City Council

Bruins Atones for Racism, 8 Can’t Wait Reform, a Transcript

Written by lalahpolitico

The audio on the City web site is rather poor and one gets tired trying to listen to it. As I public service I have produced A TRANSCRIPT of the important speeches that atone for racism in Los Altos: Mayor Jan Pepper, Jeannie Bruins, Neysa Fligor, Lynette Lee Eng, City Manager Chris Jordan, Police Chief Galea of the Los Altos Police Department addressing 8 Can’t Wait reform.  ManyPublic Comments called for “Defund the Police.” Below there is  a summary of the comments of the public speakers – two comments are transcribed in full. Transcript June 9, 2020, Council Meeting.

Council Actions taken:  Mayor Jan Pepper and Vice-mayor Neysa Fligor will form a council ad-hoc subcommittee with Police Chief Andy Galea and members of the community to review police training and policies. Separately, Kenan Moos — the youthful leader of the June 6 Black Lives Matter protest march — will sit down with the entire council, including Jeannie Bruins,  tell his stories of encountering racism in the Los Altos area and relate his ideas for change.

These speeches were the second item and were made by council and staff right before public comments on items not on the agenda.

Join over 100 people signing  a petition
urging Jeannie Bruins NOT to resign.

And take further action on the petition page to send an email to Mayor Jan Pepper and Jeannie, to not resign.

http://chng.it/x2BX8TTdfC


At about 8 minutes mark

Mayor Jan Pepper-transcript

Jan Pepper, City of Los Altos, city council 2012-2020

Jan Pepper, City of Los Altos, city council 2012-2020

“So I have something I would like to say right now. The last couple of weeks have been a tumultuous time in our country and in our community. It highlights how very far, we still have to go to fight racism in this country. I want to make it clear that I firmly support Black Lives Matter. I am engaged, and I am enraged. 

There is systemic racism toward the black community in this country. I honor the memories of George Floyd, Rianna Taylor, Trayvon Martin, and the many others who have been killed or harmed by the racism that persists in this country and divides our society. 

Growing up as a child of the 60s, we thought we were making progress. As a Reverend Martin Luther King said in December of 1967, “There can be no justice, without peace, And there can be no peace without justice.” There still is not justice, there still is not peace as rampant racism still exists. The color of our skin should not matter. 

We are all humans, we share a common humanity and a desire to live a meaningful life. We are born into this world as equals, with no say as to who our parents are or what color skin we will have. None of this should matter, we should all have the same opportunities to make the best of our lives. 

But unfortunately, that is not the reality in this country. Black citizens are not treated the same as others, and that is wrong.

The peaceful protest march that was held here in Los Altos last Friday made it clear that thousands of us here in Los Altos agree–Black Lives Matter.

Racism has no place in this community.and will not be tolerated. We must promote and continue to fight for freedom and justice.

This also applies to how the police treat citizens, which I will discuss in a moment. This also applies to the words we use in expressing ourselves. There is no place for racist speech, particularly among our elected officials, and this will not be tolerated in Los Altos. I have received hundreds of emails from residents, regarding the inappropriate words that have a racist history, recently used by Councilmember Jeannie Bruins at one of our council meetings in May. I do not condone such language. Hundreds of residents have further demanded that I, as the mayor, take action to remove Ms. Bruins from office. State election law does not provide for the mayor to remove any council member, nor for the council as a whole to remove any council member. I checked with our city attorney and she said there is no process or actions, the City Council can take to remove an elected official.

I have received hundreds of emails from residents, regarding the inappropriate words that have a racist history

The brutal police killing of George Floyd and so many other black citizens is wrong and unjust. We cannot sit idly by when this kind of action continues to take place across our country. We have received hundreds of emails from residents and others, urging Los Altos to adopt the Eight Can’t Wait policies, and to defund the Los Altos police department.

Tonight I propose that Vice Mayor Fligor and I form an ad hoc committee to work diligently with Los Altos Police Chief’s police chief Andy Galea and members of our community, and other city staff to ensure that our training policies and practices reflect the values of our community. I propose that the subcommittee be in line with the call issued by President Obama to mayors and other city council officials to introduce common-sense limits on police use of force. 

Tonight I propose that Vice Mayor Fligor and I form an ad hoc committee to work diligently with Los Altos Police Chief’s police chief Andy Galea and members of our community, and other city staff to ensure that our training policies and practices reflect the values of our community.

 My Brother’s Keeper Alliance is calling on mayors to commit to the following actions.
One, review your police ‘use of force’ policies
Two, engage your communities by including a diverse range of input experiences and stories in your review.  Three, important findings of your review to your community and seek feedback.
Four, reform your community’s police ‘use of force’ policies.

The vice-mayor and I will be coming back to the council at our next meeting on June 23 with a specific agenda item and a resolution outlining the goals and processes of this  subcommittee’s work. I hope that the council will fully support this proposal so that we can quickly get to work. This can start the process without delay. And as your mayor I will do all that I can to promote justice in Los Altos, to fight for equality to respect each other’s humanity, and particularly to recognize that Black Lives Matter.”


At about 14:00 minutes

Jeannie Bruins-transcript

Jeannie Bruins, City of Los Altos, city council 2012-2020

Jeannie Bruins, City of Los Altos, city council 2012-2020

“As the mayor has pointed out, I made an inappropriate statement, a statement that is associated with a very ugly part of our history. Tonight I’d like to say a few words.  To all who heard my words, or heard about my words, and especially to those who were offended or hurt by my words. I most sincerely apologize. I do so without making any excuses. 

I acknowledge that the phrase is, and should only be viewed as racist. Racial inequality is undeniable. It manifests itself in so many ways, from subtle to the egregious. And the most grotesque being what happened to George Floyd. The death of black men or the harm being done to black men by our police is unacceptable. I too firmly support Black Lives Matters. There are many questions that I’ve asked myself. During this period, and one of those is how can I make a meaningful difference. I may not fully know at this time. 

But I would like to share, where I will start.  A fine member of our community. Kenan Moos, and I’m sorry Kenan if I have just slaughtered your surname, did a tremendous thing by hosting a march, a protest in Los Altos. It was beautifully orchestrated.  In talking to Kenan. I learned that he has a story to tell a story of his experiences, living here in Los Altos.

Kenan has made an offer to sit down with me, as well as my other colleagues on the council to share his experiences and to offer ideas for change. I am taking him up on his offer as it is a gift.

A gift that will shed light on what may be some serious blind spots for many of us.  We cannot make changes if we cannot see what needs to be changed. I would like to take this moment, and invite others in our community to look at Kenan’s lead and to follow his lead. And I encourage you to contact me, so we can begin a conversation. Thank you. And again, my sincere apologies.”


Neysa Fligor-transcript

Neysa Fligor, City of Los Altos, city council 2018-2022

Neysa Fligor, City of Los Altos, city council 2018-2022

“Thank you, Mayor, thank you for your words. I know they were appreciated, and I also want to thank Councilmember Bruins for her statement and apology. I just want to take this opportunity to also thank Police Chief Galea and Officer Katie Krauss for the help and support they gave Kenan and so many others in organizing the peaceful protest in Los Altos on Friday.

That’s why [the protest] was such a success and of such a peaceful nature, because of [Police Dept.] support

I have heard from so many residents that it was even better than they expected.  They appreciated seeing the chief marching with the protesters, residents, and the organizers. They appreciated seeing the merchants coming out and waving to us in support. And so I really just want to acknowledge chief Galea and officer Krauss because I know they’ve worked with us. They were very supportive. And I was thinking that’s why it was such a success and of such a peaceful nature, because of their support. So thank you so much chief Galea and officer Grouse.”


Lynette Lee Eng – transcript

Lynette Lee-Eng, City of Los Altos, city council 2016-2020

Lynette Lee-Eng, City of Los Altos, city council 2016-2020

“Thank you.  And I support your comments and I thank you for that. I do want to also add — and if we could carry it further as well — is, I believe in the past I have advocated for diversity training.

And I think we need that diversity training not only for the police but also for staff. Tonight I propose that Vice Mayor Fligor and I form an ad hoc committee to work diligently with Los Altos Police Chief’s police chief Andy Galea and members of our community, and other city staff to ensure that our training policies and practices reflect the values of our community., not only to evaluate our police department. 

I think we need that for our staff. I think we need, you know, to expand it to include implicit bias training. I mean, we’ve heard from residents as well. I think that everyone has [heard]. And I myself have experienced it. 

And so, I just want to make sure that we can expand that [diversity training], and it should be done regularly so that we are all sensitive to blacks, to everyone, to other races, and to other cultures.

And so, I would like to make sure that that is included as well and we discuss that. I think that as we talk about this [my] subcommittee, I think it should be expanded to make sure it’s an oversight committee, and it’s a Citizens Oversight Committee. So it’s not just two council members, and so I will add my thoughts on that discussion item in the future. So, thank you. And I think it’s important that if we are to include the public, that will help to strengthen trust, communication, and accountability for all.”

Lalahpolitico:  Is Council Member Lee-Eng saying “All Lives Matter?”

Lalahpolitico: This is not the time to talk about People of Color (POC) or All Lives Matter. This is a moment for BLM, Black Lives Matter.   I did not hear any council support for a second subcommittee — one about diversity training to include all city employees and including citizen members. But I guess it will be agendized and explored in the future. ///Google it,  “Ellen Degeneres and POC”. “All Lives Matter” is widely considered equivalent to “Silence is Racism.”


City Manager Chris Jordon – transcript

Chris Jordan, City Manager, City of Los Altos

Chris Jordan, City Manager, City of Los Altos

“Thank you, Mayor. The events of the last couple of weeks have certainly shined a light on police tactics and, and as it has opened up a good dialogue between our police, our staff, and the community. 

The chief and I have discussed all the policies and procedures of our police department.

I’d like, Chief Galea to discuss something right now about some of the changes that that are being made.” 


Police Chief Andy Galea – our 8 Can’t Wait Reform – transcript

 

Andy Galea, Police Cheif, City of Los Altos

Andy Galea, Police Cheif, City of Los Altos

“Thank you, Chris. Good evening mayor and council. As has  been stated—several times— all our police agency’s  policies, practices regarding the use of force are being scrutinized, and rightfully so. There’s a number of areas of concern. References have been made to the 8 Can’t Wait.  The very first item on there is the demands for reform of chokeholds and strangleholds. Our long-existing policy in Los Altos does not permit the chokeholds and strangleholds.  But we did utilize a different technique called the carotid restraint, which is a bit different.  But to provide some context to that.

we obviously will continue the long-standing ban on chokeholds and strangleholds, but we will also cease utilizing the carotid restraint

So I’ve been reviewing a number of our policies. I know, last week. Governor Newsom ordered that the California Police Officers stay in training,  discontinue the training of the carotid restraint. So after reviewing our policies, I did put out an order today that we obviously will continue the ban on chokeholds and strangleholds, but we will also cease utilizing the carotid restraint, as an approved tactic.

But to provide some context to that, I would like to say that I think we have a very disciplined, very, engaged police force.  I think we have an exceptional relationship with the community. So I fully support any review of our policies and practices and certainly welcome any input that we get from the community. “


Summary of public comments on items not on the agenda

Lalahpolitico: IMHO the demographics of the speakers were 100% young single adults and maybe some teens.  There was one older adult known to me,  on the waiting list, but he never took his turn to speak when invited repeatedly by the Deputy City Manager Maginot.

There were several speakers at the 7:30 City meeting that mentioned ‘defunding’ the police.  No one suggested they be disbanded as in Minneapolis.  The earlier 5:30 pm Council City meeting about City finances about 10 speakers advocate for ‘defunding the police’  — aka reducing the City’s police budget and doing something else with the funds. 

Other key ideas of the public comments besides “defunding” the police:

-“Some Staff reductions in police services should be replaced by adding some mental health professionals instead. In particular school resource officers should be replaced by therapists.” 

-Also “911 calls about self-harm and erratic behavior could be addressed by a mental health professional.”

-“Diversity/Sensitivity training does not work.”

-“The public wants detailed statistics on the demographics of police stops, etc.” 

 


Transcript of Selected Public Comments at the 7:30 Meeting

Ramesh – End Exclusionary Housing Policy

“Mayor Pepper, you brought up that we cannot sit idly by and that individuals regardless of race, should be treated with equality. As such, this requires a consistent effort to implementing equitable policies that ensure lower-income residents of color have a place in this city. 

It is absolutely critical that given the current housing affordability crisis in the Bay Area, that the city council sees it as their responsibility to support and build below-market-rate housing.  With each rejection of project proposals, the council is making a statement that they are not willing to allow the potential for communities of color to reside in the city of Los Altos. It is time that Los Altos, end exclusionary zoning practices and accept inclusionary zoning principles in the development of affordable housing. 

Within the past year, there have been numerous projects like the 64 foot building on 40 Main Street. It included affordable units. The project has been met with many critiques from the city of Los Altos and its residents. 

It is critical that in this time, the city of Los Altos recognizes that it has been an exclusionary city for too long, and that communities of color from surrounding areas, who work in this committee are not able to actually live here, Councilwoman Bruin. You’ve stated that you would like to make a meaningful difference in this community. It is your responsibility, among other council members to ensure that Los Altos end its exclusionary housing policy. Thank you. “


Clara – Resign, resign, resign Ms. Bruins

“I just want to say first I appreciate the Mayor for addressing Councilman  Bruins hurtful comments.  But I am disappointed by Councilman Bruins response. 

[Lalahpolitico: Is Clara wondering why Bruins did not announce her resignation at this meeting? Perhaps some activists were speculating she would resign.]

“I have not heard anyone on council acknowledge that there’s an online petition with over 5000 signatures calling for her resignation  from Council. Bruins has said quote unquote that she wants to make a difference, and is not sure how to do so. But I and 5000, others have clearly articulated that the way she can make a difference is by accepting the consequences of her racism and resigning immediately from City Council.  This would set a precedent that we in Los Altos will not tolerate racist rhetoric from our elected officials, who by becoming public figures and choosing to do so, should expect that they are held to the highest standards. And I just want to know why Ms. Bruins has not acknowledged this petition, and why she will not resign.”


Join over 100 people signing  a petition
urging Jeannie Bruins NOT to resign.

And take further action on the petition page to send an email to Mayor Jan Pepper and Jeannie Bruins, to not resign.

http://chng.it/x2BX8TTdfC


Backgrounder

LATC has a good backgrounder you can read here.

https://www.losaltosonline.com/images/a_digital_edition/2020/LATC_06_10_20.pdf

Let Lalahpolitco try to review the background of the situation as well. You may have read in the main stream papers by now that Council Member Jeanne Bruins – during a City Council meeting on either May 20 or 21- spoke what now is a considered non-PC adjective – a racist adjective. Accusers say it was directed at black council member Neysa Fligor.  At first, Ms. Bruins had said it was directed at the idea being proposed not at any council member, and she thought it was just a polite word  for “damned.”  Now she admits there is ‘no excuse’ for not knowing it was hurtful.

There apparently is no video or audiotape of the May 20 or 21 meeting where Bruins revealed her “unconscious systemic racism”.  How many people were there to feel ‘hurt’ by her words? Lalahpolitico:  I guess we’ll never know.

Early in June, Fligor and Bruins issued a joint statement wherein Bruins apologized and Fligor accepted. It was announced in the Los Altos Town Crier.

Meanwhile…

Enraged after George Floyd’s murder by police in Minneapolis on May 25, local Los Altos and Mountain View college students home early because COVID and some of our local high schoolers started “political actions” to combat systemic racism.  Sometimes their parents and other older adults joined in too.  But the younger people are widely given credit for being the real political organizers by the mainstream media and the parents.

These local political actions included

1) a change.org RESIGN petition originated ~June 1 to oust Jeannie Bruins from the council

2) a vigorous ‘viral’ social media campaign to promote Bruins’ resignation on nextdoor.com. The older adults really piled on Bruins on this platform

3) a local peaceful protest lead by the younger people through downtown on Friday, June 6 that attracted hundreds

Councilmember Bruins had agreed to be the ‘main act’ at this June 6 protest, but apparently balked and reneged when – she parked her car near Lincoln Park – and she saw the mass crowd and sketchy social distancing. Bruins has a COVID vulnerable 85-year old mother living in her home. Bruins tried to find a stand-in but none would step in. This last-minute cancellation apparently offended the organizer Kenan Moos and his close supporters, allies, family and friends. Their point of view is she should have never accepted the invitation in the first place.

Lalahpolitico: Cue in Elvis Presley “Suspicion.”Had the organizers seeded ‘plants’ on the Lincoln Park lawn to start spontaneously shouting for Bruins to resign? That would have been sooooo powerful to witness.

Supporters of Ms. Bruins have offered to start a counter-petition for her that apologizes for her racist speech and argues Bruins should complete her term in council.  If she were to resign, some pending council actions will not gain a majority and pass. The council vote would be split 2 to 2. Furthermore, any issue that is acted on by council and fails to gain a majority in the next 6 months cannot be agendized for a whole year. Council priorities will not more forward.

Bruins is termed out in 5 months.

But Ms. Bruins has not endorsed any pro-Bruins petition effort and apparently has decided to accept as much negative publicity for herself and positive publicity for important ideas — Black Lives Matter, Defund the Police, 8 Can’t Wait  — that the local activists feel they need.

Lalahpolitico:  I am sure the local activists will gratefully remember how much Bruins helped them with their political action agenda this summer.   Her suffering through this… her awokening,  is atoning for all the rest of us people of pallor.


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About the author

lalahpolitico

Norma Schroder is an economics & market researcher by trade and ardent independent journalist, photographer and videographer by avocation. Enthralled by the growth of the tech industry over the decades, she became fascinated with the business of local politics only in the past several years.