After almost a year, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office has finally responded to the on behalf of City Council said to have taken place during the controversial selection process for
“We do not make any factual findings with regard to the alleged conduct because there is no independent source of evidence of the subject matter of the closed session discussions involved,” Assistant Head Deputy of the Public Integrity Division, Jennifer Lentz Snyder, stated in a letter (attached to your right) to South Pasadena Council members.
“However, the circumstances we reviewed provide a sufficiently reasonable concern as is explained below,” she continued.
The District Attorney's office received a complaint in August from a South Pasadena resident, who alleged City Council violated state public meetings laws. Overall, critics of the incident questioned the "Performance Evaluation of City Manager" agenda item, particularly since it was used over and over.
In a phone conversation, Snyder told Patch, "If there was no vote taken, we can’t undo the action. If it's just a discussion, it doesn't mean there wasn't a violation; there's just nothing to undo.”
Her letter to council states that if, in fact, the Chief’s agreement was presented by the City Manager or otherwise discussed in closed session as an offshoot of “Performance Evaluation of City Manager,” council was in violation of California's Brown Act.
Nevertheless, there are other aspects of non-renewal that could lawfully be considered in closed session as long as they are accurately depicted on the agenda, Snyder explained.
In October, City Manager John Davidson he made the decision to hire Payne. He did acknowledge "there was input from the City Council." But also added: "It was left in my hands."
Snyder said the District Attorney's office will continue to track what South Pas City Council does and if it is not in compliance, further action will be taken.
Yet she also mentioned these types of incidents are rarely taken to Civil Court.
"Ninety-nine percent of the time, a letter is all it takes,” she said. “Most agencies want to comply."
Patch is following up on this topic to get reactions from City officials as well as residents.