The Porterville City Council found itself embroiled in another proclamation-related controversy when LGBT rights advocates protested in front of City Hall during its Oct. 7 meeting.
Coming Out Proclamation Shot Down
The protest was aimed at the council’s new proclamation rules and the failure of a recently-submitted request for a Coming Out Day proclamation to find any sponsors.
The new rules, passed after displeasure with the way last June’s LGBT proclamation was handled and issued, require a councilmember to ‘sponsor’ any submitted proclamations, then bring the matter to a vote. Because no one sponsored the proclamation, the council was not able to even to vote on it.
Numerous LGBT advocates spoke during the meeting’s opening public comment session, sharing their experiences coming out and why they felt a proclamation was not only important, but overdue.
The text of the submitted proclamation read, in part:
WHEREAS: There are numerous clubs, non-profits, and other organizations in Porterville, California, that work toward helping members of the LGBTQ+ community find the strength to come out, as well as cope with negative attitudes and stigmas surrounding the process. Some of these organizations include Gay Porterville, The Trevor Project, Porterville Equality and Fairness For All, Tulare-Kings Counties PFLAG, Porterville College Pride Club, and local Gay Straight Alliance Clubs at high schools.
Porterville’s newly-elected Mayor Milt Stowe declined to sponsor the proclamation because it was not all-inclusive, LGBT advocates said. The council had previously voted down or refused other LGBT-related proclamations for the same reason.
“The National Coming Out Day proclamation is geared towards a certain sector of the community. Coming out is a unique thing to the gay community. It can’t be inclusive. It can’t be any more inclusive than Cinco de Mayo or Black History Month,”
Brock Neeley, a local LGBT advocate, said. “We hope the one [Equality Proclamation] gets voted down, and we are going to bring the awareness forward, since they didn’t.”
By Any Other Name
In lieu of the desired Coming Out Day proclamation, Stowe sponsored a submitted “Celebration of Equality and Fairness and Respect for Rights for All Week” proclamation submitted by Barry Caplan of Porterville Equality and Fairness for All, which stated, in part:
The City of Porterville is committed to upholding the law of the land as well as the human rights of all persons in Porterville, including, but not limited to, United States citizens and citizens of other nations who have entered into the United States in accordance with state and federal laws and regulations, and including, but not limited to members of protected classes enumerated in US and/or California Constitutions and court decisions at the highest level in each jurisdiction, including but not limited to … Sexual Orientation.
“The second proclamation is about economic justice as it represents affirmation of rights of all that city council voted on in 2003 before the Prop 8 resolution in 2008,” Caplan said before the vote. “The only difference is that it lists the protected classes that were only implied in the original languge. That deserves a full and routine vote as well.”
“If that’s too much for them to vote on, then they’re going to have to stand up on the record and say we do not stand up for equal rights for all, even though we may have — or our predecessors did — in 2003,” Caplan continued.
The proclamation was rejected unanimously by the council.
“It’s so redundant. It’s legislative process that we’ve already put not in proclamation form but in resolution form and it’s almost written in such a way that it’s plagiarizing our own words,” Council Member Cameron Hamilton said during discussion of the equality proclamation.
“I still feel that recognition needs to be made, I don’t believe this proclamation does that,” said Council Member Virginia Gurrola. “I still feel that there needs to be recognition made for many of the reasons that were brought out today.”
“Well, I feel sorry for anybody who needs a proclamation to make themselves whole,” Hamilton said. “Plain and simple.”
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While the Porterville City Council has many issues before them, they seem to confuse themselves as to what action to take. It seems that the lack of experience leads them from arriving to a decision, as to whether they should ignore or address and find solutions to what ever the community concerns are?. At last night’s council meeting (October 21, 2014) several attendees presented comments on the upset and nagitive affect the community is experiencing after the removal of the Police Chief. Not so much the fact that he was removed, (because that was a step in the right direction), but rather the reasons behind it. The allegations that have since surfaced in the community is that there was misappropriation of public funds regarding the Porterville City Police Explorer Program, allegations of a hostile working enviorement within the department, several lawsuits, crimes not being reported or taken action upon which involved department personnel, the gatherings involving liquior being served at (which is now being referred to as the “Porterville Police Club House” near the Porterville Airport) and how paid personnel is assigned to the area against their desire,to maintain the premises. It is said, that after a Complaint to the Grand Jury, resulted in the findings being referred to the District Attorney’s office and that the DA channeled said findings to the Porterville City Manager for review (again, the fox guarding the henhouse), which utimately, at it is rumored that the city manager visited the illegal site to confirm the allegation and gave the city manager no choice, but to place the Chief on Administrative Leave. The city manager since gave the Chief the option to retire effective in December. The community does not feel that any public employee should be entitled to PERS Retirement Benefits if it is found that the individual has in fact committed a crime. In addressing the city council on the police department scandal and that of the excessive fees surrounding the Medical Marijuana issue the Porterville Recorder has ignore to print any comments on the topics. Furthermore, the local radio station KTIP, has also ignored to report on any comments. The handling of the findings and recommendations of the Tulare County Grand Jury being forwarded to the Tulare County District Attorney is a common practice of ignorance, knowing that the District Attorney will never abided by his responsiblity and obligation to follow the law (at least not this Distirct Attorney). At the March 23, 2014 District Attorney’s Forum in Porterville, sponsored by El Centro Mexicano, American Latino, Tulare County District Attorney TIM WARD said that no one was above the law, and that he stood to prosecute anyone regardless of status, who violated the law. Maybe, the community made a huge mistake not to elect Attorney Ralph Keible to do a man’s job. At the council meeting I also challenged Councilwomen Virgina Gurrola running for 5th District Supervisor on her asking the community for their vote on November 4th. I informed Madam Gurrola, that if she wants support from the community, she had to earn it, and do the right thing and look into the police scandal, and that it was the responsiblity of the entire city council to provide answers to the community surrounding the scandal. The City Manager works for the council, and council represents the communtiy. I also reminded Gurrola that Mike Ennis was advised of a previous Grand Jury Investigation which was moved on or about August of 2012 and he ignored to look into it, (what about it,Mikey, give up that taxpayers phone, “Use it or Lose it”). The findings and recommendations of the investigation were also forwarded to District Attorney TIM WARD, who neglected to take action. My question is, “Are the elected doing what they have promised their constituents to do”, or are, as always……….just blowing smoke up their axx. I further noticed the current police chief intermin, and the comment he has made over the radio, in saying that he found the Porterville Police Department to be very professional and that he was glad to temporarily join the force, what could he be referring to………..professional criminals?????????? “Please, Chief, as a respected community leader you need to man up and do the right thing, the public is not stupid,……need I say more,….. No harm intended, just honesty”.