Letter snafu a violation of transparency

Photo/Robert Porter: The San Bernardino City Council during their February 21 meeting.
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“The San Bernardino City Council invites the public to comment regarding a proposed letter to be sent to President Donald Trump in hopes of receiving federal assistance with addressing crime and illicit drug use.”

If you had known this, would you have attended the Council meeting to voice your concerns?

On February 13, Mayor Carey Davis, the City Council, and other officials drafted, signed, and sent a letter to Trump that asked to address violence and drug use, specifically marijuana.

Yet this took place without prior citizen notice.

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As a result, dozens of residents confronted the city leadership at the March 6 council meeting to denounce the city’s actions, and now officials have recommended to rescind their letter due to a potential Brown Act violation.

The Brown Act, named after former California Assemblymember Ralph Brown, was enacted in 1953 to ensure public attendance and participation with local legislative matters. Specifically, the law prohibits any secret meetings, private workshops, or study sessions held by political bodies.

In recent months, San Bernardino has seemingly received a textbook education on the Brown Act due to its intricate proceedings with bankruptcy and charter reform. Should not our leaders know better? Why would the city think it could pull the wool over the citizens’ eyes?

According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, approximately 60 percent of San Bernardino’s residents are of Latino descent, and by 2020 this population is projected to go up to 66 percent.

Many immigrant advocates fear that any potential help from the government puts the city’s possible sanctuary status in jeopardy. It is reasonable that a large part of the population would have this concern.

The letter snafu was no accident. The public’s trust was violated by San Bernardino’s leadership. But more than that, the Brown Act overlook showed complete disregard for all citizens, regardless of how they may feel about current political issues.

We’ve made it out of the ashes of bankruptcy–only to run into the same issues of transparency that put us in that dire situation in the first place.

San Bernardino’s social and economic stability relies on the solid guidance and direction of a transparent, public-service body.

It serves as yet another reminder of who city officials do bidding for. Leaders must not make rash decisions; the public trust and proper disclosure should always be at the forefront when doing city business–matters that are never final until the public has had it’s say.

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