San Bernardino Changes Policy in Wake of Trump Outreach and Probable Brown Act Violation

San Bernardino Changes Policy in Wake of Trump Outreach and Probable Brown Act Violation

San Bernardino, CA

Ralph M. Brown

The California’s Ralph M. Brown Act established the right for citizens to both attend and participate in public meetings of their local legislative bodies. 

The Act’s preamble clearly states, “The people do not yield their sovereignty to the bodies that serve them. The people insist on remaining informed to retain control over the legislative bodies they have created.” 

In this spirit, many found it concerning when they learned San Bernardino’s Mayor, Carey Davis was joined by all seven members of the San Bernardino City Council as well as San Bernardino Police Chief Jarrod Burguan had affixed their signatures to a letter to President Donald Trump in February without any public discussion or opportunity for input. This appears to be a direct violation of the Brown Act's provision that directly addresses the issue of open meetings. 

When City Councilman Henry Nickel was questioned about this action by ABC News he said, “We just wanted to get the attention of the White House.” 

Whether or not the council will receive the attention and support it sought from the Trump White House; they did garner the attention of many in the community and among them, at least one local attorney, Allen Bartleman. 

Bartleman told reporters, “The Brown Act, in short, requires all meetings on legislative action be conducted publicly. It also requires that the public have input on those actions.” He also filed a formal complaint and demanded that city officials retract the letter. Bartleman has threatened to take legal action if the letter is not retracted within thirty days. 

The city seemed to explain its outreach to President Trump as nothing out of the ordinary— according to Nickel, the city has previously sought assistance from Governor Jerry Brown as well as former President Barack Obama. 

Last Monday, the San Bernardino City Council approved a new policy that would prevent similar letters in the future. 

The letter, dated February 13, congratulated President Trump on his victory and reminded him San Bernardino is home to the December 2, 2015 terror attack. The letter also stated, “We have followed the developments of your presidency and believe that your priorities to strengthen law enforcement and build safe communities are important and urgently needed in cities such as ours.” 

The letter went on to ask for help regarding marijuana enforcement and the reduction of violent crime. Finally, the letter requested a meeting with the president or members of his staff and Attorney General Jeff Sessions, “to discuss the opportunity to collaborate and develop appropriate solutions to improve the safety of our community.”

Recently, The Voice/Black Voice News reported on a meeting San Bernardino County Sheriff John McMahon participated in with Sessions the day before he was confirmed as U.S. Attorney General. In that meeting, McMahon also sought the support of the Justice Department on a host of issues. 

In recent years, the inland region has evolved politically from red to purple to blue. As a result, some find it curious and question why local officials would seek favor with the Trump Administration, while at the same time, state level officials are pushing back against the Trump Administration on a host of issues.

"California is not turning back. Not now, not ever," Governor Brown promised in January during his annual State of the State address. At the time, the governor was referencing immigration and other key liberal issues supported by the state’s legislative majority. 

There are now more than 500 Sanctuary Cities in the United States; the number has grown by more than three dozen so far this year, despite continued threats from the Administration that it, “Will not use tax payer dollars to support cities that provide services to immigrants that are in the country illegally,” White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer reiterated during Tuesday’s daily press briefing.

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