Tom Butt
  E-Mail Forum – 2018  
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  Watch Out for Election Season Antics at City Council Meetings and Elsewhere
September 15, 2018

After a six-week hiatus and months of relative calm, election season has moved into the City Council Chamber.

At the September 11 meeting, Council Member Martinez removed an item from the consent calendar that approved a contract with a consultant to provide economic consultation regarding visioning scenarios for Point Molate.

Debate proceeded, with Council Member Martinez pandering to the ever-present band of out-of-town Point Molate obstructionists. Martinez’ rant even devolved into accusations that some City Council member or members had communicated confidential closed session information to a prospective developer. Martinez even went to far as to begin cross-examining each City Council member as to his or her interactions with said developer as if we were on trial and he was the prosecutor.

His line of questioning was totally inappropriate, and even insulting, for an agenda item involving approval of a contract, and I had to call him out of order.

After each Council member had an opportunity to speak, some more than once, on the agenda item, I began my remarks. But Martinez immediately called for the question in an attempt to shut me down before I could even get started.

Fortunately, the question call was rejected on a 4-3 vote, with Willis and Beckles supporting Martinez.

What these three City Council members did was very rude and inappropriate.

As the chair, I generally wait until everyone else has had a turn before speaking on an agenda item, as recommend by Rosenberg’s Rules, adopted by the City Council as parliamentary procedure, which state:

Since the chair runs the conduct of the meeting, it is usual courtesy for the chair to play a less active role in the debate and discussion than other members of the body. This does not mean that the chair should not participate in the debate or discussion. To the contrary, as a member of the body, the chair has the full right to participate in the debate, discussion and decision-making of the body. What the chair should do, however, is strive to be the last to speak at the discussion and debate stage.

For Martinez, Willis and Beckles to try and shut me down after they have had their say is simply offensive. Are these the kind of people you want on your City Council and representing you in the legislature?

And by the way, I appreciate Myrick, Recinos and Choi voting it down.

Speaking of Beckles, I had a phone call yesterday (my cell phone, incidentally), from  person in Sacramento seeking information about Richmond’s Mind Control resolution. He identified himself as a targeted individual and said he was working with a Sacramento City Council member to pass the resolution in Sacramento. I told him that space weapons and mind control were not my area of expertise and suggested he might want to contact Jovanka Beckles. He asked me for her phone number, which I provided. I thought Jovanka would be glad to hear from him and happy to be helpful.

Instead, Jovanka posted on Facebook, “Not cool at all giving out my personal number, Tom. Please stop. If you want people to contact me regarding city council issues, please give them the number to the City Council. You know better.”

For a City Council member running for state office, Beckles is remarkably inaccessible. My cell phone number as well as my home address is easy to find, and I don’t understand why Beckles was offended that I gave her phone number to someone who wanted to contact her. Using the City Council phone number as your only point of contact means that you are essentially inaccessible. Beckles does not keep office hours at City Hall, and no one even answers the City Council phone 16 hours of each day and on weekends. At best, if you want to talk to Beckles, you have to leave a message unless you call her cell phone.

Being accessible to your constituents would seem to be a good thing for elected officials.