Richardson: Tempe council again looks childish against Granville - East Valley Tribune: East Valley Voices

Richardson: Tempe council again looks childish against Granville

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Retired Mesa master police officer Bill Richardson lives in the East Valley and can be reached at bill.richardson@cox.net.

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Posted: Sunday, January 12, 2014 5:50 pm | Updated: 2:08 pm, Mon Jan 13, 2014.

On Thursday, Tempe Mayor Mark Mitchell and the City Council voted to change the way they do the people’s business

City Councilman Kolby Granville, who was elected in 2012 on a change platform, was reportedly the target of the change. Granville has been accused of grandstanding by his fellow council members. His detractors refer to him un-affectionately as “Kolby Grandstand.” The newest councilman has earned the respect of voters for fighting for strengthening civil rights for gays, more code-enforcement officers to go after growing neighborhood problems, bike safety, free speech and open government.

Change is exactly what Granville got. The passionate lawyer-turned-high-school-teacher and community contributor found out what happens when you try and change the ways of Tempe’s good ol’ boys and girls who ride herd on government and power.

According to a Jan. 9, Arizona Republic story, Tempe City Council set to make sweeping procedure changes, the mayor and council wanted to “make sweeping changes that would restrict just one elected official from bringing policy ideas to council study sessions or formal meetings for a debate or vote.”

The new policy will require support from two council members before discussion at study sessions and formal meetings, with the exception being Mitchell, who can put forth his ideas without a second vote.

Granville isn’t the first person that dare question city hall and then feel the wrath of the mayor and council.

Tempe mayors and councils targeted Tempe resident and community activist, Eleanor Holguin. In a December 19, 2009 story, “Over the past four months, Eleanor Holguin has railed against the Tempe mayor (Hugh Hallman), police chief, and, the council for abusing their power and refusing to justify why her family home was deemed a hazard to police.”

Her house was finally removed from the list after her public protests of police harassment at council meetings and no basis was found to classify the woman, a longtime acquaintance of police chief Tom Ryff, as a danger to officers. Her protests were viewed on broadcasts of live council meetings.

A year-and-a-half ago it was reported Mitchell was following Hallman’s censorship program.

A Sept. 18, 2012 story: “Even as Tempe tries to become more transparent, the council has decided not to broadcast the public-comments portion of its council meetings, prompting free-speech concerns and criticism that residents may never hear some of their neighbors' concerns. Last month, Tempe’s new mayor, Mark Mitchell, and new council reaffirmed the city's practice of not posting the public-comments portion of council meetings on the city website, not televising it during the live city cable broadcasts and not rebroadcasting it.”

Other East Valley cities broadcast public comments of council meetings.

Granville said he wanted to fight the practice of censoring the council meetings and asked “the council last month to reconsider and return to its earlier tradition of broadcasting all public comment. The city should not be in the business of censorship. Granville argued that there are residents who cannot make the meetings and they deserve to hear issues that their neighbors care about enough to bring to the council. Some residents use the forum to discuss problems they are experiencing with city government or municipal services. I think anytime you've provided a forum or opportunity for residents to voice legitimate concerns within the community that's only to the further and betterment of free speech.”

And guess where Granville is now in the fight for “betterment of free speech?” Granville and free speech lost once again at Thursday’s council vote.

For a city that prides itself on open government, diversity and community sensitivity, Tempe sure likes to conduct the people’s business with the blinds closed at city hall.

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