Contentious meeting sees divide widen

By Brett Callwood

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The relationship between the progressive majority of the Culver City city council (Mayor Daniel Lee and council members Alex Fisch and Yasmine- Imani McMorrin) and their colleagues (Vice Mayor Albert Vera and council member G?ran Eriksson) was further soured at the city council meeting on Monday, Jan. 24. In the council’s opening comments, Eriksson and Vera both objected to a Jan. 9 tweet by Mayor Lee which read: “Why is it that law enforcement is one of the only career choices where it’s acceptable to terrorize communities of color and murder innocent people.” Both Eriksson and Vera read a written statement condemning the tweet and said that Lee’s position isn’t the position of the council as a whole. They made a point of thanking the Culver City Police for all their hard work. Lee responded by saying that his tweet was not directed at the Culver City Police, but at law enforcement in general. He said that his position on this has remained unchanged since he began serving the city, so he’s not sure why anyone would be surprised now. Fisch, visually perturbed, said that the regular attacks from Eriksson on Mayor Lee need to stop. “We can’t keep doing this,” he said. The animosity continued when the evening’s hot topic Pubic Hearing 2 (incorrectly listed on the agenda as Action Item 2) was debated: “Adoption of resolution adopting the 2021-2029 element negative declaration and 2021-2029 housing element (general plan element amendment, P2021- 0241-GPE); and approving the submittal of the 2021-2029 housing element to the California Department of Housing and Community Development for review for substantial compliance with state law.” Due to the Feb. 12 deadline for Housing Element timely adoption and submittal to HCD certifi cation (meaning that the HCD fi nds the housing element to be in substantial compliance with state laws) of the 2021-2029 Housing Element, Fisch wanted to ensure that the vote happened at this meeting leading to cries from Eriksson and Vera that it was being rushed. The fact that Lee had to leave the meeting early to catch a fl ight due to family health issues only increased the feeling in the meeting that the vote was being rushed. Unsurprisingly, the vote ended with a 3-2 count (Eriksson and Vera the two “nays”), and it required a 4-1 majority to pass by Planning Commission recommendation. Later in the evening, with Lee gone, the four council members found common ground when they voted unanimously to remove Mark Lipman from his position on the Advisory Committee for Housing and Homelessness amid allegations of domestic abuse. Lipman spoke in his own defense for an allotted seven minutes, but felt that he deserved more time. All of the council members recommended that Lipman seek help with anger management, and said that the issue was too serious to ignore. It was pointed out that the police have been called three times to address this, with Lipman being taken in once to cool down. At the conclusion of the meeting, Fisch stated that, “We do diffi cult work,” and thanked all of his colleagues. Whether that is enough to heal the deepening wounds remains to be seen.