Chairperson Jaramillo called the meeting to order at 6:34 PM.
Jo Ann Brannock, Ph.D.
Linda R. Morad, Housing Programs Supervisor
Sylvia M. Chavez, Housing Programs Assistant
Guillermina Torrico, Clerical Assistant III
Barbara J. Leon
Ms. Morad clarified that the reason Barbara Leons name was not called was due to the fact that her term with the Committee had been terminated by her Council Appointee, Mayor Nelson. She indicated that as a result, the Committee is short another member in addition to still attempting to fill the Southeast member representative position. This position has been advertised twice without a response. Thus, there are only seven members at this point. However, Member Elliotts second term will end on June second, thereby creating an additional opening to be filled in the Southeast area.Public Comment (Roll Call)
Chairperson Jaramillo opened up the meeting for Public Comment. Ms. Leon discussed her dismissal.
Committee Member Elliott stated that he was unaware that a City Council Member could dismiss a member because he does not agree with what the Committee Member is expressing. Ms. Morad replied that this provision is part of the new Council assignments. Member Elliot expressed disappointment in that this creates an environment in which the Committee is merely reflecting what the council/sponsor recommends; no independence. Ms. Morad stated that to her knowledge, members could still have their own vote.
Committee Member Moreno-Sandy asked whether or not this situation was in conflict with the Brown Act. Ms. Morad stated that the Council can dismiss a Committee Member without providing a reason. Committee Member Elliot expressed that he was unaware that City Council could terminate someone because they did not reflect their same points of view.
Committee Member Moreno-Sandy reiterated her concern that this situation could be in conflict with the Brown Act. She thought that this Act was in place to prevent these types of circumstances. She said that this is exactly what these acts are in place for so that they cannot move someone out that is not of their opinion to replace them with someone that will match their opinion. The whole idea of the Brown Act is to prevent these types of occurrences.
Committee Member Moreno-Sandy asked if Ms. Leon can fight it. Committee Member Elliot asked if she would like to fight it. Ms. Leon responded that the reason she would like to fight it is because this can happen to anybody. She said that after numerous calls she has never been given any reasons for the dismissal. She understood the difference of opinion, but was under the impression that we were in a democracy. Ms. Leon continued, stating that the phone number on the letter was not Mayor Nelsons phone number, but was the number to City Clerk Beverley White. City Clerk White was unable to give Ms. Leon any insight as to the reason for termination. Ms. Leon stated that she then spoke to Mayor Nelsons secretary and explained that she wanted to speak with Mayor Nelson to advise him that she would be at tonights CDCC Meeting and wished to have the reasons for the dismissal provided in writing.
Ms. Leon said that Mayor Nelson left a message at 1:54 PM after numerous attempts to try to speak to him personally. She shared a summary of the voicemail message where Mayor Nelson provided the following explanations/statement:
Robert Elliott remarked that the purpose of this meeting was to reconcile the difference of opinions with City staff.
There was further discussion amongst members present that with this new City Committee structure set up by Council that this type of situation is very likely to happen. None of them present were of the opinion that this was right but expressed that it should be expected.
Chairperson Jaramillo asked if Ms. Leon called anybody from the City after receiving Ms. Morads materials. Ms. Leon replied that she had never called Mayor Nelson or any other City Staff. She only called the Committee Members to try to set up this meeting.
Committee Member Moreno-Sandy and all members present were in agreement that there was no direction given to them that they should contact their Council appointee. None of the members present had called their Council representative.
Ms. Leon felt this was an unjust dismissal. She has served for many years in many committees. She has never had any problems and there have always been disagreements, which is fine but she has never encountered this type of situation. She sincerely believes that this is what they eventually wanted to do; how they wanted to operate or else they would not have made these changes.
Committee Member Elliott, Chairperson Jaramillo, and Committee Member-Moreno Sandy expressed empathy for her Ms. Leons statements and did agree that, to a certain extent, it was unjust to dismiss due to a difference of opinion. Committee Member Elliott saw this as the Council wanting to take control.
Ms. Leon said that there have been a lot of people who have expressed interest in this situation and ordinarily she would not have supplied the information, but she thinks this was unjust. Chairperson Jaramillo asked if she would be speaking at tomorrows meeting and Ms. Leon said that she was not certain at this time. Ms. Morad added that if she will be speaking at the meeting it should be at the Public Comment segment of the meeting and not during the Consolidated Plan presentation.
Ms. Leon said that it would be very hard for her to speak tomorrow because she gets very passionate and emotional. Thus, she is not sure that she will be speaking.
Committee Member Jensen-Purser asked if Ms. Leon would apply for the At-Large position. Ms. Leon said that she will continue to apply. Committee Member Elliott said that he does not see how they could turn her down if she does apply.
Chairperson Jaramillo closed the public comments section.
Chairperson Jaramillo confirmed that members had received and reviewed the minutes for March 28, 2005. A MOTION was made by Committee Member Elliott, SECONDED by Committee Member Jensen-Purser, and CARRIED unanimously by members present to APPROVE the minutes of March 28, 2005, as written.
Chairperson Jaramillo explained that reason for this meeting was that Member Elliott and others expressed concern over the Staff recommendations. City staff is not replacing the Committee recommendations, but Chairperson Jaramillo stated that more than likely the staff recommendations would be accepted.
Committee Member Elliott questioned the function of the Committee if City Staff simply ignores their recommendations and Council accepts Staffs recommendation. He continued by stating that he feels Council has an agenda. Each person who heads up a particular group is a person who controls the larger budget and is the person who has most power in organization. As with other groups we (Committee members) have been asked to give advice after examination. He stated that the CDCC has no agenda and does not get paid; they look at issues, and in most cases, those recommendations are accepted. However, under this new ruling this no longer is true. He expressed the opinion that the Committee is superfluous and committee is not needed.
Committee Member Jensen-Purser disagreed with Member Elliott. Member Jensen-Purser indicated that the description of the Committees purpose is to provide input and make recommendations. In her estimation the Committee reviews and makes their suggestion and then it becomes public record. This was made evident with the example she showed of their recommendation making the front page of the Fullerton Tribune newspaper. She also spoke about the Maple neighborhood getting organized and if they are in opposition they will certainly speak up.
Therefore, in her estimate by having these meetings and making the recommendations the people have spoken, then City Staff has every right to make recommendations. It is up to the CDCC to stand before City Council to make their opinions known.
Member Jensen-Purser remarked that, as much as she adores the Tool Bank, the fact that they said that for 27 years they never had to search for other funding was an unacceptable answer. She also disagrees with cutting funds from Rehab which have helped many people obtain handicap ramps and fix leaking roofs. She stated that the CDCC needs to explain to City Council why Committee is right and the City Staff is wrong.
Committee Member Moreno-Sandy does believe that they have a voice, she along with Chairperson Jaramillo agreed with Committee Member Elliotts view because they were not consulted after they were the ones who week after week came to these meetings and tried to be fair in their recommendations.
Committee Member Moreno-Sandy believes that this is the whole reason for the process, especially when there are a lot of different personalities involved.
Ms. Morad clarified that the Staff recommendations are not a challenge to the Committees recommendation. Staff understands that City Councils priority has been Code Enforcement and is offering a solution to address City Councils priority, rather than having any other program drastically cut. The goal was to obtain numbers so that if Council really wanted to keep Code Enforcement this would be another option. Ms. Morad added that Code Enforcement has city-wide impact, while the Tool Bank only affects a certain area.
There was further debate amongst members over the value of Code Enforcement and the funding amount.
Ms. Morad reminded them that two years ago, under Council direction, Staff created a new Code Enforcement position. However, the position now is actually a vacant. This funding is not for a new position. The position has been vacant since August 2004 due to an employee leaving after maternity leave. She clarified that Staff is adjusting the recommendations in order to keep Code Enforcement staffed at the level that it was approved.
Ms. Morad said that Council has changed since Staff was given that priority and, therefore, might agree with the Committee who has very good arguments. She stated that the purpose for tonights meeting was to organize as a Committee so that their communication does not come across as haphazard or emotional.
Ms. Morad continued to explain that she will make her presentation and thereafter the Mayor will open it up for a public hearing. She indicated that City Council might have questions for the Tool Bank, Code Enforcement, and Housing Staff.
She indicated that then Chairperson Jaramillo will speak on the Committees behalf and individual members are also invited to speak. She added that this portion is open to general public, for example Ms. Leon is not part of this committee but she has the right to express her opinion.
Chairperson Jaramillo gave a summary of what she intended to say at the meeting:
She stated that the two topics that she would address would be the Tool Bank and the Funds for Rehab.
She explained that she would try to convey how this neighborhood has already been put through a double whammy with Code Enforcement forcing them to make repairs, many of which have no funds or are elderly, and now they will also lose their only resource for making these improvements to their homes.
She stated that in researching other cities, they are working with fewer staff members than Fullerton. In addition, over the past eight months, Code Enforcement has been working efficiently without filling that position.
Chairperson Jaramillo said that she would also address the Rehab funds. She stated that those that were helped had no other resources to repair their leaking roofs or add handicap modifications. Committee Member Moreno-Sandy stated that she thought that as a group she supports the way the group voted and stands by that decision.
Ms. Morad reminded the Committee that she provided a copy of agenda letter. She pointed out that Page 3 shows the recommendations and why staff gave a 2nd recommendation and it shows the differences:
Committee Member Elliot asked for the time of the meeting and Ms. Morad informed them that this topic was on the 7:30 PM meeting and it was the only item on the agenda.
The Committee was in agreement with the items proposed by Chairperson Jaramillo.
Committee Member Elliot asked Ms. Morad if City Staff also meets over several weeks, if they meet as a group, and does City Staff give individual suggestions.
Ms. Morad explained that she meets with the City Manager and the Director of Development Services. She stated that she reviews all requests with them prior to presenting to the CDCC so that they are aware of who is requesting funding. She gave the example of presenting to them all of the City Departmental requests because if they wish to, they could actually stop a program from going to the CDCC if the request is invalid. She said that after the CDCC process is done, she again meets with the City Manager and the Director of Development Services to brief them on what is being recommended by the CDCC prior to taking it to Council.
Ms. Leon explained that she thought the reason for her dismissal was because she started making calls to try to get organized and respond to the different recommendations being made by Staff. She believed that Council assumed that she caused distress. Committee Member Moreno-Sandy responded by asking why they would target Ms. Leon.
Ms. Leon continued to express that she thought the issue for dismissal was due to the calls that she placed to request a meeting.
Ms. Morad announced that the Committee/Commissions Orientation Dinner will be at July 26, 2005 at 6:00 PM.
There were no further public comments.
Chairperson Jaramillo adjourned the meeting at 7:30 PM.