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Letter to the Editor: Los Gatos Gun Sales Hearing—Democracy or Farce?

Patch welcomes your thoughts, opinions and contributions. Each missive must include the writer's name, address and daytime phone number, not for publication, but to confirm you're the author of the submission. Send your letters to sheila.

Well played, Greg Larson and Los Gatos Town Council, well played. But I have to call a spade a spade and label

The Council was merely placating those in opposition to the opening (and location) of a gun shop in Los Gatos, giving people a (false) sense of being heard. They of course had to hold the public meeting at some point to appear open and neutral. And how clever to include a preceding agenda item whereby a woman voiced her concerns about fluoride being a "key chemical in atomic bomb production" and nuclear waste byproduct. That additional fear element made the whole Templar Sports topic pale in comparison. Nice touch.

The meeting had all the dressings of democracy in action. But it wasn't. It was C.Y.A. Theater. Larson, in the hot seat, opened with a chronological account of events, summarizing that no town code had been broken and there's nothing anyone can do. Various council members followed, asking questions, giving the appearance of a thorough examination.

This is predominantly the same Council that denied American Apparel a retail spot, despite numerous empty buildings on No. Santa Cruz Ave., due to questionable image and slightly imperfect retail mix and denied opportunities for dogs to be off- leash in designated parks for fear a child's ankle gets nipped. If the Council had been more laissez-faire in its previous decisions, I would have bought the performance on Monday evening.

Adding to the staging was the significant influx of Templar supporters from all over the Bay Area, and beyond, brought in to give the impression that Los Gatos residents are strongly in favor of the gun shop. And these out-of-towners were allowed to speak, thus reflecting on public record a greater local support for the gun shop than perhaps is the case.

If Larson and Council were genuinely representing the residents of Los Gatos, they would have held this public meeting last August 2012 when it is on record that Templar Sports revealed to the town it would be selling firearms. The staff knew this would be a highly contentious issue, but chose to keep quiet. Once Templar invested in the building upgrades, secured permits and opened to the public, it would be very difficult for anyone to stop the train. And for extra leverage, the law firm representing Templar, Law Offices of Donald Kilmer, has kindly stepped forward waving the litigation flag.

If this had all been raised before the shop was opened, and if the majority of Los Gatos residents supported the gun shop, then so be it. Due process would have been served. But a timely public debate didn't happen. Now Templar is firmly entrenched, within 1.5 miles of all three elementary schools, middle school and high school, with plans to expand.

The whole affair has been handled extremely poorly and is going to end up being very costly for the town, regardless of how it gets resolved.

Mike Calahan February 07, 2013 at 06:59 PM
Great editorial, Martha. It is interesting, as you pointed out, how this is the same town that saw nothing but horrors in an off-leash park. As always, the best way to protest is with your pocketbook. The controversy will help their sales initially (mostly due to people who feel they are defending the Constitution by buying night vision goggles or a 30-round magazine), but it is only in the long run that Los Gatos residents will determine whether this business thrives or becomes another 'for lease' sign location.
AR February 07, 2013 at 07:11 PM
thank you ms. Sterne, this is a fantastic summary of the real issues in this matter.
Los Gatos Resident February 07, 2013 at 08:07 PM
Glad an issue has finally come up that has gotten you off you butt and interested in how our Town is run. Obviously this was you first town council meeting that you have attended. During every meeting there is a public session where anyone is allowed to speak for three minutes about any topic that they so desire. Any nut job can get up and rant about anything. This time it just happened to be about fluoride. Do some research on Citizen Ray. This wasn't a conspiracy. Also, the Town can't limit who addresses them (it's called the first amendment), be it resident or an out of towner. I'm sure you kept track that all the speakers who were against the shop lived within the Town's limits, right?
Michelle McNutt February 07, 2013 at 08:10 PM
Part 1 of 2 This is nothing but sour grapes. You really believe in a grand conspiracy? Even believing that they arranged for the fluoride lady to speak? You obviously don't know anything at all about public process, zoning, town code, state and federal jurisdiction. Your language is false and manipulative. You are filled with emotion and your content reflects ignorance. Monday night was a farce. And Steve Leonardis was outrageous! After he came to the door of the council chamber lobby and opened it and spoke smiling with one of the protesters just before the doors were opened to the public, people were buzzing with, "Don't worry, Steve just said we're going to get them tonight. He's got info that will bury them." What!!!!
Michelle McNutt February 07, 2013 at 08:11 PM
Part 2 of 2 When questioned about selling gunpowder (after several people demanded they don't) it was shown they never intended to do so. By the way several speakers got right up and still demand they not be allowed to do so. And Gil Decker, husband of one of the ring leaders, who made his fortune working for a defense contractor that sold weapons to the military, got up and demanded they not be allowed to sell assault weapons. Assault weapon sales have been banned in California for 20 years. Of course they don't sell them. And then there was the online petition that had the text of what was being opposed change after well over 100 supposed Los Gatos residents signed. So much manipulation, so many outright lies on your part Martha Sterne, Sandy Decker, Deborah Weinstein, and Shannon Susick (who DOES NOT live in Los Gatos). I am flabbergasted you have the audacity to write such manipulative hypocratic rubbish.
Martha Sterne February 07, 2013 at 08:41 PM
Dear Mr/Ms Los Gatos Resident, I have indeed attended other town council meetings and I am familiar with citizen Ray. Due to the lengthy topic concerning Templar, the council did have the latitude to reschedule the fluoride topic but chose not to. I suspect most of the speakers against Templar did live within town limits because this is a town issue. It's not an issue of whether someone can open a gun shop or not; most people are aware of the 2nd amendment ad nauseam. Any anti-gun shop folks from out of town would probably not attend simply being relieved that another gun shop did not open in their town. And I am not challenging the 1st amendment; I am simply struck by the fact that speakers aren't required to state the town where they reside, as part of the record, when they provide input at a town meeting because this should be meaningful information to the council.
Martha Sterne February 07, 2013 at 09:06 PM
Dear Ms McNutt, If you read my piece, I never used the word "conspiracy"; Monday's meeting could just be the result of extreme staff incompetence. It's up to the reader, and those following this saga, to decide for themselves. I think few will argue that result of the town's staff's actions thus far (no matter what the background) is going to create a huge expensive mess for the town.
Los Gatos Resident February 07, 2013 at 09:19 PM
Martha, you are bringing things up that you feel are somehow being used by the council to cover their behind, when in fact these things are business as usual. Maybe because of your deep emotional attachment to this topic, the fact that these are things that happen at every single council meeting has never crossed your mind. Maybe now that it effects you, you have a different perception. How is denying public comment, as you suggested, ever a good thing. Why is your concern over the gun shop any more important than that woman's concerns about fluoride in the water? If she took the time to go to the meeting to speak, then I would guess that she is very passionate about the issue. The council had no idea what the topic de jour of the public comment session was going to be, yet you made it sound like it was a grand plan by the council to minimize the shop's impact on the Town. Also, you aware that there are non Los Gatos residents within a 1 mile radius of the gun shop, aren't you?
Michelle McNutt February 07, 2013 at 09:34 PM
BY the way, a new respect for Mayor Spector. She handled herself professionally (even each time council member Steve Leonardis went off) and allowed everyone to have their say. I was very impressed with her. What happens with unethical behavior like Mr. Leonardis'? It seems so blatant. Is it really ok for him to be so connected to one side of an issue like this? The "Don't worry, Steve just said we're going to get them tonight. He's got info that will bury them" is deeply concerning. He is allowed an opinion, but it seems wrong that he can work ahead of a town meeting on a subject to be discussed. If there is any kind of conspiracy, this is it. But I don't know. Maybe this is perfectly legal. But has to be unethical. Right? And he is the Vice Mayor? Does that mean he will be Mayor?
Larry Arzie February 07, 2013 at 09:59 PM
Michelle, Leonardis has the passion and the spirit to speak up and work for his constituency (that's you and me) to do what he thinks is right. What is unethical is the way the town staff handled this matter by not bringing it to council for review when they found out the permit was primarily for a gun shop, even after that police chief warned them about it. In staffs desire to produce revenue they have become ethically bankrupt. Thank you Mr.Larson.
Michelle McNutt February 07, 2013 at 10:34 PM
I don't know Mr. Larson. I appreciated his explanation of the process. Something seems fishy about Mr. Leonardis's behavior. Maybe they all meet with people outside the public process with predetermined actions in mind. Responsibility is with the elected officials. Good to have passion and spirit, but back room deals with council members has to be wrong even if not illegal.
Don Wolf February 08, 2013 at 02:44 AM
The fact that Templar Sports is 1.5 miles from 3 schools is interesting. That means that if there is a slaughter at one of our schools because of the decision to not let the teachers and staff defend the children, then Templar Sports employees probably can not get their to save our children faster then the police; which is after the crime has been committed. They should be next door; or better yet, they should train some teachers and staff at each of the schools so they could defend our children! Like in Connecticut, the school officials should be held responsible for not allowing defense of the children. Insanity prevails.
Tia February 08, 2013 at 12:17 PM
I would have to agree with Mr. Larry Arzie, singling out Mr. Leonardis, just because he happens to being doing his job could well be considered bullying.
Michelle McNutt February 08, 2013 at 04:20 PM
Nice try. Were you there? Did you see just who bullied who? Are you defending any secret behind the scenes back door predetermined attacks on Mr. Leonardis' part? Again, your anonymous attempt at manipulation just doesn't stand. There is no way that "is his job."
helena February 08, 2013 at 04:52 PM
are all you people 7 years old? Get over it with the "bully" talk. Yes people came to speak that are not LG residents. That isn't a problem. Anyone can speak at any city or town council meeting, doesn't have to be where you live. It IS a problem if they falsely represented themselves as residents. But even that isn't "bullying". Grow up and figure out who to best represent your side of the issue.
Tia February 08, 2013 at 07:12 PM
Dear Michelle McNutt, you do not give up gracefully, your work has the look of hired strategy. Going after every one who is questioning the town process on this issue. Sure hope that is not the case. Don't tell me you are spending time and resources to research everyone presenting opinions which do not agree with you. If you are unable to bully them into quietness. (I do not owe this explanation to u, but since u seem lacking in understanding politeness, and since u have chose me as the pivot for your strategy to divert from the issue) U are just a name to me, why does it bother you so, that the name I have chosen is my pet/nick name and not my official name. I am a member of the patch before this issue arose. That did not seem to concern anyone before. I sure hope your agenda is issue and not people. You are reflecting poorly on what ever issue you are supporting.
Daniel Burch February 08, 2013 at 10:45 PM
Hi Michelle - please contact me. Important. Thank you!
William Martin February 09, 2013 at 06:42 AM
Yep... that is what all the ill-informed reterique breeds! You people kill me with your booksmart, un-intelligent biased opinions that feed the easily influenced people to see things in your light........... enjoy your teachings!
Tia February 10, 2013 at 11:45 AM
Dear michell, I apologize for coming down a bit harshly on you. I can also see you are quite young. But had to stop you from going out of line and in focus of a health debate. Looking forward to hearing some fresh ideas :))
Dan loyde February 13, 2013 at 04:53 AM
Mike, you sir are an idiot. So buying night vision goggles is a bad thing, wow . Talk about paranoid !! And you have not been able to buy a thirty round clip in ca. For many many years . Ten rounds is the max. Set by the wonderful ms feinstien. Even if you own a preban clip you can't sell it even if you sell the gun it fits !! Get some Xanax and relax ,those people that do buy LEGAL guns from LEGAL dealers Are not the ones you should fear !
William Martin February 13, 2013 at 06:04 AM
I agree with Dan. Mike, you sir are an idiot. Please in the future get educated because in this case ignorance is not bliss!
William Martin February 13, 2013 at 06:08 AM
That's what they do............. not surprising at all.......
Brian Hickman March 11, 2013 at 06:48 PM
All this talk of conspiracy, behind-the-scenes orchestration, bullying, name calling... C'mon folks, let's get rational and civil. Just accept the fact that this is a topic on which reasonable minds may differ. Also accept that fact that when you open the debate up to anyone, you will get a lot of uniformed opinions (e.g. all of those arguing against things that are already not allowed in Cal). Personally, I agree with the notion that the true public opinion will ultimately be reflected by whether Templar Sports thrives or fails. If enough people don't want it, it will simply fail. No politics necessary.

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