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Citizens' Brown Act Violation Fund established

Original post made by peter carpenter on Nov 1, 2010

The current San Mateo DA will NOT pursue Brown Act violations. Sadly in San Mateo County that responsibility then falls to individual citizens.

I will gladly pledge $1000 to a Brown Act violation fund - anyone else prepared to contribute?

Peter Carpenter


Mr. Carpenter, I'm in for a grand. It would be nice to see some Menlo Park citizens take an interest in their own town's corruption.

POGO

*****************
OK, we now have $2k of seed money for a Citizens Brown Act Violation Fund to be used to put pressure on our local governments and our elected officials to 'cure and correct' their Brown Act violations and, more important, to encourage our local governments and our elected officials to begin adhering to both the spirit and the letter of the Brown Act.

Hopefully others will join in with pledges and a public spirited lawyer conversant in the Brown Act will agree to serve as our legal representative. The mere existence of a significant Fund and a skillful attorney will probably encourage some change in behavior.

Comments (12)

Posted by POGO, a resident of Woodside: other
on Nov 1, 2010 at 10:49 am

I would encourage others to participate, especially those of you in Atherton and Menlo Park who are concerned about your city's governance.

Contribute what you wish - $50, $100, $250...


Posted by Jon Buckheit, a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Nov 1, 2010 at 10:52 am

I've pledged $1000 as well and hope we can find an attorney to take these cases on.


Posted by John J."Jack" Hickey, a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Nov 1, 2010 at 11:22 am

I am following this post and will weigh in after the election. I have a keen interest in the subject. The Sequoia Healthcare District has had several likely Brown Act violations. The most egregious was one in which they started a meeting 3 minutes early (since I did not arrive until the scheduled time) and amazingly rearranged the agenda to negate my participation on critacal items.
I also have an interest in "political advocacy violations" See: Web Link
and, "pseudo philanthropy" see: Web Link


Posted by John J. "Jack" Hickey, a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Nov 1, 2010 at 11:58 am

For legal help check CalAware: Web Link


Posted by Ed, a resident of Atherton: other
on Nov 1, 2010 at 12:25 pm

Nice to see the "Committee Of 100" bumping up to the county level--nothing less would have worked anyway. So are you going to give those guys time to build their deluxe Old Boy's Club jailhouse before the dominos start to fall?

I've got a 20$ gold piece--will that help? Heads or tails-- either way, this sounds like a good bet.


Posted by Michael G. Stogner, a resident of another community
on Nov 1, 2010 at 12:40 pm

I'm in for $100


Posted by Menlo Voter, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Nov 1, 2010 at 1:59 pm

I can go $100.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Nov 1, 2010 at 2:00 pm

There are now 6 individuals who have made pledges to support this fund. My hope is that we can amass about $5k in pledges but not to accept or request any cash at this time. With those pledges in hand I will then attempt to engage an attorney who specializes in Brown Act cases - hopefully on a pro bono or a contingency basis. We will collectively then identify specific violations that we wish to pursue. The first step will be to send a 'cure and correct' letter to the agency/individuals involved. If they 'cure and correct' the violation within 30 days then no further action is necessary. If they fail to 'cure and correct' then we will need to make a decision whether or not to file a civil suit - which must be done within 15 days after the 30 day opportunity to 'cure and correct' expires.

My hope is that as the local governments and elected officials become aware that we mean business and have the resources to act that we will be able to proactively change their compliance with both the letter and the spirit of the Brown Act.

Any concerned citizen who wishes to make a pledge but does not wish to do so on this forum may contact me at brownactcompliance@gmail.com.


Posted by looking on, a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Nov 1, 2010 at 7:13 pm

As it as now ben fully established that no Brown act violatins were in involved in the Cline, Robinson, Fergusson even, although they were certainly miss-using the City's email system, let me suggest you change your objective to establishing a City Blog that would quit censoring comments, and cutting off threads when the Almancd doesn't like the course it is taking.

The Almanac looks terrible in dealing with the supposedly Andy Cohen remark and trys to protect itself with censoring and shutting down items.

We need a more open avenue to express views.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Nov 1, 2010 at 7:42 pm

It has NOT been fully established that no Brown Act violation occurred.
The City Attorney has offered an opinion - that is NOT a judicial finding.

Here is what the Attorney General says:
"Typically, a serial meeting is a series of communications, each of which involves less than a quorum of the legislative body, but which taken as a whole involves a majority of the body's members. For example, a chain of communications involving contact from member A to member B who then communicates with member C would constitute a serial meeting in the case of a five-person body. Similarly, when a person acts as the hub of a wheel (member A) and communicates individually with the various spokes (members B and C), a serial meeting has occurred."

Here is what the California League of Cities says:
"New communication technologies present new Brown Act challenges. For example, common email practices of forwarding or replying to messages can easily lead to a serial meeting prohibited by the
Brown Act."

"The Brown Act, however, is limited to meetings among a majority of the members of multi-member government bodies when the subject relates to local agency business."

Personally, I believe that a serial meeting did occur and that the emails did "relate to the agency's business."

Getting a pass from the City Attorney is hardly an arms-length transaction.

Why do our elected officials err on the side of caution and transparency rather than taking actions which require an attorney's opinion?

What is not clear about "It is the intent of the law that their actions be taken openly and that their deliberations be conducted openly."?


Posted by POGO, a resident of Woodside: other
on Nov 1, 2010 at 8:27 pm

looking on -

You said "As it as now ben fully established that no Brown act violatins were in involved in the Cline, Robinson, Fergusson even, although they were certainly miss-using the City's email system."

Can you tell me how "miss-using the City's email system" was not a violation of the Brown Act when it specifically prohibits such use. What occurred is actually cited in Brown Act training as a prohibited act. The City Attorney is wrong, period.

Are you really okay with an incumbent using the city's resources for private electioneering? You know, one day, that incumbent may not be to your liking...


Posted by Michael G. Stogner, a resident of another community
on Nov 2, 2010 at 12:31 pm

Service League of San Mateo County

Web Link

We should have a look at potential Brown Act Violations


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