Lights for Liberty and democracy
Concerns about the democratic process include the lack of a staff report from the City of Manhattan Beach associated with agenda item “Lights for Liberty” vigil so all those concerned are able to review and comment. There was a request to waive fees but no background on the organization or the purpose of the vigil.
The primary intent of the Brown Act is that the people’s business be conducted openly and transparently, after providing an opportunity to the largest number of members of the public to directly address the council before the council takes action on any item.
Additionally, all who come before city council must stand at the podium, provide a name card and are allotted three minutes speaking time. Stern, as an organizer and advocate and, in her opinion, more of a community member, sat at the dais with a name plate and spoke for nine minutes 1:24:30 to 1:28:35 and 1:35:48 to 1:36:16 and 1:48:36 to 1:50:34 and 1:53:35 to 1:54:41 based on recorded meeting. She had a discussion with city staff and City Council, which residents are not afforded.
To permit one side of a debatable public question a monopoly in expressing its views to the government is the antithesis of constitutional guarantees.
The public nature of the legislative process and the right of citizens to participate in and voice their opinions about that process equally are at the heart of democratic government, which is currently under threat.
—Lee Phillips, Manhattan Beach
Partisan politics has no place on the dais of the local government. On July 2, the Manhattan Beach City Council violated its duty to serve residents in an apolitical manner by granting a fee waiver of more than $2,000 to Lights for Liberty, a partisan group whose platform includes the abolition of ICE, for a vigil on the Manhattan Beach Pier. The request for this waiver was brought before Council by Councilmember Hildy Stern and agendized by Mayor Nancy Hersman, who abused their positions by clear violation of established protocol for such events, abetted by the disingenuous rationalization proffered Councilmember Montgomery equating this orchestrated vigil with the spontaneous gathering of community members to commemorate 9-11.
Councilmember Hadley distinguished herself as the sole purveyor of objectivity and fortitude, correctly observing that one person’s popular cause may not resonate with another. Regardless of one’s sentiments on the merits of the vigil, demonstrations of partisan favoritism and misuse of taxpayer money are completely inappropriate and deserve sharp rebuke from the electorate. Stern and Hersman have no business using our funds to subsidize their pet causes.
—Stephanie Robins, Manhattan Beach