By Michael G. Stogner
No matter what it is called it is a Closed Session Meeting but that doesn’t mean you can’t comment on it before it starts.
Subject Matter is the Termination of the City Attorney
What caused this to be an Emergency later reduced to a Special Closed Session in the first place?
City Attorneys and City Managers serve at the pleasure of the City Council and can be terminated anytime.
If you would like to speak at this meeting the City is asking you to sign up in advance link below.
As an example the City of Daly City should be having this conversation about Terminating their City Attorney and City Manager for the No Body Worn Camera’s and the Roger Allen Homicide by the Daly City Police Officers on April 7, 2021. They have refused to identify the Police Officer who killed Roger Allen, Why?
Update: May 20, 2021 4:15 PM
Thursday May 20, 2021 From: Ruben Abrica, resident and Vice Mayor
Regarding: Open and Transparent Government versus Secret and Private abuse of power by officials
TO: Residents of East Palo Alto:
Today, a rushed and imposed closed session meeting of the City Council is scheduled for 5:30 pm, with barely 24 hours notice to the public. Before going into closed session, the public has the right to make comments or ask questions, including elected officials if they wish to inform and explain their views.
I, for one, will not be silent nor complicit in what I see as an attempt by three councilmembers to bypass our legal and ethical responsibilities to be open and honest with the public and protect the City from potential liability, legal and financial. I therefore want to comment and ask questions as part of the public process.
A. Emails by public officials in relation to city government are public not private
1. In an email sent late Tuesday May 18 by Council Member Lopez and also representing Council Members Wallace-Jones and Gauthier there is a call for an emergency meeting of the City Council with the topic of
‘Termination –City Attorney’. A second email is then sent cleaning up the first one stating that it’s a ‘special’ meeting and now omitting the reference to ‘Termination –City Attorney’. If you notice the published agenda cites the vague and general category of ‘Public employee Discipline/Dismissal/Release’ (Agenda Item 3.1)
2. Whether a meeting is called by the Mayor, as is the normal procedure, or imposed by three members as is the case here, the matter should be approached with respect for the public to be notified with plenty of time so they may comment or ask questions about any potential major decisions. For today, barely 24 hours notice was given and the purpose of the closed session is now hidden from the public.
3. Did three council members already discuss privately the termination of the city attorney?
Did three council members already reach a decision? Both would be a violation of the Brown Act
What is the ‘emergency’ alluded to and then backtracked? What’s behind this power move?
B. Let’s not attack the messenger because the message makes officials uncomfortable
1. Why is the Office of the City Attorney being attacked and ambushed with such speed?
2. Whenever city government personnel investigations are conducted as a result of complaints, and including investigations involving elected officials, the best practice has been to retain an independent investigator and not an employee of the city to perform timely investigations of personnel matters. This is what the City Attorney has done and in my opinion correctly so. And the City Manager as part of his job responsibilities is then expected to take action as deemed necessary. I, as one of five people who supervise the City Manager expect him to bring timely closure on all personnel cases so as not expose the City to legal and/or financial liabilities. The public’s money should never be put at risk by negligence or politicking.
3. Why was council member Lopez at the Tuesday May 18 meeting questioning the continuation of an independent personnel investigator as proposed by the City Attorney? (Item 3.8 of the agenda)
C. Full Disclosure. No Hiding. No Cover Ups. Correct Mistakes, Serve the People
1. As a founding member of the City Government of East Palo Alto, I am, at this moment , remembering people not with us anymore who sacrificed so much so that our community could learn to exercise self-government and self-determination. Let’s honor them by practicing honest and transparent government.
2. This closed session meeting is a very troubling example of secrecy and underhanded tactics to avoid facing the public. It’s an assault on our local institution of government , intended to democratically serve the people not the egos of politicians. I, for one, will not participate in this farce of a ‘closed’ session. There are real urgent needs of the community to be addressed instead of this destructive power game playing.