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 Called to Order -- Episode 1



By Monica Tipton


If this writer weren’t so angry about the performances of some of our elected officials at the December 18 City Council meeting, she would be writing a script for a sit-com episode of a show entitled, “Called to Order.” This program features the misadventures of a madcap crew of city officials who are facing a much-changed community that they thought they knew. Week after week, more and more of their constituency step forward insisting on new governance strategies, led by some courageous elected officials and their well-informed public. Sounds like fun, sort of like “Night Court,” except this isn’t fiction…


Last night’s City Council discussion of the Day Reporting Center included an impassioned plea by Supervisor Linda Seifert regarding a proclamation penned by Vice Mayor Stephanie Gomes regarding the topic. While Supervisor Seifert made several ill-advised comments, perhaps the most telling was her statement that when she was elected to represent parts of Vallejo, she “didn’t know Vallejo very well.” It is clear that she still does not.

Vice Mayor Stephanie Gomes clearly does know Vallejo, as evidenced by the proclamation that she presented for approval to the council. The proclamation requested that, should the Board of Supervisors decide to go forward with placing the DRC in Vallejo’s midst, additional support services be paid for by the county. Considering the potential impact of the only DRC in the county being placed in an already struggling municipality, none of the requests were unreasonable.

Mayor Osby Davis admitted some culpability around the Council’s lack of information about the center, but was concerned that the council did not have all the facts. While there was a roomful of citizens well-prepared on the topic, Councilmember Sunga confessed publically that he had not caught up on the issue even after a public meeting on November 14, several community forum comments during prior council meetings, and the publication of several articles in both the Daily Reporter and the Times Herald. Erin Hannigan recused herself from any action, a rather convenient out for the person whose official responsibility it was to report the topic to the council. Former Supervisor Barbara Kondylis didn’t speak.

Citizen after citizen speaking on Agenda Item 10A brought up different reasons why the proposed Day Reporting Center was not a good fit for Vallejo. These reasons included everything from the design of the program, the representation on the committee that chose the location of the program, the lack of accountability to the constituency by elected officials, and the lack of adequate services in Vallejo to ensure the success of the program. One speaker spoke of the inequity of providing job training to convicted felons when our own law-abiding citizens lack such services. Another mentioned the failure of the County to include in its “References” list the research article cited on page two of the Implementation Framework. Another spoke of the dearth of studies proving the efficacy of DRC’s. The list of well-researched and well-articulated objections went on and on. One of the gentlest of the speakers countered the County argument that Vallejo is responsible for 41% of the crime in Solano County and should therefore be the site of the DRC. She stated simply that since the majority (59%) of the crime was committed beyond Vallejo city limits, the DRC rightfully belonged outside of Vallejo where it was needed most.

After a recess (commercial break) there were ten additional citizen speakers. Council member Robert McConnell offered wise refinements to the proclamation. By this time it was clear to those in the chambers as well as those watching at home how this episode would end: the proclamation passed.

Now all this writer must do is to get these episodes down to the requisite 20 minutes of script and 10 minutes of commercials.


Note: All opinions expressed in the "Primal Scream" column are those of the writer and not necessarily those of the Vallejo Independent Bulletin