Thursday, April 2, 2009


Received late Thursday afternoon was a Public Art Subcommittee meeting agenda, short on details and co-signed (in absentia) by Subcommittee chair Wallett and PCOC chair Seifert. All that can be inferred at this point is that there's an agenda. Who shows up from officialdom is anybody's guess.

Public Art Subcommittee Meeting
Tuesday, April 7, 5:30 pm
Pasadena Convention Center, Conference Bldg. Room 211



  1. It is worth noticing that on the posted Agenda public comments are called for - after - the discussion between the members of the Public Art Subcommittee and the PCOC representatives.

    California's Brown Act specifically requires that the public be allowed to address an "Old Business" agenda item before or during its discussion IF the item has been "substantially changed" since its appearance on a previous Agenda(see Brown Act citation below). The called for "Discussion of Creating an Amended PCOC Artist Selection Process" has been substantially changed.

    Although the words used are the same as those on the 18 March Agenda, the fact that the PCOC is now expected to contribute to those discussions, constitutes a substantial change in what is to occur at the Subcommittee meeting.

    In order that the Subcommittee be in compliance with the Brown Act and so that the City Council's mandate that public input be considered in the discussions to take place on 7 April, it is hoped that 7 April Agenda for the Public Art Subcommittee will be revised to allow public comments to be offered prior to or during the discussions to take place.

    Brown Act: 54954.3. (a) - Every agenda for regular meetings shall provide an opportunity for members of the public to directly address the legislative body on any item of interest to the public, before or during the legislative body's consideration of the item, that is within the subject matter jurisdiction of the legislative body, provided that no action shall be taken on any item not appearing on the agenda unless the action is otherwise authorized by subdivision (b) of Section 54954.2. However, the agenda need not provide an opportunity for members of the public to address the legislative body on any item that has already been considered by a committee, composed exclusively of members of the legislative body, at a public meeting wherein all interested members of the public were afforded the opportunity to address the committee on the item, before or during the committee's consideration of the item, UNLESS THE ITEM HAS BEEN SUBSTANTIALLY CHANGED SINCE THE COMMITTEE HEARD THE ITEM, as determined by the legislative body.

  2. There cannot be too much public participation or comment in a democracy. That is a given. But in a democracy, the people who ultimately make the decisions are the elected officials, here the elected officials are the members of the city council. None of us voted for arts commissioners or pcoc members, and they are advisors only. I was on a commission once that considered a matter for more than 2 years, made a recommendation and the council said, "no thanks." Was I happy? Of course not, but the buck stops with the council, and if we do not like it, we have the vote the next time around. The decision here is ultimately the city council's. So, the city council did not short circuit the democratic process -- they are the democratic process. Was pcoc and others asleep at the switch? Maybe, maybe not, I don't attend either body, so I have no idea, but even if they were, it is inconsiderate, at worst. It is not a subversion of the democratic process. It is a part of the democratic process even if timing was not the best. The city council can, for many purposes, make any rules they wish for their advisory committees and can change them along the way. Frustrating, at times, but democracy is not always pretty. As a resident without a dog in the fight, I hope this gets resolved so people can move on. As a resident, I am sorry that good people spent a lot of time for something that did not turn out as they wished, and would be grateful if they continued to lend their time and expertise for the good of all of us.

  3. Anonymous: You are quite right. It is the City Council - after three years, the expenditure of nearly $150,000, and their own nap at the switch - that has brought us to this point. And what did the City Manager say when advising the City Council to take its current position? He told them that the PCOC was dissatisfied with the artworks that had been chosen. Yet, the PCOC Board Chair, Tom Seifert, is on record as saying that the PCOC had no problem with the artworks, just their placement on the plaza, a positioning that was encouraged by the "Art at Pasadena Center" planning document, which was approved by the Advisory Committee upon which the PCOC had representatives. The fact is that the City Manager inappropriately identified the artworks as the problem, electing, it appears, not to identify the true root source, the PCOC.

    If the City Manager's choice of words was a mistake, they could have been corrected long ago. By letting them stand, it does serve a City interest, and that is to discourage legal action on the part of the artists who responded to City specified guidelines only to see the rules changed after the game was played.

  4. Mr. DeWalt, what are the objectives here?

  5. Anonymous: There is just a single objective and that is to put facts on the table that might contribute to the possibility of a solution being found to the outstanding problem. Nothing more; nothing less.

  6. Mr. DeWalt, fair enough. How would you define the outstanding problem?

  7. Anonymous: Problems beget problems. The City Manager's identification of the artworks chosen by the Arts & Culture Commission as the problem to be addressed spawned the current discord. The real issue - as the PCOC itself has admitted - is their objection to the placement of the artworks on the Convention Center plaza.

  8. Thank you, Mr. DeWalt. I had not been able to discern this, and I appreciate your taking the time and having the patience to set it forth. On its face a simple issue, but a lot of nuances, and I am sure there are a lot of cross currents, so I understand your point. Again, your thoughtful response is appreciated.