|A legal option currently unavailable to Sierra Madre?|
Oct 22 - Tattler: Elaine: A Public Records Request. Yes, we do love them!
Since everything in the matter I am asking for here is settled and done, I would like all of the information Sierra Madre City Hall has associated with what is described in the article attached below. All and everything, please. I believe this all came down in December of 2013.
The link to the article I am concerned about can be found here.
If you could send me the results of my request electronically I would appreciate it. We really do need to go lighter on the trees. I would be glad to pay for the scanning of any meeting minutes. Just as long as nothing is blacked out, of course.
The purpose of this, so you know, is to find out exactly how Sierra Madre's "Sex Offender Ordinance" was, to use the slang, put into mothballs. And how exactly the City Council at that time agreed this was the right thing to do. I'm interested in how that conversation went, and what led to the final decision.
Not necessarily saying it was the wrong thing to do, mind you. I just believe that since this is old news the residents of Sierra Madre have a right to get the details. Especially in light of what came shortly after with the somewhat mysterious reappearances of certain registered sex offenders in town.
Oct 22 Elaine Aguilar: Hello John
I wanted to confirm receipt of your public records request. I will be responding in accordance with the California Public Records Act and will make the documents available for your review at City Hall. The documents will be available on Monday, October 27th during our regular business hours.
Thank you, Elaine
Oct 22 Tattler: Elaine - Because of my work schedule I will not be able to hang out at City Hall to peruse your papers. Please send me the minutes of these meetings by email per my original request. As I stated, I will be more than happy to pay the costs of scanning, etc.
Thanks! John Crawford
Oct 25 Tattler: Elaine - Should I assume you have decided not to comply with my PRA request?
Oct 27 Elaine Aguilar: Hello John – This is the response to your October 22nd Public Records request and the email you sent me on Saturday, October 25th.
As indicated in my October 22nd email, the documents you requested were available today, however, I would be glad to accommodate your request that the documents be PDF’s and emailed after payment has been made. Please let me know if I can be of any further assistance.
Thank you, Elaine
Oct 27 Tattler: Do you have an amount in mind?
Oct 28 Elaine Aguilar: Good Morning John – the amount was in the letter that was attached to my email. The amount is $4.50.
Oct 28 Tattler: The cash is in the mail.
Oct 28 Elaine Aguilar: Ok – thank you!
Nov 4 Elaine Aguilar: Hi John – Just wanted to let you know that as of today’s mail we haven’t received your envelope with the payment for the documents.
I will send you another email tomorrow – to let you know if your envelope has arrived. (Of course, as soon as the envelope and payment arrives, I will forward the documents to your email.)
Thank you, Elaine
Nov 4 Tattler: That is odd. After your last email I stuck a $5 bill in an envelope and dropped it in the mail. Like 5 minutes later.
The envelope I used had a circular logo in the upper lefthand corner with a logo on it. Nothing like that showed up?
Let me know. John
Nov 4 Elaine Aguilar: Hi John – We found your envelope! It arrived in today’s mail. (My mistake – when I sent you the email at 1:09, I thought we’d already picked up today’s mail from the Post Office – but we hadn’t yet retrieved and sorted the mail.)
Here is the PDF of the documents you requested. Please send me a quick “OK” so I know that the PDF made it by any filters you may have on your email. If there is a different email account you’d like me to send this to, I can resend it.
Please let me know if there is anything else you need.
Nov 4 Tattler: Elaine - This isn't what I asked for. A lot of this is legal boilerplate and, while interesting at times, not really to the point. My concern is with the internal city govt mix, in particular the interaction between the City Atty and City Council on this matter in closed session.
How exactly was it decided to fold so quickly and, apparently, without a peep of opposition? Who pushed for this? Why was this sex offender ordinance put into mothballs without ever once notifying the public?
Those questions will be answered in the meeting minutes I believe. It is why I need to see them.
What I requested were the closed session minutes, and those were not sent. I believe I was quite specific. This legal matter is closed and settled, and therefore anything involved with it needs to be made public. After all, it is public business, which they paid the freight to conduct.
I am entitled to receive them under state law.
Once again, please send me the closed session minutes pertaining to the documents that you sent me today. Thank you!
Nov 5 Elaine Aguilar: John, You have received the documents that are required to be provided pursuant to State law; the City has no additional public record documents or closed session minutes. I, the City Attorney and/or City Council are not permitted to disclose any Closed Session discussions; doing so would violate the law. And communications between the City Attorney and the City Council regarding litigation is and remains confidential, attorney-client privileged. The only closed session minutes the City has are the minutes that were included in the copies of the documents previously provided.
I can share that the City's receipt of the summons, that you were provided a copy of, resulted in the settlement, which you were also provided a copy of. I can also say that the Council's decision to settle the litigation was unanimous, now that the settlement is final. Additionally, you may have heard that the sex offender residency (“Jessica’s Law”) case, In re Taylor, is scheduled to be argued in the Supreme Court the beginning of December 2014. Hopefully, cities will receive good guidance from the Supreme Court by the end of the year or early next year.
Thank you, Elaine
Nov 5 Tattler: Fair enough. Thanks for the insights.
One more question for you today. When was the deactivation (is that the word?) of the sex offender ordinance first shared with the public?
Nov 6 Elaine Aguilar: Hello John.
The Settlement Agreement, which was signed on December 10, 2013, resulted in the City's agreement to, "stay enforcement of the City's Ordinance" until such time as the California Supreme Court has ruled in the matter of In Re Taylor, as that case is expected to resolve the issue of whether residency restrictions applied to registered sex offenders are valid and if so, to which registered sex offenders such residence restrictions apply.
The City's ordinance has not been "deactivated"--there is simply no enforcement of Jessica's Law by the District Attorney until the California Supreme Court rules on the In Re: Taylor case. Meanwhile, the City retained the authority to legislate on this issue in the future, including the authority to amend the City's Ordinance. The City also retained the authority to enforce any such amended version of the Ordinance in full. This was explained to the community recently by both the Chief of Police and the City Attorney at a City Council meeting.
Additionally, the City Council has directed staff to notify the public when a new Sierra Madre registrant is added to the Megan's Law website, so the public can be more quickly informed--this was also explained to the public by the Chief of Police at a Council meeting.
I hope that you are aware that the City Council also sent letters to our State and Federal legislators urging loopholes to be closed in the current legislation, and urging new legislation if the Supreme Court invalidates Jessica Law residency restrictions.
As evidenced by the article you included in your Public Records Request, it appears that that at least one article appeared on December 15, 2013.
Thank you, Elaine
Nov 6 Tattler: Thanks. Makes sense.