Ph D Edward C Caprielian, Management Consultant/University Professor over 10 years ago

Forces against open government

The ironic, but on-point, article headline, “City Council imposes 15-minute rule while embracing transparency” (The Beach Reporter, Oct. 3), illustrates the continued hypocrisy of the Manhattan Beach City Council’s commitment to open government by imposing duplicitous measures to gag the voices of residents.

Specifically, under the guise of improving meeting management, the time limits reinforce other actions to silence opposition (e.g. via limiting residents to one three-minute comment by grouping numerous policy issues under one agenda item). Further, the council failed to address strengthening required speech protections under California’s open meeting laws, but rather trampled the spirit of these laws to silence speech and redress of grievances. In addition, in an act of cowardice, it reneged on a commitment to allow public comment on policy decisions made at its meetings prior to their conclusion.

It has been nearly 100 days since the Daily Breeze editorial, “MB needs to better manage its meetings,” chided the council on problems that still remain – late meetings; postponing of agenda items; lack of transparency; and how “council members themselves contribute to the interminable length of the meetings by each making extensive remarks before every vote.”

The measures to silence residents is antithetical to addressing the real source of these problems, namely, the City Council’s failure to address its deficiencies in holding itself accountable to policymaking roles and responsibilities and holding the city manager and staff accountable for policy implementation. As the Daily Breeze stated, “Manhattan Beach is a first-class city. It deserves first-class meeting management.”

Edward Caprielian

Manhattan Beach

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