Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Happenings: Meaningless Gestures, Anyone?

Yesterday’s City Council Meeting can be summarized as “Meaningless gestures and the people who love them.” To wit:

Meaningless Gesture 1: The Lobbyist Registration Ordinance

At the urging of a few suspicious citizens, the City embarked on a journey some months ago. The destination is a splendid promise land where all lobbyists appearing before the council are registered and declared as such. Sadly—but accurately—Mayor Pro Tem Bob Kellar called the lobbyist registration ordinance “absolutely meaningless to the citizens of Santa Clarita.” Indeed, Councilmember Ferry could rattle off SCV’s lobbyists’ names by heart and Councilmember Weste made the point of knowing the identity of all lobbyists when she spoke a last week’s meeting. Mayor McLean said something close to “it’ll make them [Claritans] feel better”, which is exactly what this bill is about. The council will say officially, rather than informally, that it knows who lobbyists are, and that’s just the sort of meaningless gesture that makes my day.

TimBen Boydston said “I respectfully disagree completely” after Kellar made a point about Lobbyist Registration being totally meaningless. Kellar still gives the measure his support.

M.G.2: Annexation Amendments
Altering the annexation initiation threshold by 5% isn’t meaningless, but appearances by Castaic folks were. Everyone speaking feigned disinterest in the outcome. If they were all mashed into one person, he would have said “Oh I don’t really have a position about whether we want to be annexed or not; I just want things to be done properly. There are studies to finish! Let’s all cooperate and respect one another, shall we?.” A slightly amended version of the policy carried in the face of these exquisitely helpful platitudes.

M.G.3: Accountability Panel Extension
The Council (minus Boydston) agreed to extend the deadline for applications to the Open Space Financial Accountability and Audit Panel. Despite having five qualified candidates (five are needed, and a sixth has put his name back into the race after withdrawing) turn in their applications by the deadline, city Manager Ken Pulskamp thought it would be a swell idea to extend the deadline to December 28th. Councilmember Ferry called it like it was—a (meaningless) gesture, but one that’s nice to make in light of the fires that swept through town during the week of the deadline. Obviously, there will be another extenstion after the December 28th one in case people were too busy dealing with the holidays to turn in their application.

I’m all for meaningless gestures, but I also respect Boydston’s observation that people who want to participate in things like accountability panels “are few and far between.” There aren’t a lot of Claritans salivating over the chance to study, review, and debate complicated land acquisitions. Thankfully, Jim Farley (who opposed the measure from the beginning and will provide a much-need critical voice) is one of the people willing to serve. He and pal Sterling King noted that the deadline extension seemed like a convenient way for the City to get someone more in line with their thinking . We shall learn if this was actually the case only if the City manages to muster another application or two before December 28th; I’m not holding my breath.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Lobbyist registration - is this the same kind of meaningless as the assumption that city workers will have ethics or a moral code that they live by? Is this the same kind of meaningless as a congressman who files for bankruptcy, yet lives in a million dollar home? The same kind of meaningless as a so-called school development group who thinks it's okay to buy worthless property at an inflated price from their friends? Or to sell property previously restricted from being developed, which can now be built on because of the way it was sold?