By Deb Murphy
Two city councilmembers, Jim Tatum, Bishop’s administrator, and value statement advocate Steve Muchovej “couldn’t get off the dime” during their meeting to craft a value statement for the city according to Tatum.
The meeting was set up following the City Council’s March 13 session where more than two dozen speakers expressed the need to encourage tolerance and respect in the community with an official statement.
At Monday’s council meeting, Tatum suggested a public workshop be held to generate more community input. The meeting is set for Wednesday, May 10. The time was not set, but Tatum suggested the open house format start around 3 or 4 p.m. and run until 7 p.m.
Laura Smith and Karen Schwartz were the two councilmembers participating in the recent statement meeting. During the initial meeting in March, Smith had stated the Declaration of Independence wording was, in essence, a national value statement. Schwartz felt the sentiments contained in Muchovej’s draft statement should be repeated as often as possible.
According to Schwartz, the discussion got stuck on how broad or specific the statement needed to be. “We should go back to the community,” she said Monday evening. “A workshop won’t be as intimidating an environment as a council meeting.
Bishop Mayor Joe Pecsi said he didn’t want a list. “We’ll end up excluding somebody,” he said.
Muchovej’s draft stated Bishop is welcoming to “all people regardless of culture, race, nationality, religion, gender, age, sexual orientation, gender identity or abilities….” His reasoning in calling out specific groups was “those marginalized by ‘everybody’ will still feel excluded.”
During public comment on the statement, Greg Smith cautioned against calling out groups. “Not nice people will pick it apart and sue,” he said. Fran Hunt liked the idea of a public meeting and asked the council to listen to what the public said. Steve Seats reminded the councilmembers and audience the Declaration of Independence and Constitution excluded women and considered male slaves only ¾ of a person.
In other action, the City Council held a public hearing followed by a unanimous vote to form a Groundwater Sustainability Agency within the Bishop water service area with the intent to join the Joint Powers Agreement recommended by Inyo County to develop the Groundwater Sustainability Plan mandated by the state’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act.