The city of Santa Rosa has announced that there will be a Neighborhood Summit in August 2010. A planning meeting was convened, chaired by Tanya Narath, executive director of the Leadership Institute of Ecology and the Economy and a member of the Community Advisory Board. The LIEE is the source group for the 'green' members of the city council, a political incubator, and espouses the virtues of smart growth, form-based zoning, visioning, redevelopment, transit-oriented development, high density development, UN Agenda 21 et al. The other group sponsoring this 'summit' is the Neighborhood Alliance (see below)*.
I attended the first meeting of the 'summit' planning group. It appears to be a 'farming' operation to create city-sponsored neighborhood associations in areas that don't have them. The presumed purpose of that is to then have them join the neighborhood alliance and manufacture consensus with city plans. I'm sure they'll identify 'troublemakers' and sideline them since this is the manner in which the 'visioning meetings' are conducted.
Artificial neighborhood associations to use when public buy-in is needed. Anyone not in the official association will be ignored, slimed, and lied about if they bring up any issues not officially sanctioned.
The 'summit' is tentatively planned to be on two days, the first being an evening lecture by someone who is a Seattle expert, so called by organizers, in creating neighborhood associations. The next day will be two sessions on making a neighborhood association. No need for a planning session, it was already planned before the actual neighbors were brought in. They'll get to decide what food will be served. Tables or booths will be provided for city sanctioned groups, like this one ; >
I don't suppose it will matter if anyone shows up for this since it's just window dressing. There were only about 10 unconnected neighborhood people in attendance. There didn't appear to be much enthusiasm and there was confusion among the actual real people there about what it was all about.
*Our experience with the Neighborhood Alliance was that Kay Tokerud found out about it when she had been president of the Junior College Neighborhood Association (the largest in the city) for about 2 months. She asked former president Jenny Bard where the meetings were and said that she wanted to represent the JCNA since she was clearly a ‘neighborhood leader’ and this group purported to be made up of such people. Jenny Bard refused to tell her and said she wanted to continue to represent the JCNA. John Sutter was the chair of the NA at the time. I called him and asked where the meetings were held and he intially refused to tell me, saying that the meetings were private. After I talked with him for a while he said proudly that the NA was ‘the shadow city council’ and finally gave us the address. They met in a back room at Keller-Williams Realty offices over on Stony Point.
Kay and I went over to the meeting and were coldly brought into a room with John Sutter, Jack Swearingen, Jim Wilkinson, Judy Kennedy, Fred Kruger, Jenny Bard, Denise Hill, Karen Macken, and a couple of others. They decided that we could be there for the first couple of items on the agenda but would have to leave. Then Kay was attacked systematically by each person for as long as that person wanted to speak. Kay objected saying it seemed to be a trial of some kind, a kangaroo court. She and I were each given one minute to respond, and John Sutter as chair, took off his watch and placed it in front of him on the table so that he could be sure not to give us more than one minute. We spoke calmly and articulately about our concerns, Kay’s as a neighborhood leader, and mine as an American. After we spoke we were told to leave and we were escorted out and the door was locked behind us.
This group was not open to the public and was not open to all neighborhood leaders. It was a travesty and a shameful embarrassment to all who participated. I was stunned that such a group purporting to represent all neighborhoods in Santa Rosa could operate in this country in this manner.