Critiquing the New Mayor
By Natalia Govoni
Mayor Murrillo has now presided over two City Council Meetings and some disturbing trends are emerging. She has begun chastising residents for exercising their right to free speech at City Council meetings, inferred that some take up too much of Council’s time and criticized the volunteers of two of our most venerable organizations---the Pearl Chase Society and the Santa Barbara Conservancy, for wasting her time in hearing an appeal. Conversely, she has overly praised Developers, who may not live in Santa Barbara, at every opportunity.
Isn’t the mayor supposed to represent all residents and encourage them to participate in government? After watching our former Mayor, Helene Schneider, skillfully preside over meetings, appeals, and public comment one would think that our current Mayor would have mastered the basic understanding of how to treat residents at City Council.
Alas, Mayor Murillo seems to have decided to exercise her new mayoral muscle. First, she told the applicants of the Pearl Chase Society and the Santa Barbara Conservancy that their appeal of 800 Santa Barbara Street was the “WORST appeal” she had ever seen, while she went overboard complimenting the Developer who proposed a 3 story high-density AUD project in the city’s historical district. Browbeating a respected organization that spent hundreds of hours and resources to make their case to preserve this city is not befitting of a public employee.
As if this wasn’t sufficiently egregious, Murillo chided Pete DaBello, an Eastside resident, during his public comments. The public has the right, enshrined in the first amendment of the US constitution, the state constitution, the city charter and numerous city resolutions and ordinances to voice their concerns. It is indeed a right, not a privilege. As those who have summoned the courage to speak at City Council meetings know only too well it is intimidating. Raised above the public and behind their seats of authority, it easy to forget that this council serves the public. This effort to intimidate members of the public, wield power against those with whom she disagrees and disrespect constituents in a public forum is likely to have a chilling effect on speech.
Is this how we want the Santa Barbara City Council to operate? Tell the City Council what you think: SBCityCouncil@SantaBarbaraCA.