So here’s the breakdown. The City Council Of San Leandro has had an ongoing debate on a proposal to honor China’s Regime by raising the Chinese flag at City Hall on October 1st, the date that saw the founding of the world’s most draconian and totalitarian (ooops sorry communist) state. Naturally this controversial plan attracted considerable opposition from within the local community and beyond, previously Council policy on flag raising invested the Mayor with the authority of final approval or not. This resulted in efforts to fly China’s flag last year being suspended by Mayor Cassidy.
However at a Council meeting March 17 a motion was proposed to amend the wording of current policy which would remove from the Mayor any final say, with a decision reached via a Council vote, this is significant in that presently there seems a majority of Council Members who are determined to hoist China’s flag over City Hall. The proposal was carried by 4 to 3.
All very transparent and democratic, right? Well hold onto your horse awhile. When we look at who was responsible for suggesting a change to the wording of the policy we note it was made by the City Manager, Mr Chris Zapata, now the first question we had was does his office have the authority to propose amendments to policy? So we contacted the City Clerk, Marian Handa who very helpfully provided details relating to the San Leandro City Charter and Municipal which outline the powers and duties of the City Manager. In that document there is no mention whatsoever that the office of City Manager has a remit that includes policy revision or amendment proposals. Indeed as Marian Handa’s email notes: “As you can see, the local law is silent regarding the City Manager’s role in advising the City Council on policy matters”
Why then has the City Manager recommended staff to amend the existing policy? Moreover in so doing has he not operated beyond the duties and limits of his Office? We thought these questions, and others, demanded a response, so we emailed Chris Zapata on March 25, not having received a response a further communication was sent for his attention on March 29, See HERE unfortunately for whatever reason his office seems unable to respond. Curious don’t you think?
Consulting local views on this we have been given to understand a form of political malaise hangs over City Hall and that such a lack of response is not to be considered unusual, if that’s the case it would be a worrying indictment of governance within San Leandro and we are reluctant to agree with some who claim that genuine democratic process and accountability is sadly absent from City Hall’s administration.
We prefer to believe that good folk are working for the community, dedicated to and respecting the values of open and transparent local government, mindful of the importance of public participation and accountability. Such people will rightly expect that Council procedure follows agreed policy and protocol in accord with the City Charter, we wonder then how they would feel at a decision reached by the City Council which appears, in relation to the issue of amending policy on flag raising, not to have fully complied with such protocols?
There are no doubt many questions surrounding this issue, not least of all why a majority of Council Members seem so determined to ignore the obvious ethical concerns at associating San Leandro with China’s Regime, and are working tirelessly to raise the Chinese flag at City Hall. More specifically however there are concerns if the recent decision to amend policy regarding this subject was determined in a genuinely democratic manner and in accordance with city’s administrative and procedural policies? To that end we present our own questions for the attention of the Mayor and City Council Members which we hope they may have the courtesy and goodwill to address.
Will Mayor Cassidy and Council Members firstly acknowledge that the proposed amendments to wording of the current policy on flag raising (debated during the March 17 City Council meeting) was suggested by the Office of the City Manager?
Will Mayor Cassidy and Council Members kindly confirm that they are aware that the powers and duties of the Office of City Manager do not extend to recommending amendments to policy?
Will Mayor Cassidy and Council Members explain why they seemed to have based a Motion, to amend policy wording, upon a recommendation from a city official whose remit looks not to include the authority of suggesting policy changes?
Will Mayor Cassidy and Council Members explain how the decision arising from the meeting of March 17 can be said to be in full accord with the City Charter and when local law seems to be silent regarding the City Manager’s role in advising the City Council on policy matters?
Given the genuine concern within the local community on the prospect of raising China’s flag at City Hall, which has attracted attention far from the city limits and become of international interest to those supporting human rights, freedom and justice, and in light of the questions regarding the role of the City Manger relating to this people are understandably asking if City Council procedure or democratic process has been best served on this occasion?
Therefore we would respectfully ask Mayor Cassidy and Council Members of San Leandro for a public discussion and full review of this issue to determine openly and fully if Motion 14-113 (Directing Staff to Amend the Existing Policy as Recommended by the City Manager, and Directing the City Manager to Develop Procedures for Reviewing and Processing Requests to Raise Special Designation Flags or Flags of Foreign Nations) can be shown to have been administered and determined in legitimate accord with the City Charter and protocols.