Readers comments 5.31.13
City council votes for unknown
When is a “resolution” not a resolution? Welcome to Claremont City Council’s Tuesday night meeting!
In reference to the Mayors Against Illegal Guns (MAIG) petition, Councilman Larry Schroeder stated: “It’s not a resolution, although the agenda says it is a resolution.”
City Manager Tony Ramos, in an effort to clarify exactly what the council voted on and passed, stated: “I think it was to sign on to the principles of the Mayors Against Illegal Guns.”
So, I ask the question: Did the council vote for something they could not clearly define?
On a more serious matter, in all the years I have lived in Claremont, I have never heard of threatening a sitting mayor with removal because he/she refused to sign a procedural “document.”
While the City Attorney Sonia Carvahlo issued a disclaimer—“I am sorry if this offends anyone”—she went on to inform that since the mayor serves at the pleasure of the council, the council could remove him, and have the mayor pro tem moved into mayor position for the sole purpose of signing onto the Mayors Against Illegal Guns.
In an eloquent dissertation, Mayor Opanyi Nasiali stated why he was not in favor of signing on, thereby committing Claremont to the MAIG organization. Mr. Nasiali should be commended for his insight and fairness—he urged everyone in the audience to take their cause to the proper jurisdiction—the city of Claremont was not the proper jurisdiction. He should be complimented, not threatened.
5 Second Film Festival
On behalf of the Claremont Community College, I wish to thank you and your readers for your support of the fifth annual Claremont 5 Second Film Festival.
The May 23 show included the work of filmmakers from nearby and from around the world. We were happy to once again provide a remarkable experience for an audience of community members, filmmakers, actors and visitors from throughout southern California.
We are proud to provide ongoing artistic, social and charitable programs throughout the year.
This would not be possible without the support and encouragement of the Claremont community.
Claremont Community College
All politics is local
At the Tuesday, May 28 council meeting, an administrative item to authorize the mayor of Claremont to sign and join the Mayors Against Illegal Guns petition was opened to public comment, and was voted on by the council.
Understandably, this issue was the culmination of much public comment and strong opinion. I am not going to debate the issues involved, but to speak to the manner in which the 5 councilmen addressed the issue.
Larry Schroeder and Joe Lyons approved the motion. Mayor Opanyi Nasiali and Corey Calaycay voted against, and Sam Pedroza hemmed and hawed, but finally approved the measure on a compromise motion. It may be that Mr. Lyons, the mayor pro tem, will be the actual signer of the document, in that our council operates under the rules of a general law city, as the city attorney explained.
Those at the meeting were witness to the drama of debate, discussion and procedures that revealed much about the nature of each of our councilmen. In the final analysis, 2 votes approved the measure, and one vote had to struggle through administrative and bureaucratic webs before approving.
What was interesting is that the 2 no votes were not based on the policy of the resolution, but rather on obscuring its intent, on “not wanting to offend,” or that the city should not be involved in issues that should be petitioned at higher levels of government and that the resolution was “just words” and not worthy of wasting city government time.
To those on the council who voted against the measure, I would have thought more of them if their reasoning was based on being against joining cities across the state that are trying to make a coalition to effect public policy.
Instead, we were given reasoning that is not, in my opinion, acceptable of those who are elected to public office. To those who voted against, if you would like to continue serving the city, perhaps you should seek a suitable staff job in the city of Claremont.
City council members are the creators of public policy, not just staff bureaucrats. Council members are elected officials, and within their group appoint a leader to be mayor. This group is designed to lead and are called upon to create. At times, this can be uncomfortable.
As to the dismissal of the resolution “just being words,” we start our city council meetings with the Pledge of Allegiance, and often follow with a moment of silent reflection so that each of us, in our own words, can contemplate what matters most.
Yes, those 2 matters which begin the business of the city are “just words,” but words are the most powerful creator of public policy and demonstrative of the greatest leaders in history.
Claremont is the grassroots of the coalition of cities that form counties, states and our nation. All politics is local, and leadership begins in the council chambers in Claremont.
City attorney disregards intent
Should the mayor of Claremont sign on to the Mayors Against Illegal Guns (MAIG) coalition? That was the question at Tuesday night’s council meeting. According to Councilman Sam Pedroza, in the past, mayors have had the prerogative to sign this type of request on their own. Mayor Opanyi Nasiali gave a well thought out reason why he was not in favor of signing on to MAIG.
Councilman Larry Schroeder then entered a motion that would direct (i.e., force) the mayor to sign-on; the motion failed on a 2-2 vote with Mr. Pedroza abstaining. Mr. Pedroza stated, “We don’t have to do the vote tonight; we don’t have to go through this process. Do you (Nasiali) need authorization from this council or would you be able to sign on by your own cognizance?”
Mr. Pedroza went on to say, “If you are asking me to force you to sign this, that, to me, sets a real bad precedent, not just for this issue but any other issue that comes before this council. I am not supportive of forcing you to sign.”
Mr. Pedroza then entered a motion to “authorize” the mayor to sign, not force. The intent of the motion, which passed, was not to force the mayor to do anything.
City Attorney Sonia Carvalho then clarified that “authorizing” would essentially force the mayor to sign.
Ms. Carvalho added that if the mayor could not or would not sign because of disagreement of content, absence, etc. the mayor pro tem would then have to sign. She said that is how it is when signing contracts, resolutions, etc. But this was not a contract, nor a resolution, according to Mr. Schroeder, so to what was she referring?
Ms. Carvalho further stated that in a general law city like Claremont, the mayor serves at the pleasure of the council; the council, in this case could retract their mayoral appointment and temporarily appoint the mayor pro-tem to the mayors position, thus adhering to the request that “the mayor” (not mayor pro tem) sign-on to the MAIG, thus ensuring Claremont’s participation in the MAIG coalition. I thought this to be a drastic and unprecedented act given this was not a major city issue. All of this possible juggling just so Claremont would be among those cities who have signed-on to MAIG?
Ultimately, the “authorizing” motion, according to the city attorney, forced Mr. Nasiali, as mayor, to sign on to MAIG. This was clearly not the intent of Mr. Pedroza’s motion.
The city attorney should have advised Mr. Pedroza of the consequences should his motion pass and asked him to restate or rephrase it. He was well aware of his intent. She should have not waited until the motion passed to advise the council of the consequences of their action. A simple statement, “The council should be aware that if this motion is passed, it will be interpreted under law as mandating the mayor to sign on to MAIG.” This insight would have given the council a more clear understanding of what it really meant.
Legal counsel has a responsibility to not just interpret the law, but to advise in a timely manner when an action will have unintended consequences. City Attorney Sonja Cavalho did an injustice to Mr. Pedroza and to Mayor Opanyi Nasiali.
Carolyn L. Gonzales
Carzz and Jazz
The Foothill Philharmonic Committee (FPC) would like to thank this wonderful and caring community for its generous support of FPC’s recent Carzz and Jazz concert featuring David Benoit. The event raised funds to provide local children the opportunity to attend great musical performances.
The response to Carzz and Jazz was gratifying and the jazz, magical. However, the real winners are the many children who will be able to attend the concerts at Walt Disney Concert Hall.
FPC Event Chairperson