In the world of local government, city proclamations are not usually a contentious exercise for city councils, but at the Oakley City Council meeting Tuesday night, May 28, Mayor Claire Alaura found herself at the center of controversy over one such proclamation.
Most proclamations, in the words of Councilmember Randy Pope, “are happy things.” But the mayor’s proposal for a city proclamation endorsing LGBT Pride Month in June prompted objections by Pope and fellow councilmember Doug Hardcastle.
“Most of our proclamations honor our boy scouts, girl scouts, community groups,” Hardcastle said, “but when you start getting into sex … I don’t think the city should get involved with what goes on behind doors.”
Alaura, who later said she was surprised by the objections, offered to read the proclamation into the record off the council dais, stepped out of her chair, moved in front of her fellow councilmembers and read out the proclamation.
Alaura later admitted that she was surprised by the reaction from her council colleagues.
“Yes, I was frazzled,” she said, adding that she appreciated the input, and hoped that Pope and Hardcastle appreciated that she was trying to express the city’s support for all members of its community. “It wasn’t intended as grandstanding.”
City Manager Bryan Montgomery had stepped into the debate to note that, traditionally, city proclamations have been issued at the prerogative of the mayor. Montgomery and City Attorney Derek Cole asked the council if they wanted to review the policy and revise it. After some discussion, a motion was called to revise the current policy. The motion was defeated 3-2, with only Pope and Hardcastle in favor.
After the vote, Alaura stated, “I appreciate your opinions as I hope you do mine.”
To read a copy of the proclamation, see item 1.3 at http://bit.ly/thepressnet_oakley_lgbt.