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Aggressive camera tactics prove thorny for NCs, DONE

A meeting was called in Sunland Tujunga a few days back, set for yesterday afternoon, for the Neighborhood Council's executive committee to address the matter of community outreach.

In the view of some, the odd meeting was called for the sake of retaliating against David Cain. Cain, who wrote a controversial letter regarding the Foothill Boulevard Specific Plan that appeared in a small community newspaper two weeks ago, is currently the head of community outreach efforts for the NC.

This morning, I received the following version of what went on at this bizarre meeting from Terre Ashmore, who was involved in community outreach at a community Fourth of July event.

Secretary Cindy Cleghorn tells me via email that official meeting minutes won't be available for a week. Cleghorn and Tomi Lyn Bowling were also invited to respond to some matters touched upon by others but did not respond. ST Chamber of Commerce president Sonia Tatulian, not a member of the NC, did speak to me about the meeting.

Ashmore's anecdotal report of last night's meeting follows.

The operation of the Outreach Committee has been placed under the direction of the Executive Committee on a trial basis for three months. David Cain remains "In Charge" of his Outreach Committee but as he put it: "like a paper tiger". Cindy Cleghorn tried to officially take it away from David with language like "assumes control of" in her motion but was prevented by Dan McManus who had her change that to "assists with" and "trial basis". The meetings will run concurrently with two agendas (so they can monitor what David does) and there was much discussion about voting members and overlapping quorums. A representative from DONE was in the audience and gave input re: those issues but after much debate I don't know what the outcome was regarding voting...

Dan McManus admitted he had had no better results with garnering numbers of volunteers when he was in charge of Outreach so it could not be laid at David's doorstep that the low volunteer count was his fault. Deby Ray, a former STNC member suggested from the audience some very practical approaches and also resisted efforts to defame David. She suggested back to back meetings to solve voting issues. Again no resolution appeared to have been reached re: that problem. David inquired repeatedly what the Brown Act covers in this instance and no one seemed to know.

I told them of my experiences re: the task I was assigned to get volunteers for the parade and 4th of July and how Sonia Tatulian the CofC president called me to ridicule and demand an accounting of my efforts and ordered me not to do so as she would not provide wristbands to allow STNC volunteers in for "her" free fireworks. Dan said I was not a STNC member and unfortunately had no authority to do the activity I was given by David to do (this appears to be true) but just when Sonia started to applaud my discredit he told her she also was not an STNC member either and had had no authority to back her actions against me.

Robin Seigel Meares repeatedly walked behind me and hit me in the back everytime she passed supposedly by accident* [see update below]. When a candidate for the vacant rep seat (Barbara Johnson, Robins friend resigned) was introduced as a local attorney, Joe Barrett jumped up and yelled "hooray! Do you do slander suits?" and looked pointedly at David and Doc. When I said that was inappropriate, Joe grabbed his video camera and held it 2 feet from my face for 10-15 minutes* [see update below] and when I objected Dan said he had the right to film the meeting but he was filming me while the meeting went on behind him. I said it was a form of assault but no one came to my aid and Joe just held the camera full in my face and laughed out loud for a while.

There were 14 stakeholders in attendance (including current reps and former board members, Joe, Robin, and Barbara all itching for a fight, and Doc and camera crew) and 5 Board Members: Dan McManus, Mark Seigel, Cindy Cleghorn, Tomi Lyn Bowling and David Cain. (Mark Seigel arrived very late and had to have everything repeated). The vote to accept the motion was unanamous and they adjourned at 6:45pm (started at 5:30pm)

[*UPDATE: Ashmore writes in comments: My apologies. I have a correction... Doc tells me Joe had the camera in my face less than five minutes, it felt longer because it was abusive and I asked him repeatedly to stop and asked Dan to make him stop. As for Robin she walked too close to me and may have just been clumsy.]

Dan McManus responded to Ashmore's concern about the cameras with the following email:
It is not my job or any chairperson's job to control every move of every person in the audience at a meeting. In case you didn't notice, I did tell Robin Meares to behave when she said Shut Up to you. She quieted down after that. As far as the cameras go, they are are either allowed for everyone or not allowed for everyone. City policies allow for the photographing or videotaping of any public meeting. If you believe that any person is inappropriately videotaping you... or harassing you... you can address it directly with them or, if you choose, press charges when appropriate. My job is to run the meeting as effectively as possible. I do my best but am not perfect. I will not get into the middle of all of the juvenile shenanigans going on at the moment, except when they hinder our ability to conduct STNC business or violate our procedures.

Thank you for attending the meeting tonight. Your comments were helpful.
After receiving this report, I subsequently spoke to the DONE rep at the meeting, Tom Soong, and also to Chamber of Commerce president Sonia Tatulian. Soong tells me of the cameras that "I think that's always a tricky issue"--and adds that cameras are sometimes held uncomfortably close to him too. He adds that when you're finished speaking and the camera's still on you, it doesn't seem to accomplish anything to keep it pointed at you. He hoped the Neighborhood Council would further discuss the matter, and maybe restrict the cameras to a certain area.

ST Chamber of Commerce president Tatulian told me she didn't observe anything unusual at the meeting, and no unusual level of conflict. Tatulian denies that there was retaliation against David Cain because of his recently expressed views on the Specific Plan.


Sunland Tujunga responds
Sunland Tujunga clamor turns trenchant

Getting down to specifics in Sunland Tujunga
Reversal of field in Sunland Tujunga
Krekorian's office: No change of legal status if FBC Specific Plan is opened

Sunland Tujunga Specific Plan dispute turns clamorous
Elaine Brown's forbidden comments
The Sunland Tujunga NC/Alliance letter