Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Hawthorne City Council Meeting: October 27 - MIA

Last night (October 27th), I planned on attending the last Hawthorne City Council meeting to speak my mind on the record of corruption and dysfunction dominating the city government.

What is going on in that town?

The current Mayor, Chris Brown, has called into question from residents and the press whether he should be sitting in charge of anything in that city. They council has cancelled two meetings for lack of a quorum before.

Hawthorne City Council: Missing in Action

And the same thing happened that night.


I contacted Councilmembers Olivia Valentine, Nilo Michelin, Angie Reyes-English (who has blocked me on Twitter!) and Alex Vargas.

Valentine and Michelin informed me that they received emails from the city clerk, Norb Huber, that a majority of the city council was not going to arrive, and therefore without that quorum, the meeting was cancelled.

Reyes-English's daughter Adrian called me back, and informed me that her mother was sick. She has a case of brochitis, which flared up again. I was surprised by this admission, since Angie sounded very well and spoke articulately without any breathing trouble at last Thursday's debate.

Alex Vargas also called me back, and told me that he was sick, and had to get medicine to recover.


A couple of residents showed up to the city hall, along with three journalism students.

The residents complained that the city council often cancels meetings right before election day.


Instead of attending this city council meeting for a class, we talked about the numerous allegations of financial misconduct against mayor Chris Brown, and the general negative attitude against the city council and the culture of corruption which has emerged in Hawthorne.

One gentleman, Leon Robsy, whose dog was shot by a Hawthorne police officer, later took out his frustration on the city's chief of police and the chief financial officer. He related to the journalism students about all the trouble he faced following the infamous dog-shooting incident. He was charged with nine felonies, yet acquitted on all charges.

Now he's suing the city.

So, for the journalism students who feared having nothing to write about, they ended up having plenty to write.

Below are the comments which I was prepared to read to the Hawthorne City Council during public comment:

Good Evening Hawthorne City Council, members of the audience, and Hawthorne City residents.
My name is Arthur Schaper, a resident of Torrance, CA, but a good neighbor who wants to see better leadership in the city of Good Neighbors.
I have friends in this city, and I have worked in this city, both as an instructor and a tutor.
I have read for the past four years about corruption, malfeasance, and just plain bad leadership in Hawthorne’s government. How many more elected officials have to end up under indictment, in jail, or on the front page of the Daily Breeze for all the wrong reasons?
The previous two mayors left under a cloud of corruption and bribery.
The latest outrageous comes from the current mayor, Chris Brown, who has not earned the respect of his colleagues or his fellow elected city leaders throughout the South Bay.
For a man to be threatened with eviction three times – this is just disgraceful, and there is no excuse. Excessive spending on junkets, no oversight of the city budget, and now the city is looking for a new city manager. To top it off, Brown supporters are removing the lawn signs of his political opponents!
Public integrity is a necessity in any city, and it’s time that residents in Hawthorne saw more of it. One resident, a friend of mine, complained specifically about the lack of service which she had received from city staff. When she wanted to speak to the mayor, she was rebuffed: “He is a part-time mayor.”
It’s time for the part-time mayor to part ways with this city. To all Hawthorne residents: If it’s Brown, flush it down!
The City of Hawthorne should be a city remembered for Good Vibrations – home of the beach boys, and a knack for flair and good press – the home of former wrestler Gorgeous George, once a milkman who then hit it big on stage and screen.
I was impressed with the city council majority’s decision to reject a bad budget and fire the city manager. It’s time to recognize the good members on the council already, Nilo Michelin and Olivia Valentine. I believe that they should stay. I hope that Alex Vargas succeeds as mayor in the upcoming election. In his place on the council, I would like to see city treasurer David Patterson.
Thank you for your time.

Disclaimer: I have endorsed Alex Vargas, Olivia Valentine, and Nilo Michelin for election on November 3rd.

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