The Altadena Town Council's ethics committee voted last night to recommend to the entire body that councilman Herbert Simmons be ousted from office.
Simmons' website, altadenans, prints a letter he received from the committee, which reads:
The committee charged with hearing the issues regarding your alleged violations of Altadena Town Council Bylaws and Ethics standards convened on [11/5/09] and voted in majority for your removal from the Altadena Town Council.
Of eight designated members there were six in attendance constituting a quorum.
Discussion and voting consumed two hours and forty three minutes commencing at 6pm. The committee meeting incorporated and weighed Roberts Rules of Order, Bylaws of ATC and ATC ethical standards.
This vote is an advisory to the Town Council and not a finality of the matter.
A two thirds quorum of Town Council members must now convene in a closed session hearing as to final disposition of this matter at a date and time to be determined by the Executive Committee. Your attendance is requested so that you may offer your rebuttal to these charges.
On his website, Simmons fired back with: "It is now time for the community to step up, let your voices be heard, and demand answers."
The ethics committee -- which has not until now even said publicly that it is investigating Simmons -- was convened to look into charges that Simmons was misrepresenting that the town council was participating in his private Student and Teacher of the Month awards. Simmons has said that it was a misunderstanding, altho' we have spoken to several business owners solicited by Simmons who said he made his membership on the council very clear and that that it was their understanding that it was a town council award. Simmons has previously admitted in an email that he was reprimanded by county supervisor Michael Antonovich's office for misrepresenting that the supervisor was also sponsoring his awards.
The next step is for the council as a whole to consider the committee's recommendations, probably at its Nov. 17 regular meeting.
In an email confirming the letter on Simmons' website, councilmember Alice Wessen said:
Sadly, Mr Simmons continues to violate the confidentiality of this process.
Closed sessions for these specific kinds of matters are allowed under ATC's bylaws, Roberts Rules and the Brown Act. In fact they are required under all those processes, and there are strict rules of confidentiality. Unless each participant in the discussion is confident that what is said in a closed session will not be disclosed to anyone outside the closed session, it is likely that council members will not:
• Give complete information;
• Express true opinions; and
• Ask all of the questions needed to make good decisions.
His continued disclosure of confidential information is a violation of any of the processes that govern legislative bodies.
Committee chair Jamie Bissner also responded:
As you know, these meetings are conducted in private to permit the committee to determine what is factual and conduct our debate and eventual ruling based only on what is verified so as to protect Mr. Simmons from public disclosures of unfounded allegations, rumor and hearsay.
In my opinion it is regrettable that Mr. Simmons has, since the inception of these matters, chosen to air the issues on his website without full disclosure of all the facts that lead to, and have perpetuated, this time consuming, non productive and difficult task the committee undertook last night.Those of us comprising the committee look forward to resolution of this matter so that we may all focus our time and resources on addressing the town's real issues and problems. We want to recapture our purpose in volunteering.Thanks again for your balance and all you do in disseminating the issues in our community.
We sent Simmons an email requesting comment, which had not been answered as of press time.