LEMOORE — The Kings County Grand Jury released a report recently criticizing the Lemoore City Council on its disruptive conduct and violations of the Brown Act, among other rules, during council meetings.
The 19-member grand jury conducted interviews and attended council meetings for months before finding several faults within the organization, according to the report.
The jury, which contains randomly selected citizens, reviews Kings County government agencies to determine if they comply with agency objectives, according to its website.
The Grand Jury found that Mayor Eddie Neal was inexperienced in his position. He “had not had time to become familiar with the duties and responsibilities of his position, which has led to his inability to ‘control’ either the meeting or City Council,” the report said.
Neal objects to this finding and the report as a whole, he said.
“When it was the former mayor to control the city council, it was a fiasco, but when it comes to me, I can’t handle it?” Neal said. “I can’t order anyone. It’s up to the people to re-elect. Everything they said (in the report) has nothing to do with the mayor’s seat because I’m not a strong mayor.”
The report recommends Neal to attend training by the League of California Cities and local training from the city attorney.
Grand Jury members observed ongoing interruptions at council meetings that violated the Brown Act, Rosenberg Rules of Order and the Lemoore City Council Rules of Procedures, the report said.
The Brown Act is part of California State Legislature that guarantees the public’s right to attend and participate in meetings of local legislative bodies.
The jury found that not all city council members attended local training where the Rules of Procedures were discussed, the report said. Some members chose not to attend the training.
Another finding detailed that City Attorney Jenell Van Bindsbergen contributes to the void in leadership because of her lack of enforcement in meetings, the report said.
Bindsbergen told the jury that the enforcement of the Rules of Procedures is the responsibility of the city council, the report said. Jury members observed that when there was a substitute attorney present, the meetings were more organized.
The Grand Jury recommended that the city council find a different city attorney, the report said.
Bindsbergen could not be reached for comment.
The last recommendation on the report suggested that a copy of the ‘Norms and Expectations’ section within the Rules of Procedures be distributed and reviewed by city council.
The council has 60 days to respond to the report.
Olson declined to comment.