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By any account, the Aug. 7 hearing convened in Los Angeles City Hall by U.S. District Judge David O. Carter was unusual.

“This is a rather historic occasion that the federal court would gather in the City Council chamber,” Carter, who took the chair usually reserved for the council president, said. “I hope it’s very positive.

But Ground Game LA, a group that describes itself as a nonprofit dedicated to increasing civic engagement, contends the meeting was illegal. At the status conference, Los Angeles City Council members came forward one by one to brief the judge on the progress of their efforts to create more shelter for homeless people camped near freeways and underpasses. That, Ground Game LA contends in a letter to City Atty. Mike Feuer, was, in effect, a meeting held without an agenda, notice to the public or the required opportunity for public comment.

Feuer’s office in a statement Wednesday said the hearing was not a council meeting because “the council members attended the hearing individually or in small groups. At no point was a majority of the Council in the Council chamber at the same time. Nor were the Members able to hear the meeting except when inside the Council chamber, either physically or via Zoom.”

The letter of complaint contends that the meeting was what is known as a serial meeting, which is expressly prohibited by the state’s open meeting law.

A legislative body shall not “use a series of communications of any kind, directly or through intermediaries, to discuss, deliberate, or take action on any item of business,” in lieu of a formally noticed meeting, the letter said, quoting the Ralph M. Brown Act, which sets out open-meeting requirements for government bodies in the state.

Feuer spokesman Rob Wilcox said it was not a serial meeting because “council members were instructed to not communicate anything said at the hearing between the small groups,” and Carter “did not transmit council members’ communications between the small groups.”

Housing & Homelessness

This federal judge is risking his life to save homeless people from the coronavirus

Housing & Homelessness

This federal judge is risking his life to save homeless people from the coronavirus

At 76, Judge David Carter knows he shouldn’t be on skid row exposing himself to the coronavirus. But he wants more for L.A.'s homeless people.

Carter has called another status conference for Thursday, and the group is threatening to file a lawsuit if the council members appear.

The group’s letter, delivered Tuesday by the law firm Davis Wright Tremaine LLP, also demands that the council publish any action taken during the Aug. 7 meeting, a status conference for an agreement reached by the city and county to find alternate shelter for about 7,000 people living on the sidewalks under freeway overpasses. Some news media were invited to the hearing, which was otherwise not open to the public. There was no agenda, and no time was set aside for public comment. No council votes were taken.

Although the letter does not identify any specific action, Bill Przylucki, the group’s executive director, said the council members’ testimony sent a clear “vibe” that they were discussing policy that could lead to homeless people being forcibly removed from encampments once more shelters are opened.

“This opens a pathway for them to start doing enforcement and clearing encampments in exchange for housing,” Przylucki said. “That would be a new policy that was never voted on in light of day. We absolutely think the city needs to house people. We don’t think a consent decree is needed to do that. We also don’t think the civil rights of unhoused people have to be the payoff.”

News Source: latimes.com

Tags: coronavirus and pandemic council members homeless people council members the council the hearing the council

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Nashville Taxpayer Protection Act: Attorney Jim Roberts Weighs in on the Secret Election Commission Meeting

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Live from Music Row Friday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. –  host Leahy welcomed Nashville based attorney Jim Roberts to the newsmakers line.

During the third hour, Roberts explains the current situation regarding the Nashville Taxpayer Protection Act that is being illegally stalled by Metro legal and the national election committee in hopes of squashing it from getting on the ballot December 5th.

Leahy: We are now joined by our good friend Jim Roberts the man who got the Nashville Taxpayer Protection Act to the national election commission. They verified the votes but gee, they haven’t sent it on to the Metro clerk’s office officially, I guess for the election that’s supposed to happen on December 5th. According to the rule of law in the charter. Jim there’s a big meeting today at 2:30 pm with the election commission is going to meet. I thought they should have done this like two weeks ago. What happened?

Roberts: Well, it’s a good question. That’s a very good question. They should have done it. They have what the putting this on the ballot is what’s called a Ministerial Duty. They don’t really have a lot of flexibility a right to mess around. But I think they’re getting a lot of pressure from the mayor’s office and they’re looking for some way to keep it off the ballot.

Leahy: Well Crom, what do you think?

Carmichael: Let’s assume Jim, just for purposes of discussion that they caught they concoct a reason they, or they come up with three. I’m not going to throw the word concoct and they come up with a reason to reverse their position because they’ve already approved it for the ballot and turned it over.

Leahy: It’s been verified. Can you be clear on that?

Carmichael:  What is the process? What is the process they should have followed?

Roberts: Yeah, absolutely. Once the signatures were turned in they would be verified. And once they’re verified from that point on it is truly a Ministerial Duty that just means that there’s no flexibility. They put it on the ballot.

They print the ballot. The only sort of flexibility they have at all is to form a little paragraph to put at the beginning to tell people what it’s about. that is that the entire extent and the law is very clear. There been cases like this before and every time the government has lost when they tried to prevent putting a ballot initiative on the ballot.

Carmichael: Okay. So if they then so is it the election commission that actually does the administration or is it another entity that administrates the actual election?

Roberts: It’s the election commission. They will vote on the language for the ballot. They’ll vote to on these up the valid what it looks like when it’s pretty simple because only one thing on it, but they’ll print out the valid what it looks like and then they’ll send that to the state to be approved. Just to make sure that the state says it’s okay, but really their job is very very simple.

They acknowledge the number of signatures. They print the ballot initiative as printed. There’s been some talk I hear about trying to change it or break it up into multiple pieces every bit of that would be illegal and outside their power, but they may try to do it. I mean it’s the level of dishonesty that’s being projected on the other side is really astounding.

Carmichael: But they have to do something official here fairly soon, too. To negate their prior action, is that correct?

Roberts: Well, I would think so. I mean you got to understand Crom that the mayor is probably calling these commissioners and calling the administrative elections every day. This happened the same thing that happened in 2001 almost 20 years ago. I was at the election commission the same meeting I’m going to today and mayor for sale only was Purcell the time.

I was in the room when mayor Purcell called one of the commissioners and said don’t put this person on the ballot. And at that time the control was in the Democrat’s hands and they just voted even though it was completely wrong completely illegal they voted to keep her off the ballot. So the level of dishonesty out of the mayor’s office. It’s quite well precedented. So I don’t put anything past them.

Carmichael: So then what would you what would then you do if they if that well, I guess they could do one of two things. one is they could come out with an official ruling that you would then take the court immediately if you disagreed with It is that correct?

Roberts: Absolutely. And that’s where you force the government on a government official to actually do their job. It is a huge waste of taxpayers’ money. It will cost as it’s borderline civil rights violation may even get attorneys fees out of it. I mean, he could cost the city tens of thousands of dollars for them to defend their illegal actions.

Carmichael: Okay, and then is there is one of their choices to literally ignore the ballot initiative and simply not do anything on December 5th comes and goes.

Roberts: They do that they would get sued for that too.  I mean,

Carmichael: But when would they get sued for that after December 5th.

Roberts: Probably about next Tuesday Wednesday.

Carmichael: Okay.

Roberts: I mean it would be very fast.

Carmichael: Okay, what’s happening here?

Roberts: I mean crime. Let me tell you that last Thursday I got a phone call from a Tennessean reporter about a secret meeting that was going to be held on Friday between the election commission and their attorneys. That’s a completely inappropriate violation of the Open Meetings Act. It’s absolutely illegal. I spoke with that attorney and they published an article that evening at 5:22 pm saying that I had said that I would assume that if they met secretly I would sue them.

I wrote a very stern letter to Jeff Roberts at the election commission and said, don’t do this. Don’t hold secret meetings. And I get an email this week from Bob Cooper. Not John Cooper but Bob Cooper of Metro legal telling me that they had to have a secret meeting because I had threatened to sue him in the press. And I had to remind him that I found out about the meeting from the press they’d already scheduled it before I said anything and they’re just willing to lie. I said you got caught in a total lie.

Leahy: That’s a total lie.

Roberts: But they’re documenting their case. They’re going to try to say that they thought I would, that I threatened to sue them and I never have threatened to sue with and that’s why they had to have started having secret meetings.

Leahy: So they have the secret meeting scheduled? The reporter finds out a secret meeting is scheduled. They ask you for a comment. You make a comment. Based on that comment the guy says that’s why we have the secret meeting. It’s like it’s from Kafka. It’s from Kafka, my friend.

Roberts: And that’s exactly what happened. And I honestly believe they had another meeting scheduled for Tuesday. And I think when I pointed that out to the Bob Cooper of Metro legal that he just lied to me in a letter, that’s when they move this meeting to Friday.

They properly noticed it under the law. I’ll give him credit for that. They did give proper notice for this meeting today. But again, there’s a lot of pressure from Metro legal to get the commission to do something that is absolutely illegal. Now the bottom line is no other way to describe it.

Carmichael: Is it accurate that you have set up a go fund me page GoFundMe account for free? What is the name of your initiative at GoFundMe?

Roberts: It’s under the Nashville Taxpayer Protection Act.

Carmichael: So if somebody wants it if somebody wants to support your activities, they just go to GoFundMe and search for the Nashville Taxpayer Protection Act.

Roberts: Yes, sir.

Carmichael: Okay. Well, that’s you know, so for those folks in our listening audience who think that government needs to be brought to heel. You know, this is really interesting how government employees say, I’m a government servant especially the elected officials. I’m a government servant. You know, that’s just gosh I tell you what. Good for you Jim.

Leahy: This is an open meeting and reporters can attend it today?

Roberts: I believe it is they will probably go into what’s called an executive session where they’ve been properly meet with the attorneys. And then the way the open meetings act works as they can the attorney can give them advice and then they have to come out and publicly discuss that advice

Leahy: Do we expect that the national election commission will make a decision about when or if they will follow the law and put this on the ballot for people to vote on as the law requires on December 5th?

Roberts: They’re running out of time. They have to do early voting and absentee ballots because all of this is an official election.  And so they only have a certain amount of time to get the structure of the election together. So if they didn’t vote today and I expect they will they would have to vote in the next week or so. They don’t have another meeting.

You know, I imagine honestly, they don’t know what to do. They’ve got some good people in that Election Commission and they’ve got some people that will do whatever the mayor says. If you want this on the ballot and if you know any election commissioners you ought to be calling them today. I can’t do that. That wouldn’t be appropriate.

Leahy: What will you do if they don’t follow the law?

Roberts: I don’t think I have any choice. There are 28,000 people who signed this petition and have expected me to get it on the ballot. And I think we’ll have to file a suit. I don’t want to do that that I think it’s silly that I would have to do that to force my own government to do what it’s supposed to do. But I can pretty much guarantee you I will.

Leahy: Well keep us posted will have a reporter there either virtual or in person.

Carmichael: You know, this also I think indicates just how terrible Cooper’s decision was to go for some ridiculous tax increase that he now is going to be forced to I think give the voters a chance to chime in. He’s just jamming it down everybody’s throat

Leahy: Jim Roberts. Thanks for joining us and keep us posted.

Roberts: I will sir. Thank you.

Listen to the full third hour here:

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Tune in weekdays from 5:00 – 8:00 a.m. to the Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy on Talk Radio 98.3 FM WLAC 1510. Listen online at iHeart Radio.
Photo “Ballot” by Brendan C CC BY 2.0

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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