council members; $864 for city clerk and treasurer).

Ms. Kitty January 9, 2014 at 2:37 PM

Sorry “That Clerk”

Michelle January 9, 2014 at 2:40 PM

So Anon, #20, what are the salaries for he and his significant other?

anonymous January 9, 2014 at 2:43 PM

Dont pay her

Elwood January 9, 2014 at 2:56 PM

Lehmkuhl is obviously a flake.

She needs to go.

Helen January 9, 2014 at 4:57 PM

She should definitely resign, and let someone have he job who will actually DO the job. can’t figure out why she even ran for the position. just wanted her five minutes on camera I guess. Pleasant Hill can do without her !!!!!

So Angry January 9, 2014 at 5:12 PM

What really irritates me is that she stated that she didn’t get elected so that she could be a “stenographer.” Newsflash! A City Clerk is statutorily required to take the minutes, so really her primary function is to be a stenographer.

If you look at her campaign materials, one of her platforms was using technology and social media in City Hall.

I am really angry. I live in Pleasant Hill. I am a female roughly the same age as Lehmkuhl. I attended Columbia University just like Lehmkuhl, (I graduated, she just attended.) I studied law like Lehmkuhl. I work in government. I had such high hopes for Lehmkuhl and was excited for her because we have some real things in common. She has let me and everyone else down. I think she should resign. I have zero confidence in her ability to carry out her other duties.

Atticus Thraxx January 9, 2014 at 5:50 PM

That’s funny. And nobody checked her work or asked for copies of the minutes. Like a friggin Dilbert cartoon. Rock on P.Hill!

Dorothy Englund January 9, 2014 at 6:29 PM

@Atticus Thraxx –

You are so right!

This reflects on a weak Mayor (Michael Harris) and a weak City Manager (June Catalano).

How many Board Chairs would allow a Board to go a year without minutes? Why would the Mayor of Pleasant Hill allow his City Council to go a year without minutes?

June always says she’s like the CEO of a small business. How many CEOs would allow his or her company to go a year without minutes? None

The City Manager’s job description says she is responsible for ensuring the City complies with the law. What an epic fail.

I’m surprised the independent auditors didn’t say something about this – or maybe they did and someone just swept it under the rug.

Now, here’s a joke from someone in Moraga (where Harris used to serve on City Council):

Question: How many minutes in one hour?
Answer: Sixty minutes.

Question: How many minutes in one year?
Answer: None…. if Ms. Lehmkuhl is taking them.

And, I might add, “None if Michael Harris and June Catalano are in charge.”

An interesting column by Mr. Barnidge in today’s Contra Costa Times. Council member David Durant’s comments are believable and sincere – Michael Harris’ comments are not.

Julio January 9, 2014 at 6:39 PM

The city clerk is a part time position. Most cities are that way. You need a person like a court reporter to record the minutes and you can have them the next day. You still need a city clerk because some things have to be done.

All these council members need to be driven out of town for allowing this to happen on the same train she takes. I have zero confidence is anyone there. Has the city manager any comments though she is not her supervisor. A WHOLE YEAR??? Really!

Dorothy Englund January 9, 2014 at 6:41 PM

Some cities have city staff prepare the draft minutes and the elected City Clerk reviews the minutes and certifies them (or something like that) after Council approves them. If you’re not a stenographer or court reporter by trade, it would take forever to watch the videos and take minutes (which is how Kim Lehmkuhl reportedly prepares the minutes).

I think the City should assign the draft minutes to staff (as the City does for most, if not all, of the City’s commissions. Otherwise, I think the City Clerk is working at least twice the number of hours as the City Treasurer – for the same pay (and you run into situations like this where the work just doesn’t get done).

Council member Durant recommended that staff prepare the draft minutes to get the City caught up (or hire a stenographer, or other independent contractor until the minutes are completed). June Catalano thought Council would have to approve a new ordinance to do that. Except, that’s exactly what they do in Martinez and I think Concord as well.

The thing is, the City Manager is supposed to be a problem solver. She came to the January 6, 2014 Council meeting with no solutions.

RIII January 9, 2014 at 7:10 PM

Most jobs have a job description and a list of duties. Does this job include that? If so, the person in charge is not doing their job and if not, why was a paycheck ever issued? This is a total lack of competence at all levels. It’s only tax money but there should be a few deliverable items.

for fawks sake January 9, 2014 at 7:16 PM

Probably Martinez and Concord have ordinances allowing staff to prepare minutes. Why didn’t Lehmkuhl ask for help if she was in over her head? Seems like she thinks taking minutes is beneath her and would rather spend her time tweeting.

Anon January 9, 2014 at 7:30 PM

“So Anon, #20, what are the salaries for he and his significant other?”

The clerk gets $6000 @ year – sig. other does not work for the city

ANNONeeemoose January 9, 2014 at 7:49 PM

Ok, wait.. so was not one person overseeing her? If they are subject to Brown Act isn’t there a board making sure procedures are followed. EVERYONE is responsible for her incompetence.

Sheldon Cooper January 9, 2014 at 8:04 PM

That Lady does look a lot like Leslie Winkle.

GD98 January 9, 2014 at 8:06 PM

I vote that PHill appoints the job of taking notes to any electronic device that has a speech to text function.

The city clerk will be responsible for charging said devices.

Carol Putman January 9, 2014 at 8:57 PM

This is the most outrageous offense against
the electorate I have ever heard of … approaching
the abuses in Bell, CA. She has the typical
attitude for someone her age … she didn’t run
for the office to be a stenographer … tweeting
the councils minutes should suffice … we just
don’t understand the technology. She
needs to be recalled and if she isn’t, anyone
can run for anything and refuse to do the job. In
case she didn’t know it, what she is supposed
to be doing is “recording” the minutes and, yes,
it’s what stenographers do! The arogance …
the insolence She’s an airhead!

Ranger January 9, 2014 at 9:07 PM

She’s making Pleasant Hill look ridiculous. Have they even heard of Robert’s Rules Of Order?

VikingPrincess January 9, 2014 at 9:14 PM

She doesn’t seem all that excited about taking minutes nor is she defensive about it. Agreed it is not the most exciting task for some, I know because I always ended up doing them…but I ensured time was in my schedule after the meetkngs and did them immediately, as they can pile up. Someone can use a tape recorder for heavens sake.
I don’t know all of her duties even if I read her job description it probably won’t be 100% accurate… and I don’t think going to her twitter account is a good idea either. She mentioned a learning curve? What is going on in these meetings? Has the issue been addressed before? Why not? Usually the chairperson or facilitator speaks
for these things. Why is she out in the cold on this, using twitter to explain and no one else is stepping up? If it was too much she should have said something to the members…if she did, what was decided.
I’m not defending her but neither is she. Got a feeling she is not completely at fault and there is some talk of creating a person for minutes if her duties are too much for her or anyone. She takes one day off a week for this? How did the person that held this position handle it before?

Someone mentioned that she does not live in PH? So where does she live?
Does she have to be a resident to hold the position? When is the next election? We need to take our city back.
Should never get this far. Who handles Media relations for PH? Our 400k city attny? What are the City Hall Public servants resources when this sheite happens?
Hopefully a smart claycordian will know some of these answers.
Thank you

Nicole January 9, 2014 at 9:16 PM

I’ve taken minutes at council meeting before (currently doing so at my church), and it can be quite tedious.

But it’s YOUR JOB! If you don’t want to take minutes, don’t get a job or volunteer for a position where it’s required that you take the minutes!

I’d be more angry at the person above her that didn’t insist she do it. Fire all of them!

for fawks sake January 9, 2014 at 9:52 PM

This is not a job. It is an elected position. Why run if you font want to do the work?

VikingPrincess January 9, 2014 at 10:20 PM

Went to the site and even looked at regs related to minutes. Yup..
Election is November 2014. I remember when the position was posted before.

ranger January 9, 2014 at 10:37 PM

It sounds like she just wanted to pick up a quick and easy $7K a year to supplement her income and thought she’d be out of there by the time anybody noticed she was really clueless. Apparently being a stenographer is beneath her, an attitude I’ve run into before. She was apparently over educated and under socialized.

Safety Second January 9, 2014 at 11:02 PM

Pleasant Hill voters are historically stupid. They re-elect career politicians year after year….including carpet baggers from Moraga (i.e. Michael Harris). Then these career polictical whores burden the residents with outrageous salaries to city hall employees (e.g. $507,000 to City Attorney and $325,000 to City Manager). How bout that strip mall they call “down town”…Soooo many dumb ass voters in P Hill.

old sage January 10, 2014 at 12:08 AM

She should resign at once. Grand Jury might also want to look into the farce.

memo January 10, 2014 at 7:10 AM

It would appear that something has happened to the side of her head. Give the poor girl a break.

Dorothy Englund January 10, 2014 at 8:50 AM

I wish the Reporter had identified the City staff or public officials who believe the online videos indicate the City is in compliance with the laws. I don’t think someone who is deaf or hearing-impaired could lip read those videos and know what transpired at the Council meetings. There’s got to be an ADA violation somewhere.

cainmyrearview January 10, 2014 at 9:20 AM

And just who ELECTED this twit?!!! Those are the dangerous people.

BusBoy January 10, 2014 at 9:44 AM

Seriously… How do they conduct a meeting there in PHill?? Sint one of the first orders of business… the previouls months meeting minutes are either read and accepted or its a unanimous consent unless there are changes but the minutes are STILL moved as correct in the record.

Nice going council… Not… I should try this with where I am the Secretary for a Non Profit Corp… sorry gang… I dont have to do minutes anymore… all I have to do is tweet about them!! lol.

Meeting Minutes are a LEGAL and PRAR-able type of document… if someone was to do a request what would the clerk give them… her twitter feed??!! LOL

Dorothy Englund January 10, 2014 at 10:36 AM

Other council members inquired about the lack of minutes and June Catalano and then Mayor Michael Harris and Janet Coleson (the interim city attorney) dropped the ball. They were aware of the problem as far back as April 2013, if not before.

Who knows why they let this go another ten months without doing anything – until Council member Durant finally included the issue in his Open Government Initiative at last Monday’s Council meeting.

Harris could have put the issue on an agenda months ago. Council can discuss elected public officials in open session, but must discuss public employees’ performance in closed session.

Catalano should have come up with a plan to get the City Clerk caught up on minutes months ago. You don’t need an ordinance to have city staff prepare a draft of the minutes for the City Clerk to review, edit, etc. That should have been the obvious short-term solution.

@Dorothy Englund January 10, 2014 at 11:07 AM


Since you are the city of Pleasant Hill’s self-appointed watch dog, I am surprised that you didn’t catch this. You have made claims on other threads that you are taking the city council to task because of their alleged Brown Act violation of colluding against Jack, yet for a year, there have been no minutes produced and you haven’t noticed. When did you start caring about city matters?

In your post #31, you say that the Mayor was weak in not making sure that there were minutes. I don’t get this. Many posts have pointed out that the city of PH’s Mayor is largely a ceremonial appointment and yet here you are calling him a weak Mayor. Which is it? If the position is one of power, don’t other council members have the right to say they don’t want that person running the city? If the position is ceremonial, how could Harris be a weak Mayor?

All things being equal, there are four other members who are on the council who didn’t complain either, and for most of that year, only Weir and Durant, not Flaherty and Carlson, were on the council. Where were these open government advocates during this time?

Is there no end to the way you twist logic to make people who you don’t like the bad guys? I look forward to your non-answer on this.

@Dorothy Englund January 10, 2014 at 11:11 AM

..and by the way, I think that Ms. Lehmkuhl needs to go either by resigning or being recalled. She is obviously immature and ill-suited for her position. Her defense of her actions did not help her cause.

This is a legitimate reason for a recall, unlike your campaign against 3/5 of the council

@Carol Putnam #40 January 10, 2014 at 11:22 AM

You said: “This is the most outrageous offense against
the electorate I have ever heard of … approaching
the abuses in Bell, CA. ”

You cannot be serious equating what happened in Bell CA to the not taking of minutes at meetings that were all videotaped and available online to anyone interested.

She does need to go, but maybe we can all tone down the rhetoric.

Dorothy Englund January 10, 2014 at 11:50 AM

Wendy Lack caught the minutes issue. That’s why it’s finally coming to light. I primarily follow land use issues and the City doesn’t have a problem producing the minutes for the Planning Commission meetings.

The Mayor position is largely ceremonial. However, the Mayor is responsible for reviewing the draft agendas and approving the final agendas for Council meetings. He or she is generally the one to meet with the City Manager on these kinds of issues. Harris did discuss the matter with the City Manager and, I believe, the City Clerk as far back as last spring (perhaps even as far back as last winter). They have no excuse for not putting the item on an agenda and dealing with it.

The other Council members probably should have asked to put the item on the agenda months ago. But, up until Harris’, Carlson’s, and Flaherty’s latest stunt, they would have left something like this up to the Mayor, City Manager, and Attorney to fix, and wouldn’t want to insult the Mayor by bringing the matter up in open session.

The Mayor also decides on Committee assignments and that is a substantive (non-ceremonial) role. Flaherty announced that he believes each Council member should have an opportunity to serve on the various committees and subcommittees. That seems inconsistent with his position that not all Council members should have an opportunity to serve as Mayor (and that he somehow thinks someone who has never even served as Vice Mayor should be elected to the position of Mayor.

I think it’s great that the Contra Costa Times is following all the developments at Pleasant City Hall so closely. Hopefully, most Pleasant Hill residents are paying attention.

Dorothy Englund January 10, 2014 at 11:59 AM

I’m not initiating a recall against Harris, Carlson, and Flaherty. But, if someone else wants to organize it, I will help gather the signatures. Personally, I think Carlson should have another chance. Harris took advantage of him.

Harris is a senior council member and three-time Mayor of Pleasant Hill. He should have known the impact his decision and actions would have on our City. If he didn’t know, he could have checked with Pittsburg who suffered from the same issue several years ago. Pittsburg adopted an ordinance to ensure the Vice Mayor would become Mayor. Walnut Creek has also adopted a similar ordinance. And, Moraga includes in its Rules and Procedures the intent that all Council members should have an opportunity to serve as Mayor. Pleasant Hill needs to do the same.

Flaherty is new to Council, but he’s been around City Hall long enough to know the Vice Mayor is promoted to Mayor unless he or she is unwilling or unable to assume the responsibilities. Nobody believes him when he claims he didn’t make up his mind until he saw Harris and Carlson didn’t support Jack on December 2. So much for his campaign promise:

“You can count on me to be open, to be honest, and to listen.”

Where was the openness and honesty? Where was the deliberation of such an extraordinary and irregular action by Harris, Carlson, and Flaherty?

I was out walking yesterday and a few neighbors were driving by. They stopped and the first words were, “Do they think we’re that stupid?”

I laughed and said, “Did you watch the video?”

They said, “No, we read the Contra Costa Times.”

I hope everyone takes out a subscription and follows this right up until election 2014. And, I hope they continue to follow developments here at

Dorothy Englund January 10, 2014 at 12:03 PM

We may not be Bell, California, but we can see it from here (and Hercules too).

In both cases, elected officials and city staff could not be trusted (and for good reason).

The residents of Pleasant Hill have also lost faith in their elected officials (and a few city employees).

Dorothy Englund January 10, 2014 at 12:50 PM

@54 Again-
I just noticed you made another false assumption. Harris and Carlson were on Council the entire year. I don’t know why you assumed they were only on Council for part of 2013.

You should research the facts before posting.

VikingPrincess January 10, 2014 at 2:25 PM and all that have mentioned that the proper meeting format typically opens with review and approval of previous meeting minutes.

Sorry for the cheeky comment, but at this rate it appears its all on tape or film. So at this point the only way to meet this format is for meetings to start an hour or so earlier, serve popcorn and thumbs up or down to the film of the previous meeting. Silly, eh?
According to the regulation/policy all films and recordings are to be in safe keeping by The City Clerk for a specified period of time for the sole purpose of assisting in completing the duty of minutes.
Sad, as taking minutes is incredibly fullfilling and the persons responsible are many times the most informed AND the duty does bring an organized flow to meetings with tangible results. Kim is losing out on much by not doing them.

Suzanne January 10, 2014 at 2:42 PM

Fire the Clerk or make her position free.

Anon January 12, 2014 at 9:06 AM

Looks like P.H. isn’t the only city with clerk issues. Arne Simonsen has some explaining to do.

And this time around it is Jack Weir’s and Wendy Lack’s co-member on the CCTPA (contra costa tax payer’s club). I guess when it is one of their own it’s ok?

Rhymes with Lack January 12, 2014 at 3:27 PM

Any comment Wendy?

Dorothy Englund January 12, 2014 at 8:44 PM

@Anon #63 & Rhymes with Lack #64
That’s a very different situation. Antioch appears to be in compliance with State law and Pleasant Hill does not. Unless, of course, Antioch didn’t manage to get its minutes typed when the City Clerk was out of the country.

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