New Mayor, new laws

Gustavo Ramirez, Opinions Editor

As the night grew dark on Nov. 22, Downey officials and citizens alike gathered at the city hall to discuss and debate future regulations and statutes. The meeting commenced with the traditional flag salute by Finance Director John Michicoff and a small sermon by associate pastor Chris Stuart from the Trinity Baptist Church.  Mayor Luis H. Marquez then proceeded to review the agenda and allowed council members to pull out items—essentially, they choose issues that they will discuss and vote on.


The hall was filled with the same assortment of people who normally appear: concerned students, adults, and senior citizens of Downey. Making an appearance once more, the relatives of the deceased Michael Nida amassed to remind the council of the tragedy that befell them regarding the death of their son. Driving their passionate fury at the platform before them, the angered relatives relentlessly chastised the leaders for their callousness. As one relative pointed out:


“You guys always talk about Downey being a city with character, but you guys don’t show any! Respect is one of those pillars and you guys don’t show that when you sit there and look bored.”


As usual, the group pleaded their demands to the local government. Their demands included messages from people in power, a reformation of the Downey Police Department, and an investigation from a department other than the Los Angeles Police Department. The Nida’s promised to attend every meeting until most of their demands are met. Yet, as the family of the deceased continues to state that those in charge—specifically the Police Chief—have refrained from sending some sort of message, the truth of the matter is that a formal apology by Police Chief Rick Esteevs has been issued. In the statement, Esteevs writes that he is sorry for the loss of life that occurred and continues on with the fact that a department outside of Downey is working on the case, which, in his opinion, covers correct procedure.


Aside from the Michael Nida situation, the assembly was continued without any further distractions.


To show, as Mayor Marquez says, that Downey is a city of champions, the council honored veteran Ken Sayama for his brave service in World War II. For putting his life on the line, Sayama was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal in 1945; In 2011, for continuing to be an inspiration, he was recognized as a Downey hero.


“I am so glad to be receiving this, it is most certainly an honor,” Sayama said.


He then thanked the audience and sat with next to his wife until it was time for him to depart.


First on the agenda was the update to the existing fire laws. The proposed fire code, which is actually the California 2011 Fire Code, would upgrade the city’s fire precautions and modernize the modes of conduct in case of fire. After a small back and forth between Councilman Mario Guerra and the rest of the board, it was unanimously agreed upon to revamp the outdated fire codes. Included in the law is a dispersal of necessary information concerning the new procedures to follow, along with the implementation of water barrels to help in emergencies.


With modernization and renovation on their minds, the councilmen also voted to contract for plans to improve deeply impacted intersections.


“Everyone knows those are some of the ugliest roads in Downey,” councilman Fernando Vazquez said. “They really show the wear and tear that our roads take with all the trucks that pass through.”


The construction is set to commence in April, with official committee meetings to take place in February. At the same time, the city agreed to contract Kane, Ballmer & Berkman for professional contracting in the right of way acquisitions to occur within the city. It was also decided to adopt Resolution 11, which accepted the last, final, and best offer to upgrade specific employee safety regulations.


In tandem with the recent Fresh Air Coalition’s wishes, the city adopted the amended version of the anti-smoking laws. At the behest of councilman Guerra, the City Attorney changed sections to improve clarity. The new bill specifically mentions where smoking is and is not banned. Within areas selected by park personnel, and near playgrounds and public events, smoking is officially banned. On sidewalks adjacent or contingent with the park, or in parking lots, smoking is still permissible. As an added bonus, signage will now be required to warn all that enter parks.


The city will also be getting the greatest renovation possible—a new leader. Mayor Pro Tem Roger C. Brossmer was elected unanimously to become the new mayor of Downey. Taking the place of Mayor Pro Tem will be councilman David R. Gaffin. The council wholeheartedly agreed that Brossmer would be a great asset to the city. The mayor himself gleefully admits that he is proud to work with Brossmer.


“I am delighted to have worked with Mayor Pro Tem Brossmer,” Marquez said. “I think he would make a great mayor, and councilman Gaffin would also make a great Mayor Pro Tem”


In the spirit of camaraderie, the meeting ended with smiles and congratulations. The remaining few in the room clapped and left, leaving the room empty until the next city hall meeting.