Dirty dealings at Arroyo Grande Council meeting
October 15, 2014
OPINION By TORY RAND
As I walked into the Arroyo Grande City Council Chambers on the evening of Oct. 14, after having done so many times over the last year, I immediately noticed one thing, instead of the usual six rows of chairs that are customary, there were only four rows of chairs.
There were only a couple of chairs left and most chairs were occupied by people whom I had not seen previously in the last few months. There was a lot more space between the four rows of chairs than the cramped feel when there were six rows of chairs.
Additionally, there is usually standing room on the sides of the room and the back of the room. The sides of the room had been restricted by added tables for the media, limiting the number of people who could stand at the sides of the room. Also apparent was that one row of the chairs that were normally grouped in the center of the room had been moved to the back wall of the room, where there is usually standing room. This further limited the number of people who could fit inside the chamber.
I took a step outside the Arroyo Grande Council Chambers and noticed that most people who were outside campaigning for Jim Hill – a write in Mayoral candidate – were now being restricted access to the chambers, by a fire marshal. The presence of the fire marshal was also another magical first this evening.
To me this was a very obvious action to limit the number of people who could fit in the room and voice their opinions. This became more evident as the night wore on and the folks who occupied the chairs in the council chambers were pro-council speakers, headed up by Chuck Fellows, the father of Councilperson Kristen Fellows Barneich.
At Chuck Fellows side, taking up more space was Mr. Barneich, Kristen Fellows Barneich’s husband. Some things are just too obvious to ignore.
In summary, if the Arroyo Grande City Council Chambers were an airline that infamous evening, I would have been a very satisfied customer, given all the extra “leg-room” that had not been experienced in previous council sessions. However, since the council chambers are supposed to be a place where people can exercise their first amendment right, I feel like certain citizens have had their first amendment rights “herded” to the halls of the chamber.
God Bless America.