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Union Backed Proposal Takes Unusual Route to Council Agenda


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October 19, 2018 -- It's hard to tell from the item heading and the one-sentence staff report that a significant policy decision is being proposed on Tuesday's City Council agenda.

"The Commission on the Status of Women," item 10.A reads, "recommends that the Council consider legislation to protect hotel workers from sexual violence, unreasonable workloads, and provide comprehensive education and training."

The item -- which was presented to the Commission by UNITE HERE Local 11, the union that represents Santa Monica hotel and restaurant employees -- includes a letter outlining the proposed policy.

But there is no accompanying staff report and the item is listed under the heading "Reports of Boards and Commissions."

The letter echoes a memo and presentation made by the union to the Women's Commission, according to documents obtained by the Center for Union Facts, a non-profit watchdog that opposes the union ("OPINION: The Price of "Development Peace" In Santa Monica," October 10, 2018).

The item ended up on the agenda, without the usual analysis staff provides for major policy decisions, said Charlyce Bozzello, the center's communications manager.

And the wording of the item does "little besides copying and pasting the union's talking points," she said.

"This is why Santa Monica residents are jaded with their City government," Bozzello said. "This is not what democracy looks like, and the Council and Commission should be ashamed of this charade."

"10 items" rarely appear on agendas, said City Clerk Denise Anderson-Warren, noting that the last one was placed on a Council agenda in 2015.

"It's been a while since we last had one," she said. "I don't think we've had one in the last couple of years."

Such items are normally used to submit reports or make minor requests, such as replacing a board or commission member who has missed too many meetings, Anderson-Warren said.

Policy items such as the one on Tuesday's agenda are normally placed there by Council members or a City Department, in which case it is accompanied by a staff report.

An official with Community & Cultural Services, which oversees the Commission on Women, said a decision was made to present present the Commission's request to the full Council. The mayor, mayor pro tem and city manager made the final decision.

"We have not used a 10 item in this way," the officials said, "but it is an appropriate way to communicate to the Council."


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