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Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Browbeating Seniors

My focus on the HRC and the Council’s reconstruction of the HRC is closest to my heart, but my single-minded focus has obscured some of the other controversial changes to the commission system proposed by Souza-Asmundson.

To most of us Stephen Souza is the mild-mannered councilmember, who looks like he’d be right at home smoking a bowl with his constituents and philosophizing about the meaning of life until the wee hours of the morning. Souza appears generally calm and reserved and often tries to play the role as moderating force to the cold and calculating Don Saylor. But there is a dark-side to Stephen Souza that few in the public have seen. He’s every bit as cold and calculating as Saylor, with an equal mean and vindictive side to him.

One of the proposed changes was merging the Social Services Commission with the Senior Commission. Now last week, Souza and Asmundson went to the Social Services Commission and asked them to support the merger, they did by a 6-1 vote. Now there is subtext to this vote, the next day, the Council was going to here on the issue of accessibility in new building projects, which is the most important issue to that commission. Would they vote against the wishes of the council majority knowing that their issue was going to be heard the next day? No. And they were not all that happy with the council’s decision anyway.

The sham comes when the Senior Commission meets late last week, and Souza and Asmundson show up again. Souza browbeats the chair of the Senior commission for over an hour. Apparently it was quite abusive from eyewitness accounts. They have not voted on the matter yet, but will at the next meeting.

To begin with, I do not understand the rationale of the merger. The two commissions do not deal with the same things. Even if the merger were to make some sense, I do not understand why Souza would have so much invested in the merger that he would feel the need to be abusive toward a senior (or anyone for that matter). The chair of the commission is furious and this is not the first time that Souza has done this to a chair. He may have been able to get away with this with the HRC, but seniors are a large percentage of our population and they vote. Word will get around about this. And I’m just left scratching my head.

---Doug Paul Davis reporting