Which is kind of troubling in a couple of ways. The first being that this city is blessed with some very thoughtful and eloquent people, folks who actually bother to go to City Hall for these meetings and share what they know. A thankless task if ever there was one. You'd think they would deserve to be treated a little better than that. Besides, finding out later that your brief 3 minute talk has been badly cut or even deleted from Planning Commission meeting TV reruns altogether has got to be a sobering experience. You could find yourself wondering why that might be. Are your thoughts really that dangerous?
Even more troubling is that there might actually be somebody in a position of authority here who actually fears what some people had to say to the Planning Commission last Thursday. To the point where they would arrange to have the comments in question badly truncated or even deleted entirely from city video taped meeting reruns. You have to wonder what the stakes might be for someone to cause such a thing to happen. It really is kind of mind boggling and absurd.
One resident particularly annoyed by this is Barry Gold. Barry is an especially thoughtful and courteous speaker, and carefully prepares what he plans to say way in advance of these meetings. Barry spoke at last Thursday's Planning Commission meeting, and here is his entire statement:
Good evening Commissioners,
As you all know the support of our community to preserve the uniqueness of our very special town by preventing the McMansionizing of Sierra Madre has been overwhelming.
Soon you will send the General Plan update to the city council. Our citizens are looking to the general plan update to reinforce the goals and guidelines that will save our city from the developers who's only desire is to build the largest homes they can on the smallest lots possible to make the most money they can and then leave without ever looking back at the destruction to our way of life that they caused.
As a lay person I cannot be sure that the wording in the general plan update covers all that it should to give us the protection we need to preserve Sierra Madre. So we look to you, our experts, to protect our neighborhoods by making sure that the plan contains the guidelines that will stop our community from being transformed into that which we all dread.
We do not want to prevent anyone from building their dream homes here and enjoying the tranquility of Sierra Madre. We just want their homes to blend in, not stick out.
I know that this committee recognizes that lot coverage, setbacks, mass, bulk, and I think most importantly, architectural fit are vital components of preserving our communities uniqueness. By making sure that the general plan update properly addresses these items you will be saving a cherished way of life for all who live here for years to come.
Thank you for your time, Barry Gold
All that made it to the reruns is that last paragraph and the sign off.
And apparently Barry isn't the only speaker to find that much of what they had to say was missing from the meeting reruns. Others have noticed that some or all of what Marguerite Shuster, Teryl Willis and Deb Sheridan had to say was also chopped out of the SMTV3 Planning Commission re-airings. There may have been some other people whose words were edited as well.
In that La Habra Heights City Council agenda report, the one George Edwardz forwarded to us recently, there was the following quote from the General Manager there, Shauna Clark. An individual adamantly opposed to public comment appearing in the public access reruns of those meetings. Here is what she had to say:
We don't have much in the way of the kinds of public comment described here. And according to people I have spoken with neither does La Habra Heights, despite the claims of its City Manager. Apparently it was just a lot of hyperbole meant to justify an act that is tantamount to government censorship.
But maybe this is a new government trend in dealing with unwanted and inconvenient public comment at city meetings? You have to allow people to speak during the meetings by law, but since there is no legal requirement that you include them in government access TV reruns later on, City Hall is free to just hack their comments out. That way only those watching the meetings live will ever get to hear them.
I hope that idea hasn't spread here.
There is a City Council meeting tonight
Rather than write about the whole thing here, I thought this week I should just link to the City Council meeting agenda, which is here. Somehow I just ran out of time this week. I'm sure you can figure all of this stuff out for yourselves. Probably better than I can.