HUNTINGTON PARK — Relegated to the end of the meeting, members of a regional group that has repeatedly criticized the City Council still made their voices heard early in the Jan. 19 session.
Told that only comments related to items on the agenda could be heard at the start of the meeting, members of We The People Rising discussed two items to level their rebukes.
The items were participation in an open street CicLAvia program May 15 and a trip to a shopping center convention May 22-25. Council later approved both items.
Arthur Schaper of Torrance spoke against closing a city street for the bicycle and pedestrian event while Robin Hvidson of Claremont berated the council for considering the Las Vegas trip at a cost of $12,000.
She told a reporter she also protested the open street event and its cost, but was not allowed to speak. Mayor Karina Macias said she did not have a comment request card from Hvidson for that subject.
City staff noted that CivLAvia is a joint program with other cities and is funded by a grant from the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority.
City officials have noted that past trips to the Las Vegas convention have resulted in businesses, such as Starbucks, moving into the city.
While the council was in closed session, Schaper conducted loud interviews, taped by Havidson, with a Huntington Park police officer repeating charges that the city broke the law by appointing two non-citizens to advisory commission.
Schaper was challenged by a young woman who said the group should stop harassing the council. The woman, who identified herself only as “Karla” and said she was a Huntington Park resident and citizen, led a group of audience members in chanting “stop the hate.”
Schaper responded by leading a chant “get in line,” meaning immigrants should apply for citizenship.
Members of the group continued to shout comments from their seats during the meeting, resulting in pleas for order from Mayor Karina Macias, two five-minute recesses and warnings from a police officer and City Attorney Arnold Alvarez-Glasman that disrupting the meeting could result in temporary removal from the council chambers.
One member of the group, Raul Rodriguez, was removed.
The group has protested with comments and signs calling for removal of the non-citizens, Francisco Medina from the Health and Education Commission and Julian Zatarain from the Parks and Recreation Commission; also for the recall of all council members except Valentin Amezquita, who voted against appointment of the two.
Council members were not able to start the regular business meeting until about 8:30 p.m., some two and one-half hours into the meeting, which continued well past midnight.