It’s a hot, hot Eureka City Council meeting next week – Tuesday, Oct. 5 at 6 p.m., coming at you via Zoom as always. What is the hottest item on the agenda? You can take your pick: A vaccine mandate for all city employees, or the first look at a beefed-up Citizens’ Oversight Board for the Eureka Police Department.
Let’s take the vaccine mandate first. If adopted Tuesday night, it would require that all city employees – as well as city contractors and volunteers – be at least partially vaccinated against COVID-19 before Oct. 19, and fully vaccinated by Nov. 23. There will be exemptions available for people with verified medical reasons to not get the vaccine, and for people with a “sincerely held religious belief, practice or observance” that would bar vaccination.
The proposed city
policy – read
it here – would allow people who are terminated for refusing
the vaccine to petition for their job back in the event they get
their shots, or if the pandemic goes away. If they do, they’d get
all the vacation time they’d accrued during their previous
stint with the city. on the same vacation time schedule as before.
[CORRECTION: Actually, if they’re terminated they collect pay for their unused vacation. If they come back, they start at zero, but return to the same vacation-time accrual that they had before. The Outpost regrets the error.]
The staff report for this item notes that the two city employee bargaining units – the Eureka City Employees Association and the Eureka Police Officers Association – are on board with the policy. It’s probably as good as passed, but the testimony and the deliberation should be interesting.
Next up: Police oversight. In recent months – and especially in the wake of the texting scandal – the City Council has asked staff for ideas to beef up the Eureka Police Chief’s Citizen Advisory Board, and possibly to build it out as a thing with a more teeth. City staff are bringing forward their first draft at Tuesday night’s meeting for discussion.
Basically, staff are proposing that the Citizens Advisory Board be renamed the “Citizens Oversight Board,” and they propose giving that board additional powers. It would, in the staff report’s words
[amend] the purview of the CAB so that it serves as an oversight board providing input on complaints, investigations, and policies and practices prior to a final decision being made by the Chief of Police.
The implication, here, is that the “Oversight Board” would get closer access to the complaint files than the current “Advisory Board” does. In addition to that, the staff report envisions the hiring of an Independent Police Auditor who would report to the city manager, rather than the police chief. This person
would be responsible for review of internal affairs investigations, officer involved shootings, policies and procedures, citizen complaints and be accessible to the Eureka community. The COB would be provided with the IPA findings and use them to inform their input to the Chief.
Read the full proposed ordinance here. There’ll be discussion of this item at Tuesday’s meeting, but no action is expected.
In addition to these hot-button items, the council will receive a presentation on redistricting its electoral wards – something you already know about if you’re a fan of the Outpost’s “Let’s Redistrict Eureka!” game. Tune in anyway, though: City staff will be presumably be laying out the official timeline for the city’s redistricting effort (time’s running short!) and will likely outline the ways you, the public, can make your opinions on the issue known to the people who will actually be voting on the maps.