Thursday, December 3, 2015
Carson City, CA councilwoman Lula Davis-Holmes deserts her post as her "war on sex offenders" ends in defeat
She didn't even have the guts to attend the meeting in Carson City to overturn the park bans.
Carson backs off ‘war’ against sex offenders
By Sandy Mazza, Daily Breeze
POSTED: 12/02/15, 8:03 PM PST | UPDATED: 5 HRS AGO 4 COMMENTS
A year after Carson officials vowed to “go to war” to maintain stricter local laws than those imposed by the state to keep sex offenders away from places where children gather, they backed off this week to defuse civil rights lawsuits.
The City Council voted 3-0 Tuesday night to revoke its law prohibiting convicted sex offenders from loitering within 300 feet of places where children congregate.
Instead, Carson will join all other California cities by following the state decisions on matters such as where to house and how to regulate paroled sex offenders.
Sex offenders and their advocates have protested in Carson since the city refused to rescind its ordinance in August 2014, after a state court ruled that municipalities must follow the state’s less restrictive Jessica’s Law. Under that law, registered sex offenders cannot live within 2,000 feet of schools and parks.
“We have to go to war,” Councilwoman Lula-Davis Holmes said in September 2014, when the council voted 5-0 to maintain its strict prohibitions. “This is going to be a big fight. We want to keep this at the forefront.”
On Tuesday, Davis-Holmes abstained from voting to rescind that policy and Councilman Elito Santarina was absent from the discussion. The rest of the council voted to annul the laws after City Attorney Sunny Soltani explained that there has been no movement from other cities to back Carson’s stance.
“It’s time for the city to look at what it wants to do with its ordinance,” Soltani told council members. “Other cities put their hands up and rescinded their ordinances but you are still dealing with it. You have two pending lawsuits and we’re trying to make (city law) more consistent with state law.”
Since last year, California Reform Sex Offender Laws sued Carson on behalf of two sex-offender registrants, claiming the city violated their constitutional rights by refusing to let them near its parks and other public places.
At public protests in March and July near Carson City Hall, sex-offender registrants held signs reading: “Carson Law Hurts Families” and “Protect the U.S. Constitution.”
Protestors said they served their time and shouldn’t be further persecuted by having their rights restricted by cities, along with the state and federal rules that already govern their behavior.
“We should not be making law out of emotion or just for politicians to get votes,” said Frank Lindsay, who was convicted in 1979 for lewd and lascivious acts with a minor.
Janice Bellucci, the attorney who sued Carson on behalf of Lindsay and another sex-offender registrant, said she will drop the suits as long as the city agrees to settle for attorneys’ fees and other costs. They tried to settle with Carson in July 2014, but the city instead chose to fight the matter.
“We are pleased that the Carson City Council has decided at long last to comply with state law by significantly modifying its sex offender ordinance,” Bellucci said in an e-mail. “The language in the modified ordinance is also consistent with terms of the (proposed July 2014 settlement), which the City Council has refused to honor.”
July 2014: Attorney Janice Bellucci, who represents two registered sex offenders, sought a settlement with Carson over its sex offender law. Carson city leaders instead chose to fight Bellucci’s complaint in court.
August 2014: A state court ruled that California’s cities must comply with the state’s Jessica’s Law, which bans registered sex offenders from going 2,000 feet near schools and parks.
September 2014: The Carson City Council voted 5-0 to maintain a law that requires sex offenders to stay at least 2,000 feet away from schools and parks and not loiter within 300 feet of places where children gather.
Tuesday: The Carson City Council voted 3-0 to revoke its policy. Councilwoman Lula Davis-Holmes abstained and Councilman Elito Santarina was absent.