A Brown Act Violation?

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This letter is to call your attention to what I believe substantially violated central provisions of the Ralph M. Brown Act, one which may jeopardize the finality of the action taken by Culver City Council.  

In its meeting of June 14, 2021, the City Council of Culver City passed an ordinance targeted and arbitrary providing that “Hospital Workers shall be entitled to no less than five dollars ($5.00) per hour in Premium Hazard Pay for each hour worked on-site at a covered Hospital in the City for an Employer.  

Said Ordinance arbitrarily applies to only workers at general acute hospitals and was really targeted to a specific Union members SEIU.  There appears to be serial violations of the Brown Act in this and other matters.

The actions taken did not comply with the Brown Act because it occurred as the culmination of serial discussions and texts outside of a noticed hearing, or among private conversations and texts in a serial manner between Alex Fisch, Daniel Lee and Yasmine Imani-McMorrin and intermediaries with representatives of various Unions outside the public purview.  

I incorporate herein by this reference the allegations in that certain Complaint for Declaratory, Injunctive and Monetary Relief filed by Southern California Healthcare System in the United States District Court, Central District of California, Western Division bearing case no. 2:21-cv-005052.  The Act does not permit to be discussed in closed session or outside of session and there was no adequate notice to the public on the posted agenda for the meeting that the matter acted upon would be discussed, and there was no finding of fact made by the City Council of Culver City that urgent action was necessary on a matter unforeseen when the agenda was posted.  

It appears that these Council Members have taken a path of exclusionary politics for the purpose of using Culver City as their political steppingstone and shutting out the voice and will of its residents.

If you think that the conduct of the City Council of Culver City specified did not amount to taking action, I call your attention to Section 54952.6, which defines “action taken” for the Act expansively, i.e. as “a collective decision made by a majority of the members of a legislative body, a collective commitment or promise by a majority of the members of a legislative body to make a positive or negative decision, or an actual vote by a majority of the members of a legislative body when sitting as a body or entity, upon a motion, proposal, resolution, order or ordinance.”     

Section 54952.2(b)(1) prohibits a majority of members of a legislative body outside of a lawful meeting from directly or indirectly using a series of meetings to discuss, deliberate or take action on any item of business within the subject matter jurisdiction of the body.  The Brown Act creates specific agenda obligations for notifying the public with a “brief description” of each item to be discussed or acted upon, and also creates a legal remedy for illegally taken actions —namely, the judicial invalidation of them upon proper findings of fact and conclusions of law.

Under that provision (Government Code Section 54960.1), I demand that the City Council of Culver City cure and correct the illegally taken action:

  1. Repeal the Ordinance for Hospital Hazard Pay voted on June 14, 2021;
  2. Provide the public the awareness and opportunity to comment of which it was deprived, e.g. the formal and explicit withdrawal from any commitment made, coupled with a disclosure at a subsequent meeting of why individual members of the legislative body took the positions — by vote or otherwise — that they did, accompanied by the full opportunity for informed comment by members of the public at the same meeting, notice of which is properly included on the posted agenda.
  3. Provide evidence that the Union SEIU or related entities has indemnified the City in writing and “has its back” related to the Hospital Pay Ordinance.
  4. Provide all evidence related to Daniel Lee’s discussions, negotiations, communications, and deals with SEIU, and communications related to the Hospital Hero Pay Ordinance between Daniel Lee, Alex Fisch and Yasmine Imani-McMorrin or any of their intermediaries and/or any representative of SEIU or related entities. 

Informed comment might in certain circumstances include the provision of any documents in the possession of the local agency related to the action taken, with copies available to the public on request at the offices of the agency and also at the meeting at which reconsideration is to occur.  

I ask you each to preserve all of evidence including tweets, messages, electronic communications and writings. I especially request that communications by text, phone or any other electronic method be preserved, including those communications that might have been during a public meeting but not made of record at that public meeting.  Reference is made to paragraphs 11 and others in the Hospital complaint.

As provided by Section 54960.1, you have 30 days from receiving this demand to either cure or correct the challenged action or inform me of your decision not to do so. If you fail to cure or correct as demanded, such inaction may leave me no recourse but to seek a judicial invalidation of the challenged action under Section 54960.1, in which case I would also ask the court to order you to pay my court costs and reasonable attorney fees, under Section 54960.5.

I ask that each of your preserve the evidence and not delete, modify or change any communication, whether my mail, letter, memorandum, email, chat, tweets, messenger or any other form of communication related to these inquiries.  By way of copy of this letter I also request that neither the Hospital nor SEIU to do the same.

Also, California Penal Code section 135 creates criminal penalties for spoliation of evidence. “A person who, knowing that any book, paper, record, instrument in writing, digital image, video recording owned by another, or other matter or thing, is about to be produced in evidence upon a trial, inquiry, or investigation, authorized by law, willfully destroys, erases, or conceals the same, with the intent to prevent it or its content from being produced, is guilty of a misdemeanor.”

As a resident who grew up in Culver City and has raised my family here, I take serious this matter as I think all Culver Citizens do.  I demand that the City take this seriously and conduct a full independent investigation.  These City Council members have enmeshed Culver City in expensive and dangerous litigation for their personal political gain.  

This demands a thorough investigation by outside independent Counsel to determine if other improprieties or violation of the law exists.  I also recommend that the City investigate all communications for any 3-2 vote by this triumvirate, as I think it is reasonable to suspect similar violations by these Counsel Members who practice exclusionary politics.

Respectfully yours,

Ronald E. Ostrin

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A Brown Act Violation?