Earth Day proclamation provokes council unease

Earth Day proclamation provokes council unease
Vista Mayor Judy Ritter and Alta Vista Gardens CEO Kevin Morse shake hands after the reading of the Earth Day proclamation at the March 24, 2015 Council meeting. Photo by Gideon Marcus

VISTA — A unanimously pre-signed city proclamation caused a stir at Tuesday’s City Council meeting when several councilpersons discovered they did not agree with the statement to which their signatures had been affixed.

The beginning of every council meeting is reserved for city honors and proclamations.

The sole proclamation for this meeting declared that April 11 will be “Earth Day” in the city of Vista.

But after a quick and uneventful meeting, the council’s newest member, John Franklin, took issue with the language in the proclamation’s preamble, particularly the use of the terms “sustainable environment” and “sustainable economy.”

“I’d like to make a request that we don’t print substantive proclamations that make statements of policy, particularly when we’re talking about economic policy on pre-signed… proclamations,” Franklin said.

He urged that proclamations be presented to the council before their names are affixed.

“’Sustainable economy’ is an overly broad term,” Franklin said after the meeting’s close, describing the term as code for a politically partisan agenda.

“The environmental movement has a lot of additional policy aims that aim at redistribution of wealth and tend not to be what I would call a socially conservative pattern of thought.”

Though Franklin’s fellow Councilpersons did not comment on the matter during the meeting, afterwards, they voiced a set of varied but strongly felt opinions.

“Sustainable environment is, I guess my interpretation is different from yours and different from his,” Councilman John Aguilera said.  “I don’t think it’s appropriate for something that everyone is going to sign blindly.”

“I didn’t like it either,” said Mayor Judy Ritter, whose first time reading the proclamation was the actual pronouncement.  “Earth Day has nothing to do with a sustainable economy.”

Councilwoman Amanda Rigby, who often sees eye to eye with Franklin, had no problem with the term.

“It’s political but I don’t find it particularly objectionable because I actually think, even being a conservative Republican, that I’m all for protecting the environment,” she said.  “I think we all need to be good stewards of the environment,” she said.

Councilman Cody Campbell went even further.  “I felt it was a watered down Earth Day proclamation, and I personally would prefer that we had language that recognizes the fact that we need to have an integrated approach to sustainable environment and economies and address global climate change.”

CEO of Alta Vista Gardens Kevin Morse, who drafted and submitted the proclamation to promote Earth Day and events scheduled for that day, was puzzled and bemused by the controversy.

“I copied the proclamation that we used two years ago when the city issued the exact same proclamation,” he said.

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