Finding # 9: At the April 21, 2015 meeting, public comment proceeded in an orderly and timely fashion.
So when is a good Kern County Grand Jury finding actually a bad finding? This gets a little complicated, as are many things in our small town.
I will begin by giving you a little insight into the NORMAL happenings at a Rosamond Community Service District Board Meeting. As I layout the story for you, please understand that on the surface this finding is great and it would appear to confirm that all is well in Rosamond.
I challenge you to watch any of the RCSD meetings that are available on YouTube or better yet…attend a meeting or two. I am sure you will come to the conclusion that things are not well in Rosamond, California.
This finding is complicated because given the overall negative theme of the Grand Jury report, it appears to be out of place and reads as if it is a positive finding. Word on the street is that the RCSD Board Members knew in advance that members of the Kern County Grand Jury were in attendance on the night of April 21, 2015. In a surreal manner, the board members really minded their “P’s & Q’s” on that evening. So yes, public comment was orderly and timely ON THIS ONE EVENT, believe me it is far from the norm and doesn’t tell the entire story.
Let’s go back to the meeting on December 8, 2014 (the very first OFFICIAL meeting that included the newly elected Board members).
It was standing room only! The crowd was loud and emotional. Rightfully so, many in the group had already heard through the grapevine that the Board was going to fire General Manager, Steve Perez and Attorney, John Gibson (see Image 10, below) this was the resultant meeting spurred on by those ILLEGAL meetings [as cited previously in Finding # 1]). Board President, Morrison “Ed” MacKay was losing control and threatened to have the room cleared if the crowd did not “shut up” (his words) when the crowd would not stop their objections, Mr. MacKay verbally threatened to “call the sheriff and have everyone removed”.
Being a man of his word, Board President MacKay and long-term Reserve Kern County Sheriff Deputy, pulled out his cell phone and called the Kern County Sheriff’s Office; shortly after that five deputies (side note, Rosamond ONLY has FIVE deputies) showed up at the meeting. (Unbeknownst, to Mr. MacKay, the deputies had been previously notified by Mr. Steve Perez.) It turns out to be great timing on the deputies’ part because they were simultaneously dispatched in response to Mr. MacKay’s, report of “a fight breaking out at the meeting” and Mr. Perez’s call for as a preemptive measure in case something got out of hand. After all, based upon his long relationship with the community and the drama being created by Ed, Olaf, and Dennis; Steve expected something dramatic to take place.
Mr. Perez was sitting in the conference room when the deputies arrived; this was because, he and fellow board members Mr. Glennan and Mr. Wallis chose not to participate in “an illegal meeting”. When the deputies arrived, one went into the conference room and asked Steve what was going on. Steve, being unaware of the “power play” by Mr. MacKay thought the deputy were there at his request said, “Nothing is going on”. Immediately, the deputy closed the door and informed Steve that they had received a phone call that a “fight had broken out at the meeting” which the deputies could see was not happening when they arrived.
Image 10: List of alleged Brown Act violations from December 8, 2014 to February 16, 2015.
For a couple of months after that meeting 2 to 3 Kern County Deputies were at every meeting and their effect on the crowd was evident as people were reluctant to voice their opinions and the crowd was considerably more subdued it should be noted that during this period these deputies were there under orders from the Rosamond Substation Lieutenant to be there at the request of Mr. MacKay. It was discovered that Mr. MacKay had called the Lieutenant and requested them previously for the December 8, 2014 meeting there was no public comment allowed and Mr. Landsgaard made the comment that “Special Meetings do not require Public Comment”
Reflecting back to finding # 1 the Kern County Grand Jury disagreed with Olaf. For additional information on the Brown Act, please Google, “Brown Act: Public Comment 54954.3(a), 54954.2(b) & 54954.3(c)”.
At almost every turn, Mr. MacKay has done everything he can to squash public comment and criticism of the Board. One of his favorite method to achieving this “limitation of free speech” is to limit a person to a strict time limit and only allow a person to speak one time (unless that person is saying something that the board likes to hear).
Yes, you read that last part correct, case in point when the RCSD Board voted to remove the sewer bill assessment from property tax and place it back on the water bill; those that opposed were given a strict time limit and one opportunity to speak. Departing from the established “MacKay method of crowd control and free speech restraint”, a landlord told the board, “I own 19 rental properties and stand to gain a $9,000 tax break by this proposed action.” was allowed to speak in favor of the proposal at the podium for 30 minutes and was allowed to revisit the podium several more times and was even asked by the Board Members present to come back to the podium and speak in favor of the proposed action.
Ed MacKay continues to limit public comments and to find ways to intimidate the crowd to this day.
Here’s the final point on this finding. When the Board had an agenda item to discuss the Grand Jury Report on July 22, 2015, Mr. MacKay knowing that there was going to be a large crowd; possibly a crowd that would be very critical of the board, made his phone calls again. This explains the presence of two Kern County Sheriff deputies in the room, as noted by the Mojave Desert News in this past week’s edition.
Oh, on a final note: I did mention, just in case you skimmed over it; Mr. Morrison “Ed” MacKay is a long term Reserve Kern County Sheriff Deputy…
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_5-Q62lV3Sg (video from December 8, 2014)
====================== Finding # 9 states: “At the April 21, 2015 meeting, public comment proceeded in an orderly and timely fashion.”
The RCSD’s official response to Finding # 9: “The Board agrees with this finding.”
To read the next section click here: The Midnight Writings: Finding 10 – “Whispers in Public”