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Wednesday, April 15, 2009

St. Helena Equality Resolution, City Council meeting first hand account

Here's the follow up as we promised: from our loyal Up-valley friend of The Fruit, about last night's St. Helena City Council meeting at which they became the second city in the Valley to approve an Equality Resolution:
St. Helena's City Council meeting was so full that people were spilling out of the board room and standing in the back. In spite of the crowd, there were only three moving public comments in favor of passing the resolution. Councilman Sklar introduced the resolution explaining that he thought this was important because it is a symbol that speaks out against discrimination.

His introduction was followed by public comment from the Pastor Jonathon Eastman of St. Helena's 1st Presbyterian Church, who echoed that discrimination in any form is wrong and is not supported by all churches. He was followed by Tracey Krumpen of the Democratic Central Committee who read a resolution passed by that committee that supported the resolution at hand. Tracy established herself as a lifelong resident of the Valley and stated that she has been married to her husband for 13 years. She then called this quest for marriage equality "the civil rights movement of our generation." She was followed by Deb Stallings representing the Napa Valley Equality Coalition, who also encouraged passage. Deb and her wife, Carol Whichard were the first couple in Napa County to receive a marriage license after last May's Supreme Court ruling. Both Deb and Pastor Eastman spoke of St. Helena being the "heart" of the Napa Valley and encouraged the Council to uphold the true spirit of that billing by passage of this resolution.

Unlike Yountville where Mayor Saucerman insisted there would be no applause or calling out, the St. Helena crowd was vocal and applauded after each speaker. The Council did not seem to mind this and there was no admonishing. Notable St. Helena residents and business owners were present but did not speak, instead indicating their support by applause. Perhaps due to the overwhelming response of the crowd, there were no more speakers after that. The Council then spoke each in turn to give their opinion on the resolution. Councilwoman Sanchez said that she "took an oath to uphold the constitution " and would be abstaining. Her comment was followed by quiet disappointed sounds and a vocalization of one man in the back who said "shame". Councilmembers Schoch, and Crull spoke in support of the resolution saying that it is representative of the St. Helena community and echoes the sentiment of what "St. Helena is and what it aspires to be". Mayor Britton ended the Council opinion by stating that he does not believe it is appropriate to pass a resolution that contradicts the California Constitution. He received admonishment from the crowd and applause from only 3 people in the room who did not speak in opposition but clearly opposed the resolution.

The Mayor then called for a vote. Council members, Schoch, Crull and Sklar voted "Yes", Sanchez abstained and Mayor Britton voted "No". He then did not even announce "passed" and moved on to the next agenda item emotionless. Much of the large crowd begin to file out of the room. St. Helena, you now sit on the right side of history as we watch the equality train roll on.
Again, way to go, St. Helena! And thank you, Renee for the write-up. As always, everyone should share news, announcements, events and community related information via comments or The Valley's Other Fruit's tipline.

corrected the spelling of our contributor's name. D'oh.]

1 comment:

  1. Excellent reporting. I especially appreciate having the text of the measure. The NVR report was very misleading and biased with its "Gay Marriage" headline. Thanks.