Santa Clarita Mayor Bill Miranda responded Tuesday to criticisms of the city of Santa Clarita Human Relations Roundtable, which was formed as a result of last summer’s protests about issues involving race relations.
At Tuesday night’s council meeting, Miranda reacted to public comments by Santa Clarita residents Steve Petzold and Alan Ferdman, who expressed concerns about the letter published in Friday’s edition of The Signal stating the roundtable’s support for changing the Hart High School mascot.
“Our intent was to listen to the different demographics within our community,” Miranda said of the 15-member group’s purpose. “Our intent was not to promote anything other than harmony — not to promote anything other than inclusion.”
Petzold asked Miranda about the roundtable’s authority.
“They have no authority to do anything,” Miranda said of the roundtable. “I don’t have as chairperson – and the rest of council – have the ability to restrict individuals from speaking out on any issues they wish to speak out on.
“They can’t do it in the name of the city of Santa Clarita, and they cannot do it in the name of the roundtable unless all the members of the roundtable are in agreement with that action,” he said.
Miranda said the roundtable is “in the process of evolving.”
“When they get together, there’s a little nebulousness as to what they can do and what they can’t do,” he said, noting that roundtable’s intent is not to a “secret council,” as he said some may have accused it of being.
The roundtable does not publicly post its meeting information since it isn’t subject to the Ralph M. Brown Act, a state law that “guarantees the public’s right to attend and participate in meetings of local legislative bodies.”
“We’re trying to help that committee express themselves,” said Miranda. “We’re giving them a voice (and) a place where they can express themselves, a place where they can come to the council, through me, and advise (council members) to maybe some things we’re not aware of.”
Miranda said he will take “very seriously” the criticisms shared by Petzold and Ferdman.
“We will continue to make sure that it’s very clear to everyone that the roundtable is not an official arm of the city in any way, shape or form,” Miranda concluded.
The Human Relations Roundtable was selected by an independent five-person panel in December. The panel selected 16 residents “to create a more inclusive Santa Clarita,” according to a prepared statement by Miranda from December.
The roundtable is co-chaired by Miranda and Cherise Moore, president of the William S. Hart Union High School District governing board.