Mayor Asmundson’s second tenure as Mayor has been somewhat less eventful than her first tenure that saw open civil unrest befall the city. However, more quietly she has effectively moved to stifle debate and dissent at least within official city hall.
On the other hand, the Mayor consistently works to shut down Sue Greenwald, her most outspoken colleague on the minority side of the aisle. Continually trying to limit questions and comments from her duly elected colleagues is distasteful.
However, this week, we see a far more sinister development under the guise of budgetary savings. And let’s be honest, the amount of money the council itself consumes is drops in the bucket compared to the millions that go out for salary, benefits, pensions, and retirement health care. No one wants to deprive city employees of a decent wage and benefits, however, people enriching themselves at the expense of taxpayer, and we’re not talking about councilmembers, has no place in government service and public employment.
The solution that Mayor Asmundson suggests is closing down access to government. It is abridging open discourse and free speech. It threatens the very tenets of democracy and civil society.
Her proposal of limiting meals and holding public meetings to three hours a meeting, twice a month is appalling.
Her disdain for transparency and accountability of public officials is even more so.
But her rank hypocrisy is something else. There she was stammering away incoherently admonishing her colleagues for wasting time as she spent a lengthy period of time after 11 pm doing exactly what she admonished her colleagues for doing.
Folks democracy is at times time consuming. It is rarely pretty. And it forces us to spend time on procedural things that maybe are not the best use of time and energy. But we have put these policies and procedures into place for a fundamental reason that transcends ideology and policy goals.
We sacrifice expediency in the name of liberty, equality, and overall fairness.
We sacrifice our time and energy at the alter of democratic governance.
We listen to those spending an inordinate amount of time defending that which we find most apprehensive and distasteful, knowing full well that to do so defends our right to do the same.
It is unfortunate however that the Mayor of our great city, our bastion of liberalism, a community inhabited by among the most educated populace in the country, does not share these principles and values.
She would rather sacrifice deliberation and debate for the sake of brevity. She would sacrifice our rights to speak for her own comfort.
Franklin once said that he who would sacrifice essential liberty for the sake of temporary security deserves neither liberty nor security. Our Mayor sacrifices essential liberty and open government for the sake of expediency and brevity, and she deserves neither liberty nor expediency.
I do not believe that the Mayor has the support of the majority of council to enact these changes. The council must rise up and overrule the Mayor’s poor judgment here. Our very democracy and our entire community is at stake in this.
This has nothing to do with policy areas. This has to do with core beliefs. This community deserves the right to know whether agree or disagree, the council has heard all sides on issue, debated the merits and downsides of the issue fully, considered fully the input of the stakeholders and citizens of this community, and reached the best conclusion that it can under those imperfect circumstances.
The second that we cut short council discussion or public input is the second that we have violated something far more important than simply making bad policy. Rather we have violated public trust and the spirit of open government or democracy.
Two weeks ago was sunshine week around this great nation, celebrating the principles of open government. This week in Davis, we are threatening a full eclipse of democratic policy for no good and essential reason. We must all rise up and collectively say no. For next time, it will be your issue at stake and you will have your voice cut off from you. Let us prevent that from ever happening in this great community.
—David M. Greenwald reporting