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Thursday, Sept. 14, 2006 | Ms. Okerlund, I feel your frustration regarding the disinterested San Diego City Council. Any contentious item that has been before the council this year, was already decided before the public had a chance to opine before the council.
The entire system is stacked against the public. First of all, Mr. Peters always leads off with a staff presentation (this is OK), that is immediately followed by the opposition (usually public advocates without compensated lobbyists), and then comes the supporters of the item (usually the mayor and the corporate crowd). This progression always gives the city staff and the power elite the last say. I have even observed staff revise their power point presentations after the public side has made their presentations. Check the records, the public never has the last say on anything before the council.
It may be just as well. Once again, I can’t think of any item this year that wasn’t already decided by the council by the time it hit the public chambers for “debate.” The public comment and debate time is a “feel good exercise” for the majority of the council members who like to pretend that they are interested in public opinion. Watch how many times the voting majority of the council patronize the public (Madaffer, Peters, and Hueso are the worst) with gratuitous compliments and then vote against their constituents for some outlandish greater good (i.e. special money interest).
With all that being said, the public is aware of the rules of presentation before addressing the council. Any individual that goes beyond the allotted time is essentially saying that their viewpoint is more important than anyone else’s. That’s bad form and selfish. Also, as much as I distrust the integrity of some of the council members, some of the “serial” speakers who vent and scream every Tuesday don’t help anything. And in some cases, they actually generate some empathy for council members who could care less about what the public has to say on issues of the day.
The only solution that I see is that we need new council people who listen to the voters/constituents. We don’t need any more people who talk of being responsive to the public during a campaign and then “flip” in three months after being elected. We’ve got plenty of that crowd already.