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An open letter to Mayor Ken Brown

OpEd

By

By Cecilia Ponicsan

Dear Mayor Brown – At the Sonoma City Council meeting of Monday, Oct. 21, you told of the evening you enjoyed, the night before, as a recipient of the Amistad Award.

You took pride in being recognized for having served the Hispanic community through your work.

When you changed your mind not to ban the use of gas-powered leaf blowers, you cited the award and that dinner, where you were wined and dined, as the reasons you flip-flopped on your original vote of Oct. 7.

Your own words were, as quoted in the Index-Tribune, “… and I definitely feel that winning the Amistad Award was part of it.”

No matter how big or small that part was, it’s called “quid pro quo.” We all know it as “give and take,” or, “you scratch my back, and I’ll scratch yours.”

Mr. Mayor, you should have recused yourself from the vote. You had a conflict of interest and you cited it repeatedly before you went on to reverse your prior vote.

Had you recused yourself, the City Council would have been tied 2-2. The fair solution then would have been to put the matter on the 2014 ballot for the citizens of Sonoma to decide. That is what Councilmembers Tom Rouse and David Cook wanted all along.

What’s more, before you cast your compromised vote, you insulted many of us by introducing issues of race and class. You took on a superior attitude and said there were “… elements of a class issue here tonight and my sympathies are always with the people at the bottom end of the class structure.”

Would it help you to know that I am an Hispanic woman whose abandoned mother was a migrant worker, and that my husband grew up in poverty in a hard-luck coal mining town? We know how important it is to have a job, and no one would have lost a job with this ordinance.

Before you, no one questioned or criticized the ethnic or socioeconomic makeup of the people who work as landscapers, ever. You, Mayor Brown, are the one who described them as “… the bottom end.”

The supporters of the ban on gas leaf blowers, at every meeting I attended, were respectful of landscape workers. No one was against them. We were simply after some peace and quiet in our own lives.

This was always and only about the one tool that is so destructive to the quality of life to many residents in the City of Sonoma.

There is a cloud over your vote, Mr. Mayor, and you yourself put it there.

It is my hope that a councilmember will put this issue back on the agenda and that the full council will move to put it on the 2014 ballot.

This would serve to assure all citizens of this town that a vote cannot be bought by a good meal and an award.

  • bob edwards

    Well said, Cecelia. Know that your sentiments are widely shared. In due course, the hard work & time you and Darryl have done on this subject will not have been in vain.

  • Carol Kelley

    I agree with Ms Ponicsan. Mayor Brown should withdraw his vote. By his own admission the Amistad Award influenced his vote, and he did a switcheroo.

    I am mystified at how the ban on leaf blowers would impact jobs around here. Whatever happened to brooms? I use one around my house and they are fast and effective.
    OUr wonderful gardeners wear necessary ear protection when using the blowers; the rest of us don’t and have to put up with all the racket which is unnerving at times.
    Mayor Brown, you blew it.

  • Bob Jenkins

    I completely agree. Almost everyone I have spoken to, no matter what side of the gas leaf blower debate they are on, agree that Brown’s reversal is very suspect. “Epiphany”, I don’t think so Mr. Brown. Let the people who actually live in Sonoma vote on it.