October 26, 2015

City Let Statute of Limitations Expire on Prosecution of Pam O’Connor; Full Independent Investigation Now More Vital than Ever.

The Los Angeles District Attorney just announced in response to SMCLC’s Complaint that it cannot investigate, let alone prosecute, Councilmember and former Mayor Pam O’Connor for her alleged criminal violation of Santa Monica law in the firing of Elizabeth Riel solely because “the [one year] statute of limitations has expired.”

That’s right.  The City let the statute of limitations run out months before it released the key documents so that residents could file a complaint.

To trigger a criminal investigation, sufficient facts must be given to the District Attorney.  But in this case all of these facts were in the hands of City staff. Once the City saw that Ms. O’Connor was intimately involved in Ms. Riel’s firing it should have either: 1) immediately sent the documents to the District Attorney, or 2) made the documents available to the public so that someone, such as SMCLC, could review them and file a complaint within the required statutory time.

The City did neither and thus ran out the clock.

With a criminal investigation now made impossible, a full and independent investigation is more crucial than ever.  Residents are entitled to know whether Pam O’Connor’s actions fell below the standard for appropriate councilmember conduct and best practices.  Additionally, the detailed record that SMCLC obtained as soon as the settlement was announced, presents a very troublesome view into the inner workings of our government and staff.  This record includes what Ms. O’Connor did in intervening in the firing of Elizabeth Riel, but goes well beyond it.

The City Council, in response to SMCLC’s Complaint, has approved an independent review into the City’s conduct around the Riel firing and the continuing lack of Oaks Initiative enforcement, and to then make recommendations for improved governance.  Our City Manager is contacting potential investigators to carry out this review.

This is a critical moment in our City’s governance. We called for this investigation and we will pursue this matter until residents have satisfactory answers as to what happened, who at the senior staff level acted inappropriately, and who should be held accountable.  Click here for the key questions the investigation should answer that SMCLC previously presented to the Council. http://www.smclc.net/PDF/Questions090515.pdf

As always, we thank you for your support.

Victor, Diana, Sherrill and Jeff