What’s going on at City Hall?

The city council meeting on July 9th was full of happiness, turmoil, confusion & accusations. No one was silent this time everyone had a bone to pick or a issue to iron out.

robertsonMike Story

What we know is that there were a couple of HOT BUTTON issues on tap that night. It began with two consent calendar items. One was to move the public comment section from the end of the meeting to the beginning. This drew little controversy but did raise questions on what was the thought process. This item was placed by Councilman Joe Baca Jr. and he said his reasons for the change was to allow the citizens the ability to voice their concerns without having to sit through an entire meeting especially when they went long.

People had concerns with this move because many times the subject matter of a community members statement could change after hearing the way our elected officials act in the course of the meeting. Mr. Baca said he didn’t see any reason to not allow someone to defer to the end of the meeting if they so choose and this move in no way would eliminate the communities’ ability to comment on separate TAB items. This was only affecting the public comment section when you are speaking on an item not on the AGENDA.

Mr Joe Baca Jr. did a excellent job explaining his move and people were allowed to come up and speak their issue on the Consent Calendar item.

The other Consent Calendar item that was of contention was Mayor Deborah Robertson’s move to REDUCE the time you could speak from five minutes to three minutes. We covered this on our last post and you guys responded in a big way and you were heard. The problem was Mayor Robertson pulled this item at the last minute. This move didn’t allow the public the ability to speak on the issue.

I found the move by Mayor Robertson to be damaging to her ability to gain the public’s trust. Joe Baca Jr. was simply moving forward on a issue that multiple council members had spoke openly about. After we wrote about this issue a couple weeks ago a firestorm of comments proceeded. None in support of the Mayors idea that APPEARED to be a move to silence the community. The statement she found most damming confused me. It wasn’t people calling for a do over, it wasn’t accusations that our elected officials over the years have overlooked the decline Rialto has gone thru. She was most upset over the accusation that Ed Scott the contender she beat out for the job of mayor said that she was mirroring a move done by John Longville when he was mayor of Rialto. Ed Scott simply said that Longville ran her campaign and implyed that he was advising the mayor on these types of matters.

Joe Baca Jr made it very clear that he had nothing to do with the time limit restrictions and didn’t agree with the move at all. Mayor Robertson never gave a clear answer to why she had this placed on the consent calendar by denied it had anything to do with silencing the public. What she did next made that statement appear false.

Four people singed up to speak on the consent calendar. Richard Royce, Terry Thompson, June Hayes and David Phillips prior to coming up we were informed we could only speak on the Public Comment item and not on the time limit issue because it was pulled from consideration. Richard Royce deferred his comments, Terry Thompson spoke and seemed thrown because he probably was expecting to speak on both issues, June Hayes & David Phillips both spoke and were not at all happy that they were being silenced. Then council began speaking about the time limit issue and June Hayes taught me a valuable lesson. That opened the door for our comment to be heard and we were allowed to re approach the dais and address council on this issue.

What was eye opening was the breach of the Brown Act. The Brown Act covers meetings of public bodies must be “open and public,” actions may not be secret, and action taken in violation of open meetings laws may be voided. (§§ 54953(a), 54953(c), 54960.1(d))

What was done in reference to this action was Mayor Robertson tried to POLL the council? You see the Brown Act has rules where more than two council members cannot discuss matters concerning the public good except at an open meeting attended by the public. What Mayor Robertson did and this is from her own lips was have the City Administrator ask each members opinion on this issue and the City Administrator actually admitted that he did just that. Mayor Robertson moved forward with this action because she received word from the City Administrator that there were no objections. She didn’t entertain pulling the item until YOU the COMMUNITY blasted social media and sent emails and made calls sending a clear message that this move had ZERO support in the community.

This is the second time Mayor Robertson has directed city staff to do something that was against the proper decorum of an elected official. Where is the investigation? What is our city attorney being paid $600,000 a year to do if he isn’t looking into this?

What do you think, should our city be allowed to run like this? Comment here or go to www.facebook.com/rialtonow and join the conversation.


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