SAN LEANDRO CITY COUNCIL//FLAG FLAP | San Leandro Mayor Stephen Cassidy will bring the controversial Chinese flag vote back the City Council Monday night, but the council member who first place the item on the agenda last month will not be there.
With Councilmember Benny Lee away on business in China, the one-vote margin approving the city flying the Chinese flag over City Hall last month in time for the country's national day last Oct. 1, runs the risk of being wiped away. Cassidy, subsequently used his authority in the City Charter to suspend the 4-3 vote just days before the planned celebration. The motion to reconsider is scheduled for Monday night.
Either the motion renders a 3-3 vote with the remaining six council members merely re-voting in the same manner (a motion dies with a tie vote), or more likely, a motion to postpone until Lee returns could be offered. Either way, having the Chinese flag fly over the city's seat of government may appear contrived, if it ever is approved, since the holiday has already passed. It would be akin to lighting a patriotic fireworks show a month after the Fourth of July. Nevertheless, Cassidy has said the city needs a specific protocol in place for when and how it flags foreign flags over City Hall.
Despite the controversy and the disgruntled response by the city's sizable Chinese American community, an unofficial flag raising occurred last Tuesday at the San Leandro Marina. The two-hour event of traditional Chinese song and dance was attended by the four members of the council who initially approved the flag-raising at City Hall, along with former Mayor Tony Santos. Cassidy, though, told the four members they were not to attend as representatives of the city, but as members of the community.
A potential postponement of Cassidy's reconsideration motion, however, runs the risk of further lengthening the controversy among the Asian Americans in the city. Some are already vowing to make re-election difficult next year for Cassidy, along with another opponent of the flag over City Hall, Mike Katz, a San Leandro school trustee also running next fall for the City Council.