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No reporters allowed at this meeting on transparency

Tonight was the second time I was kicked out for trying to attend a community meeting at Moonridge, and I’m pretty fed up with it.

This first happened two weeks ago. Residents were understandably shaken up over the deputy-involved shooting death of Yanira Serrano, so a hasty meeting was organized at Moonridge. San Mateo County Supervisor Don Horsley, Sheriff’s Capt. Lisa Williams and about a dozen public and nonprofit officials came out to speak with an audience filled to capacity.

As the session was beginning, a MidPen Housing executive told me she knew I was a reporter and I needed to leave. Moonridge was private property, and I wasn’t welcome here, she warned.

The same thing happened once again tonight at a meeting promoted by the city in response to the community’s demand for transparency. Mayor John Muller and several local nonprofit heads came out to speak to a much smaller group. No sooner did I hand out my contact information than another MidPen employee was telling me I had to go.

I don’t normally fire off complaints on Talkabout, but this is ridiculous beyond my understanding. Anyone at that meeting tonight could easily be live-tweeting every word uttered at that meeting online, but I was singled out apparently because of my profession. At a crowded City Council meeting on Tuesday, a line of public speakers reiterated they wanted transparency going forward through this investigation. You don’t get that by evicting the journalists and then cherry-picking the convenient times to lower the drawbridge.

Serrano’s death left many Coastside residents shocked and angry, and it left local government and nonprofit agencies scrambling to make a show of outreach and available social services. I would think it obvious that the local newspaper could be a useful resource here.

I should probably note that emotions have been high over the last couple weeks, and to a certain degree I can understand being made into a scapegoat. The Serrano family was understandably traumatized, and within hours of the Yanira’s death they had a dozen reporters at their door asking for a quote. Most other media outlets have moved on to other stories, but some at Midpen still have the impulse to see a meddling reporter as a pest to be swatted away.

That said, I’m at the end of my patience for getting pushed around by people who see me as an inconvenience. Moonridge might be private in name, but local taxpayers paid for the land along with the costs of putting together that meeting tonight.

There’s going to be a third meeting next Thursday to discuss Serrano’s death at the I.D.E.S. Hall -- I wonder if I’ll get booted from that one also?


Comments

How sad! Obviously there sre some who disagree with the plea for openness and transparency that the family and friends talked about at the Tuesday City Council meeting.

One has to ask what is it that they do not want reported.

Thanks, Mark, for the information.


This statement from the family:

"Media accounts of the events surrounding the shooting have been “pretty accurate,” said Serrano’s brother. But he believed the Sheriff’s Office’s handling of the case has been self-serving. On the night of the shooting, investigators told his family they needed to give statements or they wouldn’t be allowed to go home, he said. His family refused to do so.

“That night, we were in shock. We didn’t know what to do or where to go, and the county wanted a statement right then,” he said. “I don’t trust this county, the whole way they handled this investigation.”

Justice is blind. The Officer deserves justice too. This community does as well. Everything that happened that night has to be revealed. Anything less is the denial of justice.

I hope that the family comes to see this and decides to cooperate with the investigation.

Exacting revenge against the officer is not justice. Telling anything less than the truth could lead to a miscarriage of justice. An honest investigation where all facts are share by everybody is the only hope that any good can come out of this.


"Moonridge might be private in name, but local taxpayers paid for the land along with the costs of putting together that meeting tonight." If I'm not mistaken, taxpayers supplement the subdivision monthly as well. All of that is good reason to conclude that the public is not only allowed, but should be welcome to attend. Under the circumstances, however, I doubt many from the general public were there.

I can also see the other side, that based on the circumstances, some privacy allowing for one on ones and a more intimate setting might be preferred by the family. Grief can produce abnormal thoughts (abnormal when compared to daily life) and I have no doubt that the grief suffered by the family, friends and neighbors of Yanira is tremendous.

Perhaps your presence makes some uncomfortable. Perhaps that is only speculation. Maybe, out of concern for what may come out in an emotional outburst, they'd just as soon keep attendance limited to the close-knit community; I don't know. One thing I do know, however, is that grief is a tough one and not everyone reacts the same. I can also say that during times of extreme grief, like in this matter, it is not unusual nor abnormal for those suffering to have preferences of who they 'allow' in and who they don't.

Sounds like this one might be something you should share with the Review's attorney. I suspect that you are allowed to be there, but that's just my uneducated guess. If you are, the next question would be do you really want to be there? As an individual with no direct connection, I suspect the answer to that is no; but as a reporter for a (the) local newspaper, I suspect the answer is yes.

As a resident of this community, of which Moonridge is certainly a part, I am interested in how this all plays out and would appreciate your reporting on it. I am interested in what our elected are saying and doing. I am interested in ideas on how to prevent this from happening again. I want to know what changes are being discussed. The only way I'm going to find all that out is through your reporting, Mark - or by attending, which I prefer not to do. If I thought I had something to contribute, that might be a different story; but that doesn't mean I don't want to know what is happening and being said and done as a result of this tragic loss.

As stated during the last Council meeting; this time it was Yanira. Next time it may be one of us. This must be dealt with and the overall community has a right to know how.


Hi Mark,

I’m not going to waste time asking you or hoping that you are doing well…

Just read your post- you are right to be pissed. You’ve earned the right (in my humble view) to report on what happens in our City, and you have every right to stick up for that level of respect. My guess is that the people living there, and the person who booted you, feel that they have been disenfranchised, and as such you represent the franchise. (No matter how wrong they are…)

Doesn’t excuse what happened, doesn’t even scratch the surface.

But please do know that for those of us who know you, and who trust you- well you are valued and priceless asset to our community. Hopefully the people that booted you tonight will know that sometime soon as well, equally that if they try to kick you out next week they will have to boot me as well.

Take care,

dce


Mark...

As a longtime reporter myself, I'm asking this with all respect, because you know this community and its boundaries far better than I.

Why did you leave? By what authority can a MidPen employee order you to leave and compel you to do so? Did you not have a legal right to attend if the meeting was not specifically restricted to Moonridge residents and their invited guests? And should you have chosen to remain, what recourse would MidPen have? Do you think they would call the Sheriff's Department to remove you, and under what law could a deputy do so? And would there not be value in forcing MidPen to go to such lengths to remove you?

Thank you.


I don't know what the law says, but common respect says we must follow the family's wishes.

If they want a meeting with limited attendance OK that seems right.

If they want a private audience with the whole city council and Condotti,

that seems right.

If they want a private meeting with the whole of every elected representative up and down the line, that seems right.

We, the citizens and members of this community have a right too.

We have a right to be included.


Mark, Thank You for this report, Yesterday I was at the site I was impressed with the Sheriff presence 2 cars within 15 minutes. I was there to take photos of that little office right out front of Yanira's house that has two parking spaces marked SHERIFF, plus a sign. The Sheriff Office has told me that they don't have a substation there. I saw a SAMTRANS bus stop there where you were kicked out of. I'm not asking you to get arrested next time I wouldn't ask that of anyone but this is a publicly funded property, with public transportation to it. They already had one private meeting to intimidate the residents how many more are going to take place. Is this how we want Taxpayer money invested?

Again Thank You for your work


Mark, thank you for your efforts to keep the public involved. If the meeting is open to the public with paid public officers, the press has the right to attend too.

All these meetings and all the time spent by our sheriffs and local officials mean nothing without an unbiased way to disseminate the information and decisions to the public they impact.

This incident isn't just about one 18 year old girl and her family. It's about public safety and how law enforcement responds to an emergency. The entire community has a stake so unless the meeting is private, by invitation only, then you should be there for us as our eyes and ears.

It's also counterproductive to eliminate public involvement in something so potentially far-reaching since the alertness of the press and the general public is our only real watchdog.

I'm sorry you were subjected to the indignity of being ousted from meetings you had every right to attend. MidPen overstepped their bounds.


If the purpose of a meeting is to discuss litigation strategy, the press and the public may be excluded.

It all changes when a lawsuit is filed.


Maybe it is something going around.

If we tolerate, and we probably will, it will get worse.

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