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Brown Act Demand to Santa Cruz City Council: ReDo Meetings You've Illegally Closed
by Robert Norse
Friday Oct 30th, 2020 11:30 AM
Letter to Mayor Justin Cummings demanding his City Council follow the law and reconsider all actions taken at the 10-27-20 City Council meeting given their lack of public access.
Yesterday, I sent a letter to Mayor Justin Cummings and Bonnie Bush (the City Administrator/Clerk) demanding they follow the law and schedule a new meeting reconsider each of the items passed at City Council last Tuesday, given the inaudibility of the Zoom and Community TV broadcasts at key points.

Additionally, the requirement that people have access to computers or phones in order to view and/or participate violates the Brown Act. It's particularly impactful for poor and unhoused folks who do not have these options available, particularly with the libraries and other places closed down due to the COVID-19 crisis.

City Manager Martin Bernal has essentially signed edicts in the last month raising tensions and creating problems for the most vulnerable people outside. His orders have fenced off areas where people had been eating and survival camping and have authorized further fencing, exclusion, and jailing of "violators".

At the Special Session of City Council yesterday (10-29), Bernal reportedly sought even more power to set priorities. He has never had a public appraisal and examination--with the only consideration being behind closed doors at Closed Sessions of the City Council. That meeting was also conduct without real and clear public transmission and/or access, so I sent a second letter with a demand that that meeting as well be redone to allow for the public to hear/watch the meeting and comment where appropriate.

Shuffling these meetings into Zoom behind locked Council doors prompts community outrage, as it did Tuesday, as well as denying basic rights to everyone. It also makes for bad government.


THE BROWN ACT DEMANDS FOR REDRESS IN TWO LETTERS

Justin,

Because of the City's failure to open up yesterday's Special Study Session to public presence and participation in an in-person venue, again in violation of CA Govt. Code 54953(a), I amend to my prior demand, the addtional demand that the 10-29 meeting's discussion be repeated with allowance for the public to both hear and speak on the item as required by the Brown Act.

Please respond ASAP whether you will schedule meetings to redo the October 25 and 27th sessions, held in violation of state law.

I restate my earlier letter below for your convenient reference.

Thanks,
Robert Norse


From: Robert Norse
Sent: Thursday, October 29, 2020 10:32 PM
To: Bonnie Bush Subject: Brown Act Complaint and Demand

Justin,

Because of the denial of public access to the meeting, both physical and distant, the actions taken during the October 27 meeting must be considered null and void. All agenda items must be repeated with adequate notice and access in a venue that allows public access as required by the Brown Act.

A review of the Community TV broadcast will show that the discussion of the Council members, presentations by staff members, and input from the public, repeatedly failed to be audibly available to those watching on Channel 25.

Continuing to conduct meetings by Zoom that the public can't even hear violates the Brown Act that requires the public be allowed to observe and hear the City Council meeting. At various times in the last several hours, the listening public has not been able to hear either public testimony or Council comment.

The entire Council meeting needs to be repeated with actual physical access to the meeting, by providing, if necessary a more spacious and audible venue such as the Civic Auditorium.

The lack of public access during this meeting is a clear violation of "CA. Gov. Code § 54953(a)". which provides that "All meetings of the legislative body of a local agency shall be open and public, and all persons shall be permitted to attend any meeting of the legislative body of a local agency, except as otherwise provided in this chapter."

This difficulty has been repeatedly brought to your notice by members of the public, requesting that the meeting be held in an open and audible venue--as is the case for County Board of Supervisors.

Given the fact that you've been repeatedly advised by community members of the inadequacy of the Zoom practice as well as the constant interruptions in Community TV as well as your persistent failure to arrange public access either at the usual Council chambers or across the street at the Civic Auditorium, I demand you follow the law and correct the 54953(a) violations in a timely manner.

Please reply ASAP whether you intend to do so.

Thanks,
Robert Norse
(831-423-4833)

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