Publication Date: Friday, May 25, 2001
Letters to the Editor
Letters to the Editor
(May 25, 2001)@lethead:A detriment to good governance
The proposed behavioral guidelines for city boards, committees and commissions would indeed restrict freedom of expression for those who volunteer to serve on those bodies ("Proposed guidelines would limit public criticism by commissioners," May 18).
The practical effect of these restrictions is that a majority of the City Council would muzzle whistleblowers and dissenters. Considering that Mountain View has its fair share of governmental mistakes, and that we have had two fiscal crises created by bad investments, it hardly seems a good idea to cut off sources of information to the citizenry. It closely resembles security classification systems that are used to keep taxpayers ignorant of government errors.
More importantly, the proposed guidelines are an attack on our basic freedoms. Here in Silicon Valley we are proud of how our advancements in communications and information technology have had a major role in creating the tools that help people attain and maintain freedom. There is also the responsibility of every American to protect and advance the freedoms found in the Bill of Rights.
Yet we have Faravelli, Ambra and Pear creating a jurisdiction where we are only free to agree with the majority of the council. Kasperzak believes that the First Amendment is to be compromised for the sake of professionalism or decorum. The high schools these four attended should be notified that the council members learned nothing in civics class.
@lethead:Guidelines reasonably limit speech
It is common for companies to make their employees sign employment agreements that limit public speech of those employees. Specifically, such agreements can contain clauses that state that employees can be disciplined up to and including termination for making public statements of opinion critical of or damaging to the company.
Such agreements are signed as a condition for employment. I therefore see nothing wrong in principle if the Mountain View City Council requires its city commission and committee members to sign a similar agreement.
Note, however, that I feel that existing members should not be made to sign such an agreement. It should be applied only to new members, or to the renewal of appointments of existing members, as a condition for their appointment or reappointment.
William R. Hitchens
@lethead:'Foreign problem' a misnomer
I was shocked and dismayed by Mayor Mario Ambra's comments about the presence of immigrants in Mountain View's subsidized housing units ("For some residents, access to housing is a concern," May 18).
Ambra, who makes much of his own immigrant heritage, lends credence to those who blame a more recent immigrant group for disproportionately occupying the city's affordable housing. "I hear there's a heavy Russian problem, a foreign problem," Ambra is quoted as saying. What Mountain View has is not a "Russian problem" or a "foreign problem," but an affordable housing problem, which Ambra's divisive rhetoric does nothing to solve. His remarks serve only to pit the city's low-income housing tenants against one another on the basis of national origin and religion.
Instead of driving people apart, I'd like to see Ambra and other city leaders bring people together behind real solutions, such as rent control, stronger tenants' rights, and a supply of subsidized housing that can meet the needs of all the people of Mountain View.
@lethead:Treatment of Ambra protested
You were indignant at the shabby treatment Rosemary Stasek received at the hands of the community during the last election and more recently because she called Microsoft to task for not contributing to the county's housing trust. ("Wasting City Council's time with the Stasek non affair," May 11).
So to bring the community together you attacked Mayor Mario Ambra in print because he dared suggest that Stasek's conduct was improper. The important issue here is that a complaint was lodged. Intimidation under any circumstances cannot and should not be tolerated. A council member should not strong-arm anyone to contribute to anything, no matter how worthy the cause.
I don't know if Stasek was over the line on this issue because I don't have all the details. I do know that you concluded your editorial by insulting your city and your mayor.
@lethead:Defense of Stasek unbalanced and unfair
The recent charge to the defense of Rosemary Stasek by the Mountain View Voice is yet another indication of the prejudiced nature of the newspaper's editorial content. Regrettably, this is merely the most recent manifestation of a long line of biased reporting in Stasek's favor, from glowing campaign endorsements, to unbalanced quotes, to attacking her detractors. I question what kind of alliances and personal relationships must exist between Voice staff and Rosemary Stasek that result in this kind of favorable treatment.
Defending Stasek's actions towards Microsoft as simply "doing what the voters elected her to do" misses the point that she was, in her official capacity, soliciting money for a program that was not endorsed by the City Council. If she is engaged in using the clout of elected office to promote her own pet projects (no matter how worthy they might be), that is not doing that the voters elected her to do.
Similar unauthorized actions by former council member Joe Kleitman for an equally sympathetic cause were roundly condemned and may have been the cause for his failure at re-election. So why the soft treatment for Rosemary Stasek by the Voice? Rather than question her unauthorized strong-arm tactics toward Microsoft, the Voice wishfully declares the matter to be much ado about nothing.
If that is not enough, the Voice then condemns Mayor Ambra and others for daring to question the appropriateness of Stasek's actions. Government is best conducted in the full light of day. Mayor Ambra or anyone else who brings attention to this kind of unbecoming backroom conduct deserves the praise of all Mountain View citizens.
Ultimately this issue is about judgment in exercising the power of elected office. In my opinion, Rosemary Stasek has once again demonstrated poor judgment in seeking to promote unauthorized pet projects in an overly-aggressive way. Mayor Ambra has demonstrated good judgment in bringing these actions to light, and he deserves our praise and thanks.
Greg and Laura Blotter