Although it was a shorter-than-usual City Council meeting, there was still plenty of conflict to go around Monday night.
A councilman grilled the city attorney for allegedly creating her own projects to bill the city for, the mayor countered that the councilman was “bullying the staff” and a councilwoman fired back that the mayor was the “biggest bully” she had ever seen.
At issue: Should the city code be changed so three votes are required to skip the full reading of proposed laws, rather than requiring a unanimous vote to skip?
To some council members and public speakers, the item was a sign that the council majority – Mayor Troy Edgar, Mayor Pro Tem Marilynn Poe and Councilman Ken Stephens – were trying to remove a right of the minority (Councilman Warren Kusumoto and Councilwoman Gerri Graham-Mejia) to have the full text of laws read.
Council members eventually voted 3-2 to reject the proposed change but only after a contentious discussion.
Graham-Mejia said keeping the law as is allowed fairness to both the minority and majority. She said the majority was trying to squeeze out the minority.
“This is your majority at work,” Graham Mejia said. “I personally have a sick feeling in my stomach for the behavior here tonight.”
In conrast, Poe said she felt the three-vote requirement would make council meetings more efficient.
“It is cumbersome to read all the words in the ordinance,” Poe said. “I read this (item), and I didn’t see any problem."
Poe said she felt the disagreements over the item were “really silly.”
“This kind of thing just shouldn’t happen we’re here to do the business, not nitpick about these kind of things.”
In the past, the Los Alamitos council has been divided 3 to 2 on many issues.
Kusumoto questioned City Attorney Sandra Levin about why she put the item on the agenda, and why she hadn’t done something similar when she was a councilmember on the Culver City City Council.
“You’re not over there,” Kusumoto said, “You’re not there as a citizen fixing that code.”
Kusumoto accused Levin of creating work to bill the city. “You took it on yourself to bill us for time to create a report to change our ordinance,” Kusumoto said.
Levin responded that she had asked the city manager if this was something she should look into and the city manager OKed it.
Edgar said he didn't "really appreciate (Kusumoto) bullying the staff.”
“If you don’t agree with this just vote 'No,'” Edgar said. “There’s no need to take on the staff.”
Graham-Mejia said she found it “funny” that Edgar accused Kusumoto of being a bully.
“You are the biggest bully I have ever seen,” Graham-Mejia told Edgar
During public comments, Dave Emerson, owner of the Let’s Fix Los Al Blog, said he felt this was a way for the majority to "disenfranchise" the minority.
“This further divides our community, and you guys should be able to find common ground,” Emerson said.
City Council candidate Richard Murphy said he supported keeping the code the way it was.
“If they feel strongly enough for the reading, I think they should be granted that option,” Murphy said.
The final vote was 3-2, with Graham-Mejia, Kusumoto and Stephens in favor and Poe and Edgar casting dissenting votes.
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