GOLIS: Moving beyond the fighting

Miracles do happen. After weeks of futility, the Petaluma City Council on Monday managed to break the deadlock and fill a contested vacancy on the council.

The compromise appointment was both surprising and welcome. Absent a seventh council member, a divided council faced two years of tie votes and turmoil — not the best option for a city that is broke and facing chronic revenue shortfalls.

For once, a majority of the council came to understand that the well-being of the city requires a council able to make decisions about the future.

The newest council member, Gabe Kearney, 29, will have to prove he is up to the task. But he brings a fresh perspective to the politics of a city dominated by the same personalities for a very long time.

People worried about his inexperience might ask themselves: Have his elders done such a bang-up job of managing local government that the council shouldn't try someone new? Just now, Petaluma is a city without the budget reserves necessary to buy a good used car.

Kearney is also free of the baggage associated with city's perennially angry politics. For years, the usual suspects have spit venom at each other. They are called the pro-business and slow-growth factions, but they are really the gangs of people who don't like each other.

On Wednesday, The Press Democrat Editorial Board praised the council's statesmanship but chided Mayor David Glass for failing to interview all the candidates for the vacancy.

Glass responded with a rant, telling editorial writer Jim Sweeney that the editorial was "pathetic," and inaccurate because it failed to acknowledge the applicants the mayor contacted by phone or e-mail.

Sweeney recounted all this on the Inside Opinion blog at http://watchsonomacounty.com.

In a comment added to the post, a Glass supporter endorsed his criticism and said The Press Democrat and its sister paper, the Petaluma Argus-Courier, are "the equivalent of Fox News."

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