A promised uneventful meeting was waylaid by a motion from councilman Herbert Simmons to amend the council's bylaws to comply with the Brown Act. The Act requires and regulates open meetings for California government bodies.
Councilman Okorie Ezieme, who seconded the motion, later backed away from it, saying that they all needed time to digest the information in the Brown Act.
Several councilmembers said that they'd previously had a briefing from an attorney that said that the council, as an unpaid advisory body, was not covered by the Brown Act. It was also pointed out that there was a procedure to amend the bylaws -- it could not be done in one meeting by vote.
in addition, abiding by the Brown Act opened councilmembers to civil or criminal prosecution if the act was violated, some councilmembers said.
Last month, the council went into a closed session to decide whether to launch an ethics investigation into Simmon's activities. Simmons has been soliciting sponsorship and donations for a "student/teacher of the month" project, and there was some question as to whether his identification as a councilman in some of his materials and other representations violated the council's ethics rules. An investigating committee was formed, but has not yet released a report.
In the end, the council put up for a vote whether to discuss the motion next month, and it went down to defeat, with only Simmons and Ezieme voting for it.
That wasn't the end of it, as later Simmons insisted, "we have violated the Brown Act in several different ways ..." to which councilman Jamie Bissner replied, "We can't violate it if we're not under it."
FIre and safety occupied much of the other council business:
- The council discussed Altadena's response to the Station Fire, and the role of blogs and newsgroups in getting information out. Councilmember Alice Wessen, who is also president of the Chaney-Millard fire safe council and runs the Chaney Trail listserv, said that, in the concern of the neighbors and sharing of information, "I saw the best of Altadena that week."
- The council also decided to write a letter or come up with a certificate to honor first responders.
- The council is also looking into getting ATC shirts for members to identify them in public meetings, such as the recent briefing with the Governor over the Station Fire, as La Canada city councilmembers had spiffy shirts and ATC members did not.
- Sheriff Capt. Roosevelt Blow mentioned the community meeting on burglaries on Wed., Oct. 7, 7 PM at Daniel Webster Elementary School, 2101 E. Washington in Pasadena; and CERT training at Loma Alta Park Oct. 13-17.
Assemblyman Anthony Portantino gave his "state of the state" address, highlighting his office's efforts through the year and bills he had sponsored, and gave us an award (above)