During public comment if it suits their needs Elk Grove's Mayor & City Council will engage, if not, fuhgeddaboudit!

During public comment on non-agenda items during the most recent city council meeting, Mayor Bobbie Singh-Allen and two of her councilmen engaged one speaker. That speaker was Keith Diederich of The Gathering Inn.

Mr. Deiderich's employer, The Gathering Inn, manages Elk Grove's winter sanctuary. Also accompanying Deiderich were two clients who were guided to permanent housing.

Aside from acknowledging sanctuary volunteers over the last four and half months of operation, Diederich also heaped praise on the mayor, city council, and city staff. This praise did not go unnoticed by the mayor and her subordinates. 

Instead of cutting off Diederich after his three minutes, the mayor and two of her councilmen (Councilmember Kevin Spease was absent) reacted to the public comments in a self-adulating manner. Strangely, Councilmember Rod Brewer, who represents District 2, the site of the winter sanctuary on Waterman Road and Elk Grove Boulevard, did not speak.

Watch the mayor and councilmembers Sergio Robles and Darren Suen offer commentary on the non-agenda public speakers in the second video below. Interestingly, Singh-Allen did not engage this speaker, who appeared just before Deiderich. 

Perhaps you are asking yourself, what's the big deal? There are a couple of aspects to consider.

Since taking the helm of meetings, Singh-Allen has strictly enforced the three-minute rule. Once, the mayor cut off one speaker she openly disdains before their three minutes expired. 

The other significant aspect is that the Elk Grove City Council and other governing bodies in California refuse to engage speakers during public comment on non-agenda items. The elected officials and bureaucrats use California's open meetings Brown Act as a shield.

Typically, a speaker will seek a response to their non-agenda remarks, and the representatives or bureaucrats will say that since it is not an agenda, under the Brown Act, they cannot discuss the matter. Fair enough, but do they follow their own rules, and are there exceptions?

As we saw during the March 13 meeting, Mayor Singh-Allen and her council engaged the public speakers for more than a few words of acknowledgment. It was not a violation of the Brown Act per se, but if the city council has such a rule, it should be imposed without prejudice - three minutes, and you are done and don't expect engagement.

Additionally, are governing bodies strictly restricted from engaging with speakers during public comment on non-agenda items? According to one critic of the Elk Grove City Council, the answer is no - they can engage without violating the Brown Act.

As seen in the first video below, Mr. Mark Graham, who is often treated dismissively, presented his argument before the Elk Grove City Council. According to  Graham's reasonable interpretation of the Brown Act, speakers can be engaged. 

So what does this tell us about Mayor Bobbie Singh-Allen and her city council member minions?

Foremost, Mayor Singh-Allen is hypocritical when she tells speakers they cannot be engaged. This was not the case during the March 13 meeting after Diederich praised the mayor, city council, and city staff. 

The Mayor and councilmen, Sergio Robles and Darren Suen, relished the engagement with Mr. Deiderich. They'll fully engage in a discussion if you speak about something that makes them look good or allows them to engage in self-adulation.

The more important aspect is that Mayor Singh-Allen and her city councilmen revealed themselves as thin-skinned who cannot withstand criticism from the public without hiding behind the shield of the Brown Act. If you want to have the mayor and councilmen engage you, you better kiss some ass.

Likewise, if you criticize the mayor, city council, or a city policy and expect their engagement, fuhgeddaboudit!  


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Steve L said...

I’m writing in Mark Graham in our next mayoral election in November. He’s absolutely spot on when he points out the current mayor and counsel continually ignore the public (other than Randy Bekker, for some reason). He’s right when he says the mayor and counsel could chose to engage the public but refuse to do so. They should engage the public, share their thoughts in an open forum, not allow them 3 minutes only to be cut off and then completely ignored, their comments and concerns not worthy of a simple brief response. It’s not right and the citizens deserve better.
I challenge this mayor and counsel to engage the public, citizens who took time away from their work or families to speak of issues that matter to them. Are you up for a challenge?
Just do what’s democratic and civil. Treat the public like you want to be treated. Shouldn’t be so difficult.

Sid Vicious said...

With Mayor Bobbie and her four punks - and I mean punks in the truest sense of the word - flattery will get you everywhere!

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