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A proposed resolution offered by Des Moines City Councilman Josh Mandelbaum failed to garner much support from the council on Monday night. Councilwoman Indira Sheumaker joined Mandelbaum in voting against a motion by Councilman Joe Gatto to shoot down the resolution.

Mandelbaum wanted the resolution put on the agenda, but it doesn’t appear that will happen any time soon.

Gatto argued the issue is not in the council’s purview.

“This shouldn’t even be on our agenda,” Gatto said. “I will make a motion immediately to deny any consideration for a workshop, any consideration for any type of resolution. This is not our purview. This is a political stunt being done by one council member sitting at this table.”

Gatto said it’s a federal and state issue — not a city one.

Mandelbaum said he disagreed with Gatto’s “characterization” of the resolution. He said the resolution addresses issues that impact numerous people and organizations in the city.

“It impacts every aspect of our community,” he said. “The pieces in this resolution go to things that we can specifically address.”

He said the council has taken a position on state and federal issues when they are of “significant importance,” like the marijuana task force that looked at state and federal law.

“We started registering on bills up at the Capitol related to legalization and decriminalization of marijuana,” Mandelbaum said. “Which is not in our purview, but which directly affects our residents.”

He also pointed to similar efforts regarding gun control legislation after the Uvalde shooting.

Mandelbaum said his resolution addresses specific things the council can do — addressing employee benefits if access to abortion changes, how city resources are used to enforce state law if it changes and acknowledges the city has to follow state and federal law but would specifically make any enforcement related to abortion the lowest enforcement priority. It also addresses discrimination and includes nondiscrimination language that is in code and something other cities across the country have done.

“There are multiple pieces that we can act on, that we should look to act on,” he said. “I identified specific things that are within our purview within this issue knowing it’s part of a broader discussion. But this resolution focuses specifically on the things we can do and should do.”

Sheumaker said “every single piece” of the resolution is within the council’s purview.

“It is not a political stunt to try to protect our residents,” she said. “However, it is a political statement to deny this. And every single one of you here are taking a stance when you vote on this today.”

Councilwoman Connie Boesen, who seconded Gatto’s motion, said she believes in women’s rights and believes they have a choice, but she doesn’t believe they are things the city should be doing and can do.

There was plenty of back-and-forth bantering between the council members. Video of the debate is included below. It is less than nine minutes long.

Sheumaker asked who in attendance wanted to speak on the resolution. Gatto can be heard saying:

“Nobody gets to speak. This is ridiculous. This is political…Move on. Ridiculous.”

It is too bad the council didn’t welcome discussion to hear input from its constituents on the topic.


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