Shultz, Shannon Discuss NLB Block Party Intervention At July 10 Council meeting:
Councilman Shultz defends his July 4th "block party" actions (transcript excerpt)
City Att'y Shannon says law wasn't broken but "ambiguity" in ordinance justifies clean up amendment (transcript excerpt)
Council sends amendment allowing 2/3 neighborhood approval for block parties to public safety committee
Grabinski walks out before agenda item, returns after it's over
(July 10, 2001) -- Below are transcript excerpts of from the July 10, 2001 Council meeting in which Councilman Jerry Shultz and City Attorney Robert Shannon discussed the July 4th block party intervention by Mr. Shultz involving City Manager Henry Taboada.
The discussion occurred in connection with an item agendized by Councilman Shultz, proposing to amend the LB Municipal Code to permit block parties with less than 100% neighborhood approval.
The Council voted 8-0 (Grabinski present shortly before this item, absent during it, and present shortly thereafter) to send Shultz's proposal to its Public Safety Committee (chaired by Shultz).
Before the vote, Councilman Shultz raised the issue of his July 4th intervention involving City Manager Henry Taboada. His discussion included a colloquy with City Attorney Robert Shannon.
City Manager Taboada did not speak during discussion of the item.
Councilmember Dennis Carroll (a lawyer and judge pro tem) and Vice Mayor Dan Baker (a lawyer) did not speak. Councilwoman Kell (formerly taught government at Millikan High) spoke but only addressed amending the ordinance (supported amending it for 2/3 neighborhood approval).
Councilman Shultz's item was number 13 on the agenda. Councilman Grabinski voted on item 11, but disappeared during item 12 and through all of item 13. He reappeared in time to vote on item 14.
Transcript excerpts follow. Deletions indicated by ellipses. [We will add further speakers and material to this page as time permits in coming days so check back, reload and refresh this page]:
Councilman Shultz: Many years ago when most of us were growing up, we spent a lot of time on the front porches of our homes, we got to know our neighbors...Something happened in the last few decades. We kind of moved from the front porch to the backyard...and the only time we now see our neighbors is when we're leaving the driveway to go somewhere.
There's one such community in my district that's trying to change that, the 1600 block of Poinsettia Street in the 9th district has for 18 years been meeting in a block party event every 4th of July...
I'd like to share with you what's happened over the past week since it's been in the press for some odd reason almost every day. This year for the very first time in all those years, a relatively new resident on the block decided she did not want to participate. She wrote a letter to the city protesting the issuance of a permit. Because of that, the permit was denied.
On the 3d of July, there was a news report on Channel 4...where they sent a crew out and they talked to people up and down the street...The next day, the 4th of July, I went out there around noontime, and my intent was to meet with this lone individual and see if I could perhaps get her out and maybe talk to some of her neighbors and act as a mediator between the groups...
Unfortunately, I discovered that she wasn't home. In fact, she had packed up her family and intended to celebrate the 4th of July in another city in another park.
...What's the common sense thing to do? Well, two ways I could have gone. Do nothing: they don't have the permit, they don't have the party Or call the City Manager and ask if there's something we could do to permit the party to go on.
In that, the one person who could have possibly been harmed was no longer there anyway. I called the City Manager, I discussed it with him, and he agreed that the party would go on.
Notified the police, they put up the barricades, they had their party, haven't been any complaints regarding the party.
In fact it would have been a non-issue had the press not continued to report this almost every day for the past week, pillorying me and the City Manager.
I can tell you this, if I added up my phone calls and my e-mails and my faxes are running 10 to 1 in favor of the action we took. So there's really several issues here, three as I see it.
Number 1, was closing the street and allowing the block party to go on, was it the right thing to do?
Number 2, was closing it against the law?
And number 3, does the ordinance need to be changed?
Let's look at these. This city, as many cities have over the past few years, we tried in my occasions to get neighborhoods together...Here we have an occasion where a community does get together on a regular basis just to have fun and enjoy a national holiday. Is it right then for the vote of one person out of an entire block to thwart the wishes of the majority?
And yes I suppose, an attorney would say, by the spirit of that ordinance, we shouldn't have done it. I deal with common sense as often as I can.
And contrary to what Tom Hennessy said in the Press-Telegram today, it wasn't grandstanding. Had it not been for the Press-Telegram coming out there it wouldn't have even been a story. It wouldn't have even been known outside of that block. They're the ones that made it the issue.
...I do want to clear up one point that I hear frequently by the detractors of Henry [Taboada] and myself, and that is, I'd like to ask the City Attorney, the phrase that has been used, "we broke the law." Did we in fact break the law by allowing this annual block party to take place on the 4th of July? I'd like to direct that to our City Attorney...
City Attorney Robert Shannon
City Attorney Shannon: Madam Mayor, Councilman Shultz, the simple answer to that is "no."
The code section in question specifically indicates that where a 100% of the residents sign the petition, the City Manager must grant the permit, as long as other conditions are met. Nowhere is there indicated in the ordinance or addressed the situation where less than 100% of the people sign on.
And I read this to mean, although there is a degree of ambiguity, I'll admit that. But I can't interpret ambiguities, I have to interpret the law a I see it, the letter of the law. There is nothing that says in that ordinance that says the City Manager cannot grant a permit where less than 100% of the people sign off. So no, the simple answer is no, the law was not broken.
Now that said, there is an ambiguity, and whatever you decide, whether you decide it should be in all instances 100% or that it should be some figure less than 100%, I think that needs to be clarified and the ambiguity erased.
So I would be very much in favor of dealing with that issue tonight or referring it to committee.
[Speakers from the public, excerpts to be added here in the coming days; check back, reload and refresh this page.]