Hidden agendas in Compton
LOCAL VOICES: COVID-19 has allowed hidden governance; unfair to tax-paying citizens EDITOR'S NOTE: The editors of Compton Herald inadvertently attributed a byline for this article to Cynthia Macon. In times past, Macon has contributed timely and
LOCAL VOICES: COVID-19 has allowed hidden governance; unfair to tax-paying citizens
EDITOR’S NOTE: The editors of Compton Herald inadvertently attributed a byline for this article to Cynthia Macon. In times past, Macon has contributed timely and informative pieces to the Herald, but she had no input in this case. We apologize for the oversight.
It has not escaped the attention of conscientious Compton residents that a Charter Amendment Committee meeting was held at City Hall in chambers and/or by telephonic conference, Monday, March 16 at 6 p.m., without compliance with “Public Notice of Meeting,” as prescribed by the Brown Act and California Government Code 54954. (Given that there was a public notice about the Succesor Agency and Urban Development Commission meetings but not about the Charter Amendment Committee, which was intentional with wanton malice.
Contrary to what is lawful, this meeting was held in the “dark,” cloaked from public scrutiny. The people’s business must be conducted with the public right to attend, participate via telephonic conference or committee meeting to witness the items of discussion. However, this was denied to Compton residents.
The items of discussion covered the following:
- Pay increase for the mayor and council. Even though Compton pay far exceeds other governing bodies, given the car and cell phone allowance, retirement, and others benefits, including but not limited to health benefits for elected personnel and their families.
- Discussion to place the upcoming election charter amendments on the April 2020 ballot versus the November 2020 ballot.
- Removing the requirement for public notification of City actions in newspapers or other publications, which is against statutory law and public policy. A charter city does not allow the members to formulate laws contrary to the statutory laws and government code, like failure to comply with the Brown Act.
The charter amendment committee should not proceed with placing any items on the ballot because the governing body failed to notify the public of the meetings as prescribed by state law.
Furthermore, the governing body wants City Clerk Alita Godwin to conduct the election in April 2020 versus the County of Los Angeles in November 2020. The people of Compton know that historically, when Godwin, has administered elections, ballots appeared from thin air and the sanctity of the elections were often tainted.
Again, for the third time, Mayor Aja Brown and her cohorts are trying to push a salary increase. The LA district attorney threatened prosecution twice over this salary increase issue, which has been brought before Compton voters twice and denied.
The Brown Act requires legislative bodies to post an agenda for all meetings a minimum of 72 hours prior to the meetings. [Gov. Code § 54954.2 (a)(1)]. The 72-hour requirement is generally understood to include nonbusiness hours.
This was not adhered to for the March 16, 2020 Charter Amendment Committee, thereby making their meeting illegal and contrary to the government code.
In particular, this is critical legal issue which requires regulatory agencies intervention expeditiously, to include but not limited to, the California State Bar, given that Legrand Clegg Esq., licensed attorney and former city attorney sits on the committee and held to a higher standard of care knew or should have known that the public notice was not provided to the public and or told of the items to be discussed for review and/or comment.
For the Charter Amendment Committee meeting to be legal required a public notice to have been posted on Friday, March 13, 2020, which the city clerk and governing body failed to do.
The California attorney general has confirmed that weekend hours may be counted as part of the 72-hour period (78 Opp. Atty. Gen. 327, Nov. 14, 1995).
Thus, posting an agenda and/or public notice of the Charter Amendment Committee on March 13, 2020, would have been sufficient for a March 16th meeting which did not occur.
Citizens must be a part of governing process
James Hays: “Each and every August our City Council takes a month off. During that month the city keeps functioning, without council meetings. In light of the current circumstances, I would like to point out that having meetings without public participation is not going to work.
“Firstly, the method of public notice of meetings is flawed. Also, e-mailing questions and comments in advance of meetings is an inadequate method of listening to the community, and too many citizens are being left out of the loop. The city website, Facebook, and Twitter cannot be used to satisfy the council requirement to make sure that we, the citizens, are being afforded an opportunity to participate in the government process.
“Here is a solution: Take your month off now. Let’s get past this COVID-19 crisis and get back to allowing citizens full rights and privileges to take part in governing our city.”
Connie Halbig: “Even if you e-mail something to City Clerk [Alita Godwin] she only reads the ones she wants and not all [of the e-mails] so as not to offend Mayor [Aja Brown] or the city council. I noticed this past Tuesday she only read a few. Every single citizen comment should be read into the record. Also, they should not take off this August for the sake of the residents of the city.
Disclaimer: The views and information expressed in the aforementioned are not necessarily the views of the publisher and editor.