As Anaheim City Council members prepare for a 1 p.m. emergency closed session meeting Thursday, Councilwoman Lorri Galloway is publicly speculating that the gathering may be an attempt to cancel an Aug. 8 public meeting intended to give residents an opportunity to address the council in the wake of police shootings and a downtown riot.
Galloway’s contention has drawn a strong rebuke from City Councilwoman Kris Murray, who said that Galloway’s speculation is false and that there is no attempt to cancel the Aug. 8 meeting.
“That is a complete falsehood,” Murray said. “I don’t know why I’ve got a colleague who is wildly speculating and further inciting concern in the community when there has been no attempt to cancel the meeting that has been called for Aug. 8.”
Murray criticized Galloway’s speculation as merely a political move.
“The comment is inherently political, and it’s unfortunate,” she said. Murray added that in this tumultuous period the council needs to have “mutual respect and show leadership.”
Meanwhile, Mayor Tom Tait, who announced the Aug. 8 meeting, said he didn’t know why the council majority — Murray, Harry Sidhu and Gail Eastman — called today’s meeting.
“Calling the meeting was a surprise to me,” Tait said, while declining to speculate on the rationale for the meeting.
Tait called the public meeting next week at an auditorium at Anaheim High School.
The council is expected to consider at that meeting a plan to move to a system of election by council districts, which would have residents elect only a council member from their own district. Council members now are elected at-large.
Today’s closed session agenda lists a discussion with Police Chief John Welter of the safety of public facilities.
Galloway says that’s fueled her suspicion that this may be an attempt to justify canceling next week’s meeting.
“I think the council majority is going to find some way to say we shouldn’t have the meeting,” Galloway said. “I think that would be disastrous.”
Next week’s scheduled auditorium meeting comes after two police shootings and a confrontation with police that has shattered trust between the Anaheim Police Department and the city’s Latino residents.
About 1,000 residents rioted downtown at last week’s council meeting after many were denied entry to the council chambers because they were full to capacity.
Galloway says the majority council members may try to cancel the meeting because they oppose moving to a council district electoral system.
She says that Eastman made the council majority’s opinion on the districts clear when she called the downtown violence a victory “with no shots fired” because the riot forced the council to adjourn before council districts could be considered.
Eastman later apologized for the remarks, conceding they were a poor choice of words.
Many Latinos say that council districts will help solve their neighborhood woes.
Currently, four of the five council members reside in Anaheim Hills, the city’s affluent Eastern quarter. Much of the other neighborhoods’ crime abd lack of resources would be better addressed if council members lived in their neighborhoods, say supporters of council districts.
Galloway says today’s closed-door meeting will only further erode the community’s trust in City Hall.
“It brings more distrust at what’s going on at City Hall. There’s no transparency,” she said.
“It’s the timing. The timing of calling that closed session is not wise.”