City Council Gadflies


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Concerned that the fire Marshall may force me to rid myself of thousands of pages of documents I did some housecleaning today and found a very timely article from the LA Times dated August 20,1999.  Note: I do not save every paper that comes on our driveway this one is self explanatory.

Times Headline. “City Council Gadflies Make The People’s Business Theirs”

While I cannot provide a Internet link let me quote a few paragraphs from the article written jointly by Eleanor Yang and George Ramos that applies even today.

“They show up all the time and speak on just about anything, from raising library fees to accusing a politician of corruption. Some are polite. Others growl. Some wear outlandish clothes; many say outlandish things.

They sometimes call themselves “civic watchdogs” or “community activists,” citizen guardians who are constant fixtures at public meetings to make sure the people’s business is being conducted efficiently, honestly and frugally.
But to others they are gadflies–people who pester, annoy or irritate.

“I wear the gadfly badge with honor” said Ray Littrel, a 30 year Garden Grove resident. “Unless you are a pest and in the faces of the council members, you’re not effective.”

Fast forward to the sub headline “Gadflies Gain Clout” where it reads:
With increased exposure from cable television broadcasts of council meetings, many activists are gaining clout, council members said, and some prove to be effective at initiating change.”

“They’re developing their own following” said Michael Alvarez, a councilman in Orange. “From a council member’s perspective, you have to deal with them because if they have a following, that’s a lot of voters. You have to respect them.”

Gilbert note. The calendar may change but the issues remain the same.

“For Littrel, saving Garden Grove taxpayers as little as 50 cents a day is just as important. “That may not seem like a lot of money,” said Littrel, 64, “but if you keep them in line in every aspect, then it doesn’t get out of hand.”
His most recent victory was when he helped persuade the city to lower its increase on monthly sewage and trash fees by $3.87. To do so he mobilized 2,600 households to protest the fee increase.

“Garden Grove Councilman William Dalton said Littrel “does his homework.” And Councilman Mark Rosen said the gadfly “keeps you on the edge of your seat.”

In the city of Orange, (Carol) Walters “is as well-known as the council members,” Alvarez said. Slater added, “I’m sure some people are more articulate, but she gets her point across.”

Folks. This Times article predates blogs and bloggers. Today we have the power of keyboards without fearing retaliation by city managers if we don’t follow their “puff piece” one sided Press Releases. Unlike some reporters we are not obligated to kiss up to city council members as we put their feet to the fire.
While council members and city staff will try to diminish our impact in the community they do fear our power and influence and read what we write.

Gadflies, watchdogs, or activists. Call us what you will but we will not back down from holding elected officials and staff accountable.  Even president Obama is using some of the same social network tools at our disposal. Facebook and Twitter for starters that enable us to spread our message globally without destroying a forest in the process.

Bloggers are environmental conservatives as it relates to using the Internet to save some trees.
Let me encourage every activist reading this post to consider submitting your concerns to our editor or creating your own web blog.

“United We Stand.” How we can take back our country. Oops.
That slogan belongs to Ross Perot but he did have the right sound bite.


About Larry Gilbert