I give up. Local democracy does not work at any level. Tonight, a plethora of mostly white, middle-class, middle-aged parents told the San Leandro City Council: “This is where we draw the line. Don’t spy on our kids, don’t criminalize them from kindergarten on”. In essence they said: “this is your chance to release some steam, show that you are something other than a rubber stamp for the police, show that citizens have a chance to have their voices heard”.
The arguments were intelligent, well-reasoned and researched and made politely. They came from a law professor, a poverty expert, a public health researcher, a former School Board member who had just been recognized with his own day (Dec. 18th), two respected community leaders. They came from parents. They all fell in deaf ears. “We know you are moving your lips but even if we could hear you, we would disagree with you on principle” dead ears.
If there was any doubt that there is nothing that anyone can say or do that would ever influence the San Leandro City Council to vote against anything proposed by the police department, that doubt went away tonight – and with that, any incentive for anyone that has any concerns about the police department to dialogue with city authorities.
If you have a City Council which is institutionally unable to respond to public concerns, then social change cannot be accomplished using the extant political system. I am not suggesting any alternatives right now, but I’m willing to listen to suggestions.
Thanks ML this is a wonderful site and we appreciate your hard work. There’s a group called Edgar County Watchdogs that has kept city officials accountable: http://edgarcountywatchdogs.com/ They attend meetings and they keep their kool, record everything, conduct themselves in orderly fashion and don’t get negative attention. The watchdogs were featured in an article in Forbes. Inspired by Dillon’s Rule, a 19th-century principle that municipal governments can only act on the basis of powers that have been lawfully granted to them, the duo force public officials to prove that they are spending public funds and using public resources in a lawful manner. They use a combination of public pressure, Freedom of Information filings, lawsuits, and media exposure. They have even used “citizens arrest” at a meeting. So by doggedly pursuing justice for even the smallest infractions by bureaucrats and politicians, the watchdogs have driven 102 public officials to resign from their posts, including 33 officials in Edgar County alone.
Of course the city council members are all lapdogs of the police department. Their political future depends entirely on the campaign contributions of the San Leandro Police Foundation, the Firefighters and all of the public employee unions and the enormous political power they wield.
You didn’t actually believe they represent “we the people” did you?
Stop complaining! Go outside, smell the fresh air and quit being so negative! THAT is the problem with America…nothing but complainers
I think that’s what you get when you live in a country that was founded by “complainers”.