City Council Members Break Their Silence

By: 
Stephen Downing

Item No. 18 on the City Council agenda scheduled for 5 p.m. on May 22 is a request for a vote by the full council to censure Councilmember Jeannine Pearce for questions related to sexual harassment, conflict of interest and failure to adhere to the City’s Code of Ethics.

The measure, which stems from an incident involving Councilmember Pearce and her former chief of staff, Devin Cotter, on June 3, 2017, was first made public by the Beachcomber.

The sordid details of Pearce’s behavior and the cover-up of the incident engineered by the LBPD subsequently became the subject of five more Beachcomber columns over the following months, each of which detailed new information that supported allegations made by confidential sources within the police department as well as testimony from experts in the conduct of DUI investigations and domestic violence arrest law and policy.

The action to censure Pearce on May 21 has been introduced for a vote by the full council at the request of Councilmembers Suzie Price, Al Austin II, Daryl Supernaw and Dee Andrews.

We applaud this action. It is an outstanding gesture by these four government representatives to finally break their silence on this sordid breach of the public trust. 

We hope that they are able to garner a unanimous vote from their council colleagues as well as an introductory affirmation of support for a yes vote from Mayor Robert Garcia when he calls the agenda item.

The full text of the letter of transmittal they wrote in support of the vote can be read here:

http://longbeach.legistar.com/View.ashx?M=F&ID=6260000&GUID=84260849-7F55-4814-971C-90B17A8809B6

The one exception we take to the content of the letter is that the four council members excused the behavior of the police administration when they wrote the following:

“In addition, the actions by Councilmember Pearce on June 3, 2017, in which she identified herself as a council member, put the integrity of the Long Beach Police Department at risk, after several public allegations of preferential treatment were made. In response, the Police Department conducted an Internal Affairs investigation, which required more than 300 hours of work, including interviews and a review of documents, reports, computer data, recordings and other relevant data. The investigation concluded that the allegations of misconduct against the Long Beach Police Department were unfounded.”

Unfortunately Councilmembers Price, Supernaw, Austin and Andrews misrepresented the investigative findings related to the cover-up engineered by the LBPD when they wrote: “the investigation concluded that the allegations of misconduct against the Long Beach Police Department were unfounded.”

The fact is that the city manager, applying his authority under the City Charter “classified” the investigation as unfounded.

However, prior to making that classification the nine independent citizen members of the Citizen Police Complaint Commission (CPCC) reviewed the investigation and a supermajority voted otherwise.

The police department manual requires a notification from the street in situations such as that involving Councilmember Pearce.  They call it VIP notifications. The chief of police, the city manager and the mayor are all in the notification chain for a reason. To make decisions.

In this case the ultimate decision on how to handle the incident was improper.

The evidence is unassailable. There was a cover-up. The city manager simply used his charter authority to deny the undeniable.

Prior to the May 22 vote an action should be taken by council to amend the letter of transmittal, acknowledge the findings of the nine citizen commissioners and illuminate for the community how the findings of our independent citizen commissioners differ from that of the city manager. 

The City Council should also direct the city manager to accommodate the transparency requirements of the City Charter and order all future findings of the CPCC to be made public in the interest of the community trust. 

The CPCC Charter requirement of transparency has been violated with impunity for the past 26 years. 

It’s time for a change.

 

Stephen Downing is a retired LAPD deputy chief of police and a resident of Long Beach.

stephen@beachcomber.news

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