On March 11, 2020 Los Angeles City Council President Nury Martinez sent a letter to her colleagues announcing that in response to the coronavirus emergency Council would meet weekly for the rest of the month. The Los Angeles City Charter at §242 gives the Council the sole power “to organize its business [and] prescribe the rules of its proceedings” subject only to a couple of limitations. But one of these limitations is directly on point and requires Council to meet at least three times a week with no exceptions:
The Council shall hold regular meetings at least three days each week. Meetings may be held in City Hall or elsewhere in the City. By resolution, the Council may establish periods during which the Council or its committees will be in recess.
Three meetings a week are required by the Charter. And the office of Council President is established by the Charter as well, at §243, but the only power granted there is to replace the mayor when necessary. All other powers of the Council president are granted by the Council Rules. And obviously the rules can’t override the Charter.
Note that §242 does give the Council itself the power to go into recess, and probably the Council could choose to go into recess except on Tuesdays, but this power must be exercised by resolution, not by the unilateral decree of the Council President. Resolutions require a vote of the full Council, to be placed on a publicly posted agenda, and public comment accepted.
I’m not sure what penalties there are, if any, for violations of the Charter, but it’s surely a violation of the oath of office, found at §215, which includes the City Charter among the laws that Councilmembers are sworn to support. It’s true that extraordinary times require extraordinary measures, and that elected officials need extraordinary powers during emergencies. But extraordinary powers are extraordinarily dangerous and must be limited by law, which Martinez has exceeded here.
Continue reading In Response To The Coronavirus Emergency Last Week Los Angeles City Council President Nury Martinez Ordered Council Meetings To Be Held Only Once A Week — But It Sure Looks Like This Is A Violation Of The City Charter — Which Requires The City Council To Meet At Least Three Times Per Week — And Grants The Power To Declare A Recess Only To The Full Council By Ordinance — Not To Council President By Unilateral Decree — And While We’re On The Subject Of Enumerated Powers — It Appears That Herb Wesson Did Not Have The Power To Remove Jose Huizar From All Council Committees