By Doc Souza
At last night’s city council meeting, Elk Grove resident Dennessa Atiles, spoke and accused the city council of having a bias towards male speakers. Atiles said that the council engages with male speakers in more dialogue, while ignoring some female speakers.
I have watched numerous city council meetings online and in person. What I have noticed is that there are certain speakers that comment at every meeting, sometimes more than once at the meeting, and they are usually critical of the council members. I believe it is human nature that when someone is always critical of you that you’re not going to take the time to engage them as you would someone that is speaking about a subject and not attacking you. This applies to men and women. I’ve seen the council listen to men speak and not engage them either. They are more receptive to speakers who are discussing a topic, without attacking them personally. I’ve observed residents make personal attacks against the council and their family members over the years. Being disrespectful is not the way to engage in a dialogue. The public is entitled to their 3 minutes to speak at the meetings. They are not entitled to being disrespectful and sometimes engaging in passive aggressive bullying behavior. They are aware that the council can’t reply to some of the charges, either because they legally can’t address certain issues that aren’t on the agenda or because responding will be twisted around to make them look bad. When I watch the city council meetings and certain people come up, the thought that goes through my mind is …”here we go….” I already know that it will be 3 minutes of negativity.
Earlier in the meeting, during a dialogue on adding more police officers, Mayor Steve Ly made a comment about a cop in every doorway. It was a figure of speech, meant in a way that would add safety to the city. He wasn’t serious, but Atiles commented she didn’t want to live in a police state. Ly said it was a figure of speech. Ly also took exception with Atiles assertion that the council treats women differently than men.
Atiles is also one of the residents who was critical last year of the city after the first meeting on race relations when the city staff unveiled their “No Place For Hate” campaign, and the logo huMANity. Next to the logo was a statement “between u and i there is no place for hate”. Atiles and few others, including mayoral candidate Tracie Stafford, were upset that “MAN” was highlighted in the word humanity and that in light of the “#metoo” movement at the time, that it was offensive to women. City staff were forced to rework the logo and campaign to keep the issue from detracting from the community race meetings. It was an ironic moment, just minutes after the conclusion of the first race meeting, where a few people made a point of talking about how they were offended by the logo.