What does it say about the nature of City Council debates that 95 percent of the public comments come from Zuma, Matt, Mike, Donna, Arnold, John and the rest of the cast of gadflies who somehow manage to show up for nearly every meeting?
No need to answer. It’s clear enough that Council debates are all but meaningless, ham acting and posturing, leading questions to bureaucrats, mugging for the camera, displays of expensive wardrobes, all a scripted show leading to unanimous votes on just about everything.
Only on rare occasions like the great elephant debate or billboard blight or developments that trash neighborhoods do ordinary citizens show up in numbers large or small.
Why would you waste your time talking to people who don’t listen or care what you have to say?
Council debates attract gadflies like dog poop attracts flies and for much the same reason.
Considering what a waste of time public comment is, it makes perfect sense that the Council will do its best Wednesday to swat even the gadflies from participating.
Council Rule 12, which sets vague and arbitrary rules for decorum subject to the interpretation of the Council President, is being toughened to eliminate the need for even warning before a speaker can be banished and extends the banishment from 30 days to 30 meetings, or 10 weeks.
They might just as well eliminate public comment altogether, convert the hallowed Council Chambers into homeless housing and conduct their meetings in a small studio. After all, the real business is done in back rooms where lobbyists, union bosses, lawyers, contractors, corporate executives and developers work out the details with Council members and their staffs.
Public comment is about as important as writing letters and sending faxes and emails — a waste of time.
We’d all be better off protesting in the streets or sitting down in front of the bulldozers. At least that would get media attention and the 83 percent of registered voters who are apathetic, defeated or ignorant might actually wake up and take notice.
Here’s a better idea; Council Rule 12A, Equal Time in the Back Rooms for the public and special interests.
Under this proposal, each Council member would post all contacts they and their staffs have every week, the issues discussed and the duration. The public would then have the next week to gain the same amount of access to find out what was discussed and to make their views known.
Put that together with “clean money” funding of election campaigns and you might have something that began to look like democracy and responsible government.