Au contraire — the Susanville City Council plays a vital role in ‘social justice’ issues

Many city residents have expressed their displeasure to me regarding the Susanville City Council’s decision earlier this week to install a one-year moratorium on proclamations to give Margaret Long, its counsel, and city staff time to draft a policy to regulate them. Long told the council that process could take three to six months. Councilmember Patrick Parrish asked for the moratorium to establish guidelines for city issued proclamations and to avoid potential lawsuits that might arise from proclamations the city might or might not issue. He also alleges government has no role in social justice issues. It’s role is simply to “run the city.”

Many in the community believe Parrish’s intention is to block a Pride Week proclamation for the month of June, although in his defense, Parrish has never said that, so I can’t and won’t in good conscience hurl that unsubstantiated allegation at him here.

If there’s a concern about what proclamations the city might make, sure, let’s have some guidelines. I’m all for that, but proclamations are ceremonial documents that honor, celebrate or create awareness of an event or significant issue.

Can someone explain to me how it could possibly take the city attorney and staff three to six months to make such a review and come up with guidelines for ceremonial documents? I’m not an attorney, but can somebody tell me how the city could possibly be sued for what is essentially a ceremonial document? Who is harmed by any proclamation the city might or might not make?

Please, let’s be real for a just second. Long and city staff should be able to review the guidelines from other municipalities and create guidelines appropriate for the city of Susanville in part of an afternoon. Stunningly simple stuff. Move it to the top of the priority list.

I know it’s an unpopular concept in some political circles these days, but I also must point out the undeniable linkage between government action and social issues that form the basis of our governmental and legal systems that Parrish, bless his heart (as my Texan mother would say), opposes so vehemently.

In case you forgot about them, here are a few of the really important ones: the Cyrus Cylinder that freed the slaves in Babylon (539 BC), the Magna Carta, also known as the Great Charter of Freedoms, (1215) — and closer to home — the Declaration of Independence (1776), the U.S. Constitution (1789), the Bill of Rights (1791), the American Civil War (1860-1865), the Emancipation Proclamation (1863), the 13th Amendment that abolished slavery in the United States (1865), the 15th Amendment guaranteeing voting rights for those of race or color or “previous condition of servitude” (1870), the 19th Amendment granting women the right to vote (1920), the 24th Amendment prohibiting poll taxes (1964) and the 26th Amendment granting the right to vote to those 18 years of age and older (1971).

When Parrish alleges our rights come from God, I totally agree. But what Parrish fails to recognize or understand is that government’s role in social justice is not to create those rights but rather to codify them for all to see and to ensure they are not infringed. Their intent, throughout all history, is to guarantee those rights which God has given all of us. If anyone’s confused about that, review the above list.

Join me as I call on the city council to immediately resolve this proclamation conundrum, approve some guidelines at its next meeting and move on to more important issues. There’s just no here here.