Helen Marshall sent this in:
If you thought Monday Council was bad.
I went to Council Tuesday to hear the discussion about the “Hispanic” cultural center, which is now the Mexican-American Cultural Center (or Institute if Rep. Limón’s efforts are successful) and the Animal Shelter presentation. The agenda showed various activities, including beginning with the Consent Agenda, Items 1-16, Four Proclamations, and some Recognitions of City Employees. A Call to the Public from 8 am to 8:30 am. Someone screwed up with those hours, as the Agenda started at 8 am but all these other events took place first. The Proclamations consumed over half a hour. And then the recognitions…groups of employees who had completed their “Green Belt” in Lean 6 Sigma. Another large group who were in training but had not completed their “project.” Another group receiving their “Yellow Belt.” Apparently the entire city staff will undergo this brainwashing. All of these recognitions required photo ops. Employees who had served 15 (I believe, I dozed off), 25 or more years individually recognized. And then anyone who had completed a degree, including online courses, was recognized. I was afraid they were going to cite those who had a GED… Well over an hour was spent in this. At this point it was after 10 am, and I expected that items 17 and 18 on the agenda would be next.
But no! The Mayor called for item 20, discussion and action on proposed changes to the Competitive Sealed Bid Policy. Rep. Niland used this as an opportunity to whack Gonzalez about San Jacinto Plaza and the Westside Pool. Dr. Noe offered up praise for Bruce Collins, purchasing guru, and he and several others assured Collins that there was no intent to impugn his integrity. The pontificating and posturing went on for another hour. Niland demanded that Collins convene another community meeting about San Jacinto and the Westside Pool and assure the public that the delays were the fault of staff and Gonzales, not Council (i.e, “not her fault”). Council did not include that in the motion that eventually passed, approving the revisions as presented with one or two tweaks. Following that came item 21, a motion dealing with additional funding for the Westside pool, and some more pontificating.
Apparently the speaker for the CSB item was ill and had just come in for that. Why then they allowed 1.5 hours for employee recognition beforehand is a mystery. Why not a special meeting for that?
Finally, sometime after 11 am – Item 17 – The Mexican American Cultural “Entity” was then introduced. A consultant read out page after page after page of recommendations, displayed on the screens in excruciatingly small print. An associated architect presented some designs and charts about space and timelines. Intense discussion ensued. All very interesting but having nothing to do with the motion on the floor, which was to accede to the request of the committee and designate the Chavez theater as the site for the new MACC or MACI. The real issue is that $5.7 million was set aside in the QOL bonds for this cultural center, and the subcommittee and its advisers indicate that something closer to $34 million will be needed. It is true that much of this is for an upgrade of the Chavez theater, which should have been done before, but the fact remains that without the Chavez there would not even be a hope of putting together a Cultural Center with $5.7 million total. FInally a vote was taken and the site was designated, and the subcommittee will continue to work on figuring out how to raise at least most of this money. There was some idea that at least the initial phase could be constructed and opened by December 2017 (no one was bold enough to suggest that it might occur before the dedication of the redo of San Jacinto Plaza..)
Item 18, which I had expected to hear about 9:30 am, was introduced shortly after one pm. No break was taken for the audience, although it did appear that some staff and council members retreated to their offices behind the scenes to grab something to eat. Representative Ordaz turned the discussion into a session to attack the current situation at Animal Services, presenting photos that she said had been taken by two volunteers, claiming that dog bowls were left empty or filled with feces, etc. The entire discussion, not germane to the motion regarding finances, revolved around treatment of dogs and in particular why any injured dogs brought in were not given medical care immediately. Twelve people spoke from the floor. Finally the motion to provide the money for FY16 was passed.
There were still items concerning actions related to the visit of Pope Francis, among others, but at 3 pm I (and my rear end) could not take any more and departed. Fortunately I had parked north of the freeway and walked down, as all the meters in the vicinity of City One are 2-hour limits as far as I know. Be very aggravating to have to pay a parking fine for listening to this. Apparently another 4 or 5 hours was consumed, with a recess, finally, about 5 pm. The time spent could be greatly reduced if the mayor would cut off some of the posturing and whining, but …. we’d need a strong mayor for that.