By Debra Tash
Under the public’s comments section (item number 5) at the Simi Valley Council’s September 14th 2020 meeting the majority of emails asked their elected officials to demonstrate support for the city’s police. They urged respect be shown to the men and women in blue. The emails from the public opposed defunding of the police. They asked that the proclamation supporting the police, discussed and seconded at the prior meeting, be put on the agenda so it can be finalized and formally issued by the council. It was not on tonight’s agenda as expected. The second issue was a concern about the city’s water quality. Also, the social justice crowd commented on the council’s inaction in regards to the city’s “Systemic Racism.”
Addressing the emails on racism read into the record for Item 5, Council Member Ruth Luevanos defended the riots in other cities as mostly peaceful protests and accused the media of only showing the violence.
The Council Member also tried to get herself appointed as a voting member to the California League of Cities. Her motion failed.
Item 8B. Consideration of a Social Media Code of Conduct for City Council Members. Staff Report
The proposed Code of Conduct would only pertain to public/official social media accounts of elected members, not the elected members’ own private accounts. Council Member Ruth Luevanos stated that the proposal has a lot of loopholes and is unconstitutional since it would violate the city council members’ First Amendment to free speech. She kept mentioning that someone could also make a fake social media profile. Luevanos also stated that she posts city information on her social sites in Spanish to inform the public on what is happening in their community.
Ms. Luevanos is no stranger to controversy regarding her own Social Media.
Luevanos had posted a video to her Facebook page on July 13 2019. In the video she warned immigrants of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents round-up of more than 2,100 immigrants nationwide with deportation orders. She said she made the video “to inform people of their rights.”
Council Member Mike Judge agreed 100% with Ms. Luevanos on the current proposal for Social Media Code of Conduct for City Council Members being out of bounds . “We can post everything we want to our private page.”
Council Member Dee Dee Cavanaugh was the one who proposed this Social Media Code of Conduct. She stated that if any of their pages where titled Council Member, considered for use to conduct official business, it should be under the rules of a code conduct. If they aren’t acting in an official capacity they should not use the city logo.
Council Member Elaine Litster pointed out that staff couldn’t find any other city with a Social Media Code of Conduct for their elected officials and that the proposal had no teeth. She was very conflicted with what had been proposed.
Mayor Keith L. Mashburn said that they are all adults and he would like to keep it very simple, this is a political page, this is a personal page. Guidelines are all that is needed to differentiate between those two.
Staff was directed to bring back the proposal, pared down and only addressing what is an official council/city page and what is a personal page.
|8A.||Request for direction on the Simi Valley Municipal Code requirements regarding beekeeping activities in single-family residential zones (Perros) (CC)|
The Council also considered Bee Keeping in the single family zone. Currently residents can keep bees on larger parcels.
Beehives have to be registered with the Ventura County Agricultural Commissioner. Thousand Oaks and Santa Barbara are participating members of Bee City USA certified which allows the practice on smaller lots. Staff was asking for the council to initiate the ordinance, not adopt it. Once drafted it would be sent to the neighborhood councils and the Planning Commission before coming back for approval. The council voted for the process to start.
Councilmember Judge attended the meeting remotely.
Debra Tash is Editor-in-Chief of Citizensjournal.us, past president for Citizens Alliance for Property Rights, business executive and award-winning author, residing in Somis.