The Elk Grove City Council's circumvention of the democratic process

What is democracy? – neocommunication

The following letter was sent to the five members of the Elk Grove City Council on June 18 by an Elk Grove resident and voter. As of today, none of the city council members have responded to the inquiry. 

Dear Mr. Mayor and Councilpersons:

The city of Elk Grove, like much of the entire world, has been a victim of the Covid-19 pandemic. As such, I realize the need for our city council meetings to be held remotely and apart from one another for safety concerns. 

As a bystander, I have watched as the citizen's voices have been quashed at recent meetings. I understood, although I didn't agree, when the council bypassed ALL public comment back in May as to comments made related to the term limits for councilpersons, and the issue of whether the mayor should remain elected by the people or reverting back to our old policy of revolving the position among the sitting council members each year. I understand there were over 100 public comments on these issues and for them to all be heard would have taken approximately five hours. Removing the item from the agenda was seen as making the public comments on those issues moot, and as such, irrelevant to the remainder of the proceedings. Those comments were not read into the record, although I trust, they are part of the record for that meeting.

Since that time, the council has regularly waived hearing public comment on issues before the council. To quash the voice of the people, to not allow the public to hear their concerns, comments and solutions does directly and unequivocally circumvent the democratic process and the fundamental concepts on which this country was built. The people, all of them, regardless of their point of view, have a constitutional privilege to exercise their basic right to be heard by the governing body and the public at a public hearing.

Having the comments submitted in writing, via e-mail, text or voice mail and made part of the formal record does not allow the public to timely hear the comments and concerns of our neighbors. Nor can we assume that the council and staff have read and given the appropriate attention to the comments. These citizens have thought enough about the issue to take time out of their busy day to write or call the city. In return, the city has presumably ignored their voice when their comments are not read before the council

"Public Comment" means the concerned citizenry has a right to have the council AND the public hear their concerns. This can only be assured by allowing each and every comment( within the three-minute restriction, and devoid of improper language) to be read or played during the discussion of that agendized matter.

Basic civil rights demand the citizen's rights to be heard. To quash these rights is a dereliction of your duty taken when you took the oath of office. If you don't have the time or the interest in the citizen's views, then you shouldn't be on the dais. Listening to the citizens and representing their needs is the job; it's what you signed up for.

I hope that in all future meetings, someone on this council will ask the clerk to read into the record all comments made by the citizens. 

Also, I, among others, have noticed a sharp drop in professionalism and respect since the meetings have gone remote. You are all better than that.

Respectfully submitted, your friend,

Steve Lee

Copyright by Steve Lee © 2020. All right reserved.


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