On January 11, the City Council behaved very badly, calling out and shouting at the audience. Chris Garcia then walked out of the meeting. Cristian Markovich fled with his wife protecting him.
The city council then called a succession of special meetings, three of them!--in a brazen attempt to stifle our attendance, participation, and criticism.
The District Attorney happily obliged!
Honorable Council Members
Cudahy City Council
City Council's Office
5220 Santa Ana Street Cudahy, CA 90802
Re: Alleged Brown Act Violations; PI 6-0041; PI 6-0044
Dear Honorable Council Members,
We have received several complaints alleging violations of the Ralph M. Brown Act (the Act) by the Cudahy City Council at the February 2, 2016 City Council meeting. Specifically at issue is whether or not the city council has the right to interrupt public comment, and avoid criticism.
Indeed -- several!
As explained below, we find that the city council did violate the Act by repeatedly interrupting public comment and not allowing members of the public to criticize the city council at the February 2, 2016 city council meeting.
Yes! Yes! Yes!
To put the matter in context, we first note that at the January I l, 2016 Cudahy City Council meeting, several protesters were openly critical ofthe Cudahy City Council. One council member
became upset, loudly berated the audience, and then he and another council member abruptly left the meeting, causing it to end.
Following this meeting, the Cudahy City Council then called for three special meetings in quick succession: January 22 at 4:00 p.m.; January 27 at 5:00 p.m.; and February 2 at 3:30 p.m. ** The February 2, 2016 meeting had only one item on the agenda:
5A "Adoption of a Proposed Urgency Ordinance of the City Council of the City of Cudahy
Amending Section 2.04.010 of Chapter 2.04 (Council Chambers) of Title 2 (Administration
& Personnel) of the Cudahy Municipal Code Regarding Location of Council Meetings."
[** The January 22, 2016 meeting was cancelled due to a defect in the notice requirement pursuant to Government Code section 54956. All items on the January 27, 2016 agenda, were placed on the consent calendar and approved without discussion.]
The staff report for "Item Number 5A" states in pertinent part, "The City Council conducts its public meetings in the Council Chambers ofCity Hall in accordance with the Ralph M. Brown Act
(Government Code section 549501 et seq.). In recent years our country has seen a rise in the frequency of violence in public places, including the recent shooting in a public building in
San Bernardino County, and such violence is often politically motivated and directed at public servants." (Emphasis added).
|Here we confronted Los Corruptos de Cudahy|
on February 2nd, 2016
It has been alleged that the purpose for the adoption of this proposed "urgency ordinance" was to move the location of the council meetings from the Council Chambers in City Hall to more inaccessible locations, in order to limit public access to meetings, making it more difficult for members of the public to attend meetings and criticize the city council. However, we need not, and do not, decide the issue of the council's intent.
This issue will be confronted again in due time.
Instead, we first note that during the public comments portion of the February 2, 2016 council meeting, posted online on YouTube, one member of the public states in part, "Secondly, at the San Bernardino shooting, those individuals were not targeted for political reasons.. .." The member of the public was then interrupted and told "Sir, there needs to be a nexus between your comments and the item (being discussed)." Here, the staff report specifically mentions that the reason for the
adoption of the proposed "urgency ordinance" is the "frequency of violence in public places, including the recent shooting in a public building in San Bernardino County.. .." (Emphasis
added.) Therefore, the shooting, and whether or not it was politically motivated, and whether or not the city council is genuinely afraid that a terrorist attack will take place inside Council Chambers in City Hall, was a proper subject matter for the public to discuss. The speaker had every right to question the motives of the city council by highlighting the fact that the San Bernardino shooting had nothing to do with a city council meeting, San Bernardino politics or even violence to city council members. Other speakers were similarly interrupted when they questioned the city council members' motives, and criticized the city council.
The obnoxious and abusive city council directed the city attorney to interrupt and forbid our participation at the dais. Outrageous! The DA laid the smack-down.
In general, it would be difficult to imagine a situation where the city council members' motives for enacting a particular ordinance were not the proper subject matter for debate. Here, the city council members' motives for calling a special meeting during the afternoon, with barely 24 hours' notice, with only one item on the agenda, a proposed "urgency ordinance" allowing the city council to move the location of future city council meetings due to a purported "frequency of violence in public places," following a regular meeting that ended abruptly when one council member loudly berated the public and then walked out of the meeting with another council member after intense public criticism, were clearly a proper subject matter for debate. Since this was a proper subject matter for debate, the city council had no right to interrupt the speakers and prevent them from speaking on this subject.
Additionally, we note that California Government Code section 54954.3(c) specifically provides that "The legislative body of a local agency shall not prohibit public criticism of the policies, procedures, programs, or services of the agency, or of the acts or omissions of the legislative body." (Emphasis added). Therefore, public criticism of a local agency, and its policies, is always a proper subject matter for debate.2
We expect that this letter will assist you to understand and comply with the requirements of the
Brown Act, and that no further action by our office will be necessary. Please feel free to contact us should you have any questions. We thank you for your attention to this matter, and for your concern for open government pursuant to the Brown Act.
Here is a footnote further indicating the nefarious intent of the Cudahy City Council:
2 We also note that at the following meeting on February 8, 2016, one of the council members who left abruptly during the January I I, 2016 meeting, left immediately prior to public comment, which is held at the very end of the meeting, while the remaining council members, except for one who dissented, voted to limit public comment to two minutes instead of three, even though only 18 people signed up to speak. So, although we do not reach the issue of the council's intent, there are certainly facts that suggest that the city council is attempting to infringe on the public's right to criticize its government.
Yes! Yes! Yes!