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Bill Rosendahl - Council District 11






Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Government in the Sunshine

Yesterday, the City Council (over the objections of me and my colleagues Jack Weiss and Jose Huizar) voted to fight to continue a city ordinance that effectively criminalizes homelessness. (Los Angeles Times, Daily Breeze, Daily News). The policy that the City Attorney and the majority of my colleagues seek to defend is simply wrong. But just as wrong is the way we handled the issues.

With alarming frequency, the City Council votes to go into closed session, shutting the public and the press out of deliberations. Sometimes that is a defensible and necessary action. But way too often it is not.

Yesterday was one of the those occassions. We did not discuss top secret legal strategy. We talked about a basic issue of public policy: should we criminalize homelessness and keep a law on the books that allows people to get arrested for sleeping on the streets when we lack enough shelter beds? Or should we pass a new ordinance, one that criminalizes disruptive behavior but not homelessness? That is a public policy issue -- and the public deserved to hear.

By a vote of 11-1, I lost in my attempt to keep government in the sunshine. I will continue to insist that a government of, by and for the people actually be conducted in public view.



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