Our families have been friends ever since I moved into South Pasadena some 13 years ago, and I count you and Mark as two of only a few close personal friends in the community. It is out of respect for that friendship that I have largely stayed out of the community backlash that has erupted over the past week in support of Alison Smith.
However, in your capacity as Mayor, characterizing the current concerns expressed by your very own South Pasadena constituents as “inappropriately lash[ing] out when they don’t get special treatment]” is concerning and beyond what I can allow to pass by idly. You have confused “rising mob mentality” with a very appropriate and increasing voice of concerned public citizens who are just now beginning to hear the true timeline of events and facts revolving around Alison Smith and the City.
Eighteen months of facts that are only now being made available to the general public through the very social media discussions you find objectionable.
The impassioned exchanges you are seeing on Facebook and Nextdoor stem from a growing sense of confusion and, yes, even outrage, as the ever-changing stories coming from the City highlight a lack of transparency in how the City deals with its inhabitants. As Thoreau said, “If we were left solely to the wordy wit of legislators in Congress for our guidance, uncorrected by the seasonable experience and the effectual complaints of the people, America would not long retain her rank among the nations.” The government of South Pasadena works for the people of South Pasadena. And it is the people’s responsibility to ensure that all officials (elected, appointed, or hired) keep that fundamental truth at the forefront of all their decisions.
You are absolutely correct when you write, “We need to position ourselves as a city and community that works together in good faith.” Unfortunately, when the City utilizes police presence to issue a civil warrant that, at best was obtained incompetently and with no attention to detail or optics, and at worst was an intentionally manipulative abuse of power in retaliation against a citizen and perhaps in violation of her 4th amendment rights, it should be natural to understand why South Pasadenans could cry “foul.” Particularly when the “narrative” from the City as to why the inspection was requested has continued to evolve over the past few weeks:
First there were mysterious complaints from neighbors that have never been substantiated by the City despite numerous requests. Second, the story was that City officials “viewed” unpermitted work from the public thoroughfare – which is highly unlikely given the property in question and is also unsubstantiated to date by the City. Thirdly, it was claimed that images from Google Earth showed a new roof on the property – which is not true as no new roof has been put on the house. In the past couple days, the City spokesperson has claimed that the inspection was purely coincidental, having nothing at all to do with the civil complaint..but in the same breath stated he can’t release any information on the inspection because of how it may impact the civil complaint. And just yesterday, it was posted that the City had already “cleaned up” the property. If that’s the case, produce the soil samples already taken by the City and put this entire issue to rest.
I’m sorry, but you can’t have it both ways, or, as you very eloquently put it, “dismiss facts when it doesn’t suit your narrative.”
Here are the facts as I know them, if you dispute any of these or have additional facts missing among these, I welcome you to distribute them to the public:
· Three years ago, Alison Smith, a recently separated mother of three young children, moved into her new home.
· Eighteen months ago, a city sewer pipe failed, dumping a city block worth of sewage onto her backyard.
· The City initially refused to investigate, forcing the unemployed single mother of three to incur significant personal costs just to prove that it was a City sewer pipe in order to get the City to come out and even look at the problem.
· Ultimately the City cleaned up the waste that was above ground, but did nothing to actually remediate the soil on the property.
· The City has since taken soil samples of the property, but refuses to provide the homeowner with a report as the findings in those samples.
· Three months ago, after trying in private to work the situation out with the city, Alison Smith spoke at a public city council meeting.
· One month ago, the City indicated there had been “complaints” about unpermitted work done on her property – somehow coincidental and unrelated to the civil claim the homeowner had with the city.
· After the homeowner refused an inspection unless it was conducted in conjunction with, and through, the civil complaint process, the City went to a different jurisdiction in order to obtain a warrant for a forced inspection outside the civil complaint process.
· Over the last two weeks, the story from the City as to why the inspection was needed has also changed multiple times as already outlined above.
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