Yucca Valley, Ca.,- This evening’s Town Council meeting was quick and decisive…sort of. The meeting started promptly at 6 PM and the gavel came down at 7:30. Then they went into a closed session for 2 1/2 hours! I waited until the end and was the only one left in the large room after the maintenance crew put everything away!
A quick meeting to approve the Consent Agenda…done. Accept and file the Parks & Recs Spring program…done. Postpone the hearing for the Special Service District for the Super WalMart….done.
Then agenda item #13 about an Invocation Policy, or lack thereof , was introduced. There were several new faces in the room and I can always tell when it is their first time at a Council meeting. There was no one there to officially welcome our citizens or help them with copies of the agendas or explain the speaker card process to them, so I stepped up and became the “official greeter.”
There were many speakers weighing in on the innovation situation with many professing their faith and a couple took the “Freedom of Speech” stance. One speaker warned the Council of the potential dangers of adopting a revised City of Lancaster Resolution because it was up for review before the 9th Circuit on appeal. I addressed the Council as to the “mechanics” of how this was placed on the agenda and that the citizens are denied the opportunity to hear from their elected leaders and their thoughts on the matter. The verbal staff report was very skimpy and fortunately Councilman Rowe requested to speak first on the matter to give some background which was very informative and helpful. This Resolution will allow for more diversity for others to give the invocation by limiting speakers on an annual basis.
The bottom line boiled down to whether or not to wait until there is a decision handed down by the 9th circuit or move forward to adopt the Resolution. Ms. Laymon, Yucca Valley Town Attorney, advised it could take months or up to a year to wait and the Town would best be served to have a “defensible” procedure in place that can always be amended in the future. The Resolution was passed 4-0.
I spoke on the “Closed Session” items before the Council adjourned at 7:30PM to thank them for placing the Town Manager’s evaluation on the regular Tuesday Town Council agenda, as all the previous managers in the past. I then asked our Town attorney if she was at liberty to say whether there would be any discussion to amend the Town Manager’s contract. She replied she was not at liberty to say. My thoughts were this might be discussed because otherwise wouldn’t she just say Mr. Nuaimi’s contract is not on the table?
And so I waited from 7:30 to 10:00 pm hoping for some breaking news to report on Cactus Thorns. It is very unusual for a closed session to last 2 1/2 hours. As Derwood Andrews told me, the longer the jury is in deliberations, the better the story. We both hung out together when the Hi-Desert Water District would go into their “Closed Sessions.”
When the meeting was finally over, Attorney Lona Laymon was locked out of the building and could not reach me waiting in the Community room. Town Manager, Mark Nuaimi, sent me a message….”No reportable actions.”