Graphic from @tibettruth
According to our friends @Glasto4TIBET who are 24/7 monitoring live streams it looks like BBC camera ops @ Glastonbury festival have been given instructions to use tight shots of the crowd, interspersed with rapid cuts. This has the result of minimum exposure of flags being shown, especially from stage view into the crowd, those shots which do feature flags are mostly distance views or very quick snaps before cutting. Interesting. Could be fertile imaginings but after last year and especially the presence at the festival of the Dalai Lama, with the masses of Tibetan flags we got raised, it maybe a certain pressure was put upon the British Foreign Office. Which in turn requested support from its Establishment colleagues at the BBC to avoid any exposure of the Tibetan flag. Is it really just coincidence that on the BBC Glastonbury website there’s a short report on flags at the festival with the main photo showing…the flag of China’s regime?!
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.
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!
Never fails to amaze, inspire and encourage to see the messages of interest, and friendship the Blog receives in support of Tibet, its people and cause for independence. Thanks to everyone who email and post comments, its awesome to have your input. Take the following just received from Shane
Well Shane thank you so much, your photographs were received and what a treasure they are! Seems that way back when kids could buy gum cards that clearly describe Tibet as a distinct nation and culture, with it’s own flag! From the available information these cards were printed in England, by ABC, although were sold also in the US after a merger with a company called Topps. More background HERE
In 1959 the very year that saw the Lhasa Uprising and eventual flight into exile of the Dalai Lama ABC released a series of cards called ‘Flags Of The World’ which featured at Number 52 the Tibetan national emblem, the front cover design is shows Tibet’s flag, the Potala Palace, mountains and what looks to be two climbers in Chinese-looking military uniform.
The reverse features basic information about Tibet along with some Tibetan phrases, illustrations of snow-mountains, a yak and what maybe be thought of a lama-type figure. Apart from the collect-ability and curiosity of this card above all it reveals that at one point children across the USA and England were being informed (in the dark-ages of pre-internet) of Tibet’s nationhood. Shane many thanks for taking the time to share, it’s really appreciated.
Extract From Alameda City Website
Thanks to the wonderful support and activism of our friends and subscribers, who took time out to contact the Mayor of Alameda in protest at the planned raising in that city of China’s flag on October 1 we were interested to note that yesterday a response was issued by Alexander Nguyen the Assistant City Manager. In his email Alex was very clear in claiming that the event was “not a formal City Hall event” and that it was “sponsored by our local Sister City Association….,”. So no connection then with the city authorities? Well the same day this claim was made, at 7.pm during a meeting of Alemada’s Social Service Human Relations Board, a Mr Robles Wong was appointed as a representative of City Hall to guess which body? You got it the Sister City Association! The very organization which Mr Nguyen was at pains to assert was sponsoring the ‘private’ flag raising event. Hmmm!
The fingerprints of Alameda’s civic authority seem to be all over this, and its fair to consider that they have influence and input, meanwhile we notice that Mayor Gilmore has thus far declined to issue a statement making clear that she nor her Council colleagues support flying China’s flag in the city, an act of appeasement that endorses China’s regime. Well Ms Mayor??????
Alameda established a close connection with the Chinese cities of Wuxi and Jiangyin in 2007/8 respectively. They share a Memorandum of Understanding to promote a range of mutually beneficial interests, including commerce, however no engagement with the People’s Republic (sic) of China is possible without conforming to ever present political realities, including the totalitarian nature of such forces.
The previous Mayor, Beverley J Johnson issued on 09/18/2007 the above Proclamation which declares an intent to honor China’s ‘National Day’ by raising the Chinese flag. As we write these words it’s kinda hard to believe that the representatives of Alameda, committed as they no doubt are to the enjoyment of justice, democratic freedom and human rights could so easily have endorsed such a collaboration, particularly given the harrowing reality of China’s record on human rights and its ongoing repression of Tibetans and other occupied peoples such as Uyghurs and Mongolians.However here were are and in a few days time the good citizens of Alameda face the prospect of waking to see the flag of China above City Hall!
Of course it does not have to be this way and considerable action is being taken to lobby the present Mayor Marie Gilmore to suspend the event, due to the good-hearted support of our many friends and subscribers the City Council can be under no illusion, there is widespread concern and opposition to this, and not just from within the city itself but across the world. We imagine protests will gain momentum with appeals made directly to Council members, no doubt rallies are being considered, while across social networking platforms such as Twitter the issue is being given full exposure.
What though of the local community? What opportunity have they been afforded to examine and debate this issue? Are they comfortable about their City’s association with a regime that so brutally denies the most basic of freedoms? More importantly have the good folks of Almeda been granted full and informed participation? For example what say did the community have on the Proclamation to fly China’s flag? Looking through the recorded Minutes of the Council’s meetings its difficult to see any significant contribution, it’s as if the Council Chamber was populated only by city officials during discussion of the proposals on forging links with China.
Had there been greater public involvement the options for participation are limited. Time sure is precious when addressing the City Council, so for any who maybe thinking of now making clear their opposition to the Alameda authorities be aware you will have just three minutes to make your point. So arguments need to be precise, considered and engineered to produce maximum impact. With that in mind we offer the following suggestions.
Firstly why were the people of Alameda not openly consulted in advance on proposals to fly China’s flag?
Is democratic process genuinely served by choosing Mayoral proclamation over public engagement on what is such a highly controversial matter?
That decision is an endorsement of and compliance with a political event authorized and demanded each October 1st, in celebration of the founding of Communist China. Take a careful look at the wording as appearing in the Alameda City Council minutes of 08/21/07:
3-A. Proclamation encouraging participation in Peoples Republic of China Flag raising ceremony in support of Wuxi, China Sister City activities. (Development Services)
Were local folks given a chance to engage in informed discussion on that? Was the local community allowed to consider the ethical concerns of this proposal?
In the scramble to become a sister City with Wuxi and Jiangyin did no one at Alameda City Council spare even a minute examining the implications, as regards how this would be understandably seen as an endorsement of China’s regime, with its dark record on human rights and oppression?
We wonder if the following Clause agreed by Alameda City Council on 8/21/2007 (in a Memorandum Of Understanding MOU) explains what seems to be an absence of local participation in democratically discussing the subject:
4. As for other matters not mentioned in this MOU, the two governments will decide upon them through friendly consultation in the spirit of mutual understanding. (Emphasis Added)
Where’s the transparency and accountability surely demanded by democratic procedure? There seems to be a whole bunch of questions that have been ignored or not even considered, while perhaps the biggest disappointment is an apparent lack of communication with the local community on this and a worrying absence of public participation. In light of these serious issues and the questions raised we again request Mayor Marie Gilmore to urgently review and suspend plans to raise China’s flag on October 1. If any citizen of Alameda or elsewhere wishes to express their concerns please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Mayor Stephen H Cassidy
Re: City Council Decision To Fly The Flag Of The People’s Republic Of China
As you are aware this decision and the preceding debate has understandably invited the concerned attention of all those who value principles of human rights, justice and freedom.
Many people feel a profound sense of disappointment that the Council voted in favor of a proposal that is naturally seen as honoring a regime notorious for its violent oppression and denial of basic civil,religious and political freedoms.
Thankfully there were among your colleagues those, including your good self, who voted with a genuine sense of integrity and awareness to oppose the raising of China’s flag at City Hall.
Unfortunately democratic process in itself does not always serve a just result and this case is one such example, in which we understand that the community of San Leandro may not have been extended the courtesy of sufficient notice or furnished with detailed information on the proposal. If that was the case then any participation in a decision making debate would have been grossly disadvantaged, with community members not able to reach an informed and balanced view.
However we understand, and would certainly hope, that there remains, within the remit of your Mayorial office, an option to postpone any subsequent action arising from the vote decision. That being so we would with all urgency appeal to you for such a suspension to permit the community of San Leandro to be better informed and resourced to more justly participate in any debate on the proposal.
It has been claimed by those who are advocating raising the Chinese flag that it is a non-political action, more about appreciating China’s culture, recognizing the contributions of Chinese Americans in your community, and promoting commercial links with Chinese business. Well is it not entirely reasonable to realize such an objective, minus the dark political overtones which China’s national flag represents?
Such a question we hope you may agree deserves to be at the heart of any informed discussion on this matter, yet we wonder if either the local community and or the Council itself has had the opportunity to fully explore possible options, or indeed allow the voice of San Leandro to reach a more consensual and informed decision.
That could only be possible if your office issues a suspension relating to any further action on the recent decision, so in that context we most sincerely hope that you may implement such a postponement, to facilitate the points we raise.
Thank you again for your understanding and commitment to democratic freedoms and human rights.