We have now received a very informative and helpful response from Marian Handa, City Clerk of San Leandro addressing specific questions we presented on the recent City Council meeting on the subject of it’s flag raising policy. As we had also published these in the form of an open communication to inform our friends and subscribers, the detailed reply kindly provided by Marian may be read HERE It is featured to assist those who are actively concerned about the proposal to raise the flag of China above City Hall reach an informed understanding of the Council’s position and consequences of any amendments regarding this policy.
One thing for sure certain Council members appear curiously determined to associate San Leandro with an emblem that goes far beyond culture, to claim as some have that the Chinese flag is a cultural representation has the same hollowness as asserting that the flag of the National Socialist Party Of Germany represented German culture!
The procedural administration of City Councils of course vary and each operate according to agreed policy and democratically determined process, that was evident in the debate and public presentations of March 17,during which many Tibetans attended and gave powerful testimony as to why it would be unacceptable to honor China’s regime by flying the Chinese flag over City Hall. We wonder though how many folks at that meeting were aware that the recommendation to change the current flag raising policy seems not to have been drawn from open discussion with active and encouraged participation from the public but apparently was based upon the sole recommendation of San Leandro City Manager, Chris Zapata!
According to the official communication we received from the City Clerk:
“The City Manager recommends that Council modify the existing flag policy to require applicants requesting the raising of a special designation flag or flag of a foreign nation to provide a detailed assessment of the ancillary needs associated with their request. For example, if a ceremony were to be held along with the raising of the flag, the applicant would be directed to provide an overview of the requested location and duration of the event, the specific timing of the event, the number of anticipated attendees, or any other associated logistical needs that would impact City resources or staff. Additionally, the City Manager recommends that the decision to raise such special designation flags or flags of foreign nations rest solely with the City Council. As such, the policy should be revised to remove the City Manager from the approval process.”
Are we the only folks here to consider such a recommendation, if made by an individual, minus any consensual or open discussion and lacking public participation, runs counter to transparent, democratic process? On what basis did the City Manager decide to propose such amendments, was he lobbied by Council Members beyond public scrutiny? Perhaps this was an executive and non-accountable decision? Whatever the facts there are a number of questions raised. For example has Chris Zapata in setting out these proposals operated within the remit of his office? Does his administrative jurisdiction extend to drafting recommendations to alter wording of present policy? What authority does his office possess to propose policy changes?
In removing from the Mayor final authority in any decision on flag raising, which the City Manager’s recommendations proposed, such a determination would be left to a vote of the Council. That was agreed during the meeting of March 17 by a majority of 4 to 3, so if such a position endures then in all likely-hood we can expect San Leandro at some future date to vote in favor of raising the Chinese flag at City Hall. We can only presume that the City Manager, in suddenly intervening in this fashion was very aware of such consequences, which will make some wonder as to the influences that may have operated behind the scenes. Clearly this issue is set to continue generating widespread concern at just what is going down in the city’s council? Are we really seeing an effort to serve local opinion on the matter, is this truly about acknowledging Chinese culture, or is it the tip of a much darker agenda? We are going to present such concerns to Chris Zapata, stay tuned!