On rent control & council seat
Last night’s Arcata City Council meeting (Feb. 15), was a really important meeting for people to watch at cityofarcata.org. Two big topics were discussed, the Mobile Home Rent Stabilization ordinance and how the city should go about filling the City Council seat of Mark Wheetley, who is leaving his term early.
It looks like the city is moving forward to do the ordinance, although it will be back at least one more time for more discussion. I feel bad for the mobile home owners who have been working so hard for two years to try to get this ordinance with the help of the city, but in the end it just delayed them getting the protections they so badly need. They certainly could have had an initiative such as the county’s Measure V by now. It is a good lesson for people who want to make big change that government may be resistant to. Start the initiative process first and then see if the government is willing to help work toward the desired goal.
As for the decision that was made regarding filling Mark Wheetley’s seat, I am sorry to say that the council decided to go with appointing the new council member. There were only four council members present last night and the vote was 3 to 1. It was said that a council has not appointed a city council member since the 1980s. I imagine that the reason is because generally that is not a popular choice by the citizenry who already have so little power besides the vote.
If the choice was made to allow the citizens to have a vote to elect the new member, it would leave the council with only four members for several months and also cost $20,000 to $25,000. However, I have witnessed many meetings over the years where there have been only four council members in attendance which is doable, and our city seems to be able to come up with money for projects and give money to special interests that seem less important to me than a democratic election for a new City Council person.
Having the council select the new council member will be an interesting process to observe. It sounds like they would like to find ways to make the public feel as included as possible such as interviewing the candidates in a public meeting.
In the end, whatever opinions may be formed by the public about the candidates will not count since only the council members will actually be able to vote. It is my hope that the city council members will keep in mind that if there was an election it would be open to anyone who could qualify and that in an appointment process there is more chance of the perception that the council member’s personal bias will come into play by choosing someone for example, because of age, experience, college education, gender, etc.
The good thing about an election is that people are not held to any particular standard thereby opening up the field. In addition, whoever is appointed will have the advantage of being an incumbent if they decide to run for election in November 2018. I do not see City Council appointments or selections being a democratic process for the selection of one of their own. City Council is a position elected by the people and so that is the way it should always be.
The Bully of Oz
Did you know that bullies are, at their core, insecure? They compensate for this insecurity through braggadocio, bellicosity, bluster and bumptiousness. And they gather around them a coterie of equally insecure sycophants and wannabes.
Also attracted are those who are fearful of being left out of the “in crowd” The bully and his or her entourage intimidate those not “in”.
My daughter, a school counselor, wrote her thesis on Girl Bullying in Middle School. Girls at this age can be quite vicious to those on the outs and who are different. Their armory of spleen includes Facebook and Twitter.
The good news is that as these girls mature and reach their junior or senior year of high school, they develop healthier interests and leave the bully leader behind.
So, there is hope. Perhaps our leaders in government and business who are currently kowtowing to the bully will “mature” and find the courage to abandon him and act in the best interests of our country rather than out of fear of being on the “outs”.
Although, it may take pressure from those of us on the “outs” to persuade them.
How many Totos will it take to pull back the curtain to reveal the wizard as an empty blowhard, and how many parade watchers will finally declare that the emperor has no clothes?
Remember the lesson from Oz: we all have courage, brains and heart if we dare to use them.
Edward “Buzz” Webb