Wow! Now I know how to get a large color picture of myself on the front page of the Glendale News-Press (Aug. 14), an editorial in a Saturday News-Press (Aug. 18) and a cartoon in a Saturday News-Press (Aug. 25). I think it is important that I provide a little context about the event that was reported.
According to our municipal code, “any person may address the council on any matter concerning the city's business or on any matter over which the city has control is limited to five minutes. Any matter brought to the attention of the council under the heading oral communications may be referred to the appropriate department through the city manager for appropriate action or investigation and report to the council.”
Today it has devolved into a freewheeling, bare-knuckles attack on council members and staff without regard to the truth. For some of my first years on council, a person would address the city council and if the matter required a response, staff would take notes and contact the person after the meeting, or within a few days, in an attempt to address their concerns.
In later years we hear from some of our regular speakers that council members are under the control of developers, are accepting their large donations, are in cahoots with city employee associations on salaries and pensions, and [are guilty of] various misdeeds far too numerous to detail here.
Oral communications have devolved to where council members are responding to the public's comments, fostering the notion that the speaker struck a raw nerve. Even more unsettling, some speakers insist that they be able to respond to what council members say.
The handful of ill-informed and mean-spirited speakers that berate the Council every week seem to have little to say about the improvement of Glendale that is rooted in reality. I can only hope that this devolution of oral communications into a ceaseless stream of personal attacks changes and we can someday return to what oral communication really is all about. Is democracy tough? You bet. Do local officials need thick skin? Right again. But there comes a time when even the thickest of armor cannot stop the steady and unyielding barrage of fodder that passes as oral communication today.
Editor's note: The writer is a member of the Glendale City Council