Television executives who produce those mean-spirited reality shows
could save a bundle on production cost. All they need to do is
rebroadcast the Glendale City Council meetings. The way our council
conducts the city's business, along with their apparent lack of
respect for the citizenry, has huge entertainment value.
Those who watch the council meetings on Channel 6 each Tuesday
night will agree. Our City Council has become a knot of grumpy and
mean-spirited curmudgeons. Everyone knows that public speaking can be
an intimidating endeavor, under the best of circumstances. If you
choose to speak before our City Council, you can add the risk of
being publicly humiliated to your anxiety. Here are a few good
There is a lady who speaks on a regular basis. It is apparent that
she is a kind soul who has a good heart. She is concerned about our
city, but is most disturbed that our natural resources are being
destroyed. English is her second language and she struggles with
words, often using the wrong ones, but we get the gist of what she is
trying to tell us. Do our councilmen offer a sympathetic ear or try
to ascertain her meaning? No! Instead they snicker, they roll their
eyes, and they make jokes at her expense. What bad form!
There are citizens, just like you and me, who volunteer their time
to serve as city commissioners. One such volunteer appeared before
the council to explain why her Design Review Board had turned down a
development project. Some council members disagreed with her decision
and commenced to berate her. (Paraphrasing here) "What expertise did
you use in making your decision? Are you an engineer or an
architect?" She left the podium, close to tears. But she bravely
reappeared at the next council meeting to dress down the council for
their abhorrent behavior. Good for you!
Most recently, a mild-mannered fellow appeared before the council
to speak about the construction of a new house on Cascadia Drive.
Cascadia is a narrow, winding road that does not allow easy access
for fire trucks. The fire hydrant closest to the proposed project has
little water pressure.
Since the gentleman lived next door, he wanted to express his
concern that the existing homes lack adequate fire protection and the
council should consider these facts before approving yet another
house. This gentleman happens to be in the fire protection business.
He came to offer his professional opinion to the council and advised
them to seek independent advice. However, his efforts were not
appreciated. The man was pounded with bombastic comments and
questions. (Again paraphrasing) "Are you calling our fire marshal a
liar? Do you expect us to consider your opinion over his? This
project has a sprinkler system. Does your home have a sprinkler
system? Do you have fire retardant landscaping? I understand that you
are remodeling your house. How big will it be? How many square feet
do you have? What size lot do you have? Are you meeting all the
The council tried its best to portray him as a hypocrite, a man
who had the gall to add to his own house but then oppose any new
construction. They failed. The man kept his composure and answered
each barbed question with a reasonable answer. It was interesting to
note that when the flurry of questions subsided and the councilmen's
conjectures were proved false, they did not apologize to the man.
They just grunted and move on.
The City Council has every right to weigh what the city staff and
the citizens of Glendale tell them, and to make the decision they
deem appropriate. That's their job, and if we don't like it, we can
tell them so at the voting booth next year. However, when our
citizens are publicly humiliated so councilmen can grandstand, it is
appalling, inexcusable and embarrassing for our city.
So let the public beware. If you choose to enter the lion's den
and speak before our City Council, you should understand the ground
You are given five minutes to present your idea or concern.
Your presentation can be disrupted at any time by any council
member who disagrees with you.
If they don't like what you have to say, be prepared for hardball
questions designed to throw you off your point. You are not allowed
to respond when the council misrepresents your position or impugns
your motives or your character.
You should not expect to have the last word.
To be fair, there are people who have appeared before the council
and were allowed to present their views. If you take the brave step
to speak, you should know, however, that it's a crapshoot. You may
escape their ridicule, or not. Also, to be fair, I should mention
that Frank Quintero has shown himself less likely to engage in this
objectionable behavior, although as mayor and holder of the gavel, he
has the authority to stop it.
Those of you who are fans of reality TV should tune in to our City
Council meetings on Tuesday, or catch the reruns Friday nights. You
will see many of the same embarrassing activities. The nasty
"American Idol" judge might seem like a nice guy when compared with
some of our councilmen. The "stab you in the back" politics
demonstrated by the survivors on the deserted island are tame when
measured against the bizarre scenes played out each week in the
Glendale City Council chambers.
Do we have a new form of reality TV here, or just a sad