Tom Butt
  E-Mail Forum – 2018  
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  The Stupidest Things
December 19, 2018

Instead of sleeping in after both the longest (over seven hours -- including closed session) and the last City Council meeting of 2018, I was browsing the morning news when I read what Jerry Brown said about being mayor of Oakland in his final press conference:  "I learned that people show up at City Hall and argue for the stupidest things in the name of all good things."

This is so true, and the "Richmond Corollary" is, "No matter how stupid the item, the majority of the City Council will vote for it anyway."

We saw this in Beckles space weapons resolution several years ago, but that was just the beginning.

Last night, Beckles introduced a resolution,  “…Calling on The State Legislature To  Introduce  Legislation  to  Value  Human  Life  And  to  Condemn Racial Injustice And Police Brutality.” Who could be against that? Like the Space Weapons resolution, however, the title can be deceiving. You have to read the content.

It turns out that the resolution is an incoherent rant against police in general and has little, if anything, to do with our own police department. It assumes that police are basically bad people and that any officer involved in a shooting is automatically guilty of poor judgment or much worse.

For example, one recommendation is, “An officer should be placed on administrative leave without pay during the investigation.” Contrary to the foundations of our justice system, no one is considered guilty until tried and convicted. Putting an officer on unpaid leave for using a firearm is punitive, assumes guilt and makes no sense.

Another recommendation is, “Police officer's CalPERS Disability Insurance should not be pre-funded by tax dollars.” Every employee in California is required to pay for employees disability insurance. For many public employees in California, this is done through PERS. The resolution is asking for something that is patently illegal.

I urge you to read the rest of it for yourself. As expected, however, the City Council voted 5-2 in favor, with Ben Choi and me dissenting.

Not to be outdone by Beckles in the stupid department, Ada Recinos introduced an item, DIRECT staff to draft a letter in support of the Contra Costa College Coalition and forward said letter to the president of the College and the governing board of the Contra Costa College District - Councilmember Ada Recinos (620-5431).

On December 5, 2018, half a dozen Contra Cosa College student organizations wrote a letter “to whom it may concern” with a litany of concerns including the process of selection of the college vice-president, smoke from the Camp Fire and a rumor of asbestos found in a recently demolished campus building. On December 8, 2018, three days later, the college president responded with a letter thanking the group for their interest and offering to meet at the next Student Senate meeting to discuss the issues. She even offered to buy dinner.

To any reasonable person, this would seem like at least a promising outcome. But not to the students and not to Ada Recinos, who agendized the matter and asked for a letter of support from the Richmond City Council. We spent a good deal of time post-midnight discussing the item and hearing from several aggrieved students.

I queried the students about why they felt the Richmond City Council needed to be involved. I was told that they considered the college president non-responsive after visiting her office once on December 5 and not finding her there. I had previously asked our Contra Costa Community College District board member John Marquez if he had any information on the subject, and he told me this was the first time he had heard of it. The students told me that they emailed Marquez, and when he didn’t immediately respond, they also considered him also non-responsive – and then turned to the City Council, which has no authority over any matter at Contra Costa College.

I thought students were supposed to be our hope for the future, fighting against climate change, fighting for social justice and fighting for a better future. Apparently not at Contra Costa College where the salient issues include the process of selection of the college vice-president, smoke from the Camp Fire and a rumor of asbestos found in a recently demolished campus building.

The City Council, of course, also passed Recinos’ resolution.

If there is any consolation to be drawn from this, it was also the last City Council meeting for Beckles and Recinos,

But unfortunately, there remains no shortage of stupidity on the City Council.

Jerry Brown was right.