By: Zachary Lopez (ZachNews):
Source: City of Needles (Information):
Needles, California: Members of the Needles City Council on Tuesday, January 12th, 2021 took no action on a resolution declaring the City of Needles a “Constitutional Sanctuary City” supporting Constitutional Rights, especially during COVID-19 restrictions.
The discussion on the resolution declaring the City of Needles a “Constitutional Sanctuary City,” as well as the rest of the Needles City Council Meeting was broadcast live at ZachNews on Facebook.
The resolution declaring the City of Needles a “Constitutional Sanctuary City” was requested by Needles City Council Member Timothy Terral, and was similar to a resolution that was brought forwarded to the Mohave County Board of Supervisors in Mohave County, Arizona in a strategic move intended to voice their support for Constitutional Rights as their county and state go through sweeping COVID-19 restrictions imposed by state and federal governments.
*** Agenda Item Packet: ***
Needles City Council Member Timothy Terral spoke about the resolution and why he brought this resolution to the Needles City Council saying, “When it was put forwards by Mohave County Board of Supervises, I read it, I listened to what the arguments were, and realized that a lot of the executive orders that are governor has been passing down; closing our businesses, restricting our restaurants, and closing… anything businesses at all, and we in the pass declaring that all businesses and all jobs are essential. But it goes further then that, with a lot of his executive orders being unconstitutional by the Constitutional of California and of the Constitutional of the United States. So it made sense when I read this to… if he’s violating the Constitution of the United States as well as the Constitutional of California, his orders should be null and void or not enforceable. And that’s why I brought this up to the Council for discussion and for possible action to implement.”
Needles City Manager Rick Daniels spoke afterwards regarding the resolution saying, “This item needs to be taken into contact with the earlier action you took today to challenge the constitutionality of the governor’s order to limit businesses so we’re at work in assisting the County in going after the overreach and the closure of businesses and harms to individual business owners and employees.”
Needles City Council Member Kirsten Merritt raised concerns of what the repercussions would be if this was adopted, including if this would affect funding from the State of California.
“I like this idea… but I have a lot of questions practically. One of my worries is the repercussions regarding State funding and also my other question is like if we adopt this, how do we go forward with this – this is more of a question for John Pinkney (City Attorney) – are we open to having go through every constitutional law that comes up. So that’s where I’m kind off… I need clarification the fidelity of that and the legal ramifications,” said Needles City Council Member Kirsten Merritt.
Needles City Attorney John Pinkney responded to Needles City Council Member Kirsten Merritt’s concerns and questions via Zoom, saying, “Obviously, when the policy decision rather to adopt this resolution is up to the Council, but the questions being raised; going off what the City Manager said moment ago, the Council this evening – we reported out of Close Session – that the Council took direct action to file a amicus brief supporting San Bernardino’s (County) pending lawsuit that is pending in California Supreme Court challenging the States’ noted restrictions so that is a proactive step you’ve taken as a Council, it’s a meaningful step that voices the of City will be heard by submitting that amicus brief, and so in many respects that is a more proactive and direct action by the Council to actually file something worth the California Supreme Court addressing the same issue that I think this resolution addressing. But having said that, the decision on rather to be more of this resolution is up to you as a Council. I will say there is some language in the resolution if the Council inclines to move forward in adopting the resolution, I would like the opportunity to revise it.”
The close session item Needles City Attorney John Pinkney was speaking about occurred during Executive Session, regarding “Conference with Legal Counsel regarding anticipated litigation pursuant to Government Code Section 54956.9(d)(4) (one potential case: Consideration of filing an amicus brief in the matter of the County of San Bernardino v. Newsom: Case No. S266106)” which members of the Needles City Council unanimously voted to support the County of San Bernardino filing an amicus brief.
Needles City Attorney John Pinkney then spoke on the resolution, raising concerns of the language in the resolution that he suggested should be revise.
“For example, there’s some in the first Whereas of the resolution that says “In as much as any executive order, emergency proclamation, law, treaty or other legislation is contrary to the Constitution it will be declared null and void of law” and what’s not clear to me is who is going to make that decoration; who’s going to declare this null and void or unconstitutional? And it goes on saying “It will bare no power to enforce, no obligation to obey, no court is bound to uphold it” and my reading of this is that some may interpreted that to mean we are usurping the court’s authority – the judicial branch authority by stepping in and determining that no court is bound to uphold it. And it goes further to say “nor any citizen to obey it” which sends a message to the citizens that they can choose not to obey certain laws that are oppose by the State. I think a more civil approach is to do – if the Council voted tonight – which is a meaningful approach is to go to the courts. You know that’s why we have the judicial branch of government so when there is a dispute like this, to go to that court and raise the arguments we have and the concerns we have about a State law that we are subject to, and make our case and argue the constitutionality of that law and get a ruling from them in court. I like the decision the Council made tonight because we are a nation of laws, we are people who follow the rule of law, and tonight you voted to uphold the rule of law and call the process that has been layout for us by submitting our argument to the Supreme Court. The second half of the second Whereas after the first sentence, I would remove from the resolution. As to the third Whereas, I would remove everything after the first sentence. And then the fourth Whereas, I would remove the language after the word United States of America so that Whereas will read “We the People of City of Needles, California define “Constitutional Sanctuary City” as a City that is committed to supporting and defending the Constitution of the United States of America” period and I think that will make the statement that will be appropriate there and makes a powerful statement. And it goes on in the active language it says “Now, therefore, the City of Needles, California resolves as follows: Section 1. We the People and City Government declare Needles, California as a Constitutional Sanctuary City, we will protect and defend the free exercise and enjoyment of the rights and privileges secured to our citizens by the Constitution of the United States of America” and I would put a period right there after the word America. Those are my comments,” said Needles City Attorney John Pinkney.
Needles City Council Member Ellen A. Campbell read a statement on what she thought about the resolution, speaking about public health and raising concerns of how people would perceive this resolution if it’s adopted.
“I believe all businesses and needles are essential. We are a community that’s tiny, small, we’re tourist, and we don’t have 150 places to choose from to get our hair done, and these are small businesses; our restaurants are open people travel. No man is an island, no city is an island. For over an millennium Needles has been an essential route first with the Native Americans then the railroad and the highway for California, USA and international trade. We would not exist without the support of the state and federal government. Geographically, our place on the river does not exist, our borders change without a damn and monitoring of the channel of the river from the state and federal governments. Now we battle. We battle a disease that absence of a miracle will kill more people than all of our wars put together. Last year, it killed more people than all other causes of death combined. I had it; I spent eight hours in the ER observing people who survival was not assured, and with double pneumonia, there was no bed for me at any hospital here; I just spent a very miserable Christmas. As we exceed capacity in our medical facilities, they expect the death rate to double. From the front line health providers who are dying or have shortened careers from PTSD, lawlessness is not wanted in our town, and I perceive looking at this document that people would perceive of that way that ‘Oh wow, we don’t have to do what is lawful’ or abide by the laws of the State of California, or the things that the Governor – like him or not – do. Americans previously joined together, and fought and did what was required of them to save our country. As citizens, we not only have rights by we have responsibilities,” said Needles City Council Member Ellen A. Campbell in her statement.
Needles City Council Member Ellen A. Campbell then asked San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department’s Colorado River Station Captain Ross Tarangle about what he thinks of this resolution from a law enforcement standpoint.
“The resolution pacifically – I don’t know if I have any thoughts on that. I can tell you is that our philosophy when it comes down to enforcement of public health orders is that people voluntary comply with public health orders. You know that being said, there are process for complaints if someone feels that public health order is not being a hear to. We can’t arbitrary decide what laws we will or will not enforce, but like the City Attorney said, someone feels the law is injustice, there’s a process for that. We can’t arbitrary decide that we’re not going to enforce that law or we don’t like that law for whatever reason. Now as I said, we’re hoping voluntary compliance is the norm when it comes to the public health orders. There are public health orders that regulate a lot of things – you know inspecting restaurants to make sure that you known the water is hot enough and that things are clean enough – and the reason for that is so people don’t get sick. On the San Bernardino County’s Public Health website, there is information on the law and what enforcement can be done. All of these public health orders fall under the authority of the health and safety code – which is an enforceable law. Now as I said, we hope people voluntary comply with that. If someone wants to make an complaint, they can complaint to public health, we’ll then make some attempt to contact whoever the violator is, and seek voluntary compliance. If there on going complaints, those complaints can be refer to the Sheriff’s Department, and we will look into them, again seek voluntary compliance. But in the end, it is an enforceable law under the health and safe code until determent otherwise by the courts or a change in the law of the State of California,” said San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department’s Colorado River Station Captain Ross Tarangle.
Needles City Council Member Zachery Longacre asked San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department’s Colorado River Station Captain Ross Tarangle, “you’re not going to allow lawlessness run this town… correct?”
“Our goal is public safety, obviously we got a lot of pressing issues to address. Typically, we don’t go out and proactively patrol for people not wearing a mask. But if someone does direct a complaint to us or we receive a complaint, we will go out and address it like we do with any other call for service,” said San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department’s Colorado River Station Captain Ross Tarangle.
Afterwards, Needles City Council Member Timothy Terral said the the revise to the language in the resolution by Needles City Attorney John Pinkney made a lot of sense, but wished that Needles City Attorney John Pinkney brought this up before bringing this up before the meeting of the Needles City Council.
Needles City Council Member Timothy Terral then made a motion to approve the resolution declaring the City of Needles a “Constitutional Sanctuary City” with the revisions that Needles City Attorney John Pinkney suggested.
Referring to the amicus brief filed by the County of San Bernardino that members of the Needles City Council unanimously voted to support earlier, Needles City Council Member Tona Belt said, “I just think we still – I agreed at this point is to let the law take place and see we’re – I mean we’re doing the right thing on going – sending to. I believe in the system; I believe we go to court, continued the judicial system to our benefits to attempt to do this legally so that we actually have binding documents to legally back us.”
Needles City Council Member Kirsten Merritt agreed with Needles City Council Member Tona Belt on going with the amicus brief and going with the legal process.
Needles City Mayor Jeff Williams asked if there was a second on the motion by Needles City Council Member Timothy Terral to approve the resolution declaring the City of Needles a “Constitutional Sanctuary City” with the revisions that Needles City Attorney John Pinkney suggested, but no other members of the Needles City Council seconded the motion; Needles City Mayor Jeff Williams said the motion dies.
According to the Needles City Manager Rick Daniels, “The item got a motion, but did not get a second; therefore the motion dies, and there is no action on the matter; meaning that the item didn’t pass.”
For more information regarding the Needles City Council Meetings, please contact the City Clerk’s Office at the City of Needles at: 1 (760) 326-2113 Ext. 145 or Press #2.