Last week I shared a couple of issues I was having with how the City Attorney conducted themselves. Within moments of hitting the publish button two amazingly coincidental revelations were communicated to me.
Remarkably, after languishing on the bottom of the City Attorney’s in basket for over nine months, the Records Retention Schedule update miraculously was returned to the City Manager… done. Reviewed.
Now it can move on to Council for approval. Good news.
The other news, regarding amending the Brea Municipal Code, was unfortunately bad. Apparently, just two weeks ago, the Council reversed it’s majority support to revise the code to eliminate both unilateral dismissal by the appointing Council member and the inherent threat of violating the Constitutional rights of due process when dismissing Commissioner and Committee members.
Everything was on track since late January. The City Manager reconfirmed he was keeping pressure on the City Attorney… four times over five months. The goal: to remove portions of the BMC that violate the Constitutional right to due process of Commissioners and Committee members.
These coincidences are anything but.
This abrupt about face, I believe, is the result of heavy lobbying by the City Attorney not to “let that damned blogger tell us what to do.” After all, lawyers by their very nature are adversarial. They’re groomed to instantly take issue with every challenge. Their win-at-all-costs mentality causes them to spend far more time formulating their rebuttals than listening to the opposition.
I can just picture it. As soon as “Poking Holes In Markman & Flower” was published the behind-the-scenes battle to discredit and dismiss “that geezer on social media” went into overdrive.
The underlying theme to the City Attorney’s objection was expressed thus, “The odds this problem might ever occur again or that we would face due process litigation even in the distant future is so limited it’s a waste of time and energy to address Mr. Clark’s concerns.”
Really? Please explain to me when it is okay not to do the right thing because it’s too difficult or because the odds of getting caught are so slim.
When is due process not due process?
Never. I believe the Constitutional protection of due process cannot be arbitrarily applied. The City Attorney also contends that due process only applies to city employees. If the founding fathers included a fair number of HR professionals, maybe that theory would hold water.
Well Mr. Markman, it doesn’t.
While there are due process issues associated with property rights, in this case retirement benefits, the violations I’m talking about have nothing to do with property.
I pointed out clearly to Council the procedural and substantive violations triggered by the BMC, specifically as it relates to prior notice, means of appeal and definition of duties. The BMC, in defining how a Commission or Committee member may be dismissed, does not include any provision for proper notice, a pathway for appeal nor does it define a single duty. No job description.
Here’s my challenge.
My closing question to Mayor Hupp and MPT Parker, when we met on January 9, went something like this…
“Are you telling me that, when I raised my hand and took the oath of office to support the Constitutions of the United States of America and the State of California (no mention of the Brea Municipal Code by the way) that in the same breath I gave up all rights they provide?”
I’m still waiting for an answer. I’d interpreted their willingness to task the City Attorney with drafting amendments confirmation of their rejection of the idea… that civically minded folks would even consider giving up their Constitutional rights.
I know more than a few Commissioners and Committee members who might not have been so quick to raise their hands… to volunteer their time and energy in community service. I suspect many other Breans, considering applying for an appointment, will reconsider.
We should care about process and the rule of law.
This is a request to Council to reject the adversarial nonsense coming from the City Attorney and to put the amendments recommended on the General Session agenda in the very near future. You knew it was the right thing to do before…