A week ago, when the Mayor delivered his proposed budget to the City Council, I spoke out against the outrageous refusal by the Council, apparently under the direction of the Mayor, to allow the public to attend the City Council meeting. Not a single member of the public was allowed to attend one of the most important Council meetings of the year. Instead, the Chambers were exclusively packed with the Mayor’s hand-picked supporters who had cut in front of the official line for the public to attend.
I formally moved a motion to open the back doors of the Council Chambers to allow the public in, as has been a regular practice in the past. Scandalously, the majority of the Council voted to keep the doors closed and exclude the public.
This makes a mockery of the Mayor’s commitment to “good governance,” much less the Open Public Meetings Act. There is nothing democratic about the Mayor or City Council being able to select access to public meetings based on political support for their agenda. Further, I have serious concerns about the use of public funds to execute this undemocratic conduct.
I wholeheartedly support the request by the National Lawyers Guild for the release of all relevant records and communications regarding the exclusion of the public from the City Council meeting of September 26, 2016. This matter requires an immediate and full review and public accounting.
The status quo and pro-business agenda of the Mayor and the majority of the Council goes against the interests of working people, which pushes them towards excluding the public and limiting our democratic rights. That is why the fight to maintain public access to government meetings is linked to building grassroots movements for racial justice and a budget that prioritizes affordable housing and investment in social services. To learn more, join me and other activists as we discuss the budget battles to come at the People’s Budget Town Hall, October 18th, City Hall, at 6 pm.