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South Bay Digest

Lawndale : Council Asks Traffic and Safety Panel to Resign

May 02, 1985

The City Council this week asked all five members of the council-appointed Traffic and Safety Commission to resign, citing lack of direction and poor progress in handling city traffic and parking problems. The commission was formed six months ago.

The action, by unanimous council vote, came on the heels of disclosure that three commission members--Chairwoman Rosalyn Havertape, Don Dye and William Toy--discussed commission business at a private meeting in May at Havertape's home. City officials said that because a commission quorum was present, the meeting violated the Brown Act, a state law requiring public bodies to hold open, announced meetings.

Havertape conceded that the meeting violated the law, but she said neither she nor other commissioners knew that at the time. "All of us got a copy of the Brown Act, but none of us had read it," she said. "My commission was brand new."

Terming the meeting a "gripe session" about the city staff, Havertape said commissioners complained about the way minutes of meetings were kept and about not receiving information they requested--ranging from a city capital improvement plan to county rat extermination policies. "We were not happy with what was happening," she said. "I invited the whole commission over for coffee, but only two came." Others besides commissioners were there, she said.

The council has asked for a staff study of the role of traffic commissions in other cities before deciding whether to name a new one. Meanwhile, an ad hoc professional group, including retired public employees and people from industry, will be formed to discuss city traffic problems.

Havertape charged that the Brown Act issue is a "smoke screen" that the council used to abolish the commission. "They started this commission but gave it no direction and it does not make them look good," she said.

The other two commission members are Gary McDonald and Henry Gonzalez.

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