The first ever public meeting of City of Menifee's City Council was held this evening at Kay Ceniceros Center. Several people were in attendance, many of which were prospects seeking employment as city attorney, and what not.
There were a lot of suits in the room.
Even though the Registrar of Voters apparently still have some votes left to count, it seemed clear that these five council-elects have their seats in place.
Wallace Edgerton, who received the most votes, was granted the title of Mayor, a motion granted by Denver, and seconded by Kuenzi. The title of Mayor Pro Tem was granted to Darci Kuenzi, a motion granted by Scott Mann, and seconded by Edgerton. But before that happened, Denver made a motion to make Fred Twyman as Mayor Pro Tem, but no one would second, and the motion died.
Looking at the faces of the council-elects, during the appointment process, I could tell all five of them knew what was going to happen. The nomination of Edgerton was pretty much a non-issue. But the appointment of Mayor Pro Tem seemed as if discussions had been taking place prior to this meeting, because council-elects were staring into space, tapping their feet, showing no emotion on their faces, and anxiously waiting to get through the process as quickly as possible. It looked they were all running on auto-pilot.
Edgerton also brought up the job of Council Secretary. Since the city doesn't have such a person hired, Councilmember Mann was nominated, received a motion and a second. At this point, if you want a job with the city, if you want to volunteer, if you want to offer something, contact Scott Mann at: MenifeeCityClerk@mchsi.com
The open session was largely to hear public comments, and several people spoke. Many of them simply gave congratulations, and other gave mutual pats on each other's back for helping with the cityhood incorporation process.
Chris Thomas, who ran for city council but came up short, spoke out urging the council meet with County officials, and have them put a halt to a "multi-family development", and let the new city negotiate with developers. I didn't ask him what that multi-family development was.
Bill Zeidlik, who had been very active in CEDCO, the parent organization that spun off the Menifee Valley Incorporation Committee, spent as much time as he possibly could demanding more advance notice of meetings, a later meeting time, and wanted to know how residents could put their name down to become involved in city operations. Edgerton had to interrupt several times to say that he was exceeding his alotted time.
But probably the most influential commenter of the evening was Barbara Spencer, president of the Menifee Valley Historical Society, who addressed the city council with a passage from the Brown Act. The Brown Act, is piece of State law that requires public officials to hold meetings and hearings in public, and provide facilities that allow all persons access to these meetings and hearings. It was Barbara's quotation that would send the rest of evening into disarray.
Interviewing Prospective City Employees
As I said above, a large number of the people present were there to compete for jobs, mostly high level jobs, namely city attorney.
The city council was to interview these people in closed session. But not longer than Barbara Spencer quoted the Brown Act, Edgerton addressed the audience that he wanted to hold at least part of this session in public, for the fact that all council members seemed to be in disagreement on how the Brown Act applies in this case, and that the council did not have a city attorney to consult with. I was quite impressed to see Edgerton give careful consideration here, and even though it would submarine the rest of the meeting, it gave me a sense that he was drawing from experience.
The case in question, is that the city is not yet official, and the city council members present are not really city council members, since their elections have not yet been certified.
That caused Edgerton to call upon Dave Wilman, a representative from the League of California Cities, to act as an unofficial legal counsel. It appeared to be Wilman's interpretation that even though the city wasn't official, and the council members were not official, the Brown Act still applied.
The other problem to all this, is that the assembly hall we were gathered in, had to be vacated by 6:00pm, because another group had it reserved. So we all moved into a different room, that was very tiny and cramped, about the size of someone's bedroom. One of the attorneys there, representing a lawfirm, and who was competing for business, addressed the council saying that there was not enough room to fit everyone, and many others could not see or hear the meeting, and therefore constituted a violation of the Brown Act.
Mann intervened, saying that it was possible to hold the meeting private session, because they would be interviewing people, not companies. Edgerton then sought legal counsel again from Dave Wilman, the representative from the League of California Cities. Wilman, deferred to an attorney who was working for Canyon Lake. That attorney spoke out and disagreed with Mann, saying that the persons here seeking employment are actually representatives of lawfirms, and that the Brown Act requires an open session to interview businesses.
But since the tiny little room was already a violation of the Brown Act, Mayor Edgerton asked for a motion to adjourn the meeting for next week. At that point Kuenzi intervened, pointed her finger into the air, and then spoke in a very stern and deliberate tone, saying that they needed to get on with business, that they needed to hire a city attorney, and that they could not adjourn. Mann seemed to back her up on that statement. However, Denver made a motion to adjourn, and Twyman gave a second. Edgerton adjourned the meeting.
The next meeting will be scheduled for 7:00pm, Wednesday June 25. A location has not yet been identified, but Tywman talked about using Paloma Valley High School.
The council will actually be meeting 5:00pm for a closed session, and then the open session at 7:00pm.
Don Vesey, president of the Quail Valley MAC, became the first person to address the first Menifee City Council. He simply gave a congratulations to the councilmembers.