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Join Cerritos Residents to Protest Election Change at April 27 City Council Meeting

April 18, 2023

By Brian Hews

Angry Cerritos residents, upset about what they (correctly) call voter suppression, are planning a huge gathering at the April 27, 2023 Cerritos City Council meeting to protest the actions by Chuong Vo, Bruce Barrows, and Naresh Solanki to move the next City Cerritos Council election from 2024-‘2025.

The protest is a result of Cerritos’ Monday April 10, 2023 “Special Meeting,” where outgoing Mayor Vo, Mayor pro tem Bruce, who was appointed and not elected, and Solanki voted to move the city’s election date from April 2024 to March 2025.

The vote was 3-2, with Councilpersons Lynda Johnson and Frank Yokoyama voting not to move the election.

The three yes votes were cast despite the objections of Yokoyama and Johnson, ten angry public speakers and 12 additional complaints submitted via email to the city clerk; no speakers appeared, or any emails submitted in favor of the move, which will cost the city upwards of $100,000.

Scan the code below or click on the image to RSVP to attend the April 27 meeting.

Violate the Political Reform Act?

Under the Political Reform Act, “a public official has a disqualifying conflict of interest in a governmental decision (i.e., cannot vote on an agenda item) if it is foreseeable that the decision will have a material financial impact on his or her finances.”

If the public official’s finances are involved – for example, in the case of Vo Barrows, and Solanki voting to extend their terms eleven months nets each member at least $20,000 – then foreseeability is presumed; more than $500 is considered material.

There are exceptions to the disqualifying rule; but only one applies in the case of Barrows, Vo, and Solanki’s vote to move the election, and it is an exception that disqualifies them from voting to move the election.

Under 82030(b)(2), a financial impact is not material if the decision (moving the Cerritos election) would [only] “set or change the salary, per diem, or reimbursement for expenses received from a local government agency.

Basically, 82030(b)(2) exempts public salaries, per diems and reimbursement for expenses from a disqualifying event.

But no other taxpayer monies paid to public officials are exempt.

In the case of Barrows and Vo, monies not exempt under 82030(b)(2) is the city-provided health insurance for the two officials. The city pays for their health coverage; they do not buy their own and then receive reimbursement from the city.

That health coverage is explicitly foreseeable (in the case of Vo and Barrows voting to extend their terms), material (over $500), and is therefore not exempt under 82030(b)(2).

Consequently, Vo and Barrows’ vote to move the Cerritos election is in direct violation of 82030 and the Political Reform Act because they have a disqualifying conflict of interest in a governmental decision (moving the Cerritos election) that will have a foreseeable and material financial impact on their finances.

82030 continues, “To avoid actual bias or the appearance of possible improprieties, the public official is prohibited from participating in the decision.”

Therefore, Vo and Barrows cannot vote to move the election to 2025.

Emails into the city and elected officials went unanswered.