Major Update: SM City Embraces County's Call for secrecy

The County's Vector Management head, Gail Vangordon, writes in a memo to City staffer Polachek, dated August 9, 2006.

"Are you still intending to alert the media beforehand and tell them the days trapping will be done? Michael (Rood) and I discussed this and we are in common accord that you are under no obligation to provide the media or local activists advance notice."

"We see no positive outcome in giving advance notice."

"The fewer people who show up during the trapping the lower the probability of confrontation. Giving any of these organizations advance notice provides them time to mobilize and bring in the heavy hitters."

"It can take only one or two over-zealous individuals to compromise the effort or put staff at risk."

Email dated August 14, 2006 from City staffer, Elaine Polachek to City Manager Ewell:

"Lefty is placed 10 traps in the 1300 blocks of Palisades Park. There are two undercover police officers and the Park in one park ranger. So far everything is quiet. Things may get a bit dicier later in the week if word travels within the animal activist community. We'll play it by ear."

E-mail from Elaine Polachek to Animal Advocates, dated February 2, 2006:

"Our goal is to undertake these controls quickly and quietly so as to not attract any attention in the park. We felt that was important to keep you abreast of these changes. Our city manager is very concerned that our contractor and staff are not put in harm's way when undertaking this effort. This is why he has asked us to keep this information in the strictest confidence."

As you can see, City is told by the County to keep the August trapping and killing secret, but had kept the earlier killing in February in secret all by itself of its own volition.

Of course, this highlights accusations that the City has been killing squirrels in secret for years, such as in 1998 when I accidently discovered another secret killing.

Indeed, one Parks Commissioner just sent me an email stating that City staff did not tell the Parks Commission about the planned August killing either during their July 2006 meeting.

In a July 26, 2006 email to Prof. Jennifer Wolch, Dean of Graduate Programs at USC, Stinchfield writes:

“On February 16 of this year, the Commission passed the following motion:”

"We moved that all future wildlife management decisions affecting parks and open spaces in the city of Santa Monica be reviewed by the recreation and parks commission."

"Emergency measures required for public safety would be exempt from this review requirement.”

Stinchfield to Wolch:

“At the same time and as the above motion by the recreation and parks commission acknowledges, there are times when emergency measures are required for public safety. The County informed us recently that the need to reduce population was immediate and urgent, and again based on prior counsel direction to also comply with County directives, we took steps to follow that order.”

“While the Commission has no authority to establish review requirements as advisory commissioners our department is committed to keeping the commission informed of new approaches and obtaining input from the Commission and the public as we move forward. We will also inform the Commission of any emergency measures that are being taken at any one particular time. It was my oversight for not making that announcement at the last meeting and I take full responsibility for it.”

As mentioned above, one Commissioner told me the City told them nothing about the upcoming killing during their July 2006 meeting. Well, I guess the City keeps secrets even from its own Commissioners. How convenient, especially since one of them adamantly opposes the killing.

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