(December 13, 2005) -- "And if you vote for me, I'll change our city's laws when outside interests with convention money object to them. My door at City Hall will be open to them because as long as I'm in power, convention business will come first!"
Would you vote for someone who said that? We're amazed that anyone in LB would publicly support this position...but it appears to be music to the ears of some people in this town.
We're outraged. We think LB's Municipal Code -- our city's laws -- should not be for sale to invite convention dollars. We do not support offering city principles for City Hall cash flow.
On December 13, we urge at least two principled Councilmembers (a motion and a second) to force a vote on a substitute motion to send a proposed repeal of LB's longstanding ban on dog breeding to a Council committee for businesslike hearings.
It speaks volumes when LB animal advocate Justin Rudd and Friends of LB Animals are relegated to holding a Town Hall meeting in the sand...while those dangling convention dollars receive open doors and open ears at City Hall.
Councilman Frank Colonna shouldn't have to (in his words) try and make lemonade out of lemons. Despite his best efforts, we don't think even the best lemonade-skills will suffice now. Offering to review the results in six months is a non-starter...because if City Hall's lust for convention money is what's really driving this issue, it'll be driving it when the item is reviewed (and kept in place). We want to know who's at the wheel and doing the steering now...so they can be removed and replaced in April.
On November 1, a management-agendized item requested Council approval to have the City Attorney prepare a dog-breeding ordinance. This substantive item was a reversal of years of longstanding LB city policy. Instead of being given serious discussion, it was tucked away on the Council's "Consent Calendar," a list of routine items not scheduled for public discussion unless some Councilmember or member of the public requests it. Putting the substantive item on the Consent Calendar was an effort to blindside the public.
The item was accompanied by a management memo which also concealed the relationship of the proposed change to convention business. For the record, however, management's memo explicitly said Council action on the item was NOT time critical.
Three weeks later on November 22 (two days before Thanksgiving) the proposed ordinance came to the Council for its first of two votes. By this time, Friends of LB Animals had gotten wind of it and showed up to oppose it...but Vice Mayor Jackie Kell weighed in first.
In a defensive tone accusing others of not understanding the facts, Vice Mayor Kell (now seeking write-in reelection in the 5th district) supported management's proposed ordinance change...and didn't mention its convention-revenue origin. She then went on to make the motion to approve the new ordinance.
Councilwoman Kell's conduct parallels her ill-advised motion for the infamous May 2001 Council vote (8-1, Carroll dissenting) that recklessly changed LB Airport's flight slot allocation rules. Only after the vote did the public discover why: JetBlue took all of LB's then-vacant flight slots. Councilwoman Kell's role in that action laid the groundwork for virtually every Airport-related problem LB faces today.
Changing LB law to suit outside interests, and not telling the public the truth about it, may be the way LB City Hall used to run, but it can't get away with that now with the internet and more savvy LB residents.
If LB's current ban on dog breeding is unenforceable, the proper remedy would be to make it enforceable, not reverse it and repeal it. There may also be other options. At this point we think Councilmembers should keep an open mind on the final outcome.
City management has publicly said the matter is not time sensitive. The Council should send the proposed dog breeding ordinance to a Council committee for businesslike, respectful, fair hearing on the merits that doesn't presuppose a particular outcome.
A well-run city respects itself and its residents. It focuses on making its laws better for its residents, regardless of whether they're more acceptable to outside special interests.
It's fine with us if there are people who feel otherwise. We're glad they're letting us know who they are.