Sep 7 2012

OPINION: Comments Stifled and Inaccurate Ballot Argument Remains

Click on picture to view video.

The following is a letter from a Piedmont resident.

 At the September 4 City Council Open Forum, Councilman McBain cut off Aaron Salloway’s remarks concerning City financial matters which included comments specific to the City retaining an outside negotiator and advisor for all future employee negotiations. Mr. McBain declared  such discussion was not City business and was merely election posturing. Mr. McBain wished to stop any further comments from Mr. Salloway. City Attorney Tom Curry disagreed and opined that Aaron’s remarks related to City business and can be allowed. Evidently Councilman McBain wishes to curtail our First Amendment rights, alter the long history of open forum in Piedmont and stop residents from addressing the Council as to how their taxpayer money is spent.

At the same Open Forum Ryan Gilbert stated that the City has provided false information on the proponent ballot rebuttal argument. The offending statement is the closing remark of the proponent rebuttal, that the City Council has unanimously endorsed the Measure Y parcel tax. This is a misstatement as the Council passed no resolution in that regard and has not unanimously endorsed the Parcel Tax. The error was then publicly acknowledged by City Administrator Grote, Mayor Chiang and the rebuttal’s author, Councilman Wieler. Asked directly by Mr. Gilbert,  Mr. Grote stated the City will take no action to correct the ballot and declared that residents could go to Court to correct the matter.

The City has placed the burden and the responsibility of correction of the City generated rebuttal misstatement on the voters. The sanctity of the ballot box is fundamental to our Democratic system, yet the City will take no action to remove false information which it created. The City should obtain a writ to remove the offending language from the ballot. Short of that the City can notify voters by a city wide mailer. To do otherwise indicates that City Hall will provide false information to voters and will take no action to remove the misstatement.

Rick Schiller

September 5, 2012

Editors’ Note:  All Council agendas include: “Public Forum – This is an opportunity for members of the audience to speak on an item not on the agenda. The 10 minute period will be divided evenly between those wishing to address the Council.” See the September 4 meeting draft minutes page 1.

The opinions expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of the Piedmont Civic Association.

4 Responses to “OPINION: Comments Stifled and Inaccurate Ballot Argument Remains”

  1. Pretty astounding the City Administrator and Council members would allow Councilman Wieler’s misstatement on a ballot measure to stand uncorrected. Perhaps the PCA might reprint the text from this portion of the meeting?

    Thanks, Rick.

    Denise Bostrom

  2. Inviting a lawsuit to correct an obvious and material incorrect statement in the ballot seems like a “full employment act” for the City staff, headed by Mr. Grote. Perhaps Mr. Grote can explain if there is another merit in litigating a simple matter of correcting an erroneous ballot.

    Editors’ Note: City Administrator Geoffrey Grote provided an explanation which can be seen on the video. He indicates that by the time staff became aware of the error, there was no ability to do anything to alter the printed ballot.

  3. Thank you, PCA, for inserting a link to the 9/4 City Council meeting.

    Denise Bostrom

  4. Mr Grote had ample time to respond to our concerns and file an unopposed writ in court asking for a correction. His argument that he was unable to due to timing makes no sense. He and the Council plainly had no will to correct this misrepresentation. Hopefully voters will learn about the true state of the Council’s support before they vote. 4/5 members is not unanimous support, even in the Council’s dreamland.

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