Ad Hoc Committee Will Work

Item 85A. on tonights agenda of the Santa Ana City Council creates an ad hoc committee of the council which will explore changes to the current meeting structure and take a closer look at the issue of televising and webcasting the two monthly city council meetings.  The committee will include Sal Tinajero, Vince Sarmiento and Claudia Alvarez.  After having a long discussion with Councilmember Tinajero about this it is my belief that this ad hoc committee will lead to a better and more open government in Santa Ana, as well as more efficient city council meetings.

As we have come to expect, the folks over at the Orange Juice have taken on their usual Chicken Little persona in regards to this issue.  Art Pedroza exclaims that the creation of the ad hoc committee “slams the door on open government”.  How so?  The ad hoc committee is charged with looking into the best way of televising the council meetings and giving access to the public by other means such as the web. 

The committee also plans to look at ways to make the council meetings more user friendly such as moving the public comments to the beginning of the meeting like they do at the Santa Ana School Board meetings.  This will allow members of the public who want to address the council to do so without having to sit through the entire meeting.  The meetings tend to run long and with public comments at the end of the meeting people aren’t getting to speak until late in the evening.  For many residents who have children or perhaps work early the prospects of a late evening at in the council chambers likely deters them from going down and addressing the council.

I believe that we need to give this ad hoc committee an opportunity to come up with some new ideas for opening up Santa Ana’s government.  I would encourage you not to buy in to all the negative naysayer hullaballo being put forth by the self-annointed “leaders of the revolution”.  These folks are just upset because Councilmember Michele Martinez is not behind this idea.  Martinez’s plan that she put forth regarding the televising council meetings was too simplistic and too restrictive and thus got no support from her colleagues.  Martinez never even discussed her plan with any of her fellow councilmembers, instead she chose to try and ram it through.  This go it alone style is not going to be successful for her and she needs to realize that as 1 of 7 members governing is a team job.

I hope that all level headed residents of Santa Ana give the ad hoc committee the opportunity to succeed and I would encourage all of you to attend committee meetings and let your voices be heard on the issues surrounding open government.  We need to see more than just televised city council meetings and I plan to let them know this.  I hope you all do the same.

  14 comments for “Ad Hoc Committee Will Work

  1. just...asking
    January 7, 2008 at 9:24 am

    Sean,

    Didn’t an ad-hoc committee also recommend term limits for the Mayor?

    You can see why ad-hoc committee’s in Santa Ana a considered a joke at best. But lets hope this time the committee and the full council can come to an honest and effective solution. There is absolutely no reason a city the size of Santa Ana does not have its business done in the open for all to see.

  2. January 7, 2008 at 9:39 am

    just…asking,

    Just remember that when Sal, Claudia and Vince recommended term limits on the Mayor, Michele and David opposed them. While 4 four-year terms might not have been perfect, they were a step up from the unlimited number of terms the Mayor can serve now.

  3. January 7, 2008 at 10:22 am

    I’m surprised SanTana has its public comments at the end of each meeting. Has it always been like this, Sean?

  4. January 7, 2008 at 10:47 am

    Gustavo,

    I have been attending the council meetings since the early 1980′s and this is always the way it has been during that time. I am quite sure that this is how they have always done it.

  5. cook
    January 7, 2008 at 2:06 pm

    Sean,

    Maybe when I watch my City TV, I must be seeing a difference version of what transpires .

    I see public comments on items on agenda are done before council discussion and votes. And general non-actionable comments at the end and just before council comments.

    It seems to me that the current pecking order of, (1) awards first, (2) then council business meeting, followed by (3) talking heads, is fine.

    If you think that moving the talking heads to the front of the line means after they have their 3 minutes they will leave and go home. I don’t think so, but take survey and ask them.

    One question you may not be able to answer is, why those 3 council members for the committee and not the other 3?

  6. January 7, 2008 at 2:30 pm

    Cook,

    The public may speak on agendized items when they are being discussed, however if they want to speak on non-agendized items they must wait until the end of the meeting. They must wait until all other business is done and then speak. At times that means they are they until late in the evening just to be heard. By moving public comments to the beginning of the meeting you are allowing them to be heard and then go home at a reasonable hour.

    I have no idea why the particular 3 in question were picked. Since this is Sal’s proposal it is only logical that he be one of the 3 members and Claudia has looked into this issue in the past and can bring her knowledge of those past discussions to the table as well. Vince is very level headed and intelligent and he is a very good choice for this committee in my humble opinion.

  7. Mr Sunshine Act
    January 7, 2008 at 5:09 pm

    Vince also violated the Brown Act with his backroom deal to toss Gordon off EPIC. Would you find Vince so swell if he did the same to you Sean?

  8. just asking
    January 7, 2008 at 5:23 pm

    A lot of Councils in the 80′s moved public comments to the end of the agenda to discourage gadflys. It works in many cities but really does defeat the purpose. I’ve been impressed with cities that allow public comments at the beginning on any topic, then allow public comment at the end of the evening on any action the council took that night. Sort of gives the public the last word.

    Public input to the political process, what a concept!

  9. Anonymous
    January 7, 2008 at 6:20 pm

    What is so hard about televising both City Council meetings? What is their to study about televising them? It was done very recently!

    Begin televising both meetings immediately and then let this “Ad-hoc committee” iron out the rest of the other avenues to make Santa Ana city government more open, such as internet, podcasts, e-notification, etc.

  10. January 7, 2008 at 7:00 pm

    Open up the meetings. Broadcast them. Allow public comment before and after. All those are reasonable ideas, well-tested elsewhere. Now here’s a possible innovation that has been tested nowhere: allow the public to comment in real time during the council meetings… somebody says something you don’t like? Tell everyone that instant! That’d fix ‘em. ;)

  11. Bill Spaulding
    January 7, 2008 at 9:52 pm

    All right. This is really starting to piss me off. Full disclosure: I’m not like so many of you guys. I’ve lived in Santa Ana for 23 – months, not years, Orange County for almost 4 years. I obviously have lots and lots to learn.

    But I did not crawl out from under a rock the morning I moved here.

    in 1984 I served on the Executive Board of the West Hollywood Incorporation Committee. A group of people about the size of Michele’s cabal got together, took an area of unincorporated Los Angeles County and created a city. All legal and proper like. This often-maligned city is a booming metropolis of 39,000 residents. What’s that, 12% the size of Santa Ana? And what, about 100 years younger?

    From the beginning, that beginning being in 1984, the newly minted city council, every one an amateur who never held public office, felt it important to broadcast every council meeting on cable. I bet more than one was more than merely nervous.

    At the time, the city was operating from a single temporary rented office with rented furniture. It was almost as if they were operating from the trunk of the interim city manager’s car. There was not a full staff. There were no department heads. The phone number to “city hall” didn’t exist. and you had to know someone to know how to get ahold of anyone.

    No one had confidence that this city would survive. Well, no one except the group who conspired to make a city and the voters who wanted greater control of their government. But the rank amateurs who ran the city knew this much: If their business was conducted in the open so the citizens could see what they do and how they do it, with the warts and the silly laws, the city would thrive. And it has. Quite well, thank you very much.

    The smoke and blue mirrors erected by the Santa Ana mayor-for-life, some council members, some staff, and any number of apologists stretch the limits of credulity. It’s pure, unadulterated crap. The vacuum created by their dead air and hidden meetings inevitably leads to all manner of conspiracy theories. It always works that way. Unfortunately, in the case of Santa Ana, the theories appear to be the reality.

  12. January 7, 2008 at 10:42 pm

    Nearly 8 years ago I managed a city council campaign in WeHo (we won).
    At that time council meetings were shown LIVE on local cable. Concerned citizens were known, on occasion, to storm the council meetings in their slippers and pajamas to voice their opinions after seeing something on television.
    I believe the meetings there are now streamed live on the internet.
    Some SA councilmembers will have you believe that the technology to broadcast every meeting has not migrated 30 miles southeast in 8 years. Odd.
    Who are they afraid of? What are they hiding?

  13. January 8, 2008 at 6:51 am

    The Ad Hoc committee meetings ARE NOT subject to the Brown Act. There they go, hiding from the public again…

  14. Anonymous
    January 8, 2008 at 10:15 am

    What is so hard about televising both City Council meetings? What is their to study about televising them? It was done very recently!

    Begin televising both meetings immediately and then let this “Ad-hoc committee” iron out the rest of the other avenues to make Santa Ana city government more open, such as internet, podcasts, e-notification, etc.

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