Monday, November 17, 2014

California Public Records Act Request For Information On The Suspension Of Sierra Madre's Sex Offender Ordinance

A legal option currently unavailable to Sierra Madre?
(Mod: A few weeks back I decided to try and figure out how Sierra Madre's Sex Offender Ordinance was legally suspended by City Hall. This what done by the City Council in late 2013, and in private session with the City Attorney. For whatever reason the results of that momentous occasion had never been made available to the public. Ironically, the tip-off for this was an article on the California Reform Sex Offender Laws (CA RSOL), a group that legally represents registered sex offenders in California. It was CA RSOL who challenged Sierra Madre's Sex Offender ordinance in court, and won. This is also the group that is currently challenging Jessica's Law in the California Supreme Court …  I'm breaking this down into two parts. Today will be the e-mail exchange between myself and Sierra Madre's City Manager Elaine Aguilar. Tuesday I'll post some of the documents themselves. Elaine was very forthcoming with the information I requested. I did not get the closed session meeting minutes I asked for because apparently they do not exist. I think the following e-mail trail will tell you why they do not. If not, I'll share my opinions tomorrow.)

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.

Thanks, Elaine

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.

Sincerely, Elaine

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!

John Crawford

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. 
http://sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

42 comments:

  1. Am I getting this right? The way Sierra Madre announced that this city's sex offender ordinance was suspended is on the California Reform Sex Offender Laws website? Is this how we usually get information out?

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    Replies
    1. It is sad to think that you can learn more there than you can from our public officials.

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    2. That is completely unfair, 7:10 Chief Giannone is going to release the findings of the Matheson investigation to the public any day now.

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    3. I hate to break in, but I was just watching Nancy Walsh's video and I have a question. Are there any puppies left?

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    4. So, many months after AWest moved back to his lovely home on Mira Monte, between Baldwin and Turtle Park, the city thought it would be a good idea to tell? And for all those months before....

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    5. 7:10 - It's a best practice.

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    6. I agree with 7:10, and have a hard time understanding the lack of action on the city's part BEFORE the sick man got back to town. Who knows what he did or what danger kids were in before anyone knew to avoid his part of the street?

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  2. Why won't the LA County District Attorney prosecute these cases? Sierra Madre can't prosecute so it appears that LA County is now a sex offender sanctuary??

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    1. Generally law enforcement types hate these child predators as much as we all do.
      But thanks to that nightmare Bellucci and her 'registered citizens' Orwellian speak, the matter is in the California Supreme Court.
      I don't think the DA can do anything until Bellucci is roundly, deservedly, defeated.

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    2. The Jessica's Law case before the State Supreme Court is the ballgame.

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  3. No...not LA County, just Sierra Madre.

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    1. And aren't there a few other cities that were Bellucci's targets? They should have joined together and fought off this insanity.

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    2. In California child sex offenders are now viewed as civil rights victims. I bet Martin Luther King and Cesar Chavez are rolling in their graves.

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    3. tsk tsk 8:23, it's "registered citizens" we're talking about.
      Manners, please.

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    4. If LA County isn't prosecuting those cases, it makes LA County as sanctuary for these dirtballs.

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    5. The residents have to be their own protection, and keep their eyes open for this guy whenever there are kids around.

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    6. He is into cameras....
      Like Robert W. Matheson.

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  4. Thanks for pursuing this, Tattler.
    It's maddening to know that violent man has the freedom to go pretty much wherever he wants - as long as he keeps 100 feet from child. Want to bet that's not enforced?

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  5. John Crawford needs to get a life and stop harassing and annoying City Hall for his ridiculous requests. Elaine has more pertinent things to accomplish in her day than to respond to JC's dialogue. Good grief John.

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    1. I get a big kick out of Crawford's sign off:
      Thanks!

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    2. It did bring in $4.50. That went right into the General Fund I believe.

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    3. In case you are not aware, the Sex Offender Ordinance was not rescinded, it was misplaced. As a matter of fact, they are searching the Duty Man House for it this afternoon. Somebody thought they might have left it there. Volunteers are being asked to pitch in.

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    4. I hope they find it.

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    5. I guess it all depends on your priorities, 12:23.

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    6. Or pertinences.

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    7. 12:23, just what is more important for the City to be concerned about than childrens' safety? The EENER commission? Jeepers.

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    8. Selling real estate. Which obviously 12:23 isn't doing today.

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    9. Mother of four young childrenNovember 17, 2014 at 5:42 PM

      Thank you for your input Awest. Move along folks, nothing to see here.

      I personally think what John is asking supercedes all other business at City Hall this week. Who made the decision to not tell the residents about the City's decision to not to inform the good people of Sierra Madre that the laws they thought protected their children were not longer being enforced? I want to know...

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    10. 5:42, I'm so glad you posted that. It seems like the community outrage has been mollified out of existence. Like the chief told everybody a little story and now everything is fine.
      It isn't. Anyone really believe that Matheson and Awest are no threat?

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    11. If the truth mattered in Sierra Madre city hall would be far better staffed.

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  6. The city attorney and council caved to the worst kind of bullying that lawyers can do, and made us all a target.

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    1. But why talk about that when there is a new flavor of ice cream at Mother Moo?

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    2. Did they ever find that stolen cow? I didn't think so.

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  7. Cripes, you guys--this is throughout all of California. We need to find out what other cities are planning to do or are doing in the meanwhile.

    Pair seeks repeal of sex-offender laws in California - San ...
    www.sbsun.com/.../special-report-pair-seeks-rep...
    The San Bernardino Sun
    Oct 11, 2014 - A crusading civil rights attorney and a registered sex offender have partnered in a legal battle that has prompted dozens of California ... Six other cities have voluntarily suspended enforcement of their ordinances, while ordinances in ... on all registered sex offenders within the state of California and their ...

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    1. How many of those cities did not inform their constituents that their sex offender ordinance had been dumped in the trash?

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    2. "Crusading civil rights attorney" sounds so much better than "Advocate for criminals who commit sexual crimes against children"

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    3. It is political correctness taken to its most illogical extreme. They need to come up with a psychological name for this so it can be diagnosed as a mental illness.

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    4. As disgusting as their crimes are, and recognizing the lifetime of scarring they can leave on others, sex offenders, like other convicts still have civil rights after they've served their court-assigned sentencing. Putting a big sign might in their yard make the cops look dutiful and neighbors feel safe but I'm curious to know just how effective he old-fashioned 'scarlet letter' form of punishment is. Does anyone have any stats? I don't think it's a matter of 'political correctness' but rather the correct form of tracking and (hopefully) rehabilitating wrongdoers.

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    5. It's well known that these guys DO NOT rehabilitate.
      Or have you got any stats on how many of them do.

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    6. Where does Santa and the Easter Bunny fit into this scenario?

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  8. Thank you, John Crawford, for keeping us informed. And for being outraged by our paid employees who try to keep the truth from us to protect their own backsides. Thank you for being indignant when a wigged out crazy lady tries to make us a part of her vendetta against legally elected councilmembers. Just thanks for being you.

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