Tom Butt
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  Reimagining Public Safety Community Task Force Goes Rogue
February 25, 2022

Apparently, with the full backing of the RPA City Council majority, the Reimagining Public Safety Community Task Force is rapidly setting itself up as an autonomous body immune from any laws.

The 22 (originally 24) person organization has split itself into four subcommittees that continue to meet in secret in violation of the Brown Act, which requires noticed public meetings. Assistant City Attorney Bruce Soublet, who is assigned as legal counsel to the Task Force, has informed them more than once that they are in violation of the Brown Act and that they are putting the City at risk. The most active subcommittee is the Implementation Committee, which functions like a department of City government, micromanaging the programs using funding diverted from the Police Department and making monthly progress reports to the City Council at the direction of the RPA City Council members.

Soublet has also informed several members of the Task Group, including the chair, Deborah Small, that they are in violation of the California Public Records Act (CPRA) for not responding to CPRA requests. Soublet wrote the following to task Force members Deborah Small, Armond lee, Tamisha walker, Marisol Cantu and Kristin Killian Lobos:

The CPRA provides for an order against individual City Officials who fail to comply. The law also provides for attorneys’ fees and cost should a requestor successfully challenge the City’s response. Therefore, we are relying on Task force members to submit all responsive documents so that the City may comport with its legal obligations pursuant to the CPRA.

According to the City of Richmond Charter, only the mayor has the authority to appoint (with City Council concurrence) members of boards, commissions and committees, such as the Reimagining Public Safety Task Force. Nevertheless, the Task Force, itself, has taken over appointments to the body, recently appointing Sara Cantor, who serves on the Community Based Solutions subcommittee (also referred to as the Community Crisis Response Team). There are other non-Task Force members as well as City staff listed as members of the four subcommittees, a bizarre if not illegal arrangement. A subcommittee is supposed to be a subgroup consisting of members of the main group, not an entirely separate organization.

The Reimagining Public Safety Task Force has no operating procedures or bylaws, which makes it easy for them to make things up as they go.

How did this happen? The RPA City Council members, who condone all this, have zero respect for laws and regulations. They consider themselves ideologically above all that. And the City staff is too intimidated by the RPA City Council members to do anything about it.