Wednesday December 13th 2017
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Staff

Publisher and Editor - Judith Martin-Straw

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Dear Editor – Ethical Advisory

Light-bulb-0003-300x198Dear Editor:
What do you know about the Culver City City Council’s Code of Ethics? What do you know about the so-called Ethics Advisory Committee? It is unlikely that you would know that either exists as no related information appears on the City’s website. Culver City has a hot line to report roadway pot holes and graffiti, but not ethics violations.
It is a little more likely that you know that the Culver City Charter requires all “officers and employees of the city to observe the highest standards of ethics.” But what if they do not? One might learn something about Culver City’s ethical desert from our recent experience.
First, the Culver City Code of Ethics declares, “City Council and Commission members are not day-to-day supervisors of City staff, and should not individually attempt to exercise direction or control over the responsibilities of employees.” The violation is the attempt, whether or not successful. Backroom dealing is taboo.
We filed a Public Records Act request with the City Clerk for all communications between former City Council Member Andrew Weissman and staff concerning permit-only parking restrictions on Farragut Drive.
In response, we received an avalanche of smoking-gun emails wherein Weissman repeatedly pressured the Engineering Department staff.
Further, the Code of Ethics requires staff to prevent and report Weissman’s meddling. It states, “Public employees and officials have a duty to prevent and report unethical … action. … [I]t is appropriate to be a ‘whistle blower’ if another employee or official may be acting improperly.” In other words, if staff sees something, it should say something, and do something.
But the emails evidence that City Engineer Herbertson, City Administrator Nachbar and City Attorney Schwab knew of Weissman’s influence peddling, as it occurred, and said nothing and made no attempt to prevent it.
It gets worse. The Traffic Engineer repeatedly informed both Weissman and Herbertson that the action Weissman requested is both intellectually dishonest and unfair to Farragut residents. Further, Weissman requested that Herbertson keep quiet about the defects of Weissman’s request and Herbertson agreed not to raise the issue.
Second, the Code of Ethics requires recusal when a Council Member appears to be biased. Appearances are everything. Bias does not necessarily involve a financial interest, but anything that could reasonably be perceived to adversely affect impartiality, e.g., personal like or dislike, political relationships, friendships, memberships.
Council Member Jeffrey Cooper has ranted against Farragut residents on an anti-Farragut-hate-filled-Facebook page managed by one of Cooper’s former campaign fund raisers.
For anyone supposedly adhering to the highest standards of ethics, Cooper’s recusal should be a no-brainer. Instead, Cooper just stonewalls the issue, and the others are too timid to say peep-one. Their motto should be, “See something, say nothing.”
On multiple occasions, we have requested that the City Council promptly hear our serious allegations as a separate agenda item. Culver City’s response was, in effect, to declare us as public enemies by conducting a “Closed Session” discussion to circle their wagons under the subterfuge of alleged threatened litigation. This is understandable as Culver City’s legal advisor is one of the staff members who failed to disclose or prevent Weissman’s violations of the Code of Ethics.
Culver City Council is trying to bury our allegations of violations of the Code of Ethics by hearing them as part of another item. They will simply discuss the other issue and ignore the ethics issues. They have done it before when we sought Weissman’s recusal—wait 5 hours to be heard at 1:30 AM, and state your case in two minutes.
A recent Alameda Grand Jury Report described a similar situation that occurred in the City of Oakland by stating:
Political interference from elected officials can erode public confidence and trust in government, thus damaging its effectiveness. … The city council must … take action to ensure this conduct is acknowledged and addressed. City employees, especially senior staff, need to report improper conduct….backroom dealing cannot be the standard by which the city … is governed.
“Backroom dealing.” Culver City? Hmmm.

Les Greenberg

Editor’s Note – Our searches did not find a Facebook page specific to “Anti-Farragut.”  The ‘Farragut’ pages connected to Culver City are Farragut Elementary, which is an open page, and Farragut Summer, which is a closed page.

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Reader Feedback

6 Responses to “Dear Editor – Ethical Advisory”

  1. Les Greenberg says:

    The anti-Farragut Facebook page no longer exists. It was taken down by its sponsor (Dan O’Brien) after we threaten legal action based upon allegations that its content was defamatory.

    Paulette Greenberg previously commented, on this website, concerning the “secret society” that populated that O’Brien’s Facebook page. Her comment drew such a response that CrossRoads closed that comment section.

    Further, if CrossRoads had any doubt as to the existence of the anti-Farragut Facebook page, CrossRoads should have asked me before publishing my letter and its Editorial comment. I would have provided screen shots to substantiate my allegations.

  2. Ken Smith says:

    Dear editor, Dan O’Brien’s Facebook page never was an Anti-Farragut page per se. The page is still up and running and has over 2,000 followers who post alot up upbeat messages about the good things happening in this city, as well as some old pictures depicting life here many years ago.

    Certainly there were some folks posting items there that were not very complimentary to some of the residents of Farragut Dr. which is just the same as some of the residents of Farragut Dr. who have posted very derogatory messages about myself and Grace Lutheran Church. If you’re going to sling mud, you must expect some is going to come back your way….
    The parking study is in, the lawsuits that have been ruled upon to date have all been in the city’s favor and it will all come out in the wash!

  3. Les Greenberg says:

    Mr. Smith has ignored the 800 # guerillas in the room. (1)Weissman et al. violated the Culver City Code of Ethics to help Smith, who was then a senior official at the Grace Church and had social, political and business ties to Smith, by pressuring staff to conduct an intellectually dishonest and unfair “parking study.” (2) Cooper is biased against Farragut residents.

    Dan O’Brien removed the portion of O’Brien’s closed Facebook page dedicated to bashing Farragut residents after we threatened to sue sue O’Brien and others for defamation.

    Farragut residents challenged and challenge Smith’s purported facts and reasoning, but did spew the kind of vitriol that O’Brien, a prominent member of Grace Church, permitted and encouraged on his Facebook page. We have the screen shots.

    Culver City residents, who demand fair, transparent and ethical government, should come to the September 12, 2016 City Council meeting. Our bet is that the City Council will stonewall the ethical issues, and its code of silence will continue.

  4. Ken Smith says:

    Les, now that you’ve lost the lawsuits, and the parking study probably will not say what you want it to say, it seems you must have something else to attack. All of the items you speak about in your post have been gone over time and time again. Let’s face it, the 10700 block of Farragut Dr. NEVER deserved the special parking restrictions they were granted by a previous City Council, and there is a good possibility that you will now have to live like the rest of us “ordinary” people in Culver City and allow someone to park a car in front of your house without fear of getting a ticket.

  5. Ken Smith says:

    By the way Les, where did you come up with the number 800? That seems rather arbitrary to me for someone who is used to dealing with facts. Also, Webster defines ‘GUERRILLA as “a member of a band of irregular soldiers that uses guerrilla warfare, harassing the enemy by surprise raids, sabotaging communication and supply lines, etc. adjective. 2. pertaining to such fighters or their technique of warfare: guerrilla strongholds; guerrilla tactics.” Is that what you are accusing some members of of Dan’s Facebook page of doing?
    I look forward to seeing you at the council meeting.

  6. Judith says:

    Ok guys, this has turned into another back and forth- I am respectfully closing the thread.

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