Who is Guarding the Guardians?

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By Anna Marie Gott

When the wrong people believe that rules were made for everyone but them, things can go bad fast. When a person writes the rules for others they should abide by them, right? Not so in Santa Barbara where the powerful are exempt.

What happened? The City Council rescinded Council Resolution No. 05-073 by approving Resolution No. 09-097. One set of rules was replaced by another. We elect representatives for that. As  Council member, and member of the Ad Hoc Council Procedures Committee, Cathy Murillo worked for 3 months in 2015 to install new rules for procedures that now govern City Council meetings. On November 10th Murillo and the City Council voted unanimously to replace Robert’s Rules of Order with Rosenberg’s Rules of Order for the 21st Century and rescinding Resolution No. 09-097. 2009 was out and Rosenberg was in. Why is this important?

Rosenberg’s Rules of Order tell policy makers how to work when things get confusing, like when a motion needs to be reconsidered and how to make it. In case there was a past vote, for example, to keep things clear and on track, there need to be rules on how that vote gets changed once the matter is closed. In this case, 2 conditions must exist:

1. The first is timing, the motion “must be made at the meeting where the item was first voted on.” 

2. The second rule applies to who can make a motion to reconsider. “A motion to reconsider may be made only by a member who voted in the majority on the original motion.” 

To keep rule making from looking like a ball on a tennis court played between opposing sides, these rules specify that “if a member who voted in the minority seeks to make a motion to reconsider, it must be ruled out of order. The purpose of the rule is finality. If a member of a minority could make a motion to reconsider, then the item could be brought back to the body again and again, which would defeat the purpose of finality.”

It is simple. A bedrock principle where all rules of order from a small town PTA to the US Senate keeps that tennis ball in play only for so long - someone from the winning side (majority) can request reconsideration.  The City has always observed this principal under both Robert’s and Rosenberg’s Rules of Order.   

On January 9th a majority on council voted to appoint Councilmember Dominguez to the Santa Barbara County Association of Governments (SBCAG). Against the rules, the ball went back into play on January 16th when minority members Murillo and Friedman, submitted a memo citing the old, 2009, rescinded Resolution No. 05-073 as their authority to reconsider the appointment. Not only did Murillo and Friedman rely this rescinded Resolution for standing, but they were both part of the minority and out of order.

The bottom-line here is that Murillo either willfully ignored the law or she forgot that she spent months considering Rosenberg’s Rules of Order and voted to replace them. Whichever the case may be, it leaves both Murillo and Friedman at the core of the deep dysfunction gripping City Council. 

There are two items of paramount concern now. Will Murillo and the City admit the mistake or will the City let this terrible precedent stand? 

The political machinations of Murillo and Friedman must stop and our City Attorney must uphold our laws not ignore them. If you want to tell Murillo and the City Council to be honest and follow the laws email SBCityCouncil@santabarbaraCA.gov.

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mrtrump Feb 09, 2018 01:32 PM
Who is Guarding the Guardians?

The City has already been sent a letter from legal representatives. If the Feb 6 voted is found to be unlawful, then all votes at SBCAG may be considered void if the person elected on Jan 6 is not representing the city during SBCAG board votes.

CivilEngineer Feb 09, 2018 01:39 PM
Who is Guarding the Guardians?

Maybe they should put info about the writer of these pieces so you know where she is coming from. Google says she is a co-president of Allied Neighborhoods who seems to be firmly against vacation rentals and the AUD program. She also wrote an opinion piece in EdHat right before the last election saying that the Democratic endorsement of Cathy has been unfair. I guess Cathy has a firm enemy in Ms Gott. As for the current issue, if the City Council and the majority that originally voted for Dominguez are not up on the governing rules of order, then how are they to be enforced? Seems like Mr. Dominguez would be raising this issue if it is to be pursued.

mrtrump Feb 09, 2018 01:46 PM
Who is Guarding the Guardians?

To civilengineer- Dominguez has already sent a letter to the city through his legal rep, at least that's what I've heard. And what does a person's political position matter if their legal reasoning is valid and supported by the law?

LocalinSB Feb 09, 2018 11:01 PM
Who is Guarding the Guardians?

Will Dominguez be reinstated? That would be great. There might be hope yet but I am going to bet that Murillo trys to get appointed again. The woman won't give up. - 19 to 1 she is going to use the SBCAG position to feather her nest after destroying Santa Barbara.

SBCountyLocal Feb 09, 2018 02:22 PM
Who is Guarding the Guardians?

Focus on what the author can prove/illustrate and then what the Councilmembers and City Attorney do. Don't judge the author based any political persuasion, because you may find they align with you and have a deeper perspective simply based on direct experience. As someone who has watched the City for some time and one who has interacted extensively with the City Planning Department I can firmly state that the City is deeply dysfunctional. The addition of Murillo as mayor, Friedman as Councilmember and a supporter of Murillo's (if chosen) in the 3rd District will increase the dysfunction. They will be so consumed with propping each other up they won't make good policies and one's that are put forward by others (Dominguez comes to mind) they will automatically be against. - This pieces clearly illustrates that more citizens need to get involved in local politics to keep people honest.

Wm. Smithers Feb 09, 2018 04:59 PM
Who is Guarding the Guardians?

Re the cited Rosenberg's (or Robert's) Rules of Order:

If at the next - or any subsequent - city council meeting, could not Randy Rouse, who voted with the majority to install Dominguez as Santa Barbara's representative on the SB County Association of Governments (but who later changed his mind because he believed that representative should have been elected by all city voters) - could not Rouse move to reconsider the relevant matter?

William Smithers

SBCountyLocal Feb 09, 2018 05:41 PM
Who is Guarding the Guardians?

Council has become a circus. Why would Randy Rowse put it though another vote just to put someone who didn't get her way in a position well above her pay grade. - Murillo isn't smart and wouldn't know good policy if it bit her in the a**. Besides that, If you read the rules you know that you need 2/3 to pass it, not a majority. They would need Kristen Sneddon, a smart cookie, and someone who did the right thing by standing with the person her District would want, Jason Dominguez. They could try this again in June when there is a new rep. But I am betting that Eric Friedman and Randy Rowse are going to get so much grief over this that that will give it up. - The reconsideration should have NEVER happened. The right person was chosen the first time.

Wm. Smithers Feb 09, 2018 06:04 PM
Who is Guarding the Guardians?

You guess this and you surmise that. In fact, the cited Rules of Order permit Rouse to re-open the matter. Whatever his mail may have been he did what he thought was proper, meaning that the SBCAG representative should be someone voted for by all Santa Barbarans. I agree with him. And I think your nasty remarks about Mayor Murillo, made as usual by someone hiding behind a fake name, are those of someone who would fail miserably in any debate or political contest with her. William Smithers

mrtrump Feb 09, 2018 07:02 PM
Who is Guarding the Guardians?

To SBCOUNTYLOCAL- Rowse could call for a vote to reconsider, but it would require a 2/3 vote to suspend the rules and allow the vote. Rowse does not have the votes. Murillo broke the rules by allowing a reconsideration vote.

22701015201 Feb 09, 2018 09:45 PM
Who is Guarding the Guardians?

Murillo's MO is to break the rules wherever she call. People need to show up at some of the other committees meetings she's been on. Last year after the Council voted to cap AUD units at 125 a year (because we were getting expensive $$$ housing) and allow just the best projects to be built while the City fixed the AUD and promoted the housing we need Murillo tried to do a end round around Council's vote. She wants to EXCLUDE all the AUD units from impact fees IF they had a application in by September 13th, 2017. In August, she had voted against the cap and lost and she wanted to exclude all AUD units from impact fees. She didn't get it at Council. She did get that at at the housing task force. But guess what that September 13th date is up at cancelled this week!

LocalinSB Feb 09, 2018 10:55 PM
Who is Guarding the Guardians?

It is clear that Murillo/ Rowse won't have the 2/3 to pass or reconsider the issue right now. Hart can't vote. Sneddon is new but she probably already knows how toxic Murillo is and is already uncomfortable with this. She would be insane to vote for Murillo or for reconsideration. - The lady is smart. - Friedman can't help but put his foot in his mouth. He also seems to think that Murillo is heaven sent or something. Hopefully he can grow up and tone down. He just appears to be an blowhard and know it all, when in reality he is out of his league. - How he got elected I will never know. He talks in circles almost everytime he comments in meetings.

a-1518227407 Feb 09, 2018 05:50 PM
Who is Guarding the Guardians?

I know Ms. Gott has no love for Murillo, I have come to expect an op-ed from her every other week or so slamming the Mayor and now perhaps more members of the City Council. Dominguez is not the one to serve SBCAG. This county has been long divided North vs South. The South has long had the upper hand because this is where the majority of the $$ is. Santa Maria is now the city with the population and work force. How many of you know that Dominguez was the lawyer representing Hector Sanchez who sued the city of SM for district elections? SM ended up writing a fat check to Dominguez for give or take $30,000 .00. https://www.independent.com/news/2017/feb/23/district-elections-coming-santa-maria/
Presently Dominguez is the attorney who has filed suit suing the City of Oxnard for district elections also. Wonder how much the pay out on that one will be?
So I hardly think Dominguez is the one to be serving on the SAGA. I don't think he will be out there fostering good will and cooperation if he is suing our neighbor cities. I am not advocating one way or another for district elections. I don't think it is a good example to have a sitting Council member out suing all our neighbor cities in the Tri-Counties.
(I know Oxnard is not in the SBCAG for all of you who will bring that up).

A Real Local Feb 09, 2018 09:56 PM
Who is Guarding the Guardians?

Negative stories on Murillo write themselves. Sounds like you need to start paying attention to what's really going on in this City.

a-1518236451 Feb 09, 2018 08:20 PM
Who is Guarding the Guardians?

Ms. Gott, I am confused. You say the council voted unanimously to adopt Rosenberg's Rules, but then in your third to last paragraph you say Murillo voted to replace them. Please clarify.

SBCountyLocal Feb 09, 2018 08:56 PM
Who is Guarding the Guardians?

I think you need to click the links. One resolution was axed in 2009. The one that replaced it was axed in 2015. Looks like Murillo was on a Committee that wanted Robert's Rules and the Resolution replaced by Rosenberg's Rules and all of that happened in 2015. - A good question for the City is: What other rescinded resolutions have been used and why doesn't the City Attorneys Office know what's going on? Sloppy record keeping?

22701015201 Feb 10, 2018 07:59 AM
Who is Guarding the Guardians?

Say something! Do something! - If residents are silent they are culpable in allowing Murillo to break the laws without consequences. They can expect more of this behavior. - ---If woman didn't speak up during the #MeeToo movement nothing would have changed. If people are fine with corruption in any form then DO NOTHING. If you want better behavior and better decisions DO SOMETHING. - ---Change happens one person at a time until there is a movement . BE a part of change. TELL the Santa Barbara City Council that Murillo's behavior IS UNACCEPTABLE and that the City must acknowledge the illegality of the SBCAG vote and Nullify it. Tell them YOU expect MORE of City officials and to get their act together! They work for YOU! And their ethics and performance reflects on YOU! Make them ACCOUNTABLE! EMAIL them@ SBCityCouncil@SantaBarbaraCA.gov

Mesarats Feb 10, 2018 03:15 PM
Who is Guarding the Guardians?

The argument that Murillio has to be appointed to the SBCAG because she or any Mayor from here on, is elected via at large election, and therefore the only member that can represent the entire city is faulty. All members serve on committees and advisory boards, finance, ordinance, transportation or whatever. Take Greg Hart, he is involved with the downtown organization which makes sense because it is in his district, but also for years has been on and is the chairman of the Finance Committee. It is twisted logic to suggest that he or any other council member does not represent the city as a whole in that capacity. In the course of coucil business, members discuss or hash out district specific concerns, but when they vote on administrative or legislative issues it applies city wide. Even if the Mayor won the election with 100% of the vote, she still only gets 1 vote on the council, period.

a-1518762308 Feb 15, 2018 10:25 PM
Who is Guarding the Guardians?

Ms. Gott why do you hate Cathy Murillo so much? You have now written a minimum of 3 critical op-eds on this subject and stood up in front of council for 8 minutes. Have you ever tried to work with Mayor Murillo instead of against her? Maybe the results would be better. You know the old adage you catch more flies with honey than vinegar.

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