Did San Bernardino officials violate law with letter to President Trump?

SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. (KABC) -- The mayor of San Bernardino sent a letter to President Donald Trump back in February asking for help fighting violent crime in the city.

With crime scenes quickly becoming a familiar sight in the struggling city, as there were 62 homicides in 2016 alone, Mayor Carey Davis penned a letter to the president, which read in part, "As San Bernardino emerges from bankruptcy we are striving to revitalize our community, but continue to face many challenges including violent crime."

Davis also mentioned the city's efforts to combat illegal drugs, including marijuana. The letter was signed by Davis, San Bernardino Police Chief Jarrod Burguan and all seven city council members.

Councilman Henry Nickel said the city has asked for help before from Gov. Jerry Brown and President Barack Obama's administration.

"We just wanted to get the attention of the White House," Nickel said. "I don't think there has been any specifics from the Trump administration either in regard to the assistance that they've offered to cities like Chicago."

But some point out the letter has one problem: It may have violated the state's open meeting law.

"The Brown Act, in short, requires all meetings on legislative action be conducted publicly. It also requires that the public have input on those actions," San Bernardino attorney and resident Allen Bartleman explained.

Bartleman filed a complaint demanding the city retract its letter to Trump. He said the city has 30 days to retract the letter, and if they fail to do so, he can then file legal action.

Nickel said moving forward the city will have all letters discussed publicly.
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