Posted by Steve, a resident of the Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park neighborhood, on Feb 1, 2011 at 1:46 pm
As I suggested in a previous post, Kelly's 2 phone calls violated the Brown Act in the same way that driving 2 miles over the speed limit violates the law against speeding. Though technically illegal it was not a serious violation.
Posted by Steve, a resident of the Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park neighborhood, on Feb 1, 2011 at 2:23 pm
Peter was the person who wrote the letter to the DA asking that he investigate Kelly's violation and prosecute as appropriate. Wagstaffe was just being polite (politic?) in responding to the person who initiated his investigation.
Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of the Atherton: Lindenwood neighborhood, on Feb 1, 2011 at 2:41 pm
I believe that the DA followed the letter of the law and the facts uncovered in his investigation resulted in an appropriate decision.
Unfortunately, I believe that the DA missed an opportunity in announcing his decision to emphasize the importance of the Brown Act and that his office would be watching elected officials to ensure that their actions complied with the Act.
Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of the Atherton: Lindenwood neighborhood, on Feb 1, 2011 at 3:07 pm
From the DA's office:
Thanks for the note. I wanted to let you know that we are not contemplating any further official statement. As I mentioned to you, and as I've told callers from the media, my office remains committed to playing our role in ensuring that the provisions of the Brown Act are followed. Transparency in government, as delineated in the Act, is crucial to the healthy functioning of a participatory democracy. As you know, the Brown Act plays a vital role in setting the standard for open government. For our part, as we did in this case, we are prepared to investigate alleged violations by public officials and to take appropriate steps, as necessary.
I would also like to thank you again for your efforts in educating the public as to the Brown Act and your vigilance in seeking enforcement of its provisions.
Posted by Holly, a resident of the Atherton: other neighborhood, on Feb 1, 2011 at 4:06 pm
Didn't Jim Fox say when he was in office that they would never prosecute anyone for the Brown Act? And didn't Wagstaffe tell a reporter when he was coming into office that he would continue to do things just the way Fox did?
Posted by olt timer, a resident of the Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park neighborhood, on Feb 2, 2011 at 8:05 am
I certainly agree that Fergusson did not have to be interviewed and she was (is) entitled to use safeguards to keep from being prosecuted.
The Post today has a much more detailed article than what the Almanac has yet to release. Fergusson hired an attorney to advise her through all of this.
However, the third party (or parties) are still not identified. The DA didn't release the name of the intermediary, or whether he know who the identity. To me it smells of a cover up. McClure's miss-handling of the incident, and attempt to have a meeting on a Friday afternoon with in-adequate noticing also leads me to that conclusion.
I remember well the Watergate scandal in the Nixon years. Then the break in was first seen as nothing but an ordinary burglary.
I am surprised of the passive attitude of Carpenter, who led the charge here, and seems to be ok with what the results have produced.
Posted by truth, a resident of the Menlo Park: Belle Haven neighborhood, on Feb 2, 2011 at 8:12 am
Due process was served. You don't like the result, move to another country where you can manipulate the results. For claiming to be old timers, you certainly don't understand the basic backbone of our nation.
Due process was served and the people rendering the decision were selected by the people and for the people.
This issue is over.
And I do believe other council members were interviewed. So give that a rest please. I know Peter and Cline were, at least.
Posted by Bob, a resident of the Menlo Park: Downtown neighborhood, on Feb 2, 2011 at 8:28 am
Given this latest development, I hope that Ms. Fergusson does as little damage as possible for her remaining time on the council then fade into the background. I would say her political career will soon sunset.
Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of the Atherton: Lindenwood neighborhood, on Feb 2, 2011 at 8:38 am
If I, as a public official, felt compelled to exercise my Fifth Amendment rights against self incrimination when asked about my behavior in office then I would also feel compelled to resign my public office.
Posted by Lurker, a resident of another community, on Feb 2, 2011 at 8:41 am
Interesting quotes from story in San Jose Mercury News:
"Menlo Park Council Member's Violation of Brown Wasn't Criminal, Prosecutors Conclude."
Brown Act expert Peter Scheer, executive director of the nonprofit First Amendment Coalition, said while Fergusson has a Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination, the district attorney's conclusion would have instilled more public confidence if she had fully cooperated.
"It appears here we're left with some ambiguity," Scheer said. "He concluded there wasn't a crime, but he did so without the opportunity to ask questions of the person at the center of the investigation. It seems to me she still has some explaining to do."
Posted by Hank Lawrence, a resident of the Menlo Park: Sharon Heights neighborhood, on Feb 2, 2011 at 12:36 pm
The case is closed. You can not unring that bell. Kelly escaped. We need to move on. But be sure that any campaign by Ms. Fergusson for a third term will be met with serious opposition not just from my side; but from her side as well. I predict that Katie Ferrick will run for the Fergusson seat from Kelly Hayward, and Gail's side.
Posted by Brynna, a resident of another community, on Feb 2, 2011 at 3:39 pm
Anyone interested in organizing a recall? It will cost Menlo Park thousands that could be spent to benefit Menlo Park residents, but that doesn't hurt those of us who aren't residents and it will make us feel more important.
Posted by Hank Lawrence, a resident of the Menlo Park: Sharon Heights neighborhood, on Feb 3, 2011 at 10:09 am
Recall was discussed. The problem with recall is that it can lead to internecine warfare where council members are being recalled not for malfeasance but because we don't like their policies. And once this gets going you can be sure that it will be bilateral. This causes great discontinuities where council members, instead of doing the people's work, are preoccupied with defending themselves. Not to mention the costs of elections which can be substantial if we have recalls and retaliatory recalls.
The bottom line is that we should live with our mistakes and correct them in the next election cycle.
Posted by Lurker, a resident of the Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks neighborhood, on Feb 4, 2011 at 4:57 am
From Free Dictionary:
Barratry n. creating legal business by stirring up disputes and quarrels, generally for the benefit of the lawyer who sees fees in the matter. Barratry is illegal in all states and subject to criminal punishment and/or discipline by the state bar, but there must be a showing that the resulting lawsuit was totally groundless. There is a lot of border-line barratry in which attorneys, in the name of being tough or protecting the client, fail to seek avenues for settlement of disputes or will not tell the client he/she has no legitimate claim.