Monday, November 17, 2008

Public Intoxication Arrests...does the Council care what Pete Constant thinks?

Tomorrow, the City Council will discuss (probably at great length) the issue of arrests for public intoxication in downtown San Jose -- especially the disproportionate number of arrests of Hispanics. While this will surely be an engaging and probably heated discussion, Watch Dog has learned the ‘back story’ of how this item came to be on tomorrow's Council agenda is intriguing on its own.

To refresh your memory, drunk arrests in San Jose disproportionately affect Hispanics. It would be nearly impossible to miss given the press coverage. But if you need a refresher, here are most of the stories:
And now a timeline on the intrigue:

October 18, 2008
A series of stories start running in the Mercury News about the public intoxication issue -- as you can see above.

October 23, 2008
Mayor Chuck Reed along with Councilmembers Madison Nguyen and Nora Campos, by way of a Memo to the Rules Committee (the Rules Committee sets the Agenda for the Council), ask for the Council to hold a special session looking into the intoxication arrest issue. They ask for the hearing to be on November 18th, as part of the Council’s regularly scheduled, weekly meeting.

October 29, 2008
At the Rules Committee meeting the Reed/Nguyen/Campos Memo came up to be scheduled on November 18th. And here is where the intrigue starts: Councilmember Pete Constant protested, asked for it to be delayed because he would be out of town on the 18th, and the item was rescheduled to sometime in December. At the meeting, here is what Councilmember Constant said, according to the transcript:
Mr. Mayor, I know at the last Rules and Open Government meeting we had discussed this and talked about the November 4th date. This is a topic that I have significant interest in, and I won't be in town on the date that we ended up changing it to. So I was wondering if there was any potential to change that date, either to the November 4th date that we originally discussed, or the next meeting after this one, which I believe would be December 2nd.
Mayor Reed and the Rules Committee agreed to move the meeting date from the 18th to a date in December. However, the Mayor did not check with his colleagues he drafted the Memo with -- which led to some 18th floor chaos, apparently...and he is what happened next...

October 31, 2008
The Mayor issued another Memo asking at the November 5th Rules Committee move the date back to November 18th, cutting out Councilmember Constant from the discussion.

November 5, 2008
Mayor Chuck Reed along with Rules Committee again call for the Council to review and discuss the public intoxication policy at the November 18th City Council meeting -- basically saying, "to hell with Councilmember Constant..."

Which is how this item landed on tomorrow's calendar and not in December. While this may seem bland on its surface -- between the lines, a lot is happening here. Allow Watch Dog to provide some insight:

1. Apparently, the Mayor, Councilmember Nguyen, and Councilmember Campos don't care what Councilmember Constant wants to add to this discussion, even though Councilmember Constant has "significant interest in this issue."

2. On the flip side of this, Councilmember Constant seems to have significantly more interest in being out of town than being at the Council meeting tomorrow to discuss this issue.

3. Councilmember Constant seems to be contradicting himself about deferring items for the agenda. For those astute, local politicos you'll remember back to August when Councilmember Constant was adamant that a land-use issue NOT be deferred. That issue couldn't be deferred, but this issue can be…did you get that? (If you want to see a video of Constant's insistence about not deferring that item in August, check out the 27th minute of this video.) This incident also led to the first prognostication about the Liccardo/Constant Mayoral match-up in 2014.

So, as you watch (or Watch Dog) the Council meeting tomorrow, remember the back story. And long for Councilmember Constant's thoughtful insights into this matter...

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