Dear Editor – Perspectives on Data and Decisions

Dear Editor,

I read with no small amount of amusement Bubba Fish’s October 25th letter concerning changes to the process of removing a member of a Culver City board or commission. Mr. Fish laments the move, arguing that dissenting voices, expressed after “thoughtful deliberation,” are critical to a community’s ability to speak truth to power. Planning Commission member Stephen Jones accused the Council of politicizing what he claims had been a non-political process. Of particular interest was the quote attributed to Planning Commissioner Nancy Barba, who, in protesting the move, stated: “There is a value in diversity of thought. And to think a simple majority could remove people because you don’t agree with their thoughts, you are going to lose out on diversity… and [lose out] on making this a city where everyone feels like they belong and their thoughts and ideas are valued.”

Noble words, indeed. Ms. Barba’s seemingly heartfelt fears of a wide swath of Culver City residents being marginalized, discounted, and devalued by a ruling elite run amok, merely for voicing an opposing viewpoint, should shock and appall anyone with an iota of conscience or decen…um…what’s that? The internet would like a word?

The Wayback Machine opens to a Planning Commission meeting on May 25, 2022. The results of a survey concerning parking minimums and the need for more spaces across the city – a survey issued by the Commission, it should be noted – are being discussed. A large majority of respondents voiced support for both the minimums and the addition of more spaces. Commission members Jennifer Carter and Ms. Barba – both of whom are not only staunchly opposed to parking minimums or any additional parking, but just as fervently in favor of eliminating the spaces that already exist – have the floor.

Nancy Barba: “These surveys, not only are they not representative, it is problematic that it sways to a larger, older, segment of the population which also correlates with housing and building owners in the community. So all of that actually does discredit a survey in my mind. That’s not who we need to be thinking about here.”

Jennifer Carter: “I don’t think the survey was helpful. People are claiming it reflects the people of Culver City. It doesn’t. It reflects the view of people who took the survey. A very small amount, most of whom are over 50.”

Again, this was a survey issued by the Planning Commission itself.

Mr. Fish and Mr. Jones (not yet a member of the Commission), both of whom are repeatedly on record as favoring the elimination of parking spaces, also urged the Commission to disregard the results due to respondents skewing towards older homeowners. Almost two years later, neither of them have condemned the discriminatory and vindictive comments uttered by two appointed public servants.
In defense of Ms. Carter and Ms. Barba, they were merely following the blueprint of vilifying and marginalizing those who disagree with them, established (and continued to this day) by their ideological colleagues on the city council and school board.

If this is the sort of non-politicized, inclusive “thoughtful deliberation” for which Ms. Barba, Mr. Jones, and Mr. Fish were advocating, streamlining the process to remove committee members cannot happen soon enough.

Thank you,
Jerry Fontanelle

The Actors' Gang