Los Altos council member’s claims of threatening messages disputed by local activist group

This story was updated on 11/29 at 3:00 p.m.

Members of the local activist group Justice Vanguard pushed back against claims by Los Altos City Councilwoman Lynette Lee Eng that she had received threatening messages from them during Tuesday's (Nov. 24) council meeting, when the council voted to enact police reforms and eliminate the school resource officer (SRO) program at Los Altos High School.

Jan Pepper
Lee Eng

Lee Eng abstained from voting in favor of allowing for complaints against the police department to be submitted to a third-party auditor. Currently, complaints about the police must be filed directly with the police department. She was the only council member who didn’t support the motion.

Lee Eng also joined Councilwoman Anita Enander in voting against implementing an online submission form for police complaints or commendations, which would be submitted both to the police department and to an independent third-party auditor.

Before the council addressed the SRO program, Lee Eng said she wanted to state for the record why she voted the way she did, “if anything were to occur to me or my family.”

“I’m getting information or comments from members of Vanguard calling me racist now,” she said. “I don’t appreciate it. I would like to state that I did it because I lacked information, and there were other reasons why I took the position that I have.”

The other council members immediately condemed the alleged messages and threats.

Justice Vanguard, which comprises students, teachers and staff from the Mountain View Los Altos Union High School District, organized local protests over the summer advocating for police reform after the killing of George Floyd.

Frustrations surface

Kenan Moos, a founder of Justice Vanguard, sent a series of texts to Lee Eng during the virtual meeting. The messages, shared with the Town Crier and later made public by Moos on Facebook, lead off with, "Your name will be all over the papers," followed by several accusations, but didn’t threaten harm to Lee Eng or her family.

“I just want to be clear, this is no way a threat of any kind,” the final text reads. “This is me expressing my disappointment.”

Whether Lee Eng, who didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment, received other messages that prompted her statement is unclear. The Town Crier has submitted a public records request for correspondence sent or received by Lee Eng related to the city's business during the meeting.

In an interview after the meeting, Moos, a Los Altos High School graduate, said he was frustrated that Lee Eng indicted Justice Vanguard during the meeting. He claimed that he has spoken to Lee Eng several times about ways to improve diversity and was just discouraged with how she voted.

“All the things that the city has seen me do from the beginning – have I ever come out and tried to threaten someone or be violent toward anyone?” Moos asked. “Or have I been very direct with my conversations and not dealt with bullshit? Because those are two very different things.”

Lee Eng voted for all the other motions, including to eliminate the SRO program from the high school. But she raised questions during the meeting about the financial cost of hiring an auditor – which she was told would cost between $2,000 and $10,000 by former Superior Court Judge LaDoris Cordell, the moderator of the citizens’ police task force that presented the recommendations to the council. Earlier in the meeting, the council had voted unanimously to spend $377,500 for an upgrade to the city’s police Records Management System.

Lee Eng, who was recently re-elected to a second term, has a record of questioning the financial implications of agenda items during council meetings.

“If you’re concerned about voicing concerns because of how you’re treated, I am very concerned about how I am being treated as well,” she said during the meeting.

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