The council meeting this past Monday, while not conducted in iambic pentameter, was like something out of Shakespeare.
We have two political factions in Culver City that I lovingly refer to as the Capulets and the Montagues. If you know your “Romeo and Juliet,” you will recognize those names. They could also be the Hatfields and the McCoys, a famous feuding set of families so well known in the 19th Century they have become American shorthand for reactionary response. Or even the Star-bellied Sneeches of Seuss – those with stars prizing their superiority over those without.
I want to be clear that I am neither Montague nor Capulet, no relation to the McCoys or the Hatfields, and I’ve always thought of myself as more of the fish in the bowl than the cat in the hat.
The “Discussion and Consideration of an Equity and Human Relations Commission,” was an almost perfect (and painful) case in point. When a Capulet-style agenda item came up, Montagues were there to call it down, for all the usual reasons.
But those reasons do stand to reason, and they need to be called out.
There is some hard political reality here. The Capulets have a self defeating tendency to try and bury important factors somewhere in the fine print, in the constantly mistaken belief that Montagues just won’t be reading that closely.
I have yet to see a Montague miss one.
It creates a backlash against the Capulets. On Monday, more than one Montague agreed that there were good ideas, but to present them in such a strangely surreptitious way would make anyone wonder – what is wrong here, that this needs to come in the back door under cover of darkness?
The lack of trust that this highlights just poisons the well. The Capulets habitually take a patriarchal stance, offering that they know what’s best for all of us, and the decisions are theirs to make.
The language under discussion also seems at first to be policy shift just for the sake of policy shift – Taking away the Parks, Recreation and Community Services Commission’s mandate to “recommend programs and plans designed to promote the full acceptance of all citizens in all aspects of community…” and create another governmental body to do the same thing – but replacing ‘citizens’ with ‘residents’ – and then anyone can see what the Capulets are aiming towards.
Protecting the undocumented, in these xenophobic times, is a noble and necessary thing, but trying to obfuscate it makes it seem dishonest, even when it’s not. And why not just amend the charter for PRCS?
Another part of the proposal, which was set aside before it even got to the meeting, was to end the Civil Service Commission. This would have had the consequence of curtailing the rights of the city employees. As television host Rachel Maddow has offered “The thing about rights is they‘re not actually supposed to be voted on. That’s why they‘re called rights.” So while it was correct to pull that piece away and set it aside, it should not have been approved and included in the first place.
This is an ongoing issue for the Capulets. If they are doing the right thing – and they very often are – why come at it the wrong way? Why sneak in the back door when the welcome mat is there for you? It creates suspicion in the most harmful and unnecessary way.
When Culver City voted for Sanctuary City, the voices loudly objecting were people who came from out of town to be ugly, not our people. Resistance to federal persecution is woven into our city and our school district.
So, it comes across as a mistrust of the community. And this pisses off the Montagues, who have their own patriarchal attitude problems to deal with.
There were more than a dozen other details; who was recommending what and why, would this be a commission or a committee, dropping the age requirement, including non-voters, that brought out comment. And it will all be back for another discussion.
Clarity needs to be on the agenda.
Graphic – Dublin Shakespeare Company