Last week three young ladies, came into the office looking for my son to place an event they were having at Perris Hill Park on January 21st into the paper, to bring attention to the senseless killing of their classmate Keith Deshean Hall and the shooting of another classmate Army Specialist Christopher Sullivan. I am sure you recognize Sullivan’s name, as he was the recipient of a Purple Heart Award for being injured by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan and was attending a hero’s homecoming party. Someone at the family party pulled a gun out and shot Sullivan while engaged in an argument over a football game. Now Sullivan lay in the hospital paralyzed.
One of the young ladies, BeAnna Hamilton, said this is crazy and we have to do something. The “peace event” she calls it, is to focus attention on the violence and offer solutions in order to reduce these types of incidents in the city. She went on to say that the Police and Firefighters Association have signed on to help them as well as the Young Visionaries organization.
They are hoping to attract a large crowd who like them, are tired of people settling their differences with a gun.
I was hoping the mayor and city council members would embrace the youth’s gesture for peace but after watching the council meeting last Monday, it is clear they are in need of a peace event. The meeting began at 3 pm and ended at 11 pm with lots of verbal assaults, insults, accusations of dishonesty hurled at council members, Mayor Pat Morris, City Manager Charles McNeely and his staff from councilmember Wendy McCammack, and City Attorney Jim Penman.
McCammack and Penman got so angry they could not even sit in their seats, they went to the public podium and threw a barrage of words at their colleagues on the council and said it will be different when the new council member is sworn to office in March. Neither Penman nor McCammack wanted the council to approve Regal Cinemas movie theater in downtown, San Bernardino.
She was angry because a majority of the council would not join her making the staff give her requested information. They have an unwritten policy that when council members make a request that will involve a lot of staff time, at least four council members must agree to give the go signal to staff. So McCammack took her frustrations out on McNeely, the city manager.
Then later on the agenda, they needed a legal opinion from Penman regarding the city’s take over of the redevelopment agency’s $155 million properties and other investments done in the name of the city. Penman would not give the council-members a clear opinion but gave conversation that you might be sued if you take over without the states approval. The mayor and some council members argued that it would be irresponsible to allow another group or government be appointed to carry out the business in the city. After much name-calling they did seek to go on record to accept part of a motion presented to them by the staff of the redevelopment agency.
Another highlight in the meeting was that the newest council member, Robert Jenkins spoke and said he could not figure out how some members get information that the rest of them do not have. As an observer of the meetings, it appears to me that McCammack always brings up information, with research papers, regardless of the timeframe it is brought to the attention at the meeting. Usually it is in line with the city attorney’s thoughts on the subject.
I cite the antics of the council in light of our youth in the city seeking guidance and leadership from our elected officials. This past meeting was a bad example for our young people to follow on how to conduct oneself in making public policy. The city council and city attorney needs to get over the election and personal agendas and get down to governing the city. Our young people, businesses, and taxpayers deserve better.