By Deb Murphy
Following a presentation on the City of Bishop’s value statement workshop and public comment, Mayor Jim Pecsi pointed out four of the five councilmembers preferred a more general statement as he passed the value baton to the original subcommittee at Monday’s Council meeting.
After a rocky start, the Council embraced the concept of a value statement; all except Councilmember Karen Schwartz opted for a general statement of acceptance of everybody for fear that an unnamed minority may feel excluded. However, a number of public commenters wanted “everybody” better defined.
“The fact this makes people uncomfortable is why we need it,” said Stephen Muchovej who drafted a statement presented to the Council in February. Fran Hunt wanted “wording so people who have felt marginalized will feel something has changed.”
Some speakers still questioned the need for a statement expressing the already accepting, tolerant nature of the Bishop community. Former Supervisor Linda Arcularius felt the City’s budget and Councilmembers reflected the values of the community and perhaps such a statement issued by the Council was unconstitutional.
Another speaker questioned why the 80 or so people who attended the workshop should determine a statement for “eight to ten thousand people.”
In response, Tiffany Lough said “people who show up set policy.” As to a particular group feeling excluded, she asked if any particular group at the workshop was identified as left out. Another speaker suggested the list be limited to things that people can’t change.
Schwartz stuck to her minority view on the Council. A more specific statement says bigotry “is not acceptable in my town,” she said. “The fear of leaving somebody out is not a good reason. This process is exhausting but these conversations need to be exhaustive.”
In other action, the Council approved a three-tiered façade improvement loan fund of $150,000. The loans would go to applicants, either business or property owners, for remodeling and aesthetic treatments on commercial property including Americans with Disabilities Act compliance. The terms of the loans: $5,000 to $10,000 for three years at 2-percent; $10,000 to $20,000 for five years at 2.5 percent and $20,000-$30,000 for seven years at 3-percent.
More information on the program is available on the Bishop City Council agenda package.