With Labor Day behind us, the curtain is rising on another season of the award-winning drama series, “City Council Elections.”
Candidates and Residents alike may want to take note that City Council’s record of accomplishment periodically attracts the attention of leading academics and Nobel Laureates. Rumors are that the World Economic Forum imay invite our Council, en banc, to lecture on a metaphysical question that has stumped philosophers since time immemorial: Can an elected body become so dysfunctional as to be unable to intentionally make a mistake?
Such an opportunity could put our little town on the cutting edge of governance by demonstrating how to achieve perfection through the simple act of missing the point.
As Council continues to set aspirational goals without the funding to achieve them, or ways to tell if they have been achieved, many problems facing our community may not be incorrectly solved before they leave office.
Here’s a quick review of things that Councils past and present have intensely not accomplished in just the last few years:
Make no mistake: such Zen-like detachment is not easy to maintain when constantly distracted by More Important Matters, such as:
~ Issuing Proclamations
~ Draining money from the water department to plug leaks in the City budget
~ Hosting presentations by various groups on matters not pending before Council. [“What We Did On Summer Vacation,” a PowerPoint by El Verano School’s 3rd grade, is rumored to be on the December agenda.]
~ Reciting the Pledge of Allegiance, a patriotic tic with zero relevance to City business but with words easily memorized by the time one is elected to Council.
~ Waving in the 4th of July parade.
~ Attending regional meetings (with lunch), followed by show-and-tell reports at
future Council meetings.
~ Relinquishing millions in tax revenue to the Tourism Improvement District to spend on romancing tourists, in order to avoid the temptation to spend it on City residents.
~ Not asking the Open Space District for authority to decide whether to allow Dogs on the Montini trail, because the District might allow Council to decide whether to allow Dogs on the Montini trail.
~ Shuffling Farmers Market vendors, bands, etc., for reasons unrelated to the sale of fresh produce.
Such Profiles in Courage are a proud Sonoma tradition. A few years ago, Council was deciding an appeal of a Planning Commission decision that had approved an EIR for the proposed W. Napa Street No-Name Hotel. After lawyers meticulously and often truthfully debated, and as the decision deadline approached, the hotel’s developers agreed that the EIR needed more work. Council courageously pounced, upholding the appeal, 5-0.
Sometime thereafter, the Planning Commission erupted in resignations, triggering an internecine Council squabble over the mayor’s power to make appointments. Council scrapped the process whereby the mayor filled commission vacancies from among vetted candidates. Each councilmember is now entitled to appoint one BFF, or Daffy Duck, to any City commission vacancy.
Per Council decree, tickets to this year’s drama are free to residents and non-residents alike, and, or course, completely non-refundable.