A.S. moves forward after D.A. ruling, Matthew Nicholson threatens more legal action
Student directors and advisors of the SMC Associate Students are continuing on with their daily routines following the D.A.’s recent ruling on last year’s A. S. Elections Committee violation of the Brown Act law. The Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office deemed actions taken by the E.C. in March violated multiple Brown Act Laws. These laws ensure the rights of citizens to be informed about legislative meetings, allowing for public participation and transparency of the decision-making processes.
The District Attorney’s Office explained there would be no formal actions placed against the E.C., however it recommended that the board consider withdrawing all the actions made at a 3:30 p.mF. meeting on March 27. District Attorney Jackie Lacey was contacted for comments concerning details on the ruling and whether there will be further investigations, but has not offered a response as of yet.
For Matthew Nicholson, previous Director of Student Activities, formal action would mean rescinding his disqualification from last semester's presidential elections that resulted from one of the meetings.
If the school and the A.S. board do not correct the violations confirmed by the D.A., Nicholson intends to file a civil suit for slander and libel. In an e-mail to The Corsair, Nicholson contends that now that these accusations have become filed violations concerning the Elections Committee, the school’s or A.S. board’s refusal to fix these violations “will carry a significant amount of weight [at] any legal trial.”
Though Campus Council, Robert Myers was asked about the actions of the A.S. board moving forward following the D.A.’s ruling, he has not yet responded. All questions directly asked to Associated Dean of Student Life, Sonali Bridges concerning this matter had to be directed to Myers, and therefore, also remain unanswered.
Mr. Myers was scheduled to provide the D.A.’s response to the violations of the Brown Act at the Monday's board meeting, however the discussion item was postponed to next week.
Current A.S. president Ali Khan notes that the A.S. body is fully aware that there are a lot of “eyes on A.S.” because of the D.A.’s ruling. He is confident, however, that the current A.S. board has been very well versed in Brown Act and proper parliamentarian procedures, which were crucial parts of the A.S. retreat held before the start of the school year.
At Monday’s A.S. meeting, the board approved funding for the California Community College Student Affairs Association Leadership Retreat, which will be a conference that will provide more substantial training on the Brown Act than what was already provided by Myers at the retreat.
“The lessons derived from last year impose themselves on what happens this year,” says Khan. He adds that Brown Act violations go on largely underreported at other community colleges, and though the E.C. was recently found guilty of violations, other schools have asked the A.S. board for Brown Act training.
If the D.A. had moved forward with formal actions to retract Nicholson’s disqualification and recommended re-elections, Khan believes that he would suggest the A.S. legislative body bring the item to a vote. He mentions he has no idea how anyone would vote on this issue or what would happen if a new election did occur.
Nicholson previously stated in the Corsair article “Pizzagate scandal heats up” published June 5, 2014, that he specifically wanted a re-run of the elections, whether or not he was included. Now, he says that if the board granted re-elections, nothing would change unless the “A.S. be completely voided and the advisors, specifically Dean Bridges and Benny Blades, be removed.”
Though Nicholson stated in an email to The Corsair that he has no intention of getting involved with this current board, he feels that the request for Sergeant Kessler’s presence at the weekly meetings is a “ploy by the current A.S. board to, for lack of better phrasing to ‘get rid of [him]’ so they can continue their cheating.”
According to Dean Bridges, members of the board felt a little unsafe in his presence at the weekly A.S. meetings, requesting that someone be present to insure security.
Next week, Mr. Myers is scheduled to provide the D.A.’s response to the ruling made by her office, shedding light on whether further investigations will be made.