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By Roz Rogoff

About this blog: In January 2002 I started writing my own online "newspaper" titled "The San Ramon Observer." I reported on City Council meetings and other happenings in San Ramon. I tried to be objective in my coverage of meetings and events, and...  (More)

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Interviews for Commission Appointments

Uploaded: Jun 8, 2012
Almost two years ago the City Council held a public meeting to interview applicants for the Planning Commission. I was the only member of the public to attend.

Two Commissioners' terms expired in June that year, Harry Sach and Phil O'Loane. Both of them reapplied. There were two other applicants, Jeanne Benedetti and John Mills.

Sachs was reappointed unanimously. The votes for O'Loane were split. Carol Rowley and Dave Hudson voted to reappoint Phil O'Loane. Abram Wilson and Scott Perkins voted for Benedetti. Jim Livingstone voted for John Mills.

On the second ballot Livingstone changed his vote to Benedetti and she was appointed to replace Phil O'Loane on the Planning Commission that year. John Mills was later appointed to an opening on the Parks and Community Services Commission.

O'Loane ran for City Council in 2011, partly as a result of being bumped from the Planning Commission. Now Phil is in a position to vote on Commission appoinments and it is Mills turn to reapply for the Parks and Community Services Commission along with Carol Lopez, Kathy Berner, and David Ernest.

The Council is holding a special meeting on June 11th at 5:30 pm to interview the applicants for the Parks and Community Services Commission and vote on the appointments. This is a public meeting for anyone who wants to attend. I plan to be there.

The next day, June 12th at 5 pm, the Council will interview applicants for the Planning Commission. I emailed City Clerk, Pat Edwards, for a list of applicants for both Commissions. She emailed me the interview schedule.

Monday – June 11, 2012
Four Vacancies

5:30 pm Will Doerlich
5:45 pm Kathy Berner
6:00 pm Jeffrey Wirjo
6:15 pm Carol Lopez – phone interview
6:30 pm David Ernest
6:45 pm John Mills

Jeffrey Wirjo is a Dougherty Valley High School student and member of the Symphonic Band. The Parks and Community Services Commission has a Student Commissioner. Saundarya Mehra is the Student Commissioner until June 30, 2012. The Council interviewed applicants for her replacement at a special meeting on May 22, 2012 and appointed Maekhila Koppikar for 2012-13. So Jeffrey Wirjo appears to be applying for a regular Commissioner's slot.

Will Doerlich has been on the Arts Advisory Committee for many years. He was Chairman at least twice. The Arts Advisory Committee is a subcommittee of Parks and Community Services. I'd like to see Will appointed to the Parks Commission, but that would mean replacing one of the existing members.

Carol Lopez and David Ernest have been on the Commission for a very long time. Kathy Berner was appointed in 2006. I applied that year too. She gave a better interview and was a much better choice than I was.

Kathy and John Mills interviewed me for reappointment to the Arts Advisory Committee. I gave a terrible interview, saying I wasn't sure if I even wanted to stay on the Committee. Mills and Berner wisely recommended me as an Alternate, and I am very happy about that.

Tuesday – June 12, 2012
Three Vacancies

5:15 pm Dennis Viers
5:30 pm Jeffrey Wirjo
5:45 pm Eric Wallis
6:00 pm Greg Schniegenberg
6:15 pm Donna Kerger

Jeffery Wirjo applied for the Planning Commission as well as the Parks and Community Services Commission. There's no Student Commissioner on the Planning Commission. Appointees to this commission need experience with zoning and permits and government land use policies.

Greg Schniegenberg has the right experience. According to his LinkedIn page he's Operations Manager for Northern California atHelix Electric, which is a major electric subcontracting company for large construction projects.

Schniegenberg was appointed to the Transportation Advisory Committee in May 2011 with a term through January 31, 2013. The TAC is a subcommittee of the Planning Commission.

I'm always impressed with the Planning Commission. Even when the membership changes, they do a good job of working together and listening to speakers with differing points of view.

This isn't an easy job, and many residents do not understand that Planning Commissioners must balance the rights of property owners with State laws, City zoning codes, and residents' preferences. I hope all three Commissioners are reappointed.
Local Journalism.
What is it worth to you?


Posted by Bob P, a resident of another community,
on Jun 8, 2012 at 8:07 pm

Roz, I too hope the reapplying Planning commissioners get reappointed. There is a very steep learning curve for this commission, as it is much different then even Parks and Community Services. I am very pleased that so many of the applicants have prior experience on other City committees.

I have served on both Parks and Planning, and each has positives and negatives. I enjoyed Planning the most, it requires knowledge, tact, courage and perspective. Parks was fun, you made immediate, positive impacts on the community, and the public was very rarely angry with you. Planning requires a view of the bigger picture. The time frame for seeing the fruits of your work is decades or longer for most planning, and 3-5 years for other type of projects. As you can tell, I miss it.

Posted by Roz Rogoff, the San Ramon Observer,
on Jun 8, 2012 at 10:11 pm

Roz Rogoff is a registered user.

We miss you too, Bob. Is there any chance you will come back here some day?

Planning Commissioner is probably the toughest, most thankless "job" in the City. Most residents don't appreciate how much work it is and how little recognition you get unless it's something controversial and then the Commissioners are blamed for doing what is required by State or local laws.


Posted by Roz Rogoff, the San Ramon Observer,
on Jun 11, 2012 at 9:45 pm

Roz Rogoff is a registered user.

Congratulations to Will Doerlich on his appointment to the Parks and Community Services Commission tonight. David Ernest, Carol Lopez, and John Mills were reappointed.

A big thank you to Kathy Berner for her service on the Commission for six years. I'm sure Kathy will find more ways to support the city. According to Mayor Clarkson and Councilman Hudson it was a very close vote.


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