© 2024 KZYX
redwood forest background
Mendocino County Public Broadcasting
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
Local News

Ukiah City Council to agendize cease-fire resolution

 A pinkish building with an arched doorway and a sign saying, "Ukiah Civic Center."
Ukiah Civic Center

The city of Ukiah is poised to join others in calling for a cease-fire in Gaza. At its regular March 6 meeting, the council voted 3-1 with Mayor Josefina Duenas abstaining and Council Member Doug Crane opposing a motion to bring the resolution forward at a future meeting. Crane said he was not necessarily opposed to agendizing the resolution, but he wanted to first have a discussion about the council’s policy of voting on things that do not come directly under the local body’s purview.

On February 26, the Fort Bragg City Council agreed unanimously to approve a cease-fire resolution, following arguments similar to the one Jordan Agla brought before the Ukiah council on Wednesday.

“There is currently a genocide occurring,” he said. “And unfortunately, it is a genocide that our government supports. I cannot remain silent while my government is contributing to a genocide. I think it is a moral imperative to speak out against genocide.”

Several members of the local Jewish community called for a resolution condemning both the October 7 Hamas attack on Israeli civilians and the ongoing Israeli bombing in Palestine.

Andy Coren, who retired as the county’s public health officer at the end of January, added his voice to the chorus. “It’s easy for me or for you to ignore what’s going on 7,000 miles away in the Middle East,” he told the council; “to be quiet about the bloodshed and the cruelty. But we pay for that through our taxes, through the military and through the United States blocking U.N. calls for ceasefire.”

Many speakers said the current bombing in Palestine bears similarities to genocidal campaigns against Jews. Shai Schnall used an anti-fascist slogan that came into the lexicon after World War II. “Throughout my education as a Jewish child in San Diego, I learned about the Holocaust,” they said. “And in those learnings it was taught, never again. And in this moment I want to ask us to think about never again for anyone. It is imperative to me as somebody that lives here that I can teach my students about justice; that I can say that we stood on the right side of justice in this moment by showing our support for Palestinian lives, their liberation, their land.”

Council member Susan Sher prepared a resolution in February, noting the billions of dollars in military aid that the US provides to Israel and condemning what she called the collective punishment of Palestinians. The resolution calls for an immediate and permanent cease-fire, humanitarian aid, and for the US to make solving the crisis a top foreign policy priority.

“On a personal note, I am Jewish,” she told the packed chambers. “Like many American Jews and some in this room this evening, I am a descendant of people who perished in or escaped from the Holocaust. We often ask ourselves, how could such an atrocity like the Holocaust have happened? I have my own theories. It may be true, some didn't know it was happening. But many did and chose to turn a blind eye. Maybe they were afraid for their own safety. Maybe they thought the atrocities did not affect them. And maybe some thought, it's not my city or my community that's suffering. It's not my problem. I don't want the city of Ukiah to put itself in that last category.”

Crane said he would support placing the resolution on a future agenda only if the item was accompanied by a discussion about the council’s policies on how it chooses to weigh in on issues that are not specifically local. “For many years, we have not dealt with matters at the Council level that we have no authority to see through,” he explained. “If we piecemeal this, then we open the floodgate for a half hour, hour, two hours here and there, for things that we have no control over. So, before we take this specific item on, it is my hope that we will analyze what we've done in the past, and determine whether we should change that course of action.”

Council member Mari Rodin was dubious about the prospect of opening the floodgates to endless requests for resolutions on international issues. “I think there would always be instances when we would decide that we need to speak up,” she said, adding that the last time she recalled a similar thing happening was in 2003, when the US was about to invade Iraq. “The council chambers filled up with people…and we all decided that this rose to that level of, yeah, we should say something…So even though in principle I agree with you, I think that because it’s been 20 years…I think that I could support Council Member Sher’s motion that we just put this on the agenda and discuss it,” she decided.

Council member Juan Orozco also agreed with Sher. “I have a hard time understanding why this issue doesn't affect people,” he opined. “Otherwise, they wouldn't be here. It affects people in many ways, not just monetarily, but it affects them emotionally. We wouldn't see this kind of thing happening if it wasn't affecting people at the local level…and so, with those words, I second Council Member Sher’s motion.”

Mayor Duenas abstained, after making remarks about an earthquake that struck Mexico in 1985.

Local News
Sarah Reith came to Mendocino County in 2008 and worked as a reporter and freelancer, joining KZYX as a community news reporter in 2017. She became the KZYX News Director in March, 2023.