The Jeffersonian: Politicks, Sports, and Culture

Monday, October 10, 2005

Thinking Of The City Or Of Your Districts?

It seems as if the exact number sitting on the proposed Crime Control Board is a real snag:

Under Mayor Ed Garza, the City Council appointed, as provided by law, a seven-member board to research, call an election and create a two-year budget for a district. After the election, the temporary board will dissolve. The council can (1) approve itself as a governing board, (2) appoint an 11-member board with each council member naming a representative or (3) appoint a seven-member at-large board.

Dynamics on a seven-member board, whose members are determined by council consensus, are different from an 11-member board, where members are beholden to the council member who picks them.

Temporary members said they learned from other cities that: (1) voters wanted to know who would govern the district before they approved it, and (2) they favored seven-member boards because they don't want members jockeying for money for the district they represent.

So why didn't the council pay attention?

Some members (Elena Guajardo, Art Hall and Roland Gutierrez) got the message and pushed for a seven-member board.

Some (Perez and Sheila McNeil) want an 11-member board. McNeil argues that because her East Side district has more crime, it should have a voice. (Couldn't that happen on a seven-member board?)

Some (Kevin Wolff and Delicia Herrera) think it is premature — Wolff said arrogant — to determine the board before voters have their say.

Patti Radle is concerned about diversity — but not geographic. For example, she supports representatives for prisoners and those with mental health problems. She supports a seven-member board.

Chip Haass said he's much too busy with NFL football to worry about this right now.

Some (Roger Flores and, surprisingly, Mayor Phil Hardberger) said getting along is more important than making the decision now.

So some say 7, others say 11, more say wait until it's approved, and more still are concerned about getting representation for prisoners(?!?!) or football.

You know what I think? I think it's ridiculous for us to make it an 11-member board, with all but one pick more concerned about their own district than the entire city. I think it's ridiculous to put the possible passage of this District into question because you want to nominate your own person, or further your own agenda. I think it's arrogant to go to the voters with a proposal but tell them- 'don't worry about the actual composition, we've got that covered, just vote for it.'

The question with an 11-member board- outside of being able to pick your own man/woman- is whether the Crime Control District will be concentrated in the areas where there is the most crime/where it will do the most good, whether it will be given to those who scream the loudest regardless of need, or whether it will be distributed evenly regardless of need (like Homeland Security funding).

Lynnell Burkett is right, this is another major test for Mayor Phil. But unlike the City Manager, City Attorney, Budget, or hurricane evacuee tests, there's a real divide on this issue. Hardberger campaigned and won on a message of representing all of SA. Let's see if he can capitalize on his recent electoral victory, his recent string of successes, and his high approval rating to rally support around a plan that will be able to win the support of the voters in November.