I hugely enjoyed watching a passionate parade of people testify in support of an Inclusive City resolution at last night's Salem City Council meeting. (An "Inclusive City" is a lot like a "Sanctuary City," but not quite, for reasons I'm unclear about.)
Download Resolution 2017-22
Councilor Cara Kaser said she counted 45 people who testified. I'm pretty sure only two opposed the resolution.
The rest talked forcefully and eloquently about the danger, fear, stress, anxiety, and uncertainty caused by President Trump's misguided efforts to build a wall and kick out undocumented Latinos who are already in this country, most of whom are productive, law-abiding members of society.
Here's a video I made of comments by two progressive city councilors, Tom Andersen and Cara Kaser, following the public testimony. As I put it in a Facebook post:
Andersen was moved (almost) to tears. Kaser spoke passionately about white privilege and solidarity with people of color. I found these remarks by two progressive city councilors most worthy of sharing.
The conservative councilors, including Mayor Bennett, mostly used their discussion time to emphasize that an Inclusive City designation just reiterated current City of Salem and State of Oregon policies about immigration issues. True, but they failed to appreciate how much the resolution meant to people-at-risk in these Trumpian times.
Andersen sponsored the resolution, and attempted to introduce a supplement to it that covers additional protected classes, such as language, gender identity, and sexual preference. But that got shot down. It sounded like he'll try to get the City Council to consider the supplemented resolution at a later meeting.
Download Supplement to Motion
The conservative city councilors -- Mayor Bennett, Brad Nanke, Jim Lewis, Steve McCoid -- pretty clearly were boxed-in by the overwhelming citizen support for Salem becoming an Inclusive City. As noted above, mostly their comments were along the lines of "This doesn't change existing City policies, but I'll vote for it anyway."
I didn't hear much compassion and emotion in their words, in contrast to how Andersen, Kaser, and Sally Cook spoke about the resolution (the fourth progressive city councilor, Matt Ausec, didn't say much, as is his style).
Councilor Nanke's wife, Denise, tried to drum up opposition to the Inclusive City resolution via the Oregon Republican League Facebook page. (She co-hosts a right-wing radio talk show with Gator Gaynor.) That effort obviously flamed out, since only two people testified against it. But Denise Nanke did her best to rouse the conservative masses.
ACTION ALERT: Monday's Salem City Council meeting has an item on the agenda designed to set-up and trap law abiding citizens with a false narrative. Here is the verbiage that Ward 2 Councilor Tom Anderson will be proposing:
Adopt Resolution No. 2017-22 resolving that Salem is an Inclusive City that embraces, celebrates, and welcomes its immigrant and refugee residents and resolves that City funds, personnel, or equipment for the enforcement of federal immigration law is prohibited, and the provision of services or benefits by the City of Salem shall not be conditioned upon a residents federal immigration status, except as required by federal or state law.
I am asking that this be voted down and I am also asking you to attend the meeting to show solidarity with the councilor(s) who will vote no on this.
The left is mobilized and will be in attendance to support this resolution, if you support the rule of law in our city, I implore you to make your voice heard.
I wish I could have heard how the conversation went between her and Councilor Nanke after he voted for the resolution.
Another conservative councilor, Jim Lewis, went on a mini-rant about how he got tons of emails urging him to vote for the Inclusive City resolution before he'd seen a copy of it. Many of the messages likely came as a result of a Causa Oregon action campaign.
Well, it's hard for me to feel much sympathy for Lewis. Tom Andersen explained the timing of when he filed the resolution. My recollection is that Andersen said that other city councilors see a resolution that's part of a City Council agenda at the same time other citizens can view the agenda.
Namely, on the Thursday afternoon prior to a Monday meeting. Which I've found sometimes is Friday morning. So since us ordinary citizens don't have much time to review Salem City Council agenda items, it doesn't break my heart that Councilor Lewis found himself in the same position as everybody else.
It's tough, if not impossible, to predict a political future.
But the feeling I had, watching last night's meeting on the CCTV online stream, was that the four remaining conservatives on the City Council (their numbers are dwindling) were either clueless or shell-shocked at the progressive wave washing over them -- as immediately evidenced by the large vocal crowd demanding that the Inclusive City resolution be passed.
Mayor Bennett made a half-hearted attempt to enforce the Council rule against audience clapping, but after he spoke about this, nobody paid any attention. They kept clapping after hearing testimony they liked. Wisely, Bennett went along.
To me, this was a sign of the changing times. No longer do Chamber of Commerce conservatives get to run this town. Sure, they're still trying to. I just feel that demographics, culture, and an intense dislike of Trump-style Republicanism is rapidly altering the balance of political power in Salem.
Last night the conservative members of the City Council had to go along with the unstoppable force of progressive public opinion, as manifested by the 43 outspoken people who testified during the public comment period.
Those conservatives did their best to minimize the meaning of the Inclusive City resolution, but I'm hoping a blog post by the Oregon Socialist Renewal folks is as prescient as it is well thought-out. Give "Salem City Council Passed The Inclusivity Resolution -- An All-Peoples' Victory Won Through Unity" a read.
Here's an excerpt.
Forty-some people testified tonight, most of them speaking in favor of the resolution. It was clear that the opposition either couldn't do turnout or failed if they tried. Moving testimony came from DACA youth, teachers, hospital workers, two small businesspeople and the leadership of PCUN, Causa and Salem's Racial Justice Organizing Committee. Council members Cara Kaser and Tom Andersen did especially well tonight in moving the resolution through the Council process. Andersen may offer amendments at an upcoming meeting.
No one said it tonight, but this victory builds towards the womens' mobilization on March 8, Causa's important March 31 lobby day, and May Day. This victory gives everyone who helped get the resolution through the responsibility of holding Council to the right path and electing Council members who will stand with immigrants, youth, workers and LGBTQIA+ people in the future.
Update: someone just sent me an audio file of right-wing Salem radio talk show hosts Gator Gaynor and Denise Nanke, wife of Salem city councilor Brad Nanke, going on a 10-minute rant about how outrageous approval of the Inclusive City resolution was. They even call the forty-some people testifying about it a "mob mentality." If you disagree, email them: [email protected]
I uploaded the file to SoundCloud. Have a listen. (click on the orange arrow)