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Barack Obama wasn’t the only politician campaigning for change last year. San Diego city councilmember Donna Frye and then-councilmember-elect Carl DeMaio spent most of last summer canvassing the city, holding public town-hall meetings, asking San Diego residents for their input on ways to change the way the city council operates.

This correspondent attended one meeting in Clairemont, where dozens of residents gathered on a hot Saturday morning and offered up some reforms for local government.

On that day, they told Frye and DeMaio that holding the meetings during the evening, instead of during the middle of the day when many people are at work, would help get more of the public involved in the political process and bring transparency to city government.

After other similar neighborhood meet-ups throughout the city, Frye and DeMaio drafted the Council Governance Report, aimed at “improving the openness, effectiveness, and independence of the city council through reforms.”

Some of the suggestions from their report were heard on Wednesday, January 28, during a meeting of the Rules Committee.

“I’d like to make a motion, forwarding to council for full consideration, the expanded use of evening and district meetings,” said Frye near the end of the meeting, when the committee heard the agenda item.

“And that would change the Monday meetings from 2:00 to 4:30?” inquired Rules Committee chairman and city council president Ben Hueso.

“Correct.”

“Okay, well I won’t be supporting that.”

“But this is just to forward to city council for full consideration. And no one will support that?” asked Frye, looking over at councilmembers Todd Gloria and Kevin Faulconer.

“Yeah, I understand that. I understand that,” answered Hueso. “I think that has a fiscal implication that I’m not prepared to support. We’re going to have to pay overtime for staff.”

Frye asked why the extended hours for the budget committee meetings were approved without examining the fiscal impact, then she said, “I’m certainly happy to support anybody that wants to try and expand the access of the city council meetings. I got to tell you I’m extremely disappointed that...council meetings...are held up because of fiscal analysis…”

“Okay, Ms. Frye,” interrupted Hueso. “Do you have another motion?”

She did. Frye motioned to bring to the full council a proposal to change the number of councilmembers needed to docket an item from four council members to three.

Councilmembers Gloria, Faulconer, Hueso, and Tony Young were silent.

To see more of the same from San Diego’s city council, take off from work early and get down to City Hall every Monday afternoon starting at 2:00 p.m.

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Comments

trapin Jan. 31, 2009 @ 12:28 p.m.

Hueso-sellout (to his own people, too. Very disappointing) Young-a joke Faulconer-growing on me but I'm still pissed about the beach thing Gloria-Should know better. Stand up for something you coward.

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Fred Williams Feb. 2, 2009 @ 6:45 a.m.

Current city leadership counts on the fact that their work is done out of the public view. It allows them to continue their mismanagement of the city.

Yet even if you can get off work, find parking, pass the metal detectors, ride the elevator to the council chambers, you'll be wasting your time and money.

It's not a place to participate in any meaningful way with our city's governance. Sure, you're "allowed" to fill-out a speaker card, either in favor or against an agenda item, wait quietly for your name to be called, and speak for all of two minutes.

You can say whatever you want, even sing songs or quote from the Bible if you like. Rarely, you might even contribute crucial information for the council's consideration before they vote.

It doesn't matter. You'll be studiously ignored regardless of what you do.

...and then they'll vote exactly how they planned to vote all along.

Nothing is ever presented to the public until it's already been decided. Any effort to change the rules is met with stiff opposition. Members of the public are held in utter scorn by those we employ at 202 C Street.

That Gloria, Hueso, Faulconer, and Young all collaborated to continue the shameful tradition of ignoring the very people who elected them to office is no surprise. All these former staffers are themselves products of the culture of corruption festering downtown for the last two decades.

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JohnnyVegas Feb. 2, 2009 @ 11:21 a.m.

It doesn't matter. You'll be studiously ignored regardless of what you do.

...and then they'll vote exactly how they planned to vote all along.

LOL... reminds me of a case in LA (??) last year when a strip club was before a local council and the lawyer-a sharp guy- video taped his presentation for some request and the council did exactly as you have said Fred-they talked, did paper work, paid no attention to the lawyer at all (who was I think requesting a waiver of some ordinance) and when they voted against him he appealed, all the way to the CA Supreme Court where he won.

The court held that ignoring the speaker violated due process of law.

Nothing changes though.

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