Thursday, April 5, 2007
Mayor Calls Council Vote "a real shame".
Two conservative Arcata City Councilmembers endangered the future existence of the Arcata Food Endeavor and Service Center, by voting against a motion to extend the lease, at last night's council meeting. The large, overflowing audience seemed shocked and outraged by the no votes of Councilmembers Michael Machi and Alex Stillman. The motion by Councilman Paul Pitino, to extend the lease an additional 14 months, failed in a 2-2 vote, with Councilman Mark Wheetley absent. Pitino asked for some compromise, but Machi and Stillman showed no interest in one.
Mayor Harmony Groves called the vote "a real shame'. She pointed out that returning Iraq war veterans may be in need of the services that the center offers. The Endeavor gives food boxes to needy families, The overwhelming majority of which, are not homeless. The Service Center provides showers to the homeless, case management, and hot lunches three times a week, down from five times in past years. Many citizens spoke in support of the Endeavor, including Father Erik Duff.
Also last night, a large group of citizens protested to the council that the Arcata Police Department is marginalizing the annual "Take back the streets" march against sexualized violence. Police force marchers to stay on sidewalks instead of marching in the street, citing saftey concerns. Speakers said marching on the sidewalk was less safe, and that police were sending a message that the " police do not consider sexualized violence a priority".
Fear that the council would reverse their compliance with Prop. 215 and California medical marijuana laws, was another issue that brought many residents to last night's meeting.
It appears to me that the rightward shift in the council is alienating much of the community. Progressives lost their council majority in last November's election, when anti-war activist Dave Meserve lost his seat. As more outrage develops over the reversals of the new conservative majority, perhaps we will see a recall movement.