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Political Gumbo: Opening the Council Chambers

Published on Wednesday, September 28, 2022 | 5:32 am
 

Mayor Victor Gordo wants to open the City Council chambers to the public next month.

I have no issue with this the more access the public has to meetings the better.

Here’s what won’t change though, the City Council still won’t engage people during public comment and they still won’t be able to fire police officers.

The Charter is clear.

But that being said, the sole reason to open the doors is about democracy in action and the chance to see elected representatives in action as they do the city’s business.

Many people forget that for a short time the public did not have that opportunity.

At the beginning of the pandemic, the City Council, its subcommittees and commissions stopped meeting altogether.

After March 9, when the City Council approved the Public Health Department’s emergency declaration, four Council meetings and 12 council committee meetings were canceled.

No meetings for a month. 

City government completely shut down at the beginning of the pandemic for everything except …

Weed. 

Yeah, I know it’s called cannabis now. But in my mind it’s like the term African American. Now that so-called progressive White people find it acceptable they’ve given it a new name. 

But it’s still weed. 

As I was saying, the Planning Commission came back first to deliberate over a cannabis Conditional Use Permit.

Yeah, you read that right, it was about that weed money.

That didn’t sit well with some on the City Council including then District 5 Councilmember Victor Gordo, who issued a public call to restart city government. 

“Many of us on the Council asked to keep the Council and committees working. In response, the City staff leadership argued that resources are limited and told us the technology is too challenging to figure out,” Gordo said in a guest opinion that appeared in Pasadena Now. “But, then City staff leadership proceeded to schedule a Planning Commission meeting to approve two cannabis permits for large retailers from outside of Pasadena. How is it that, in the middle of our greatest crisis, approval of two cannabis permits are prioritized above all else? We need to reset our priorities.” 

Again our priorities must be reset. The Board of Supervisors opened its doors this week.

But it’s not just our elected officials who must understand the importance of meeting in front of the public.

The public must also understand the great right they have been granted and must respect the meetings.  

Yeah, folks you have to act like you have some sense.

I’m not really worried about that part of the equations. As I have said before, it’s easier to yell on the phone in your drawers during a Zoom meeting, than to get in the car after a long day’s work and drive down to City Hall and attend the meeting.

Well maybe I left out the underwear part before, but you get the point. 

By the way, don’t act like you haven’t attended a Zoom meeting half naked. 

That’s the beauty of Zoom. Though I wouldn’t know. Back on point, the ability to redress your elected officials is one of the tenets of American freedom. 

But like every other right, that one comes with a responsibility.

Yes, air your grievances, make your case, plead your cause. But don’t interrupt the City’s business.

Otherwise, you may find yourself once again on the outside looking in. 

Open the doors.

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