Council goes too far?

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The Baldwin Park Unified School District is less than pleased – to say the least – with a letter the City Council sent to board President Jack White last month.

The letter essentially asks that the board support the council in its call for Sergio Corona’s resignation.

Corona was Tased and arrested in an alleged vandalism incident in May.

Here’s the story:

BALDWIN PARK – Some school board members accused the City Council of overstepping its bounds with a letter calling for Sergio Corona’s resignation.

The letter, dated June 19, was sent to Baldwin Park Unified School Board President Jack White, and rubber-stamped with the signatures of all five council members.

It asked that the board “join the City Council in its request for school board member Sergio Corona

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Get the scoop on local politics at the Leftovers from City Hall blog to step down from his position.”
“It’s one thing to be worried about the city but to actually send us a letter,” said school board member Blanca Rubio. “We don’t govern each other. I think they jumped the gun on it.”

Corona, 34, was arrested May 22 after allegedly breaking the windows of a home in the 13000 block of Sandstone Street.

According to a police report, Corona admitted to having smoked methamphetamine and marijuana earlier in the night.

Corona was booked on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, being under the influence of a controlled substance, felony vandalism and driving with an expired license.

He has denied any wrongdoing.

Charges have yet to be filed in Corona’s case pending confirmation of toxicology results.
Mayor Manuel Lozano said while he understands the council and the school board are two separate entities, he said the council felt the need to send the letter based on residents’ complaints.

“We’re concerned as an entity,” Lozano said. “That’s the reason it was sent out. I don’t want to turn this into a fight.”

In a rebuttal letter sent to Chief Executive Officer Vijay Singhal last week, White reminded the council that the board has no authority to ask Corona to step down, and Corona has not been convicted of any crimes.

White also pointed out in the letter that when misconduct has been alleged against other Baldwin Park officials – such as former council member Bill Van Cleave and former school board member Anthony Bejarano Sr. – the council had not called for their resignations.

“In the opinion of many, the alleged offenses of these public officials were far more egregious and were directly associated with the office each was holding,” the letter states.

“It should be noted that not one of these individuals resigned from office and, in fact, each ran for re-election.”

Councilman Ricardo Pacheco said Corona’s case is different because as a school board member, he should be setting an example for Baldwin Park children.

“I think the board is taking this too lightly,” he said. “We are dealing with kids here. One of the members is involved in drugs, has personal issues with possible alcohol and different types of illegal drugs. I think we need to look into that representative.”

White – who said he found it highly unusual the letter was sent only to him – also questioned the council’s conformity with state public meeting laws in drafting the letter.

Public meeting experts say the council may have violated the Ralph M. Brown Act – which governs open meetings – by not putting the letter on the agenda for approval before sending it to the school board.

“A city council or school board may not take action on a matter that was not on the agenda,” said Terry Francke, legal counsel for Californians Aware.

City officials say because the decision was made in open session at the June 4 council meeting, there was no need to place the letter on the agenda.

Singhal said after the letter was drafted that each individual council member was asked if they agreed with its contents, and if they would allow their signatures on the letter.

Francke said that is still a violation of the Brown Act, and the letter should have been placed on the agenda for approval.

“If council was saying the real action was taken publicly,” he said, “there where citizens that made comments, we reacted and we took direction … that is not sufficient.”

Singhal said staff members were acting in compliance with the city attorney’s advice.

“I don’t know what to do,” Lozano said. “The letter has already gone out.”

tania.chatila@sgvn.com

(626) 962-8811, Ext. 2109

Francke seemed pretty sure last week that the council did indeed violate the Brown Act with that letter. Since the letter was sent from the council as a whole, Francke said the issue should have been agendized and voted on before a consensus was reached on whether to mail the letter in support of Corona’s resignation.

He also took issue with the fact that the city manager contacted each individual council member about approving the final draft of the letter. 

See all the letters for yourself:

councilletter.pdf

Whitefront.pdf

Whiteback.pdf

  • Anonymous

    it does seem a bit hypocritical that they should feel they should be listened to on this.

  • Anonymous

    What type of projects were they involved in up north?

  • Anonymous

    SHIRTLESS and SWEATY BABY!

  • Anonymous

    But enough about your wife

  • ANTHONY BEN A JERK

    THIS IS WHY THE RECALL IS SO IMPORTANT TO MAKE HAPPEN YOU HAVE NUMEROUS VIOLATIONS OF THE BROWN ACT BY COUNCIL LETS REMEMBER THE FIRING OF POLICE CHIEF THAT COST THE CITY 75000 BECAUSE THE MORON CITY ATTORNEY DOESN’T KNOW THE LAW BUT I’AM BETTING HE TOLD THEM OF ALL THE VIOLATIONS BUT WHEN YOUR THE COUNCIL YOU DO WHAT YOU WANT THEY ARE THE LAW. JUST LIKE WITH THE CHAMBER MARLEN THOUGHT SHE WAS THE CHAMBER LEADER. I HAVE SAID MANY TIMES THE SCHOOL BOARD IS MORE POWERFUL THAN THE COUNCIL AND THIS WILL BE A ALL OUT WAR OVER POWER BANK ON IT. WE KNOW ANTHONY WANTS THE SCHOOL BOARD FOR EXPOSING HIS DAD. THE REASON COUNCIL DIDN’T ASK BEJERANO SR. TO RESIGN IS IT’S ANTHONY BEJARANO DAD THAT’S A NO BRAINER AND ANTHONY LOST ONE OF HIS NUMEROUS JOBS WITH LAW FIRMS OVER THIS MATTER. ANTHONY CAN’T EVEN KEEP A JOB LONG IN FACT CITY COUNCIL IS PROBALY HIS LONGEST JOB. BUT I WAS INFORMED HE HAS OPENED SHOP AT HIS HOUSE TO PRACTICE LAW OUT OF WOW THAT IS HOW ALL THE BIG ATTORNEYS GOT STARTED. I KNOW HE IS WAITING TIL BISNO BUILDS A BUSINESS/CONDO DOWNTOWN TO GET A FREEBIE ONE BUT HE IS NEVER GOING TO SEE THAT HAPPEN NOW. LET’S WAKE UP THE DA AND GET ALL THE BROWN ACTS COMMITED BY THE COUNCIL FILED NOW ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!!!!!!!!!!

  • ANTHONY BEN A JERK

    THIS IS WHY THE RECALL IS SO IMPORTANT TO MAKE HAPPEN YOU HAVE NUMEROUS VIOLATIONS OF THE BROWN ACT BY COUNCIL LETS REMEMBER THE FIRING OF POLICE CHIEF THAT COST THE CITY 75000 BECAUSE THE MORON CITY ATTORNEY DOESN’T KNOW THE LAW BUT I’AM BETTING HE TOLD THEM OF ALL THE VIOLATIONS BUT WHEN YOUR THE COUNCIL YOU DO WHAT YOU WANT THEY ARE THE LAW. JUST LIKE WITH THE CHAMBER MARLEN THOUGHT SHE WAS THE CHAMBER LEADER. I HAVE SAID MANY TIMES THE SCHOOL BOARD IS MORE POWERFUL THAN THE COUNCIL AND THIS WILL BE A ALL OUT WAR OVER POWER BANK ON IT. WE KNOW ANTHONY WANTS THE SCHOOL BOARD FOR EXPOSING HIS DAD. THE REASON COUNCIL DIDN’T ASK BEJERANO SR. TO RESIGN IS IT’S ANTHONY BEJARANO DAD THAT’S A NO BRAINER AND ANTHONY LOST ONE OF HIS NUMEROUS JOBS WITH LAW FIRMS OVER THIS MATTER. ANTHONY CAN’T EVEN KEEP A JOB LONG IN FACT CITY COUNCIL IS PROBALY HIS LONGEST JOB. BUT I WAS INFORMED HE HAS OPENED SHOP AT HIS HOUSE TO PRACTICE LAW OUT OF WOW THAT IS HOW ALL THE BIG ATTORNEYS GOT STARTED. I KNOW HE IS WAITING TIL BISNO BUILDS A BUSINESS/CONDO DOWNTOWN TO GET A FREEBIE ONE BUT HE IS NEVER GOING TO SEE THAT HAPPEN NOW. LET’S WAKE UP THE DA AND GET ALL THE BROWN ACTS COMMITED BY THE COUNCIL FILED NOW ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!!!!!!!!!!

  • lower case patrol

    if you look on your computer there is something call Cap Locks……TURN IF OFF!!!!

  • lower case patrol

    if you look on your computer there is something call Cap Locks……TURN IF OFF!!!!

  • Anonymouse

    Greg, sweetie, you need to relax. You’ll give yourself a heart attack. Have you taken your medication yet? Take the caps lock off ’cause otherwise it feels like you’re yelling at everybody. Besides, isn’t Springer on tv right about now? Go take a load off and watch tv for a while. I’m sure business down at your pawn shop is slow, so you don’t have to worry about a thing.

  • Anonymous

    Holy crap. Is this CAPSLOCK guy for real? How about a coherent thought.

  • REDALERT

    REDALERT! BROWN ACT VIOLATION!

    Wait, before people jump on the ever trendy accusation of a Brown Act Violation, how many have actually read the Brown Act?

    Let’s look at the preamble/intent of the Act:

    “In enacting this chapter, the Legislature finds and declares that the public commissions, boards and councilsand the other public agencies in this State exist to aid in the conduct of the people’s business. It is the intentof the law that their actions be taken openly and that their deliberations be conducted openly.”

    From the article it looks like the discussion over the letter happened in an OPEN meeting, and that the deliberations were conducted OPENLY. Not some closed, smoke filled back room. An OPEN meeting.

    That’s weird. I wonder what the rest of the Brown Act says. Like say, for example, what official “action” is defined as:

    “54952.6. Definition of action taken
    As used in this chapter, “action taken” means a collective decision made by a majority of the members of a legislative body, a collective commitment or promise by a majority of the members of a legislative body tomake a positive or a negative decision, or an actual vote by a majority of the members of a legislative bodywhen sitting as a body or entity, upon a motion, proposal, resolution, order or ordinance.”

    Now, the real question is the following: Is a letter asking board members to join a request for the resignation of a peer an “action.” It’s not a “motion, proposal, resolution, order or ordinance.” In fact, since the City Council has NO POWER over the District, it’s nothing more than a joint letter expressing an opinion on subject matter. Some might argue that this was official action, but I think reasonable minds could disagree.

    The Brown Act was put in place to make sure politicians didn’t pass laws or cut deals out of public view. Not only does this letter seem like something far less than “official action,” but it was discussed in in an open meeting.

    Finally, here is some more actual text from the Brown Act:

    “54959. Violation of Act; Criminal penalty
    Each member of a legislative body who attends a meeting of that legislative body where action is taken inviolation of any provision of this chapter, and where the member intends to deprive the public ofinformation to which the member knows or has reason to know the public is entitled under this chapter, is guilty of a misdemeanor.”

    Doesn’t sound like from the article any member of the Council “intended to deprive the public of information.”

    The Brown Act is one of the few pieces of legislation that a non-lawyer can actually read and understand. I suggest all of you read it for yourselves, rather than rely upon Tania and her expert, or Captain CAPSLOCK above.
    http://www.brownact.org/

    Politicians are rarely, if ever saints. But I’ve also found that they are not always devils either. Getting caught up in the small stuff, like this, keeps you from keeping a critical eye on the actions a body takes that are actually worth monitoring.

  • Anonymous

    How is this a brown act violation

  • Anonymous

    personally i do not care if you use cap locks or not but it does make the message harder to read. it seems to undercut your effectiveness and it does make you seem like you are yelling which can be off-putting to those you might be trying to persuade. just a suggestion.

  • Anonymous

    The problem with statutory quotes is that people tend to only quote the section of statute that supports the point they are hoping to make without referencing any of the exceptions that also appear among the same code sections. they want to demonstrate some sort of legal legitimacy without also carrying the burden of rhetorical honesty.

  • REDALERT

    That might be true if I also didn’t post a link to the entire text of the statute. Feel free to find impinge upon my rhetorical honesty at will.

  • Anonymous

    how could anyone “find impinge” upon you if we can’t even understand you?

  • REDALERT

    Whew! It’s a good thing my post was so poorly drafted, otherwise you would have been forced to actually read the Brown Act and “find” statutory language that “impinged” upon my rhetorical honesty.

    Talk about “carrying a burden.”

  • http://www.insidesocal.com/editors Edward

    It’s not just about “depriving the people of information,” but protecting the people’s right to comment before a decision is even made. As for the “expert,” Francke drafted the revisions of the Ralph M. Brown Act in 1994 and helped local resident Richard McKee win some 15 cases against violators of the act. He’s not ‘an’ expert. He is ‘the’ expert.