|PHONE: (925) 449-9927
WEB ADDRESS: www.lhg.org
HERITAGE GUILD HAPPENINGS
|totally terrified of
them and I can remember being there because we all went. It was
one of the great social occasions. It was held on the block where
the Eagles have their building now.
PH: I remember hearing about that now because Philomena
Madeiros talked about it.
DH: Oh and I forgot my mother was the first Holy Ghost queen. They always had a queen in those days. In fact, the crown that the young lady would hold is now in the St. Michael's Catholic Church on display.
PH: Of course Dorothy I know you as "the" city clerk of Livermore. You were city clerk, I came in 1959 and you were just always city clerk and a wonderful image for our city, but how did you. get to be city clerk? Did you do anything before that?
DH: Well. it was an odd situation, happy for me in a way but yet sad at the same time. I had gone to work for the city at the beginnmg of 1949. Mr. Young was the then city clerk and was an old friend. He and his wife and my mother were old old friends. I worked until 1951 as his deputy city clerk and the odd thing about that is that we did everything. We issued building permits .... not building permits .... we probably didn't do those but we did do the gas permits, the electrical permits, the plumbing permits. One of the men in the office collected the business licenses and he walked the street doing it. In other words, he walked in at each business and collected the license and his name was George Doten and he had been before John Michelis, the police chief.
PH: Now Fred Young was a relative of Malvern Sweet, wasn't he? DH: Yes, I don't remember what the relationship was, somewhere along the line. Anyway, Mr. Young had gone to a counciI meeting. I didn't go at that time. About 4 o'clock in the afternoon he said -I'm tired and going home", so he did. I said I would see him in the morning. So the next morning as I was walking to work which l could do at that time. John Michelis came along and picked me upon his way to work because the police station was in the same building we worked in and he told me that Mr. Young had had a massive cerebral hemorrhage and had died in the night and so I went to work not knowing exactly what was going to be happening. Later in the day. the then mayor, Lou Gardella, came and said they were going to appoint me as city clerk because I knew as much as anybody did about the job and I said "Oh no no no, uh uh". At the same time my mother was very very ill and I knew she was going to be dying shortly and so I was in somewhat of a turmoil but in any case, they said you're it kid so I was it. They had a special meeting later that day for appointing me which they then did and could do at that time because the position was not elective at that time. So l hired anothcr person, Norma Lemay, who was a dear friend to come and work with me and we carried on. Then in 1952 .... Oh I'm sorry it was elected at that point .. it is not now. I had to stand for election of course then and no one ran against me or ever did.
PH: Did anyone ever run against you?
DH: No, never did, and my sister used to always tease me and say "Great! we really get a lot of choice when we elect a city clerk".
PH: In fact. what does a city clerk do?
DH: A city clerk is sort of like the secretary to the council and generally by law there are certain duties which are set up of course and I must do those. Others can be imposed by the council. I went to all meetings, took the minutes. Ordinances and resolutions are things that need to be processed further than the meeting of course so ordinances need to be published, which I did, took care of doing, and resolutions sometimes had to be routed around for various reasons and I did that. At the time I was also in effect the finance
|director because there
was no one else and so we had to do the books, Norma and I.
PH: Did you have anything to do with election registration?
DH: Elections are our problem. We registered people because it was a service we could offer and at the time it was a rather long form which was not filled out by the person registering. It was filled out by us. I feel there is certainly no impediment to registering to vote in these days .... pick up a post card and fill it out and mail it in and I don't think anything could be simpler than that.
PH: So we know what the city clerk does. I think it might be interesting to also talk about Livermore. We said as we were having a conversation earlier, that Livermore is a general law city and now has a city manager who serves at the city council. Has it always had a city manager in Livermore?
DH. No. When I first went to work for the city, basically the council was sort of the manager and the city clerk carried out whatever duties that needed to be taken care of I have forgotten exactly the date but I think it was in the early 50s for sure that they first decided, which they can do by general law ... the council can decide to have a city manager. However, in this case they called it a city administrator and he was hired and came and stayed I think for about 2 years. Then Bill Parness arrived and he preferred the title of City Manager and so it was changed by ordinance to City Manager.
PH: Dorothy, you had something you wanted to say about elections as related to the job of city clerk.
DH: Yes. That was one of the nightmares of the job was elections because there were so many details involved. Each year the legislature in their wisdom always had a million changes that they made and so it was difficult to keep up with it. But in any case, in the early elections, the city not only had their own booths and equipment but we also had to go out and recruit the places for elections and also people to work. I think it paid something like$10 at that time for the whole day, which was 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Now of course it's 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Anyway, that was always difficult to do. I used to cruise up and down the street to see if I could think of a place to have a booth. Anyway, we always had crises happening. One of the sad things was that at onetime one of my election officers died while working and so we had to deal with that. The second thing I remember vividly was at one election, we had about somewhere in the neighborhood of 15-20 absentee ballots. We rarely had very many at that time in contrast to now. Anyway, who was elected rested on those absentee ballots .... that few .... it was close. Always at that time absentee ballots were not counted until a week later at the council meeting. At the time the council had to certify the election in other words. So it was I must admit a great difficulty to withhold myself from steaming open all those absentee ballots and trying to find out who was elected. As it turned out, one of the people ... should I mention the name .... it was an election wherein Mr. Gardella, who had been on the council for many years, Lou Gardella, and his job was up for grabs as it were. He lost and so he sort of retired then from civic duties.
PH: Who was running at that time? Do you remember?
DH: As l recall, Dr. Bamey Burch at the Sanitarium. One other thing I would like to say before we get off elections. Mr. Gardella was a mayor for several years and at the time that I came to work I don't remember what I was making but think it was $75 a month. One day Mr. Young came along and plunked a resolution in front of me and I couldn't figure out what that was all about but I looked about it and I had been raised to $200 a month. I don't think any raise from then on ever made as much impression on me because I had never
|thought that I would
ever make $200 a month.
PH: That's a lovely story.
DH: Elections continued to be a bugaboo I must admit, but eventually they got easier when the county did a lot of helping and they pretty much standardized where they vote. They also did the counting which was much more accurate.
PH: Is that done automatically now with those push button ballots? DH: Yes the ballots are counted by machinery because of the little holes that we punch.
PH- The position of city clerk changed from an elective position to a staff position and it was voted upon?
DH: Yes it was and it did pass by a small margin but I was very pleased to know that it did pass. I felt that it was the right thing to do.
PH: You said you went to city council meetings every week. I remember being at city council meetings and seeing you there on the job. As you look back, were there any developments in Livermore growth-wise or any issues that were of particular interest to you that gave you the feeling that city was maybe going to be on the map more than it had been before?
DH: Most of the development was in houses from various parts of the city and in fact we had quite a few annexations of property which were outside the boundaries. By the way. just as an aside, when I came to the city offices, the city was a square ... a total square .... and the boundaries had been set many years ago of course by the time the city incorporated.
PH: Right, because Mendenhall laid it out pretty, much in the block form.
DH: Yes ... it was very square and the streets were mostly wide .... wider than they are now in subdivisions as you can see when you drive around. Anyway. we did do many annexations and by the may annexations were a great part of what the city clerk must do as well insofar as notifying people of the fact that the annexation is taking place, giving the people a change to protest if they want to, the people that live in the area and then filing maps and so forth. In fact, subdivision maps were also filed by the city clerk and those were Mylar type things which I had to sign and so forth. In fact, there are so many documents I'm sure in the city, that have my signature on them that some day somebody will now wonder who the heck is she. Anyway, one particular person that I remember so much because I think he did such a lot of developing and was such an interesting man was Masud Mehran. He had developed so many things that we saw him often and he was always doing something.
PH: He certainly built a lot of Livermore. What about when there were variances that the developers came for? Did you have to follow through on that?
DH: Only to this point, variances were granted by the planning commission, which of course was established as a part of ... which was always there but was only met when there was something that needed doing. As a matter of fact, I had to do some minutes of theirs too .... I had forgotten that. Anyway, the planning commission granted variances if someone wanted to protest the variance, then appealed it to the council and at that point then we would see variances or acted upon by the council. I would of course have to convey that point to whoever the variance affected.
PH: Masud Mehran built an awful lot on the west and the south of Livermore. But Mr. Jensen did a lot .... where we are right now at your house.
DH: Yes he did ... out at what I think of Wagoner Farms now. After awhile people gave catch names that sometimes I couldn't remember
|what they were called.
I knew them more as the Jensen annexation or the northeast annexation
or some other title that we felt in the office was more appropriate
because it gave an idea of where it was.
PH: Wagoner Farms referred to the original tract? There was a farm there because that was really the outskirts of town at one time.
DH: Yes it was .... yes exactly.
PH: Now I though I would interject something from an article that I read at your retirement time. The reporter asked you if you were ever going to work again and you said "Well if I get all the closets cleaned and all these other things that I have to do." Are you ever going to work again Dorothy? Of course you"re probably working as a volunteer doing many things for our community.
DH: Well I think it was about a year or so after l had retired that The city of Dublin decided to be incorporated as a city and at the time a gentleman had to be hired by Dublin to get the thing in order and do all of the paperwork that needed to be done to incorporate a city and through the League of California Cities, he knew that I lived close and might be interested in helping so I said o.k. So for about 6-7 months I did work in Dublin and was their city clerk. By the time the 7 months was up. I was totally ready to quit because so much of the work that needed to be done there was the kind of things that I didn't do any more such as do typing and all the paperwork and office work.
PH: Because you were really more of an administrator by the time
that you left.
DH: Yes. My deputies did lots of that sort of thing.
P14: How big was your staff? You said you hired another person when you became city clerk.
DH: Yes .... there was myself. my deputy and the person in charge of the records retention program.
PH: What is that Dorothy'?
DH: You can imagine that the city of Livermore having been incorporated many many years ago had much paperwork ... there were minute books from the word go from handwritten minute books in fact. So we wanted to preserve that in case of a disaster either whatever kind of disaster might come along and so we started this program which microfilmed all kinds of records. not only the city clerk's records but also records from finance and all of the departments in fact.
PH: Where are those kept?
DH: There is a building if you notice on the outside of the office there which houses all of that and of course when you have microfilmed it, then yon can destroy some of the actual records. You wouldn't destroy the minute books but you certainly could destroy other things.
PH: So they do have the minute books that were handwritten from 1869?
DH: Yes and we also have the assessment books because the city used to collect their own taxes by the way and that was one of the things to me that was a bugaboo when I first came because I had to prepare that role and collect those taxes. Afterwards, that was given to the county on a contract basis and so of course the county collects our taxes now and they have a whole assessor's department.
PH: So, you have a woman now who is on staff. Carol Green, is our present city clerk.
DH: Yes. She worked with me for about 5 years before I retired. Then one other thing after my Dublin experience, I was asked to do the same thing when San Ramon incorporated. The same man was
|there ... I remember
his name .... it was George something. He had been a county administrator
at one time and the League of California Cities they keep a list
of names of people who might like to go and fill in for a month
or 2 in a job.
PH: That was sort of interesting. you helped the valley.
DH: By then I had learned my lesson and I didn't want to get stuck again for months so I said to George "fine I'll be glad to type all the ordinances and resolutions that are needed but I want a warm body in there to start training and if you can do that for me, I will be happy to help you out." So over a period of maybe 6 months or so in the beginning I had to go to several meetings and worked quite extensively but after awhile then the young person, who is the current city clerk in San Ramon, she came and we worked together and eventually then I did not work anymore. Those were the only 2 work experiences afterwards and by then I said to myself "no more."
|PH: But I hear you talking
about volunteering and non paying jobs but contributing to the
community. What kind of things are you doing in your retirement?
DH: Mostly I have been a volunteer at the hospital at Valley Memorial and work one day a week from 9 to 12:30 p.m. and that's very interesting. I meet lots of nice people, do hopefully a good service. I drive for the American Cancer Society which involves taking people to their treatments in Pleasanton and that's about it as far as commitments are but there are always a few others hanging around.
May 12, 2002