The Lynwood city council tried to distance itself — rhetorically, anyway — from the city manager they appointed when Jose Ometeotl hailed an ambush of two Los Angeles Sheriff’s deputies as “chickens come home to roost.” Today they have a chance to put their money where their mouths are. City council member Salvador Alatorre plans to enter a motion to either fire or discipline Ometeotl in a special meeting called for today.
That raises expectations that chickens may roost soon for Ometeotl, who also publicly endorsed defunding the police in an earlier letter, using his office to do so:
A Southern California city councilman plans to motion for the discipline or dismissal of a city manager over a social media post that said “chickens come home to roost” in the wake of the ambush shooting of two Los Angeles County sheriff deputies over the weekend.
Lynwood Councilman Salvador Alatorre told Fox News that he will make the motion regarding the Instagram post by City Manager Jose Ometeotl during Tuesday’s special meeting. Alatorre said Ometeotl has previously sent a letter using a city letterhead to the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors to support the defunding of police.
“For some reason, he decided to go beyond his authority, Alatorre said of the social media post. “He’s not an elected official. He represents the city of Lynwood 24/7. He cannot make statements while he’s employed by our city, especially when he jeopardizes public safety.
“Now what’s going to happen? We have the top administrator against public safety, then what do they expect from the rest of us,” he added.
Oddly enough, the letter might end up being more of a catalyst for action at the city council than Ometeotl’s social-media post. The Malcom X Instagram post was done on Ometeotl’s own time, or at least using his own resources. His use of city letterhead and city resources to campaign for defunding the police is likely a bigger deal, legally and politically, for the city council. City managers are not supposed to be political activists, especially on city time; they are hired to deal with business matters while the city council deals with policy and political matters. Ometeotl arrogated their power for himself, if Alatorre’s accusation is accurate.
Will the city council act? Alatorre’s motion will force his fellow council members to choose, and lots of eyes will be on their next move, especially in the LA Sheriff’s Department. As I noted yesterday, Lynwood is an incorporated city, which means that the LASD only assumes jurisdiction there under contract. (County sheriffs in California normally only have jurisdiction in unincorporated areas.) If the city council fails to act against Alatorre, the LASD theoretically choose to terminate that contract and force Lynwood to field its own police department, although that might end up being very costly for all parties.
A better question might be whether the local media will bother reporting on the issue. As of this morning, the hometown Los Angeles Times has not written a word about Ometeotl and his roosting-chickens comment, or on using his office to cheerlead for defunding the police. Neither have the local CBS affiliate, the local NBC affiliate, the local ABC affiliate, or even the local independent station KTLA. (Neither has the Orange County Register, but in their defense, Lynwood’s pretty far away from their beat.)
We’ve heard a lot about the need to support and save local reporting, and for good reasons. It would be easier to make that argument if local news outlets actually reported on abuses like Ometeotl’s rather than provide him cover with their silence.