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Palo Alto, Menlo Park and Atherton Council members knowingly break the law

Original post made by Peter Carpenter, Atherton: Lindenwood, on Jul 12, 2010

Thanks to Palo Alto resident and watchdog Herb Borock we now know the Mayor of Palo Alto Part Burt, the Mayor of Menlo Park Rich Cline and Atherton Council member Jerry Carlson knowingly violated the Brown Act. Last week these three individuals, who also serve on the five member Peninsula Cities Consortium, held an illegal, closed door, unannounced meeting with the Chair of the California High-Speed Rail Authority from which the public was excluded and during which no public comment was permitted. All three individuals have been in office long enough to have taken the require ethics training more than once and are therefore fully aware of the requirements of the Brown Act. They are also smart enough to know that three members constitute a majority of the five member Peninsula Cities Consortium board.



Their flagrant violation of the Brown Act is an insult to the citizens whom they were elected to serve. At a minimum they each owe their constituents a public apology and each should be heavily fined. They should also ask themselves if they deserve to continue to serve in the offices to which they were elected.





Comments (39)

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Posted by Disappointed
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Jul 12, 2010 at 11:27 am

Peter, do you have any more information on Herb Borock and how he discovered this? As an Atherton resident, I am extremely disappointed in the behavior that has been reported here (numerous examples) relating to Jerry Carlson. It is one arrogant move after another (recent ones I remember are the conflict of interest for high speed rail, not letting John Buckheit join the finance committee and using our money to have the city attorney send a threatening letter to someone who had the "nerve" to call him at his listed number). I think it's time for Mr. Carlson to step down. There is a pattern of highly arrogant behavior and this is not serving Atherton well.


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Posted by Michael G. Stogner
a resident of another community
on Jul 12, 2010 at 11:29 am

Good job to Watchdog Herb Borock and Peter Carpenter for posting this.

San Mateo County District Attorney Office does not prosecute very many Brown Act Violations.

I don't recall any in the last 10 years, I am sending Steve Wagstaffe an e-mail to find out how many cases have been charged and prosecuted. I'll let you know the results.

Welcome to San Mateo County


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jul 12, 2010 at 11:34 am

Disappointed asks:"do you have any more information on Herb Borock and how he discovered this?"

Herb is a Palo Alto resident who is a relentless watchdog on these issues. He noted the press coverage after the meeting occurred and realized that a majority of a public body had held a secret meeting without public notice or opportunity for public comment and he brought this to the attention of the Daily Post. The Post confirmed Borock interpretation of the Brown Act with Terry Franke who is the Executive Director of the First Amendment advocacy group.

************

Here are the relevant facts about the Brown Act:
The Brown Act applies to the "legislative bodies" of all local agencies in California, e.g., councils, boards, commissions and committees. (§§ 54951, 54952.)

The term "meeting" is defined in section 54952.2 and expressly discusses several types of meeting formats. First, the term "meeting" includes any congregation of a majority of the members of a
legislative body at the same time and place to hear, discuss or deliberate upon any matter which is under the subject matter jurisdiction of the agency. (§ 54952.2(a).) Under this definition, face to face gatherings of a legislative body in which issues under the subject matter jurisdiction of the body are discussed, decided or voted upon are meetings subject to the Brown Act. Informal gatherings such as lunches or social gatherings also would constitute meetings if issues under the subject matter jurisdiction of the body are discussed or decided by the member of the body.

The Brown Act provides for three different types of meetings. Regular meetings occur at a time and location generally set by ordinance, resolution, or by-laws. At least 72 hours prior to a regular
meeting, an agenda must be posted which contains a brief general description of each item to be transacted or discussed at the meeting. Special meetings may be called at any time but notice must be
received at least 24 hours prior to the meeting by all members of the body and by all media outlets that have requested notice in writing.

Notice of a special meeting must be provided 24 hours in advance of the meeting to all of the legislative body members and to all media outlets who have requested notification. (§ 54956;5Ops.Cal.Atty.Gen. 245, 246 (1970).) The notice also must be posted at least 24 hours prior to the meeting in a location freely accessible to the public. The notice should indicate that the meeting is being called as a special meeting, and shall state the time, place, and business to be transacted at the meeting. No other business shall be considered at the special meeting. Notice is required even if the meeting is conducted in closed session, and, even if no action is taken.

At every special meeting, the legislative body shall provide the public with an opportunity to address the body on any item described in the notice before or during consideration of that item. (§ 54954.3(a).) The special meeting notice shall describe the public's rights to so comment. (§ 54954.3(a).)


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jul 12, 2010 at 2:34 pm

1 - was last week's "Rail Tour" a meeting of the Peninsula Cities Consortium Board under the Brown Act?
The term "meeting" is defined in section 54952.2 and expressly discusses several types of meeting formats. First, the term "meeting" includes any congregation of a majority of the members of a
legislative body at the same time and place to hear, discuss or deliberate upon any matter which is under the subject matter jurisdiction of the agency. (§ 54952.2(a).) Under this definition, face to face gatherings of a legislative body in which issues under the subject matter jurisdiction of the body are discussed, decided or voted upon are meetings subject to the Brown Act.
2 - What was the subject matter of the "Rail Tour"
High Speed Rail
3 - What is the jurisdiction of the Peninsula Cities Consortium?
"Cities along the Peninsula have joined together to provide input into the process of reviewing and constructing the High Speed Rail project between San Francisco and San Jose. Although each city faces unique and specific location challenges, all Peninsula cities share many similar concerns and the strong underlying belief that particular care must be taken to integrate high speed rail into the living fabric of the Peninsula."

4 - How many members serve on the Peninsula Cities Consortium?
Five - "The cities of Palo Alto, Menlo Park, Atherton, Burlingame and Belmont are members of the Peninsula Cities Consortium (PCC)."

5 - How many members of a five person board constitute a quorum?
Three
6 - Was last week's meeting announced to the public at least 24 hours in advance of the meeting?
NO
7 - Was the public permitted to attend last week's meeting?
NO
8 - Was the public permitted to speak at last week's meeting?
NO
9 - Does the public have any idea what transpire as this secret, closed door meeting?
NO

10 - What does the Preamble of the Brown Act state?
"In enacting this chapter, the Legislature finds and declares that the public commissions, boards, and councils and the other public agencies in this State exist to aid in the conduct of the people's
business. It is the intent of the law that their actions be taken openly and that their deliberations be conducted openly."
"The people of this State do not yield their sovereignty to the agencies which serve them. The people, in delegating authority, do not give their public servants the right to decide what is good
for the people to know and what is not good for them to know. The people insist on remaining informed so that they may retain control over the instruments they have created."1

The people reconfirmed that intent fifty years later at the November 2004 election by adopting Proposition 59, amending the California Constitution to include a public right of access to government information:
"The people have the right of access to information concerning the conduct of the people's business, and, therefore, the meetings of public bodies and the writings of public officials and
agencies shall be open to public scrutiny."2

The Brown Act's other unchanged provision is a single sentence:
"All meetings of the legislative body of a local agency shall be open and public, and all persons shall be permitted to attend any meeting of the legislative body of a local agency, except as
otherwise provided in this chapter."3


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jul 12, 2010 at 3:24 pm

1 (b) Is the Peninsula Cities Consortium covered by the Brown Act?
"When a legislative body designates less than a quorum of its members that does not constitute a standing committee to meet with representatives of another legislative body to exchange information and report back to their respective bodies, a meeting between the representatives would be exempt from the Act. (Joiner v. City of Sebastopol (1981) 125 Cal.App.3d 799, 805.) However, if a legislative body designates less than a quorum of its members to meet with representatives of another legislative body to perform a task, such as the making of a recommendation, an advisory committee consisting of the representatives from both bodies would be created. Such a committee would be subject to the open meeting and notice provisions of the Act. (Joiner v. City of Sebastopol (1981) 125 Cal.App.3d 799, 805.)"


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Posted by John P Johns
a resident of another community
on Jul 12, 2010 at 5:39 pm

Violating the Brown act is a misdemeanor offense. I have leveled a criminal complaint against Mr. Carlson.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Just Wondering
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jul 12, 2010 at 5:59 pm

Mr. Righteous strikes again!


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jul 12, 2010 at 6:00 pm

Is the PCC a 'legislative body' as defined by the Brown Act or is it just providing input to its member cities?

The PCC is providing input to the HSR Authority on behalf of the member cities, not providing input to the member cities. The above citations clearly show that the PCC is a legislative body as defined in the Brown Act.

Note what the PCC claims as ITS accomplishments (none of which involves reporting back to their respective cities):

Since the first meeting on January 30, 2009, the PCC has made significant accomplishments, including:

* Advocated that the state Peer Review Committee be fully staffed, funded and empowered to do its job. State legislation has since been initiated to enact these recommendations.

* Analyzed and critiqued the Authority's business plan and ridership studies. Collaborated with Californians Advocating Responsible Rail Design (CARRD) and community participants to identify errors and omissions in the plan. Consistent with PCC's comments, the University of California at Berkeley's Institute of Transportation Studies conducted an independent ridership study and the state Legislative Analyst's Office and state Auditor's Office have strongly criticized the business plan for inadequate planning, weak oversight and lax contract management.

* Advocated that Caltrain protect its interests independent of high speed rail. Caltrain is now seeking funding for electrification improvements that would benefit the Peninsula corridor with or without high speed rail.

* Advocated successfully that a community consensus-building process called Context Sensitive Solutions (CSS) be used in designing the high speed rail line. By going deeper than the usual requirements for projects that are dictated by environmental laws, CSS reflects full and fair consideration of all alternatives. The Peninsula Rail Program has made a commitment to CSS and has hired consultants to implement it.

* Proposed incorporating Web 2.0 tools in CSS to allow greater participation in the design of the rail line by stakeholders as well as technical experts from around the world. As a result, the Peninsula Rail Program has incorporated an e-government "CSS Toolkit" into CSS and has made it available to cities.

* Provided a series of educational and community input events including:

>>A High Speed Rail Teach-In on September 12, 2009, attended by more than 300 people. Hosted by the City of Palo Alto, the Teach-In helped educate people on many complex political, technical, legal and financial issues. Participants learned about the latest developments in high speed rail, questioned experts and discovered how they can get involved.

>>A High Speed Rail Design Workshop on October 3-4, 2009, that focused on the Palo Alto-Menlo Park-Atherton section of the line. More than 100 participants studied design alternatives in great detail with assistance from architects and rail experts.

* Created a PCC website at www.peninsularail.com that educates and informs the public about high speed rail developments. The PCC sends updates to mailing list subscribers.

* Monitors and participates in legislative advocacy through CARRD and through lobbying by participating cities.

* Made public a detailed analysis of the California High Speed Rail Authority's business plan, courtesy of economist Elizabeth Alexis of CARRD.

* Requested and received an extension of the comment period for the draft scoping report. Persuaded the Peninsula Rail Program to extend the comment period for the Alternatives Analysis.

* Sent representatives to numerous community meetings to help educate residents about high speed rail.

* Have met with numerous state and local elected officials.

* Provided testimony at State Senate hearings.

* Provided a forum for presentations by experts on a variety of high speed rail topics, including freight, the business plan, Context Sensitive Solutions and the environmental analysis process.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by truth
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Jul 12, 2010 at 6:47 pm

Peter, ever attended a PCC meeting or a Menlo Park council meeting in the past 18 months? As a resident of Menlo Park, I am grateful to council for taking action when people like you sat around twiddling your fingers as HSR geared up. You were no where to be found when this prop was presented, you have never bothered to lift a finger to help, just chastise people in a blog. You are obsessed with Carlson now when his effort has only served to help your town as it faces rail, now you are going after Burt and Cline?

These guys are somehow now back room dealers against Diridon and Kopp? Seriously?

Get to your point and get out of the way so the people who do care about our future can do the work.

Ridiculous.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jul 12, 2010 at 7:04 pm

Truth,as always, does not understand this issue.
I am not speaking for or against HSR, I am speaking in favor of the public'c business being done in public as is required by the law. If we give up the right then government will quickly slip back into the shadows.


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Posted by Morris Brown
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Jul 12, 2010 at 8:15 pm

The article that started all this off in the Daily Post, had a large error. It indicated that this meeting was being kept a big secret and that the Post had just uncovered this possible Brown Act violation.

In fact, as I wrote to the Menlo Park e-mail log today, the "tour" was fully discussed at the June 15th City council. (see that email if you want to view the discussion). I dare say, that any of us following this project, knew about this about a month ago.

Mr. Carpenter goes off being judge and jury, calling for apologies, possible resignations and heavy fines.

From my involvement in the High Speed Rail issue, I know Pat Burt, Jerry Carlson and Rich Cline very well. I certainly don't agree with them on some of the issues involved here, but they work very hard and I can't imagine anything other than their wanting to have the High Speed Rail authority Chair visit our area, see what we are facing and understand the local issues.

This is not to say, that if this was a Brown Act violation, that it should not have been so noted. I accept Carlson's statement, "I didn't even think about that". It is really unfortunate that this has indeed happened, since those HSR advocates, who are nothing more than complete zealots and want the project at any cost, will seize upon this incident to try and advance their cause.

Mistakes happen. My opinion is this was an honest mistake.


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Posted by John P Johns
a resident of another community
on Jul 12, 2010 at 9:00 pm

Jerry Carlson's explanation as noted by Morris Brown is "I just didn't even think about it".

Mr. Carlson has not returned my call, nor has he communicated with me through the City Clerk as the City Attorney represented he would.

Hence I have no idea as to whether Mr. Carlson would offer a similar explanation for his not having sought guidance from the FPPC as to whether it was appropriate for him to vote on matters affecting High Speed Rail.

What I do know because I am a long time public servant is that making a reference to an upcomming meeting in another public meeting just doesn't cut it. The meeting must be agendized and it must have a time for public comments.

It may be a technicality, it may have been a mistake, but I have seen the District Attorney prosecute people for less. (Yes I think this should go to the DA because I believe this is not an isolated incident on the part of Mr. Carlson and his cohorts.)

Finally, Mr. Carpenter has been the voice of restraint on this forum. In fact I have felt frustration as his being too restrained, too willing to suspend judgment on people and their actions.

For this reaon I dare say Morris Brown's criticism of Mr. Carpenter is unwarranted.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jul 12, 2010 at 9:08 pm

To Morris Brown I simply state that the end does not justify the means. If we are not a nation of laws then there is very little hope for the future. Bad things done in a good cause are simply bad things. I do not impugn the motives of the individuals involved but rather suggest, in strong and well documented terms, that they knowingly broke the law. All three individuals have been in office long enough to have taken the required ethics training more than once and are therefore fully aware of the requirements of the Brown Act. They are also smart enough to know that three members constitute a majority of the five member Peninsula Cities Consortium board.

We, as citizens, deserve better of our elected representatives - the operative word is representative since they represent us and, in this case, they have failed to do in the manner required by law.

From which laws would Mr. Brown exempt our elected representatives?


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Posted by morris brown
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Jul 12, 2010 at 9:58 pm

To Peter Carpenter:

I don't excuse what may have been a Brown act violation. I am not in any way exempting anyone who violates the law.

On the other hand, your comments that they should consider resignation and be heavily fined, is out of line. What has been noted as a possible violation should now be handled by the FPPC and I don't see you or me any anyone other than that agency as being the process though which this will be handled.

As for Mr. John P. John's comment above about whether Carlson should have recused himself from HSR issues, it seems moot. Carlson lives outside of the 500 foot limit, which in other cases has been the line drawn. Jim Janz did recuse himself from HSR issues when he was on council as did MP councilman Andy Cohen and MP City Attorney Bill McClure, all of whom have interests inside the 500 foot boundary.


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Posted by Process is Everything
a resident of Atherton: West of Alameda
on Jul 12, 2010 at 10:13 pm

Morris Brown, I agree totally with Peter Carpenter. The end does not justify the means. If Carlson et al. violated the Brown Act, they need to answer for it. It is a misdemeanor criminal matter as Mr. Johns pointed out, and the district attorney should handle it. "Not realizing" the violation is no excuse, and if it is, I can assure you we would be living in a very different society. Making a "mistake" is not good enough for the District Attorney to avoid prosecuting others. "Working hard" has also not been used to exempt people who have broken the law.

Go to the Redwood City court house, and every day you can see people who work hard, made a mistake, or didn't realize the consequences of their actions be dealt major blows to their lives and their families in terms of punishments that include jail time. For example, a volunteer coach was prosecuted for yelling at a few kids who were bouncing a ball off of his trailer park home. He got far worse – jail – than Mr. Carlson simply resigning from the city council. We are a nation of laws, not of men.

Your "500 foot" threshold on whether or not there is a conflict of interest in Carlson being associated with these HSR issues in the first place is an oversimplification, and I think you know it. Isn't it ironic...if Mr. Carlson had simply recused himself as he should have, none of this ever would have happened.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jul 13, 2010 at 7:30 am

Morris Brown states:"What has been noted as a possible violation should now be handled by the FPPC and I don't see you or me any anyone other than that agency as being the process though which this will be handled. "

Violations of the Brown Act are not within the purview of the FPPC but rather the responsibility of the criminal justice system.

Here are the relevant section from the California League of Cities Handbook:
"A violation of the Brown Act by a member of the legislative body who acts with the improper intent described below is punishable as a misdemeanor.
A criminal violation has two components. The first is that there must be an overt act—a member of a legislative body must attend a meeting at which action is taken in violation of the Brown Act.11"

"Arguments over Brown Act issues often become emotional on all sides. Newspapers trumpet relatively minor violations, unhappy residents fume over an action, and legislative bodies clam up about information
better discussed in public. Hard lines are drawn and rational discussion breaks down. Occasionally the district attorney or even the grand jury becomes involved. Publicity surrounding alleged violations of the Brown Act can result in a loss of confidence by constituents in the legislative body."


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Posted by John P Johns
a resident of another community
on Jul 13, 2010 at 8:03 am

Mr. Carlson's attendance at the meeting with officials from High Speed Rail is not the first time he has there has been a violation of the Brown Act to which he has been a party.

During my litigation with the Town, the Atherton City Council met in closed session to discuss my personnel investigation. The City Council in fact voted to demand my resignation in exchange for Ms. Topliff standing down her investigation and payment of one month's accumulated sick leave to me.

Ms. Topliff was in attendance at these closed sessions, in violation of the Brown Act. All of this is documented in a deposition taken by my attorney Jon Parsons. This deposition was recorded on videotape and by an official transcript.

I have offered to make this documentation available to Chief of Police Mike Guerra as he proceeds with his investigation of my criminal complaint.


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Posted by Hank Lawrence
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Jul 13, 2010 at 10:30 am

Richard Cline's punishment should be to make him watch tapes of all the Kelly Fergusson pontifications at City Council meetings since 2004. That is the ultimate in cruelty. But wait a minute that violates the 8th amendment to the U.S. Constitution.


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Posted by scholar
a resident of another community
on Jul 13, 2010 at 11:14 am

I surmise the 8th amendment is the one that prohibits cruel and unusual punishment.

I also surmise that Ms. Furgusson by virtue of her punishing council meeting attendees with her pontifications has deprived countless civilians their right to due process.

I see a class action lawsuit, maybe even a constitutional crisis in the making.


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Posted by Hank Lawrence
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Jul 13, 2010 at 12:10 pm

I am looking for United Nations sanctions against Ms. Fergusson for violations of the Geneva Conventions of 1949. I have already notified Seymour Hersch of the NYT to follow up on this horrific treatment of Menlo Park residents.


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Posted by scholar
a resident of another community
on Jul 13, 2010 at 2:38 pm

That's right Hank. Think globally & act locally. Don't forget to notify the UN Human Rights commission.

I'll do my small part and file a complaint on Ferguson for violating the City's noise ordinance.


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Posted by POGO
a resident of Woodside: other
on Jul 13, 2010 at 9:43 pm

Every elected official is required to take training in Brown Act compliance. This is not a trivial matter, violations are serious criminal offenses and compliance ensures transparency and public confidence.

That training includes everything from the requirements for noticing a meeting right down to not using the "Reply to All" button on city business emails because that reply constitutes a meeting. The training also notes that should a quorum of a body inadvertently become present, such as three members of a five member body showing up at the same party, then one of those officials must leave.

Absolutely true.

These three officials were not rookies who innocently overlooked this requirement. They are experienced officials and their cavalier attitude toward this shocking lack of transparency is sickening. Mr. Carlson's lame excuse that "I didn't even think about that" is quite a commentary on his competence... or, more accurately, lack thereof.


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Posted by truth
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Jul 14, 2010 at 8:39 am

POGO is wrong. Read something related to the law before you pretend to be an expert. Your opinion is just not relevant. The fact that a quorum of elected officials of the same body are at a party or an event does not mean it is a Brown Act violation. That is just sad that you think that.


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Posted by truth
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Jul 14, 2010 at 8:42 am

[POST REMOVED. Please do more than just attack other posters.]


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jul 14, 2010 at 10:14 am

This lying and misrepresentation has got to stop.

He who calls himself Truth is, in fact, Untruthful.

Truth states:"The fact that a quorum of elected officials of the same body are at a party or an event does not mean it is a Brown Act violation."

The facts are 1 - a quorum of the PCC Board met in secret, without a published agenda, without the opportunity for public participation and without the opportunity for public comment.


2 - they discuses matters within the jurisdiction of the PCC, to wit HSR.

It doesn't matter if the venue of their meeting was a social gathering, the bathroom or a public street - what they did is a violation of the law.

Here is what the Attorney General says on this matter:
"The definition of the term "meeting" contained in section 54952.2(a) includes any congregation of a majority of the members of a body at the same time and place to hear, discuss or deliberate on any issue under the subject matter jurisdiction of the body. This definition makes it clear that the body need not take any action in order for a gathering to be defined as a meeting. A gathering is a meeting if a majority of the members of the body merely receive information or
discuss their views on an issue."
"Attendance by a majority of the members of the legislative body at a purely social or ceremonial occasion is not deemed to be a meeting, so long as the members do not discuss among themselves specific business within the jurisdiction of the body."

For Truth, who has zero knowledge on this matter to state that Pogo, who has a great deal of personal experience with the Brown Act and its applicability, is 'wrong' is simply farcical.

Truth - please do all the readers of this Forum a big favor and choose a more accurate name or start doing your homework. In this case simply reading what others have posted and the source material which they cited woul have kept your foot out of your mouth.


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Posted by truth
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Jul 14, 2010 at 10:41 am

Peter, it is you that needs to read the forum. POGO was referring the Brown Act as forcing an elected to leave a party or an event just in the instance that there was a quorum of the leg. body present.

It had nothing to do with your petty claim, in which you ask for resignation and fines in your original note, because four city leaders met with to discuss rail impacts. Three were with the PCC, I did see that.

However, to POGO's obtuse comment misrepresents the spirit of the Brown Act, I say my response is valid.

Read, Peter. Don't just cut and paste from your mansion.


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Posted by Interested
a resident of another community
on Jul 14, 2010 at 11:14 am

Actually Truth if YOU read POGO carefully you will note that he stated it is at the training that a elected official is told he must leave if there are three members present. It is not the law, but I can assure you having undergone this training it is highly recommended. The training is not just intended to teach the law, it is intended to advise Officials on how to avoid the appearance of a conflict as well as an actual conflict.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jul 14, 2010 at 11:27 am

I was told in my Brown Act training that a quorum of a legislative body should not even ride on the same elevator. Public perception is crucial to public confidence.

Here is the advice from The League of California Cities (whose former Executive Director Bud Carpenter was one of the co-authors of the Brown Act):
"Informal gatherings:
Often members are tempted to mix business with pleasure—for example, by holding a post meeting gathering. Informal gatherings at which local agency business is discussed or transacted violate the law if
they are not conducted in conformance with the Brown Act.16 A luncheon gathering in a crowded dining room violates the Brown Act if the public does not have an adequate opportunity to hear or participate in the deliberations of members.
(Example)
Thursday, 11:30 a.m. As they did every week, the board of directors of Dry Gulch Irrigation District trooped into Pop's Donut Shoppe for an hour of talk and fellowship. They sat at the corner window, fronting on Main and Broadway, to show they had nothing to hide. Whenever he could, the managing editor of the weekly newspaper down the street hurried over to join the board.
A gathering like this would not violate the Brown Act if board members scrupulously avoided talking about irrigation district issues. But it is the kind of situation that should be avoided. The
public is unlikely to believe the board members could meet regularly without discussing public business. A newspaper executive's presence in no way lessens the potential for a violation of the Brown Act."

The public's Trust is a precious thing and should not be violated as it was by the HSR Rail Tour. Nor should it be jeopardized by a quorum of a legislative body meeting even casually without clear proof that they are not discussing matters within their jurisdiction.


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Posted by truth
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Jul 14, 2010 at 11:29 am

Put the scenario into play a few times without prejudicing it with names of people you don't like and see how outlandish that idea is...

First pitch in little league, oh, sorry we can only have two council members be there at the same time.

Ground breaking events must be a killer on the Brown Act since you always see a handful of council members with shovels and hard hats.

This is a law enacted to deal with real back-room deal making. Not this trivial crap.


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Posted by POGO
a resident of Woodside: other
on Jul 14, 2010 at 2:24 pm

Well, now that others have commented on the meaning of MY post, perhaps I should clarify.

"Interested" and "Mr. Carpenter" have it right. In the Brown Act training that elected and certain appointed officials are required to take - and I have received that training several times - you are told, as Mr. Carpenter noted, that you shouldn't attend a social function together and that if you find yourself in this predicament, ONE OF YOU SHOULD LEAVE. There are two reasons - (a) it's just too tempting to discuss business matters and (b) it doesn't look good. And that's the truth, truth. And I've taken that training, you haven't.

But that isn't the point here, is it?

This meeting wasn't a haphazard, "by chance" assembly, was it? It was a planned meeting by a quorum of this official body to specifically discuss the public's business. Public business is supposed to be done in a duly noticed, publicly available forum.

It couldn't be a more blatant, textbook example of a violation of the Brown Act. Given their tenure and experience, these three official knew better an their behavior is shameful. Regardless of your position on this issue, this is reprehensible.


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Posted by Interested
a resident of another community
on Jul 14, 2010 at 8:15 pm

Well done Truth. You have, albeit inadvertently hit upon the crux of the matter....

"This is a law enacted to deal with real back-room deal making. Not this trivial crap."


One mans "crap" is another mans "back-room dealing"...So in order to ensure clarity. WE the PEOPLE of the State of California enacted the Brown Act....

Before you attack Peter Carpenter for his assertions....READ IT......It should not be long before it becomes obvious to you that three member of a committee meeting to discuss issues without benefit of public notice or input IS A VIOLATION........


Duh...Pick your battles and don't waste ammo on the ones you cannot possibly win




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Posted by POGO
a resident of Woodside: other
on Jul 15, 2010 at 8:49 am

If a quorum of the city council met privately to discuss, say a building permit from truth's household, perhaps she would feel just a little differently about the protections afforded to her by the Brown Act.

I think many people would consider such a transgression a trivial matter... except truth.


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Posted by Michael G. Stogner
a resident of another community
on Jul 15, 2010 at 9:42 am

It wasn't as if this meeting was about a new stop sign or even a contract with Redflex for a new stop light with camera.

$9.95 Billion


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Posted by Or Consequences
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jul 15, 2010 at 10:11 am

Truth,

Defend yourself. Don't slink off and lick your wounds. Get prepared for battle. Your reputation has been impugned.


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Posted by truth
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Jul 15, 2010 at 10:55 am

I don't need to defend myself to tea baggers hunting to take down council members for nominal noticing mistakes, your ridiculously aggressive stance on a gathering of mayors who have fought hard for our cities and states against the HSR garbage, speaks volumes for the readers.

I am satisfied with the sincerity of the explanation.

But again, I am not a tea bagger, so who cares in this forum.


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Posted by WhoRUpeople
a resident of another community
on Jul 15, 2010 at 11:52 am

I'm sure Truth has me classified as a tea bagger by now, but I agree with Truth and am more than satisfied with the explanation (and commitment to take steps to prevent future misques) made by Mayor Cline. It was so refreshing to see an elected official say, whoops, that was a mistake, rather than rushing to get a legal opinion from a puppet city attorney to blow smoke and say it "it only looked like a duck, but it wasn't really a duck" like I've seen coming out of Atherton lately.


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Posted by Hank Lawrence
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Jul 15, 2010 at 1:36 pm

[Post removed due to disrespectful comment.]


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Posted by Hank Lawrence
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Jul 15, 2010 at 5:37 pm

A disrespectful comment in the eyes of the Almanac is one that disarms the irrational posturing of the left with facts and reasoning. [Portion removed. Refrain from personal attacks.]


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Posted by POGO
a resident of Woodside: other
on Jul 15, 2010 at 8:57 pm

WhoRUpeople -

Truth seems to see teabags everywhere, doesn't she?

Me thinks she doth protest too much... if ya know what I mean.


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