Thursday, September 10, 2015

Brown Act Violations in "Brown Town" Huntington Park

I have never attended a meeting so poorly organized and blatantly disrespectful than the latest Huntington Park City Council meeting.

One of the most offensive comments during the meeting came from one pro-illegal alien speaker,  Sergio Infanson, who called Huntington Park "Brown Town" (referring to the high Latino population). Residents in the city as well as activist protesters from elsewhere took great exception to that racist remark. All colors do live in Huntington Park, and every person, whether born or naturalized, must be treated with respect. Of course, the elected council members and their attending staff do not respect the rule of law, so no one should be surprised by how often they disregarded basic decorum and allowed infrequent interruptions against those who protested the illegal appointments.

Now, regarding openness of discussion and full opportunity for interaction and participation, all government meetings must operate according to the Ralph Brown Act, which requires open and transparent hearings, as well as encouraging public discussion and participation.

The former mayor of Huntington Park,  Ricardo Loya, commented a number of Brown Act violations occurring in "Brown Town" Huntington Park.

For a better appreciation of what is going on, read over The preamble of the Brown Act:

Public commissions, boards, councils and other legislative 54950 Ch. I bodies of local government agencies exist to aid in the conduct of the people’s business. The people do not yield their sovereignty to the bodies that serve them. The people insist on remaining informed to retain control over the legislative bodies they have created.

On September 8th, the city council had to allow three hours of public comment, much of it focusing on the decision of four council members to appoint illegal aliens Francisco Medina and Julian Zatarain.

The council has already abandoned their oaths of office to uphold the Constitution.

Should anyone be surprised that they do not follow state law, particularly on open discussions in government meetings?

I submitted my speaker card at the moment the council chambers opened. I was one of the first to put in cards.

Yet I did not speak until nearly three hours later. One of the city officials suggested that the council start numbering cards, so that no one would be put out of order, and that every time someone came to  speak at the dais, it would be in order and in an orderly fashion.

This was the second time that this violation occurred.

Sandy Orozco of Maywood, who suffers from multiple sclerosis, should have received reasonable accommodations, and did not. The second time that I met with her, and the second time I attended a Huntington Park city council meeting, she still did  not receive reasonable accommodations.

From the Ralph Brown Act:

Meetings may not be conducted in a facility that excludes 54953.2; 54961 Ch. V persons on the basis of their race, religion, color, national origin, ancestry, or sex, or that is inaccessible to disabled persons, or where members of the public may not be present without making a payment or purchase. 

So, the council shuffles the cards, picking and choosing who will go first and who will have to wait their turn to speak to the city council.

Before public comment began, a Huntington Park, CA police officer read a series of rules and regulations. He wanted to limit calling out and applause, prevent people from booing and making noise in support of or against anyone speaking at the dais.

These demonstrations are all meant to discourage people from speaking out, voicing their concerns, holding individual elected officials accountable. The city attorney even read out a bunch of legal decisions and statutes to try and intimidate people from denouncing the city council.

I have seen this charade before. School boards and city councils will put forward just about anything to make people fearful that lashing out will cause them to violate some law, that they are "slandering" the elected officials, and thus committing a crime. The only problem with this line of intimidation, however, lies in the fact that if the targeted officials have committed malfeasance, then statements against them are not slander at all!

When the public comment section ended, the council went into closed session (permissible for limited circumstances under the Brown Act), I decided to stick around because I wanted to comment on the agenda items, including the council's decision to sell property along Pacific Blvd. as well as join hollow resolutions supporting Sacramento Democrats' Big Green agenda.

I stood up at two points during the discussions on consent items and then other agenda items. I was told that public comment was closed. Yet the text in the Huntington Park agenda could not be clearer:

All items listed under the Consent Calendar are  considered to be routine and will be enacted by one motion. There will be no separate discussion of these times prior to the time the Council votes on the motion unless of the Council, staff, or the public request specific items to be discussed and/or removed from the Consent Calendar for separate action.

The Torrance City Council frequently asks the audience if anyone has any comment on consent items. The Huntington Park Council said nothing, did not offer opportunity to anyone in the audience a chance to comment.

Yet even if one neglects the Huntington Park, CA agenda, the Brown Act requires allowing individuals to comment on any and all items in a city council meeting agenda:

Public may comment on agenda items before or during 54954.3 Ch. IV & V consideration by legislative body. Time must be set aside for public to comment on any other matters under the body’s jurisdiction. 

When I asked for a chance to comment, the mayor ruled me "out of order" and the chief of police told me to leave.

What is going on here? All matters before any city council must be open for discussion, and yet they shut me down, and would  not permit anyone to ask anything. This is inexcusable.

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