LANCASTER – The majority of residents who addressed the Lancaster City Council Tuesday evening on items not on the agenda had the same message: Bring televised comments back!
Earlier this month, Mayor R. Rex Parris made the decision to stop televising the portion of City Council meetings that allowed residents to comment on items not on the City Council’s agenda. Parris reportedly said he came to this decision after a resident made a racial slur, which was televised.
Parris was not at the City Council meeting Tuesday; still, residents appealed to the remaining members of the Council in Parris’ absence. Lancaster resident David Abber suggested the matter be brought before the Council for a vote so the public could see where each individual councilmember stood on the matter.
“I believe this is something that should be put on the agenda; I’m petitioning for redress,” Abber told the Council. “I’m requesting the four of you that are here tonight to step up and put this on the agenda… I have faith in you that you would turn the cameras back on because we have a right to see this meeting.”
Darleen Peterson admonished the Council, saying “a wakeup call is needed.” She said the move to stop televising the public comments portion of City Council meetings was one in a series of actions that were hindering the rights of residents to participate freely in city business.
“There used to be a dialogue between the council and the citizen at the podium, then it became downgraded to citizens now commenting on the consent calendar items only; in other words he’s talking to himself,” said Peterson. “Then we got downgraded to one three minute session per citizen, no matter how many consent calendar items they wished to comment about… Another rule implemented was to interrupt a citizen when not on point. That rule is another gimmick in my opinion used to squeeze the citizen out and direct them what to say.”
Another speaker, David Paul, said televising public comments again would continue to give citizens a voice.
“I know this is the mayor’s decision, but I ask him for me, for the budding Human Relations Commission we are putting together to promote diversity and give people a voice that don’t have a voice, restore the public comments portion on video,” said Paul.
One of the most vocal residents at City Council meetings, David Grajeda, was not at the City Council meeting Tuesday. Grajeda was arrested as he was attempting to enter the City Council Meeting, according to his family members. We will have more information on this situation as it becomes available.
Updated at 5 p.m., 10/26/11: According to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department’s Inmate Information Center, David Grajeda was arrested Tuesday at 5:03 p.m. on a Misdemeanor charge.
He was booked at 5:12 p.m. at the Lancaster Station with bail set at $5,000. His court date was set for 8 a.m., Wednesday at the Antelope Valley Courthouse.
Late Wednesday afternoon, calls to the Lancaster Sheriff’s station requesting the exact nature of Grajeda’s charges were referred to the jail, where a representative said Grajeda had already left the premises. A call to family member Maria Grajeda was not immediately returned Wednesday.
According to the Antelope Valley Report, Grajeda was arrested Tuesday for disrupting a public meeting, in connection with an outburst involving Grajeda at a Criminal Justice Commission meeting two weeks ago. Read the entire report here.
— Update by M. Dilworth
Maria Grajeda reached out to The AV Times Thursday regarding David Grajeda’s arrest. Maria Grajeda says David was arrested for disrupting a public meeting based on his actions at an October 12th Criminal Justice Commission meeting. Maria Grajeda says during that meeting, David was speaking out against Public Safety Officer Lee D’Errico. Maria Grajeda claims D’Errico, acting under the command of Mayor R. Rex Parris, assaulted David at a prior City Council meeting. She says David filed charges against D’Errico but nothing came of the charges. When David came to the Criminal Justice Commission meeting to complain about the assault, he was thrown out of the meeting for disruption, Maria claims. David was formally arrested for the disruption as he attempted to enter Tuesday’s City Council meeting.
Maria Grajeda says David’s bail was increased from $5,000 to $25,000 for the misdemeanor, with the District Attorney arguing that David should do jail time.
Maria Grajeda says she believes that David is being railroaded, and offers the video below as proof of an assault on David Grajeda by Lee D’Errico.
WARNING: This video contains expletives.
–Update by K. Enrique