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Political Gumbo: The Willingness to Listen and Then Deliberate

Published on Tuesday, August 1, 2023 | 5:19 pm

Right off the bat, I have to admit the idea for this column came from a Tuesday morning phone call.

No sweat, you take inspiration as it comes.

In many ways, Monday’s City Council meeting was everything you want to see out of city government.

I’m talking about the 400 grand contract on the Rental Board item that had Ryan Bell at the podium for quite a bit of time as elected officials first questioned if it was appropriate for them to decide the contract and then discussions big and small on everything from consideration for local businesses to the consultant’s qualifications.

Here’s the dope on that item.

The rental board, chaired by Bell, sought to amend a $74,999 contract between Pasadena Rental Housing Board and Byhv Consulting for a variety of services necessary to implement the City’s Measure H rent control program. The new contract will include the development of an initial staffing plan for the Board and the establishment of a Rental Registry.

The amended price — $425,000. That’s a lot of clams.

I’m not here to criticize or praise the contract.

Jason Lyon was impressive here asking the right questions and pointing out to Bell the importance of coming correct, my words not his, because everybody is watching.

And they are.

A lot of people voted in favor of Measure H, the City’s rent control initiative. A lot of landlords had something to say about it on Monday.

It’s the law of the land, now. That’s the way it is.

Tyron Hampton and Justin Jones also asked the right questions about how the contract came to be. Hampton voted against the item because it did not go out for bids in a request for quote process. Jones got the answers he wanted and voted in favor of it.

However, it was Gene Masuda’s example that best exemplified good governance.

Masuda originally said he would oppose the contract with Hampton and Vice Mayor Felicia Williams.

However, after comments from Lyon and Madison, the latter stating a belief that the contract was needed at this time for the Board to get to work and the former reiterating his belief that the item should not be before Council, Masuda changed his vote.

Like the vote or not, this is what should be expected of appointed and local officials.

The continued ability to listen during deliberations is a skill every elected official, commission member must work to possess.

We need elected officials who are not married to their position.

Of course when it comes to our constitutional rights, our Councilmembers must be willing to stand on convictions.

But when it comes to contracts and issues where there is room, federal, state and local representatives must be willing to adapt as they hear information from the City Manager, the City Attorney, the City Clerk, staff and yes, the people.

And it has to happen with no finger pointing or attacks.

The only place you see that in Washington D.C. is in the UFO hearings.

If you missed those hearings, they were fascinating.

By the way aliens, if you are reading this, please don’t land in D.C. first. That’s not what you want to see.

Back on point, Yes, other councilmembers have shown their willingness to move as information became available.

Rick Cole voted to privatize the City’s golf course.

Sid Tyler and Chris Holden, of course others were involved, teamed up to save the City’s utility.

And in the most heated and amazing City Council meeting I have ever attended, Steve Madison waited until 1 a.m. to break a deadlock and prevent the NFL from taking control of the Rose Bowl.

Let’s hope for more, not less.

Good work by all.

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