Editorial: Civility, Not Shouting and Emotional Outbursts

When we talk about civility, we usually mean formal politeness and courtesy in behavior and speech: good manners, consideration and respect. All are needed for an enlightened society. So, what’s happened to Pacific Palisades?

At the November 12 Pacific Palisades Community Council meeting, President Chris Spitz was in charge and the room was packed with people.

I was surprised to see so many for the widely advertised disaster preparedness presentation. Generally, the topic is a hard sell, and most of the people who show up already have a seven-day emergency kit.

Near the end of the meeting, the council was asked to support a waiver for a developer to convert his property from commercial to residential zoning. The topic had been presented as a fait accompli to the PPCC. Spitz asked if one of the PPCC board members wanted to make a motion about the waiver, and then all hell broke loose.

Ah. People weren’t there for disaster preparedness. Many in the audience started shouting that they didn’t want the developer to put residential units on the undeveloped site. They also did not understand that this wasn’t the place to discuss it. One man shouted at Spitz, “You’ve been doing all of the talking, so shut up so we can talk.” Really? The PPCC is an all-volunteer governing group. Just like government on any level, the people in the Highlands have their representative, Paul Glasgall, and should have approached him first to discuss the issue. Instead, they came to the PPCC meeting and, when the issue was presented, their hostility came out. No one has the right to speak to Spitz like that—or to anyone like that.

A former member of the PPCC, Jim Rea, lost in an election to Greg Sinaiko for Area 3 (Marquez) representative. Rea applied for and was chosen as an alternate per the PPCC bylaws. Some neighbors rallied against Rea because it was rumored that he supported the DWP site next to Marquez Elementary School for a substation.

Rea has gone on record saying he did not, but instead of acknowledging his viewpoint, he was called a liar at a PPCC meeting. Really? Civility?

Last week, Palisades News ran a full-page advertisement from the Temescal Canyon Association. There is a big difference between an advertisement, which presents the advertiser’s point of few, and an actual news storywith fact checking.

Based on their ad, TCA clearly does not want the proposed DWP substation to go behind Fire Station 23. It can have that opinion because it is a paid-for advertisement, just like a political ad. But by running this ad, our newspaper has been accused of sharing the same viewpoint.

Our first editorial stated: “Our publication will strive to be ethical balanced and thought-provoking. We promise not to shy away from a controversial subject but will present them evenly and fairly.”

Our second editorial stated: “The room is open to everyone, the discussions are no-holds barred and even when we disagree, we’ll meet up the next week and do it again.”

This is our third editorial, and it is a plea for civility. We haven’t yet taken a position on any community issues. But we do know that people need to treat one another with respect at public meetings: trying to work out differences and seeing both points of view.

If you want to know what the News supports, look to this page and location and it will be clear what we advocate. Thank you for reading this.

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Author: Matt Sanderson

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