Noted local advocate for the homeless Mark Lipman was removed from his post on the Advisory Committee on Housing and Homelessness over charges of domestic abuse at the January 24, 2022 City Council meeting.
The meeting, which had been handed over to Vice Mayor Albert Vera, Jr. with Mayor Lee needing to catch a flight to attend to a family situation, was already well into it’s fifth hour when the agenda item to discipline or remove a city commissioner came before the council.
Lipman claimed that he had an agreement with Mayor Lee that he could make a seven minute statement rather than be held to the usual amount of time for a speaker, and that claim was respected by Vera. Lipman accused the council of denying him “due process,” and acting under cover of “closed session” to deprive him of his rights. “You knew full well that you had the option, going into this meeting, of simply not reappointing me [as my term on the committee is coming to a close.]”
He veered away from the unfairness of how he had been treated into the unfairness of society in general, saying “When you are poor, when you are homeless … people think they can accuse you of anything and get away with it, because our entire society is structured around ownership rights…”and when he ran over the seven minute limit, he was called to time by the Vice Mayor.
Gloria Villamil, Lipman’s domestic partner, spoke saying “This is a personal matter.. I don’t understand why [this is being brought up now.] All this happened more than a year ago.” She defended Lipman, saying “We are even friends now.”
Council member Yasmine Imani McMorrin said “Discussing possible disciplinary action, including removal , the policy states, “Their conduct must be consistent with the obligations of public office.” I was pretty alarmed by the allegations. . . Given the policy that we have, it’s incredibly clear…I would support removing Mr. Lipman.”
“I have personally witnessed behavior [on the part of Mr. Lipman] that I feel is problematic, in regard to female staff, and this is worse than problematic,” added Council member Alex Fisch, saying he would support removal.
Council member Goran Eriksson offered “There was a resident in our city who wrote a complaint to staff, and we have to act. We can’t ignore that. I don’t think this is a petty issue. Our police department registered three complaints, and on one occasion brought Mr.Lipman to jail, but the D.A. decided not to prosecute.”
Vice Mayor Vera “We have a duty to act on any complaints we receive from the community.” He blamed himself for not acting on the matter more quickly, and agreed that anger management could help. “If he feels after completing that that he would like to reapply, we will be happy to consider.”
Eriksson made the motion, which was seconded by Fisch, to remove Lipman from the committee.
The vote was four ayes, with a four-fifths vote required for passage.