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By Jerry Bernstein
The Hawaiian Gardens City Council. in a 3-1 vote, censured Councilmember Barry Bruce for violations of council policy regarding the conduct and decorum for council meetings and council norms and procedures with Councilman Bruce abstaining.
The move to censure Bruce following complaints and grievances against the councilmember relating to conduct and statements he made towards the city clerk’s office during and following the Nov. 2011 city elections and at the council meeting of Dec. 13, 2011. Making the request for censure was AFSCE Vice President Joseph Colombo at the council’s Apr. 10 meeting.
In reviewing the minutes of the pervious meeting, Councilman Bruce requested a correction be made regarding a statement by the Mayor requesting a
Resolution “censoring” Councilman Bruce as opposed to “censuring.” He said he thought it was important the right word be used. According to Webster’s Dictionary Censuring is the act of blaming or reprimanding. Censoring is suppressing anything objectionable.
Mayor Gomez said he felt the council needs some type of action. “It is an action I do not take lightly or take pleasure in doing.” he said. “We’ve heard the complaints concerning Councilman’s Bruce behavior and his calling us baboons and calling residents liars and names who have come up to the podium to speak because they disagree with him. “We’ve also had two grievances filed against him by employees and lawsuits against the city and him involving employee protection rights.” He said all members of the
council is libel for their actions. “Like it or not, we are role models for the city.” The Mayor accused Councilman Bruce of constantly speaking out of order and refusing to yield the floor when ruled out of order, causing embarrassment to the council and community.
Councilwoman Michiko Oyama-Canada said when her husband was on the council she attended one of the meetings and saw another councilmember constantly bullying my husband. I never thought I would be up her and be treated the same way. “I was raised in a family that believed in the bible. You need to look at yourself Councilman Bruce,” she stated.
PREVIOUS COUNCIL QUESTIONED
Councilmember Reynaldo Rodriguez accused the previous council not asking questions. Nobody did anything. They voted and adjourned the meeting. He said, “That’s not happening now with Councilmember Bruce and myself.”
On Apr. 10 Mr. Colombo, our Community Development Director and Vice President of the Union, said the Mayor should censure Councilman Bruce for his lack of respect for the rest of the Council. “The one thing he is guilty of is his questions concerning taxpayer money paid to consultants for city projects, past and present, “ He said he was also guilty for asking similar questions. He accused the union of running the city government and said they were responsible for the Mayor and Mayor Pro Tem Farfan’s re-election to the council by contributing money to their campaign and walking the precincts for them. He accused them of being union puppets. He said when the three councilmembers became a team courtesy and respect went out the window by bypassing Bruce for Mayor and instead re-electing themselves Mayor and Mayor Pro Tem for the last three years. He accused them of power and greed. He described them as going to “high-powered” meetings held by consultants and “high society” who shower them with free dinner, drinks and golf and tell them what a fine job they are doing, apparently referring to the Contract Cities and League of California annual meetings and different committee meetings they attend during the year.
Rodriguez said he and Bruce have accused the council majority and city government of corruption and have been challenged to provide proof of their charges and take it to the District Attorney. “I will sooner or later visit the District Attorney in Los Angeles.
Farfan said he respects Rodriguez and Bruce, but as the Mayor said the general public needs to know we, as the council cannot be made a mockery of when we as councilmembers are here to represent our community. It does not let us more forward. To do that we have to work together. “We can’t tolerate this. We now have to go forward.”
Turning to Rodriguez, he said you are not part of this. You speak quite well. You’re not arguing but stating your position on the issues. We all represent different segments of the city but we have to work together as a council.”
Councilman Bruce Responds
Bruce in turn went down a list of council procedures and said, “When we residents picketed city hall it was because we felt the council was trying to “gentrify” the city. He said, “That was our prerogative. It was their right to speak out.” He described it as politically correct. He cited Mayor Gomez of not thanking residents who came to the dias to speak and thanking them for coming to the council meeting. “You just said you have 20 seconds. You gave them no response.”
Bruce said he had apologized for some of the name-calling he did, especially the monkey one. ”There were times I was mad and if I hated this community as much as I have been accused, I would have left a long time ago.” He said he as been accused of being a terrible pastor, have been demonized, kicked around and been called a liar. People I have given thousands of dollars to have called me a liar, I know they are liars. I have documented proof if you, Mr. Colombo, would like to see it.”
He again accused Los Cerritos Community News of printing lies about him. “They were one of the biggest lairs.” He said there have been secret agendas, citing the dismissal of former city attorney John Cavanaugh as an example. “It was not the way it was suppose to be handled.”
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