A week ago the Santa Ana City Council approved the appointment by Councilman Sal Tinajero of Sean H. Mill to the Planning Commission. Appointments to city commissions are at their core are political appointments. A council member has every right to appoint who he or she sees fit to appoint. The selection of appointees will reflect upon that member’s own judgment and character as an elected official. With rare exception, it is understood that city council’s approve the selection of appointments made by a single member.
That practice of consent however is not an excuse for silence in the face of overwhelming evidence of conduct which an individual member finds inappropriate or unacceptable. The act of threatening physical violence or engaging in hate speech is an occasion that calls for and demands comment. In the case of Sean H. Mill’s appointment to the Planning Commission, there is no question or doubt as to the statements he has made. There is no question that his behavior has been bigoted and threatening.
By consenting to Mill’s appointment to the Santa Ana Planning Commission without comment, Mayor Miguel Pulido, Council members Vincent Sarmiento, Claudia Alvarez, and Michele Martinez failed to distance themselves from his actions and character.
Councilmember Tinajero has personally demonstrated that he not only condones threats of violence against individuals, he engages in such behavior himself. But words and speech have consequences. As we have seen over the past weekend with the attempted assassination of Congresswoman Giffords and murder of 6 others in Arizona, there are crazy people out there. Crazy people who will take words and imagery to heart and consider it license to harm and even kill.
Two members of the Council demonstrated that they refuse to consider Mill’s behavior as acceptable for a city commissioner. Councilmen David Benavides and Carlos Bustamante demonstrated their disgust at Mill’s behavior and voted against the appointment of Sean H. Mill. Their action will, as history has demonstrated, likely result in the wrath of members Tinajero, Alvarez, and Martinez. Such wrath will probably take the form of rejecting any appointees that Councilmen Bustamante and Benavides nominate for the foreseeable future, or by blocking any initiative or proposal they make, no matter how beneficial to the city, from consideration.
To accept and approve the appointment of Sean H. Mill to the Planning Commission, without even saying a word about the inappropriateness of hisÂ behavior or its incompatibility with public service as an appointed commissioner, is quite simply inexcusable.
At the council meeting Mayor Pulido acknowledged that he knew exactly what Mill has written and done. He demonstrated that knowledge by stopping Claudio Gallegos during his public remarks to caution him to not speak the profanity Mill had written. But other than that, Mayor Pulido said and did nothing to repudiate the statements Mill has made. He made no effort to caution that such words have consequences. One can only presume that through his own inaction, Mayor Pulido condones and agrees with those comments and actions.
Mayor Pulido and Assemblyman Jose Solorio have been promoting in political circles Councilman Sarmiento as their pick to replace Solorio in the Assembly when his term expires. Sarmiento’s silence is particularly disturbing given his desire for this higher office. The failure to recognize the significance of the inappropriate actions of Sean H. Mill represents a cognitive disconnect between Sarmiento’s personal values and his actions. His failure to take the significant, yet simple, step of repudiating the comments and actions of Sean H. Mill and cautioning him that such actions while holding office would have consequences grants Mill the “Sarmiento Seal of Approval.”
It is only a matter of time before Sean H. Mill demonstrates once more that he lacks the temperament to hold the respected office of Commissioner for the City of Santa Ana. Unfortunately, based upon the actions, or lack thereof, of the current council majority it is unlikely that any inappropriate words or actions from Sean H. Mill will have consequence for him.
Over the past several weeks some of the more objectionable commentary made by Sean H. Mill on two local blogs for which he writes/wrote have been erased. Last night we discovered that virtually every commentary Mill ever authored has been removed for those two publications.
The similarity to the attempts by right-wing pundits, commentators, radio hosts, and Sarah Palin, to erase hateful comments and dangerous symbolism from her websites and Facebook pages is almost comical and certainly disturbing. Disturbing that only now, after the senseless tragedy in Arizona, does Sean H, Mill have some idea that words have consequences.