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Lots of Time for Friends; No Time for Critics

I think the Spygate vote was 2-5 both times.

Had more folks shown up, there probably would have been more votes. Of course, as mentioned above, Mathews put the issue on the afternoon agenda (and Madrigal didn't apparently object), which many people can't come to.

The debate also gave some misleading impressions. Out-of-town Palo Alto attorney Bob Aronson, our "police department auditor" and the former attorney for the disembowled Citizens Police Review Board [CPRB]which Council killed in January 2003, was described as an "independent investigator". He is nothing of the kind.

In fact, he does nothing more than read over the confidential IA files and report (privately) to the Council. I don't think he's even made a written report, though raking in $25,000 per year or so. He's the Council's figleaf over the gashing wound they inflicted in killing the CPRB. Madrigal knew this (he used the CPRB as his stepping stone to City Council--where he played a very weak role).

As I mentioned before, even if Madrigal's motion had passed, unless modified, it would have given the power to appoint the independent investigator(s) to Tricky Dick Wilson, our City Manager For Life. No one talked of modifying it except myself and one other speaker.

What is needed is a truly independent forum. Get a competent committed person from out of town, hire a hall, throw some meetings, have some public testimony, and issue a report.

Proponents of an investigation also needed to present copies of the ACLU Public Records Act request to the City Council (and to the Public Library).

One researcher did her homework and confronted the Council with a pile of papers documenting a year of SCPD spying--in contradiction to what the Sentinel reported Police Chief Howard Skerry as saying ("just this once").

I urge that Rico and the researcher scan in all that info onto indymedia, so that it provides a neon sign incentive for investigation. I understand Rico is also looking for further documentation--which was withheld by the police.

I'll be playing some audio on the subject on my Thursday FRSC show 6-8 PM tomorrow (archived at www.huffsantacruz.org).

FAVORITISM IN ACTION
At the evening session, Mathews, in a typically capricious and irregular move, gave five minutes to one of the many Downtown Business Association reps who packed the 7 PM Oral Communications line opposing a Living Wage. She also allowed additional time for business panhandlers from the audience to speak (heavy with woe at the prospect of having to pay their workers enough to live here). When the 30 minutes was up, Mathews actually solicited more business input and extended oral communications on their behalf.

This sharply contrasted with her interruption of Rico Thunder on January 10th as well as her interference with his testifying at the afternoonn meeting. She explicitly excluded Michael Tomasi on January 10th even though the Council had voted to allow him (and two others) to speak. She allowed speakers only two minutes on January 10th. She allowed Spygate speakers during the afternoon only two minutes. But her business friends each got three minutes that night.

The five minutes Mathews gave to the first Business speaker had never been previously done at Oral Communications. It is the procedure at Public Hearings when ordinances are being discussed, but not at Oral Communications. Mathews, however, has used these special bequests of time to her friends twice.

This disadvantages other speakers because Oral Communications is almost always shoehorned into a 30-minute period.

This period has been repeatedly constricted over the years. Old-time Ed Davidson remembers when it was unlimited. I remember when it was 45 minutes (1988). The County Board of Supervisors allows everyone to speak --placing overflow at the end of the meeting).

In any case, it's the only time people have to raise issues not on the agenda (as the Spygate speakers did on January 10th) without the immediate risk of censorship, expulsion, and/or arrest.

Mathews continues to decline to respond to the letter, hopefully still posted on this website, which a group of us sent to her, asking she voluntarily institute a fair public process, open up her schedule of public meetings, and give make available a list of the lobbyists she's met with over the previous month. The Sunshine Act of 2004 requires this, but Mathews is apparently taking her cue from Shadow Mayor Mike Rotkin (the guy who really directs Council meetings).

It may take a court injunction to get her to treat the public fairly. Folks who want to back such an effort can reach me at rnorse3 (at) hotmail.com .

As I will be reminding people over the next few weeks, I face a year and a half in jail for standing at the podium waiting to speak for two minutes back in June. Others should not have to face the same repression.
 


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