May 27 2015

Fossil Fuel Divestment and Traffic Safety

May 18, 2015 – Piedmont City Council meeting reported by Piedmont High School student Liam Schindler –

    On Monday, May 18th at 7:30 p.m, I had the fascinating experience of attending the Piedmont City Council meeting at City Hall to observe the inner workings of our government.  Present were Mayor Margaret Fujioka, Vice Mayor Jeff Wieler, and Councilmembers Teddy Gray King, Robert McBain, and Tim Rood.  The Council meets biweekly to discuss and decide on issues that have risen in the community and to hear community members give their opinions on certain issues, or present issues of their own.

   An issue presented during the Public Forum concerned traffic safety issues at certain intersections.

There also was  a request for the City to write a letter encouraging CALPers divestment from stocks in fossil fuels by a group of citizens concerned with global warming and the future, and a reaffirmation of the City’s decision to have the lobby of City Hall redone.

The only issue that resulted in any debate was the fossil fuel issue, and it resulted in a long, heated debate.  The community members expressed their concern with global warming, its effect on the world, and how it will hurt their children or grandchildren.  They then asked that the City encourage CALPers to divest from such stocks so as not to contribute to this problem that faces the world.  Vice Mayor Jeff Wieler responded first, somewhat outraged at the idea of these citizens “telling [him] what [his] morals should be”.  He then declared that the City of Piedmont does not take stances on moral issues such as this.  However, Council Members King and Rood argued using extensive scientific data showing the adverse effects of global warming on the world.

Mayor Fujioka suggested that perhaps a more general proposal was in order regarding the City’s stance on such issues but at a later date and put forth a movement that the City take no action on this proposition.  The movement passed with three ayes from from Fujioka, Wieler, and McBain, and two noes from Rood and King.

I found this issue to be very tricky, since I do recognize the danger of global warming and believe that Piedmont should do its part to at least not support such an issue. However, I also understand that taking a moral stance like this would be unprecedented for the City Council. They should not change how they function just by accepting this proposal but rather through a lot of discussion and debate.  I support Mayor Fujioka’s idea to postpone the proposal until the City Council has made a decision about how they will handle proposals of that type.

    I spoke during the Public Forum regarding the danger of an intersection near my house.  The intersection of Moraga Avenue and Mesa Avenue has a crosswalk, but minimal visibility for drivers to see pedestrians before they are already in the street.  Regarding that, combined with the already reckless driving that is typical on Moraga Avenue, I suggested that a stoplight be put in.  None of the Council members commented on my proposal, so I do not believe they will take it into any further consideration.  However, I understand their disinterest since I forgot to make some points that I intended to.  It was intimidating to speak at a podium in a government building, to a council seated dauntingly in a semicircle around you, and I could understand anyone forgetting to make points or making other mistakes.

Editors’ Note:  The opinions expressed are those of the author.

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