Now, after all of Norman's pleas and ongoing support from Mayor Jennifer Hosterman and Councilman Matt Sullivan, a third supporting vote from Councilwoman Cheryl Cook-Kallio gave the local antiwar movement a start. While nixing more official city-connected proposals, the council asked City Manager Nelson Fialho and his staff to provide administrative help and financial support to create a nonprofit foundation to promote peaceful measures here and throughout the country. However, once formed, the organization will function independently and not be associated with the city.
Norman, Sullivan and others were disappointed, but that's the best support they were able to get from the current council. With only days remaining before Hosterman, Sullivan and Councilwoman Cindy McGovern leave their posts because of term limits, to be replaced on Dec. 4 by candidates who win in the Nov. 6 municipal election, a 3-2 vote might be the best the peace proponents can hope for. It was certainly better than "kicking it down the road" to the next council, as Sullivan put it, when someone suggested letting the new mayor and council decide if "peace" should be a priority of the new local government.
It remains to be seen how much public support an independently operated, nonprofit peace foundation will receive in Pleasanton. Except for a few fellow speakers, Norman has not had much support in his regular council appeals, reported both in this newspaper and on Community Television's council broadcasts on Channel 29. Five years ago, 14 speakers made their way to the lectern at the start of the Feb. 6, 2007, council meeting to protest a proposal to hold even a public meeting on the wars. Those in the packed chambers burst into applause as the presentations were made.
Councilman Jerry Thorne and McGovern voted against using public funds to set up an independent peace foundation. Even though it would carry forth on its own once established, both felt that the organization will become a political voice that might take on the appearance of being views from Pleasanton. With a number of Pleasanton men and women now serving in Afghanistan and many more back from the war zones there and in Iraq, the city government shouldn't take stands on national issues it can't control, they said.
Others, especially Hosterman and Sullivan, called for a stronger voice, arguing that a city commission with the same standing as the city's Planning Commission or Housing Commission would have more authority in addressing issues related to peace. Berkeley has its Peace and Justice Commission and the city of Cambridge has a Commission on Nuclear Disarmament and Peace Education, to name a few. By having a similar commission here, its work would be elevated to the importance that full-fledged commissions enjoy, with full staff support, adequate funding and the ability to advise the council on its direction, interaction and support of peaceful measures.
If not a commission, at least create an ad hoc committee or task force with a clearly defined focus on peace, they argued. As an example, a task force could be formed to develop and carry out a number of programs identified by Norman and his supporters, such as sponsoring writing contests on peace or developing educational programs in cooperation with the school district on anti-violence measures.
Although the independent, non-city-affiliated peace foundation appears to be the best the current council could approve, Hosterman, for one, holds out hope for much more in the future.
"This is a marvelous idea whose time has come and has the potential of showing who we are as a community," she said. "In the years ahead, this foundation may evolve into a full-time standing commission for Pleasanton."
In my column last week ("How much does a City Council seat cost?"), I reported on remarks former Councilwoman Kay Ayala and others made at the Oct. 9 City Council meeting about campaign donations. I wrote that council candidate Erlene DeMarcus works for investor/developer James Tong when Ayala actually said that DeMarcus had been a paid consultant for Tong, not an employee, some 10 years ago. I also reported that Tong still had his offices on Hopyard Road. DeMarcus supporter Chris Grey said Tong's offices have moved to Dublin.