When the People Speak, the Council Listens

Last night, the Council voted 4 to 1 to extend the moratorium on new gun stores in San Carlos by ten months and 15 days, bringing it to a total length of a year from when it was first enacted, on November 13th. Matt Grocott was again on the short end of the vote.

The Council comments before the vote were relatively brief. Except for Matt’s, which were quite lengthy, and seemed to be focused on two issues:

  • Turner had faithfully complied with the license/permit application process, and, had staff not put the final approval on hold after the Council decided to consider a moratorium — but before it enacted one — they would have been able to open their store. Matt stated, several times, that Turner was treated unfairly, and he implied, at least in my opinion, that staff had acted inappropriately in not acting on their application before the Council imposed the moratorium.
  • Turner had a reasonable expectation that their store would be licensed because San Carlos had never imposed any special requirements on firearm stores, and the Council had repeatedly declined to take up the issue of local firearm regulation. The point seeming to be that, again, Turner had been treated unfairly.

Regarding that first point, my understanding of the facts, based on my discussions with staff, is quite different. Turner’s application was not complete at the time the moratorium was enacted, and not because of inaction by staff. Not to mention the fact that their failure to obtain the required demolition permit before doing demolition work was a show stopper that had to be resolved before the review process could move forward.

Matt’s history of Council inaction cited me as the main person who kept trying, unsuccessfully, to get the Council to take up firearm regulation. Which prompted me to reply that perhaps all he had demonstrated was that I am an incompetent boob when it comes to trying to convince my colleagues to discuss firearm regulation…but that when the people spoke up, the Council listened.

That’s as it should be, and it’s a lesson I hope every single person who felt motivated to speak up on Turner remembers.

Listening doesn’t necessarily mean just do what the people say. That’s not because elected officials are special or superior in any way; it’s just that we have, or should have, a higher level of expertise on public policy issues. I’m perfectly capable of figuring out how to do my own plumbing; I’ve changed faucets, fixed leaks, and installed water heaters. But, whenever possible, I happily hire plumbers to do the work…because they know far more than I do about how to get things done, quickly and effectively.

An elected representative stands in the same relationship to his/her constituents: any of them could do his/her job. We’re elected to take the time to research, discuss and decide, so you don’t have to.

But just like good contractors listen to what their customers want, listening is critical to the job electeds do, because it’s one of the main ways communities get to shape their future. That’s what this gun store experience has demonstrated, and I hope that everyone who has gotten involved will stay involved as we move forward. 

More, it’s an experience I hope neighbors will share with neighbors, so they’ll get involved, too. Because the more community engagement we have, the better, stronger community we’ll be.

1 thought on “When the People Speak, the Council Listens”

  1. I’ve been at the last 3 meetings (and I’m embarrassed to admit that I’ve been to less than 10 meetings in my 17 years as a resident). I have been blown away by my fellow townspeople’s and council members’ eloquence, intelligence, reasoning and heartfelt comments at these meetings. I wasn’t sure where Mr Grocott was going with his speech, but I think it may have had the opposite effect than the one he was hoping for. The fact that you’ve tried before now to bring this subject up, but have had no joy, does not reflect badly on yourself or Mr Collins. Quite the opposite. I think your constituents respect you both now more than ever for trying. Thanks for the work you do on our behalf.

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