|No reporters allowed at this meeting on transparency|
Tonight was the second time I was kicked out for trying to attend a community meeting at Moonridge, and I’m pretty fed up with it.
This first happened two weeks ago. Residents were understandably shaken up over the deputy-involved shooting death of Yanira Serrano, so a hasty meeting was organized at Moonridge. San Mateo County Supervisor Don Horsley, Sheriff’s Capt. Lisa Williams and about a dozen public and nonprofit officials came out to speak with an audience filled to capacity.
As the session was beginning, a MidPen Housing executive told me she knew I was a reporter and I needed to leave. Moonridge was private property, and I wasn’t welcome here, she warned.
The same thing happened once again tonight at a meeting promoted by the city in response to the community’s demand for transparency. Mayor John Muller and several local nonprofit heads came out to speak to a much smaller group. No sooner did I hand out my contact information than another MidPen employee was telling me I had to go.
I don’t normally fire off complaints on Talkabout, but this is ridiculous beyond my understanding. Anyone at that meeting tonight could easily be live-tweeting every word uttered at that meeting online, but I was singled out apparently because of my profession. At a crowded City Council meeting on Tuesday, a line of public speakers reiterated they wanted transparency going forward through this investigation. You don’t get that by evicting the journalists and then cherry-picking the convenient times to lower the drawbridge.
Serrano’s death left many Coastside residents shocked and angry, and it left local government and nonprofit agencies scrambling to make a show of outreach and available social services. I would think it obvious that the local newspaper could be a useful resource here.
I should probably note that emotions have been high over the last couple weeks, and to a certain degree I can understand being made into a scapegoat. The Serrano family was understandably traumatized, and within hours of the Yanira’s death they had a dozen reporters at their door asking for a quote. Most other media outlets have moved on to other stories, but some at Midpen still have the impulse to see a meddling reporter as a pest to be swatted away.
That said, I’m at the end of my patience for getting pushed around by people who see me as an inconvenience. Moonridge might be private in name, but local taxpayers paid for the land along with the costs of putting together that meeting tonight.
There’s going to be a third meeting next Thursday to discuss Serrano’s death at the I.D.E.S. Hall -- I wonder if I’ll get booted from that one also?