Video: HMB City Council’s “Tuesday Night Meltdown”

By on Sat, March 4, 2006

Video removed at the request of MCTV.

At the Half Moon Bay City Council meeting on Tuesday, February 22, all attempts to bring about civility in government broke down.  If you haven’t seen the video yet, take the time to do so.  What happened on that night will hang over Half Moon Bay politics for the next two years. 

We’ll be talking about this more, but here are some things to watch for in the movie, along with the times in minutes and seconds when they take place.  I’ve heard different interpretations of this from both sides of the divide before I saw the actual video.  But one thing is very clear here: David Gorn and Jim Grady are very suprised and angry at what happens here. The video is almost exactly one hour long.

Part I: What’s the process?

Mayor Marina Fraser is presiding. City manager Deborah Ryan outlines the selection process.

David Gorn expresses surprise that no interviews would be conducted, and says that he expected to interview the candidates for the planning commission at the meeting, as it was done by the city council in the past. [6:25]  Naomi Patridge says she interviewed candidates over the weekend [8:00]. Marina Fraser says she did as well.  Jim Grady says he also was expecting to interview candidates at the meeting [9:30].  Fraser says they could wait to interview at-large candidates. Patridge interrupts her to say that she doesn’t want to wait. Bonnie McClung agrees.  [11:30]

This is the first point where the audience becomes boisterous.  It’s muted on the tape, because MCTV uses the council members’ microphones, but it’s clear that a large contingent from one side showed up for this city council meeting.

During the public comment section, Terry Gossett, a resident of Moss Beach, describes the outgoing Planning Commission as "irresponsible and incompetent" and says "all sitting commissioners betrayed the will of the voters for a non-growth agenda". [20:30]

Sofia Freer, an outgoing planning commissioner asks that copies of the candidates’ "Willing to Serve" forms be made available to the audience during the meeting. She’s told they can be found at City Hall.

Jim Grady notes that there is no information the "Willing to Serve" forms of many of the candidates and that he’s uncomfortable voting on these people for the planning commission. [24:30] Bonnie McClung says that the process was emailed to the council members and that Grady should have let the city manager know ahead of time if he was uncomfortable with the process.

Part II: The council members nominate their candidates, and some get surprised

Marina Fraser begins the process of individual nominations with David Gorn, who nominates Kevin Lansing. [28:00] Gorn nominates Mike Ferreira. McClung nominates Doug Snow. Patridge nominates Patric Jonsson, and Fraser Tom Roman. Marina Fraser asks for comments on the nominations. There is none.

Kevin Lansing is approved 5-0.  [39:40]

The vote is held on Grady’s nomination of Mike Ferreira.  [39:50] Note Grady’s and Gorn’s surprise, which is noticeable even on this tiny video, when McClung votes "no".  Gorn yells, "Whoa" and notes that there was no discussion of Ferreira’s merits. Without missing a beat, Marina Fraser says, "That is correct." Listen to the hubbub from the audience. Gorn: "That’s really tricky. That’s really sneaky."  This is where the meeting begins to break down.  Bonnie counters Jim by saying she does not think Mike is a fit for the planning commission and the audience erupts into applause. Grady withdraws his nomination.

After a long discussion, Fraser moves on to the next nomination. Gorn and Grady abstain. After the vote on Patridge’s nomination (Gorn and Grady abstain), the audience erupts into applause. In response to the vote and the applause from the audience, Gorn yells sarcastically, "Let the healing begin!" [41:50]

After the vote on the members’ individual nominations, Grady says he’s withholding his nomination until a later date.  [42:30]

Part III: Gorn and Grady drop out of the meeting

The nomination of the at-large members proceeds without participation from Gorn and Grady. During the discussion, Gorn, getting no help from the chair, asks the audience to be quiet while he’s speaking. [48:20].

As the voting on at-large candidates begins [54:00], Gorn declares the process a "charade". McClung, clearly distracted by what’s happening, becomes disoriented during the vote first vote.  Gorn and Grady abstain on all votes. During the voting, Gorn has to ask two people in the audience to "Stop making fun of us."  On the final vote, for Linda Poncini, McClung looks very relieved and says, "Finally, yes!"

Grady takes exception to Patridge’s declaration that "You guys attacked me" and Patridge replies.  [58:36].

A note of thanks: Coastsider has been working for nearly two weeks to get this video online. It’s the first video that Coastsider has streamed and we learned a lot by trial and error. But it would have been impossible without the help of several volunteers who helped us encode and upload MCTV’s video of the meeting to our server. Please let us know if you have problems with the video. This video has been tested on Mac Safari and Firefox, and Windows Firefox and Internet Explorer.