Angry Residents Confront Council
'We elected you, and you violated that trust.'-Jamie Wallace, speaking at Monday's Council meeting
July 5, 2018
In an apparent effort to stave-off possible action by the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Public Integrity Unit of alleged Brown Act violations, the Culver City Council has re-agenized a vote for the position of vice mayor and a discussion of the Council policy on mayoral rotation.
The Council Chambers Monday were packed. Mayor Thomas Small, who believes that members of the Council have done nothing wrong, limited residents who wanted to publicly address the issue at the meeting to only two minutes each at the podium.
Allegations that the Culver Council violated the state's Brown Act stems from the current Council's recent decision to sidestep longstanding protocol and instead name the liberal Meghan Sahli-Wells as vice-mayor instead of Goran Eriksson, its only moderate. The decision would essentially prevent Eriksson from serving as mayor before his elected term is over.
No public discussion was held. Critics claim that was a violation of the Brown Act, which guarantees the public's right to attend and participate in meetings of local legislative bodies. The majority of the City Council rejects those charges.
Former Councilmember and May Ed Wolkowitz, who followed the decades-old protocol when he was in office, told the sitting Council that "It'd be hard to remember so much discourse before your seats were warm."
The evening was filled with half-truths and outright fabrications, some of the attendees said.
"We elected you, and you violated that trust," Culver resident Jaime Wallace complained.
Former Mayor Alan Corlin pointed out in his letter [on an inside page of this issue] that given the state of affairs on the current Council, neither Gary Silbiger nor Steve Rose-arguably two of the most popular publicly elected officials in Culver's recent history--would ever had become mayor. But, by following longstanding protocol, both were elected to the position on a 5-0 vote even though Silbiger leaned toward the political left and Rose to the right.
In all, 30 residents spoke passionately on the issue.
"Do what you can to unify the City, not divide," local community business leader and former chair of the Culver City Chamber of Commerce Mike Hamill admonished the Council.
The position of Culver mayor is chosen by the Council itself, rather than a public vote. Culver resident Paula Amezola said the decision should instead be made by the voting public.
Not all of the public speakers were against the current Council. Resident Carlene Brown supported their decision, citing its "super majority" and Martin Luther King Jr.
Vice Mayor Sahli-Wells, who benefited from the Council's decision to ignore the longstanding protocol, complained that she was bring targeted by the "alt-right" --a pejorative term for those who are politically conservative.
A response from one of the Council's "alt-right' opponents is also on the inside pages of this issue.