The Gilroy City Council should pass a resolution this year to ensure that future city council members are elected, not appointed. Last week, the council appointed Daniel Harney to the slot opened when Roland Velasco became mayor.
Rather than choose the next highest vote getter, Tom Fischer—who finished fourth with 5,376 votes and was only 95 votes behind Paul Kloecker for the third open seat—councilmembers appointed Harney, who finished sixth with 4,548 votes.
Fischer had 13.7 percent of the city’s 39,000 votes. Harney had 11.6 percent.
We like Harney, who has served a year on the council after being appointed to fill Perry Woodward’s seat, but we don’t like the seeming lack of transparency in the deal or the fact that the voters spoke and were ignored.
The council said they chose Harney because he is already serving on county committees and they wanted to maintain continuity. Of course, if that’s what voters wanted, they would have elected Perry Woodward, who was on two of the most important county bodies, the VTA and Caltrain. But they chose fresh blood, in part because of what they viewed as Woodward’s lack of transparency.
Behind-the-scenes decision-making seems to be continuing with this decision. We understand that not all positions can be filled by off-year elections, which can cost as much as $300,000. But the city had an election and the voters spoke. Why would the council override that?
It’s the kind of seeming back room deal that caused a revolution in Gilroy, when the council forged ahead with a plan to build thousands of homes on 721 acres of farmland without going to citizens to forge a community-wide consensus. The voters took back control with Measure H, and limited the council’s power to make land use decisions.
That’s a lesson for our elected officials. The people of Gilroy want to be involved in major decisions. Options should be presented and decisions should be made in the full light of day.
Let’s do something about Gourmet Alley, which is an alley, but a place you can more easily find meth than chateaubriand. Can you imagine what tourists think when they pull into town looking for great garlic specialties and head down the alley? It happens. We’ve seen it. And it’s the kind of thing that can really put out-of-towners off Gilroy altogether.
So, either we change the name to “High Crime Incident Alley” or “Place You Don’t Really Want to Walk at Night Alley,” or we drop the name from that garbage can-lined place altogether.
Maybe we should rename downtown Monterey Street as Gourmet Alley and encourage more outdoor seating and contemporary, culinary-savvy eateries. That could be a good lure for people who only know Gilroy for the Outlets and provide an enticing way to get them downtown.
Can we please make all of the streets intersecting Eigleberry downtown four-way stops? Right now, half of them have no stop signs. Third, Sixth, Seventh and Eighth run straight through, while there are four ways on the others. We’ve seen plenty of accidents and near-accidents on Sixth and constant confusion on the others. We think there’s a need for consistency here. Faster traffic flow isn’t faster if it involves injuries.