A five-month rift between a Los Altos councilmember and a young Black activist shows no signs of abating, with residents last week expressing disappointment over a canceled mediation effort.
Mayor Neysa Fligor announced at the April 13 city council meeting that the mediator agreed to by Lynette Lee Eng and Kenan Moos had “terminated” the mediation, meant to resolve a conflict involving Lee Eng’s statements from last November that were interpreted as racist. The two had agreed to mediation last month.
No further information was given. Lee Eng did not respond to a request for comment.
“Although we’re very disappointed that this particular process was terminated, we’re still hopeful that both parties can find a way to resolve this matter,” Fligor said in a statement.
The conflict stems from a November council meeting at which Lee Eng responded to Moos’ texts expressing disappointment in her vote on a police reform issue. She said the texts made her concerned for her and her family’s safety, prompting Moos – who leads the social justice group Justice Vanguard – to accuse Lee Eng of racially profiling him.
Moos and his supporters have spoken at every council meeting since, calling on Lee Eng to apologize. She has remained silent.
Last week’s meeting was no exception as a parade of Moos supporters – some of whom have spoken at each meeting over the past five months – repeated their demands for Lee Eng to apologize to Moos. Some also reiterated requests for city anti-bias training and requested that other council members take an active role in resolving the problem.
“I’m really disappointed mediation has been canceled,” said resident Cindy Sidaris. “There should be transparency as to why it was canceled, and the mediation needs to be restarted immediately. The rest of the council can no longer sit back and wait for some resolution – you need to show leadership by resolving this issue and initiate mandatory anti-bias diversity and equity training for all city employees, council members and commissioners.”
Not all speakers agreed.
“This group that basically is attacking Lynette is nothing more than a bunch of bullies that are basically taking up valuable council time,” resident Frank Martin said. “This is a situation of ‘he-said, she-said’: Lynette said she was intimidated by this other person, this other person said she was a racist.”
Another speaker took issue with Martin’s assessment.
“It’s not ‘he-said, she-said’ because we have had no response from the councilwoman. I would really, really like to hear her side of the story,” the speaker said.
Los Altos resident Laura Schmidt refuted Martin’s bullying claims.
“To be clear, we do not think she is being bullied by those commenting on this issue, we believe she is being called out for the comments that she made and for which she should take responsibility as an elected councilwoman,” Schmidt said.
Moos also expressed exasperation, but for different reasons.
“I hope we can work this out,” he said, appearing to address Lee Eng directly. “It’s been five months and you’ve said nothing. ... If you spoke, if you apologized, it would be done. This is tearing me apart. I am tired of this.”
Toni Moos, Kenan’s mother, defended her son, directly addressing Lee Eng.
“In June of 2020, Kenan took it upon himself to try to make a difference in this community when he organized the protest (in Los Altos) after George Floyd’s murder,” she said. “It has proven to be a very difficult year for him and this has made it even more so. Lynette, please look at me. … You are affecting the lives of others with your silence. It’s time for you to apologize for making my son a target, for allowing the hatred he’s encountering. ... Take accountability.”