Like pickin' the girl for the prom - Nancy Chaires denied seat on Elk Grove City Council
Written By EGN on Thursday, January 10, 2013 | 19:40
An opinion by Michael Monasky |
Elk Grove City Councilman Steve Detrick has really stepped in it this time. His seemingly sexist (and perhaps racist?) faux pas came in response to colleague Jim Cooper's allegation that the “shenanigans” by detractors of planning commissioner Nancy Chaires have been “distasteful.” Detrick countered that the process of appointing Mayor Gary Davis' council replacement was “like pickin' the girl for the prom.” There are no women on the council, and there were only two women applicants in a field of six candidates. One, LaWanna Montgomery, is African American.
Gary Davis was the well-heeled Democratic party shoe-in as the first elected Mayor of Elk Grove. Davis refused to resign his council seat, creating a vacancy when chosen to lead the city. The vacancy required appointment for the remainder of his term, or an expensive (about $400,000) special election. Since the four council members are two Democrats and two Republicans, they are hopelessly divided. Democrats favor Chaires, and Republicans prefer anybody else. Bring on the pricey election.
The council heard from the six applicants, but not before there was a petty disagreement whether the candidates should present alphabetically or randomly. The process was driven by the parade of candidates' five minutes of propaganda and promises. Councilman Jim Cooper asked no questions; neither did Detrick, who restricted his statements to comments praising those candidates he knew. Only Councilman Patrick Hume and Davis posed questions. Hume asked each candidate if they were seeking election after appointment. Candidate and San Joaquin County Deputy DA Edward Busuttil stood alone in his promise not to do so.
I thought this was a democracy. Democracy is rule by the people. When a few decide who will rule, that's oligarchy. Expediency and cost are not democratic considerations, standards, ideals, or values. During consent calendar, the council, which has a long history of bungling the public transit system, authorized nearly $200,000 for bus surveillance cameras that evening, or roughly half the cost of a special election.
There is a self-centeredness, a selfishness, an egocentricity in a body whose members retain a seat while running for another, higher office. We'll likely face the same dilemma in 2016 after the next mayoral election should a mid-term council member repeat Davis' error. Earlier in the day, Councilman Jim Cooper threw his hat into the ring for the Ninth State Assembly district slot. Despite term limits, our political representatives persist in playing the game of perpetual musical chairs.
Freedom isn't cheap for anyone who has shed blood in our armed forces. Maybe that's why at least two of the appointment-seeking candidates' responses to Mr. Hume's interrogative, regarding whether they'd seek re-election after appointment, were particularly ironic. Nancy Chaires, the Democratic favorite, said “I believe in the sacred power of elections” (her emphasis). Ms. Montgomery, the perpetual campaigner, said “It's more of an honor to be selected by the citizens.”
I found none of the candidates' answers satisfactory to Mayor Davis' question about implementation of AB 32, the resolution of conflict between air quality protections and business constraints. I offer this response: establishment and maintenance of walkable communities. During public comment a citizen made a complaint of poor management of traffic and student pedestrians on Whitelock Parkway near the high school and middle school complex. Talk about public health and safety, air pollution, saving money, and creating community. How do we get people out of their cars and feeling good about getting around on their feet unless we make it safe to walk in our own neighborhoods? Who wants to walk the dog or see their kid off to school, only to be run over by their neighbor's hybrid Lexus?
Elk Grove has a lot of growing up to do. I just hope it doesn't take 100 years, as Councilman Cooper estimated, to get a mature majority on the council.
Posted by EGN at 19:40