Sunday, January 09, 2005

Eureka Councilmember Mike Jones Offers Alterna-Support For No Confidence

I met with Eureka City Councilmember Mike Jones on Friday afternoon (disclosure: Mike is my insurance agent and a personal friend). We were joined by Gary Bird who works in the City Managers Office at City Hall under the title Special Projects Manager.

I was expecting to be presented with revisions to the No Confidence Resolution but instead saw a draft of a brief letter to Congressman Mike Thompson. Without any of the specifics of the resolution, the letter simply informs Thompson that there are community members with concerns about elections. I'm oversimplifying, I'm sure, but this is the gist and the level of power conveyed. It was an opening offer, which I did not reject, although by engaging in conversation I believe I walked out with much more.

In all, the meeting ran a little over an hour. It was a healthy dialog and I feel like I was heard. Given their patience and willingness to listen, I was able to explain how the conditions surrounding elections are only one set of examples that illustrate how our society has shifted from being a democracy to one which resembles a democracy closely enough that many people can't yet tell the difference. Other examples cited include: free speech zones, "safe" Congressional seats, secret military budgets, and stifling of the competition of ideas through corporate ownership of the public's airwaves.

Both men bristled when I said that reality conforms more to the definition of fascism than democracy. We were at least 45 minutes in before this came up. When they said others on the Council would likely find this radical, I asked them to tell me exactly what part of what I had said would elicit that response. They had not challenged any of my facts and indeed could cite nothing other than my conclusion as likely to get me labeled a radical. I told them this presupposes an inability for the other Councilmembers to be ruthlessly honest with themselves. They are each rational people, and given the opportunity to meet with each of them privately, I would lay out the same facts that lead to this undeniable conclusion. I have selected a few key articles from the fascism section of the GuvWurld News Archive and hope to get another read on Councilmember Jones.

We also spent some time talking about the big picture idea of the No Confidence Movement, beyond just the resolution itself. I'm not sure I convinced them, but I do believe they understand. I was careful to stress that passing the resolution obligates the City to no cost or action and only makes a very strategic statement. Towards the end I definitely felt like they had a deeper appreciation for why I have been so committed to the approach we've adopted - one community at a time asking if the Consent of the Governed has been withdrawn, yet? Gary Bird even said that I had made progress in that hour, and I think he meant both in terms of heightening their awareness and expanding their understanding of the resolution, and also in terms of what Councilmember Jones was willing to do to work with me.

So I had hoped that this meeting was going to enable me to announce for certain that the resolution was going to be on the agenda of the next Eureka City Council meeting. Unfortunately, that is still premature. For this reason, it is important that all the Councilmembers hear from community members on this matter (click HERE for Council contact info). On Tuesday, January 11, there will be a workshop in Arcata to hone talking points and prepare people for public speaking about No Confidence. Contact me to RSVP and get details.

In the meantime, Councilmember Jones has made several welcome gestures. First, within the confines of The Brown Act, which prohibits discussion of pending business among Councilmembers, Jones said he would encourage the other Councilmembers to meet with me and hear me out. Second, Jones said he was going to call Congressman Thompson about setting up a meeting for us all. The possibility was also floated of meetings with State Sen. Wesley Chesbro and State Assemblywoman Patty Berg. And finally, Jones spoke of a few influential conservatives who he hoped would meet with me, possibly even in a public forum. I do not recall any specific names but the impression I got was that these are independent minded Republicans who see where traditional conservative principles are being betrayed by party leaders. This is an ideal demographic with which to be building a bridge.

At the end of the meeting I told Councilmember Jones that I would gratefully accept each of these offers. They now seem to be a parallel path not there even yesterday. Really it is alterna-support, helping bring the issues to light in a way that is more politically comfortable for him. While this still doesn't get the resolution on the agenda, I'll keep pursuing that goal as the other Councilmembers grant me meetings.



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