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Brown Act violation may postpone Menlo Park library talks until 2019

Councilwoman Keith's comment during event triggered meeting cancellation

Due to what is being characterized as an inadvertent Brown Act violation, the Menlo Park City Council could postpone its scheduled discussion about the library system, including the proposal to rebuild the main library, until early 2019, according to a report from City Attorney Bill McClure.

A Brown Act violation can occur when a majority of members of a legislative body, in this case, three or more City Council members, communicate in any way to discuss, deliberate about, or take action on a matter outside of a meeting for which the public has been given proper notice.

According to McClure, the violation occurred when Councilwoman Kirsten Keith, who is on a subcommittee with Councilman Rich Cline focused on library matters, and Mayor Peter Ohtaki had a conversation during the Aug. 16 downtown block party.

According to Ohtaki, he and Keith exchanged brief pleasantries, and Keith made a comment that Ohtaki interpreted as encouragement to vote for the library, before he went to track down his kids to feed them dinner. "But we didn't talk about which library," he added. "That was it."

Ohtaki told The Almanac he responded to Keith's comment by saying something along the lines of "It's going to be a very difficult vote." He added, "That's my way of saying I haven't decided yet."

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Keith said in an interview, "I made a comment that I hoped he would support the library. It was a relatively innocuous statement. I would not have said it if I thought it was a violation."

"I wasn't looking for any consensus, and there was no consensus," she added. "I learned something from the situation ... and I won't make such a comment in the future."

Later, Vice Mayor Ray Mueller reportedly contacted Ohtaki to talk about the library, but Ohtaki said he couldn't talk about it because he'd already talked about it, albeit briefly, with Keith. When Ohtaki was reminded that Keith is on the library subcommittee and may have discussed the matter with Cline, he then told the city attorney what had happened.

"My inadvertent mistake was forgetting which committee council member Keith was on," Ohtaki said. "This is one of the most complicated parts of the Brown Act. ... There are over 30 committees that we as council members collectively serve on."

Keith told The Almanac Aug. 24 that she and Cline had not discussed the library recently. Both attended a recent public meeting to learn more about the Hayward library, she said, but they didn't talk about it. She and Cline told The Almanac the last time they met as a subcommittee was Monday, Aug. 13. Since they are on a subcommittee, they are permitted to discuss the matter as often as needed, so long as other council members are not part of those discussions.

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McClure asked that the City Council meeting be canceled so he would have time to investigate the situation. Because no action was taken, no remedy to the violation is required beyond alerting the public about what had happened.

The council had been scheduled to discuss and potentially approve funds to move forward with developing a schematic design for a new main library, choosing a site for it – staff has recommended building it along Laurel Street rather than its current Alma Street location – and conducting a space needs study for the Belle Haven branch library.

The council previously set aside $1 million for work on improvements to the city's libraries.

Staff has recommended that the matter be rescheduled for early 2019 because the city's library director and assistant public works director positions are now vacant, there are a limited number of remaining meetings left in the year, and there will be at least one new council member following the November election.

Over the past week, the City Council has received about 15 emails expressing support for including affordable housing as part of a new main library construction project, and one opposed to the idea.

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Brown Act violation may postpone Menlo Park library talks until 2019

Councilwoman Keith's comment during event triggered meeting cancellation

by / Almanac

Uploaded: Fri, Aug 24, 2018, 11:34 am

Due to what is being characterized as an inadvertent Brown Act violation, the Menlo Park City Council could postpone its scheduled discussion about the library system, including the proposal to rebuild the main library, until early 2019, according to a report from City Attorney Bill McClure.

A Brown Act violation can occur when a majority of members of a legislative body, in this case, three or more City Council members, communicate in any way to discuss, deliberate about, or take action on a matter outside of a meeting for which the public has been given proper notice.

According to McClure, the violation occurred when Councilwoman Kirsten Keith, who is on a subcommittee with Councilman Rich Cline focused on library matters, and Mayor Peter Ohtaki had a conversation during the Aug. 16 downtown block party.

According to Ohtaki, he and Keith exchanged brief pleasantries, and Keith made a comment that Ohtaki interpreted as encouragement to vote for the library, before he went to track down his kids to feed them dinner. "But we didn't talk about which library," he added. "That was it."

Ohtaki told The Almanac he responded to Keith's comment by saying something along the lines of "It's going to be a very difficult vote." He added, "That's my way of saying I haven't decided yet."

Keith said in an interview, "I made a comment that I hoped he would support the library. It was a relatively innocuous statement. I would not have said it if I thought it was a violation."

"I wasn't looking for any consensus, and there was no consensus," she added. "I learned something from the situation ... and I won't make such a comment in the future."

Later, Vice Mayor Ray Mueller reportedly contacted Ohtaki to talk about the library, but Ohtaki said he couldn't talk about it because he'd already talked about it, albeit briefly, with Keith. When Ohtaki was reminded that Keith is on the library subcommittee and may have discussed the matter with Cline, he then told the city attorney what had happened.

"My inadvertent mistake was forgetting which committee council member Keith was on," Ohtaki said. "This is one of the most complicated parts of the Brown Act. ... There are over 30 committees that we as council members collectively serve on."

Keith told The Almanac Aug. 24 that she and Cline had not discussed the library recently. Both attended a recent public meeting to learn more about the Hayward library, she said, but they didn't talk about it. She and Cline told The Almanac the last time they met as a subcommittee was Monday, Aug. 13. Since they are on a subcommittee, they are permitted to discuss the matter as often as needed, so long as other council members are not part of those discussions.

McClure asked that the City Council meeting be canceled so he would have time to investigate the situation. Because no action was taken, no remedy to the violation is required beyond alerting the public about what had happened.

The council had been scheduled to discuss and potentially approve funds to move forward with developing a schematic design for a new main library, choosing a site for it – staff has recommended building it along Laurel Street rather than its current Alma Street location – and conducting a space needs study for the Belle Haven branch library.

The council previously set aside $1 million for work on improvements to the city's libraries.

Staff has recommended that the matter be rescheduled for early 2019 because the city's library director and assistant public works director positions are now vacant, there are a limited number of remaining meetings left in the year, and there will be at least one new council member following the November election.

Over the past week, the City Council has received about 15 emails expressing support for including affordable housing as part of a new main library construction project, and one opposed to the idea.

Comments

Come on
Menlo Park: The Willows
on Aug 24, 2018 at 12:13 pm
Come on, Menlo Park: The Willows
on Aug 24, 2018 at 12:13 pm

Keith has been on Council for eight years and is an attorney. She simply got caught playing fast and loose with the rules, and broke the law. She was on Council when Kelly Ferguson got in trouble for violating the Brown Act.

Though the staff report calls the conduct inadvertent, the staff report describes a scenario that makes it sound like Kirsten Keith ambushed Peter Ohtaki with the topic:

"During their brief conversation on other topics not at issue, City Councilmember Keith made a comment to Mayor Ohtaki that she hoped he would support moving forward with the library system improvement projects. Mayor Ohtaki responded in a non-committal manner, stating that he was not sure how he would vote Tuesday."

Kirsten Keith is lucky Peter Ohtaki had the integrity to report the matter and respond the way he did.

Voters should kick her off Council in November.


Adios KK
Menlo Park: Downtown
on Aug 24, 2018 at 12:25 pm
Adios KK, Menlo Park: Downtown
on Aug 24, 2018 at 12:25 pm

Thankfully, voters have an alternative to re-electing Kirsten Keith this fall.

Thank you Drew Combs for stepping up and running.

It's time for Keith to pursue other opportunities, spend time with her family, or whatever other euphemism you choose.


Bob
Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Aug 24, 2018 at 12:45 pm
Bob, Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Aug 24, 2018 at 12:45 pm

Ah, for the good old days when the majority bloc would delegate their decisions to a two-member committee and rubber stamp the result in public.


Resident
another community
on Aug 24, 2018 at 1:26 pm
Resident, another community
on Aug 24, 2018 at 1:26 pm

Simply stating her own support for the project (i.e. "I support it and I hope you will too") is not a Brown Act violation. It's only a violation if you actually discuss the merits of the issue.

I think the City Attorney is being extra cautious here, which is appropriate, but there's no reason to think Keith acted improperly since she didn't try to discuss the issue.


Come on
Menlo Park: The Willows
on Aug 24, 2018 at 1:31 pm
Come on, Menlo Park: The Willows
on Aug 24, 2018 at 1:31 pm

Wrong. It’s totally a Brown act violation. The city attorney and district attorney agreed it’s a Brown Act violation. The Brown Act say they can’t even discuss the issue. Kirsten saying to Peter she hopes he supports it, is a direct contact saying she hope he takes a defineable action. It expresses her support and indicates what she wants him to do. It is a textbook violation.


Lynne Bramlett
Registered user
Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Aug 24, 2018 at 2:49 pm
Lynne Bramlett , Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
Registered user
on Aug 24, 2018 at 2:49 pm

I agree with the City Manager and City Attorney's joint recommendations in the report. That allows Belle Haven Branch Library progress to continue, but postpones decisions related to the Main Library until after the New Year when we will have a new Council and likely a new Library Director. Between now and then, the Library support groups can start a major private fund-raising campaign, which is needed to add “skin-in-the-game” (i.e. insider) credibility. The library also has time to address the public's main concerns with the Main Library project. When the meeting is scheduled again, I would like to see those concerns formally addressed as ignoring or dismissing them will only add more opposition to the project.

The article includes a reference to the Hayward Library presentation, which I attended. I noticed Rich Cline leave right after it ended. When Keith noticed that Cline had left, she quickly got up and rapidly followed him. She caught up with him about 6-8 feet outside the Council chambers. They then spoke together for a few minutes before Keith returned. Of course, I don’t know what they discussed. I’m only reporting the facts of my observation. Keith has said that they didn't discuss the library. Cline could be asked what they discussed during their tête-à-tête.


Skeptic
Registered user
Menlo Park: The Willows
on Aug 24, 2018 at 3:55 pm
Skeptic, Menlo Park: The Willows
Registered user
on Aug 24, 2018 at 3:55 pm

Interesting article.
The name Kirsten Keith was not mentioned until the 3rd paragraph of the article.
Furthermore, the article asserts that the Council received "about 15 emails expressing support for including affordable housing as part of the new main library project" but did not mention that many (most?) of the emails were not from Menlo Park.


Peter Carpenter
Registered user
Atherton: Lindenwood
on Aug 24, 2018 at 3:57 pm
Peter Carpenter, Atherton: Lindenwood
Registered user
on Aug 24, 2018 at 3:57 pm

When a possible/potential/probable Brown Act violation is thought to have occurred it is better to respond on the side of caution, as has been done here, so that when a decision on the matter is made in a properly agendized public meeting and after the opportunity for public comment then the decision will not be subject to challenge on the basis of the preceding possible/potential/probable violation.


Lynne Bramlett
Registered user
Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Aug 24, 2018 at 6:31 pm
Lynne Bramlett , Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
Registered user
on Aug 24, 2018 at 6:31 pm

Regarding the affordable housing emails, I suspect that all/most were prompted by a local housing advocacy group. That's because I'm on the mailing list of such a group and I, along with others, received an an email from the organization's leadership asking us to write City Council in favor of housing on top of a new Main Library. Right after I received that email, I noticed emails being sent to Council. This might explain why most (all) weren't from MP. The emails illustrate the role of "special interests" in MP. While I am completely in favor of more affordable housing in all parts of MP (not concentrated in the Belle Haven area), I think there is too much lobbying of Council by special interests. Instead, I would like to see a community-based strategic planning effort that resulted in a workable plan with widespread community support. The agreed upon goals and priorities would give Council a decision-making framework based on residents' priorities. The process would include all relevant stakeholders, including staff. I see a way to such a plan outlined in the book called "Elevating Trust in Local Government" by Rick Davis and Dan Griffiths. In this book, I see a practical way forward towards a better MP.


Flash Gordon
Registered user
Menlo Park: The Willows
on Aug 27, 2018 at 11:56 pm
Flash Gordon, Menlo Park: The Willows
Registered user
on Aug 27, 2018 at 11:56 pm

It's bad enough Kirsten violated the Brown Act, but her excuse just doesn't add up. According to the article:

"Keith told The Almanac that she and Cline had not discussed the library recently."

"According to McClure, the violation occurred when Councilwoman Kirsten Keith, who is on a subcommittee with Councilman Rich Cline focused on library matters, and Mayor Peter Ohtaki had a conversation during the Aug. 16 downtown block party."

"Cline told The Almanac the last time they met as a subcommittee was Monday, Aug. 13."

By count, three days passed between Kirsten meeting with Cline on August 13th, and then Kirsten talking with Peter on August 16th. Three days isn't recently?

This is reminiscent of the tales Kirsten told when she went to China.

Web Link

Some of her supporters might plead it's all fake news created by those who supported Measure M. But Measure M supporters didn't give these quotes to the press or do these things. Kirsten did. How sad is it people are trying to excuse the conduct of a local politician by crying fake news at the Almanac.


The Willows
Registered user
Menlo Park: The Willows
on Aug 28, 2018 at 4:11 am
The Willows, Menlo Park: The Willows
Registered user
on Aug 28, 2018 at 4:11 am

Once that subcommittee was formed, those two should not discuss the matter with other council members outside a public meeting. If the next meeting is after the election, and Cline isn't running, it doesn't matter. If the subcommittee was formed, but for some reason never met, it doesn't matter.


Flash Gordon
Registered user
Menlo Park: The Willows
on Aug 28, 2018 at 6:55 am
Flash Gordon, Menlo Park: The Willows
Registered user
on Aug 28, 2018 at 6:55 am

On August 20th, City Council's August 21st meeting on the Library was cancelled because of Kirsten's conduct.

Web Link

The City Attorney and District Attorney reached the conclusion the agenda for the meeting had to be re-noticed disclosing her violation.

Her conduct definitely mattered.


The Willows
Registered user
Menlo Park: The Willows
on Aug 28, 2018 at 1:57 pm
The Willows, Menlo Park: The Willows
Registered user
on Aug 28, 2018 at 1:57 pm

The council meeting was moved to perform an investigation. The outcome of that investigation follows,

"The investigation did not uncover any agreements or understanding between a majority of the City Council to vote in a certain manner, nor any information to indicate that Mayor Ohtaki was aware that City Councilmember Keith had communications directly with any other member of the City Council or any potential Brown Act violation nor was there sharing of any substantive information between Mayor Ohtaki and City Councilmember Keith."


Flash Gordon
Registered user
Menlo Park: The Willows
on Aug 28, 2018 at 2:32 pm
Flash Gordon, Menlo Park: The Willows
Registered user
on Aug 28, 2018 at 2:32 pm

McClure found Keith violated the Brown Act. That's why the August 21st meeting was cancelled.

The paragraph you cite indicates Peter Ohtaki wasn't aware of a potential Brown Act violation when talking to Kirsten Keith, not that there wasn't a Brown Act violation. Kirsten was the person who knew she had met with Rich just three days prior.

The Staff report is entitled: "Disclosure of Brown Act violation"

The staff recommendation is: "Staff recommends that the City Council reschedule next steps for Library System Improvement Project and incorporate information regarding the inadvertent Brown Act violation into the agenda materials for the rescheduled meeting."






Flash Gordon
Registered user
Menlo Park: The Willows
on Aug 28, 2018 at 2:42 pm
Flash Gordon, Menlo Park: The Willows
Registered user
on Aug 28, 2018 at 2:42 pm

This is the relevant finding of the investigation:

"During their brief conversation on other topics not at issue, City Councilmember Keith made a comment to Mayor Ohtaki that she hoped he would support moving forward with the library system improvement projects. Mayor Ohtaki responded in a non-committal manner, stating that he was not sure how he would vote Tuesday."

This happened three days after Keith met with Cline.


Peter Carpenter
Registered user
Atherton: Lindenwood
on Aug 28, 2018 at 3:13 pm
Peter Carpenter, Atherton: Lindenwood
Registered user
on Aug 28, 2018 at 3:13 pm

For a violation of the Brown Act to occur two events must have taken place:
1 - A majority of the elected body developed in PRIVATE (and not in a meeting where the item had been properly agendized with the opportunity for public comment)a CONSENSUS on an issue within that elected body's jurisdiction.

2 - the elected body then ACTED on that consensus.


The McClure recommendation acknowledged that the first event may have occurred and then properly avoided the possibility of the second event occurring by deferring the proposed agenda item to a later date when the item will be properly agendized in a public meeting with opportunity for public comment.

The actions of one or more council members may have been inappropriate antecedents to a Brown Act violation but since the Council did not then act on any potential privately agreed upon consensus then no Brown Act violation has occurred.


Peter Carpenter
Registered user
Atherton: Lindenwood
on Aug 28, 2018 at 3:31 pm
Peter Carpenter, Atherton: Lindenwood
Registered user
on Aug 28, 2018 at 3:31 pm

The beauty of this Forum is that it allows the participants/readers to be corrected by one another.

Thankfully I have received a correction regarding my previous comment.

My previous comment relied on a portion of the Brown Act which had since been modified by the legislature and which now reads:


b) (1) A majority of the members of a legislative body shall not, outside a meeting authorized by this chapter, use a series of communications of any kind, directly or through intermediaries, to discuss, deliberate, or take action on any item of business that is within the subject matter jurisdiction of the legislative body.”


The addition of the words "to discuss" make the reported actions not simply an antecedent to a Brown Act violation but an actual Brown Act violation.


The Willows
Registered user
Menlo Park: The Willows
on Aug 28, 2018 at 4:44 pm
The Willows, Menlo Park: The Willows
Registered user
on Aug 28, 2018 at 4:44 pm

Flash Gordon is concerned this unintentional serial meeting happened three days after Keith met with Cline.

Those two are on a subcommittee. It doesn't matter when they met. Outside a noticed meeting, they are free to "discuss" the library project with each other and the entire general public with the exception of the other three council members.

As Peter Carpenter pointed out, the Brown Act has been modified by the legislature to be very strict. When there is an unintentional serial meeting, it must be disclosed, and it has been. Now there is nothing to be cured and no criminal violation. The staff report reads,

"Based on the investigation above, while it appears there was an unintentional serial meeting before the originally scheduled August 21 City Council hearing, there was no action taken nor any collective decision, commitment or promise by a majority of the City Council to make a positive or negative decision regarding the library improvements and therefore nothing to be cured and no criminal violation. The city attorney concluded that the Brown Act violation must be disclosed to allow the public to be aware of it. The city attorney conferred with assistant district attorney Albert Serrato, who handles these types of matters for the district attorney’s office. He also concurs that neither an invalidation or criminal action would be warranted under these facts. The district attorney’s concern when a Brown Act violation has occurred is that there is public disclosure of the violation for transparency purposes. To ensure complete transparency, the city attorney determined that this report should be issued and available to the public before the rescheduled meeting regarding the library improvements."


The Willows
Registered user
Menlo Park: The Willows
on Aug 29, 2018 at 1:08 am
The Willows, Menlo Park: The Willows
Registered user
on Aug 29, 2018 at 1:08 am

Flash Gordon also believes. "Peter Ohtaki wasn't aware of a potential Brown Act violation when talking to Kirsten Keith... Kirsten was the person who knew she had met with Rich just three days prior."

Sorry, you don't know what you're talking about. Subcommittee members cannot discuss subcommittee issues with the rest of council. Ohtaki voted to put Cline and Keith on the subcommittee, and has been receiving reports from that subcommittee for months, but Ohtaki said he forgot. We know he forgot because of his statement to Mueller. Keith on the other hand said she would not have made her comment if she thought it was a violation. This is why it was an unintentional serial meeting.


Lynne Bramlett
Registered user
Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Aug 29, 2018 at 8:09 am
Lynne Bramlett , Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
Registered user
on Aug 29, 2018 at 8:09 am

For the record, the Hayward Library presentation took place August 14 from roughly 7-8 p.m. After the formal part ended, I observed Rich Cline and Kirstin Keith talking together outside the building. This was the night after the August 13 Belle Haven Library Advisory Committee meeting, which Keith attended but Cline did not. I attended last night's Council meeting and I was the only public speaker to raise a concern related to the Brown Act violation. The three minutes go by fast, so the other speakers focused on other aspect of the staff report. The Brown Act is also considered the "floor" and not the "ceiling" of governmental transparency. To establish higher transparency standards, we need a transparency or Sunshine ordinance along with more explicit guidelines for Council members private conduct (that has any bearing at all on our local government).


Flash Gordon
Registered user
Menlo Park: The Willows
on Aug 29, 2018 at 8:30 am
Flash Gordon, Menlo Park: The Willows
Registered user
on Aug 29, 2018 at 8:30 am

The reason why it's important to keep track of when Kirsten spoke with Cline is because of her excuse quoted in the above article:

"Keith told The Almanac that she and Cline had not discussed the library recently."

According to Cline the subcommittee met just three days before the Brown Act violation, Lynne says she saw them both speaking after the Library meeting just two days before the Brown Act violation.

One wonders what "recently" means to Kirsten Keith?









The Willows
Registered user
Menlo Park: The Willows
on Aug 29, 2018 at 10:14 am
The Willows, Menlo Park: The Willows
Registered user
on Aug 29, 2018 at 10:14 am

If Kate Bradshaw believes important information is missing from the staff report, she is free to ask questions and publish answers in her article. There is nothing in the staff report about when Keith and Cline last met or what they talked about because there is no scenario where it matters. Here is the relevant section of the staff report.

"The investigation did not uncover any agreements or understanding between a majority of the City Council to vote in a certain manner, nor any information to indicate that Mayor Ohtaki was aware that City Councilmember Keith had communications directly with any other member of the City Council or any potential Brown Act violation nor was there sharing of any substantive information between Mayor Ohtaki and City Councilmember Keith."

The violation was not also by Ohtaki because he was not "aware" Keith was on the subcommittee, he forgot. By this logic, had Keith's excuse been that she also forgot she was on the subcommittee, there would be no violation by her.


Flash Gordon
Registered user
Menlo Park: The Willows
on Aug 29, 2018 at 10:43 am
Flash Gordon, Menlo Park: The Willows
Registered user
on Aug 29, 2018 at 10:43 am


Word is that last night the City Attorney said it was a Brown Act violation during the City Council meeting.

The paragraph you cite indicates Peter Ohtaki wasn't aware of a potential Brown Act violation when talking to Kirsten Keith, not that there wasn't a Brown Act violation.

The Staff report is entitled: "Disclosure of Brown Act violation"

The staff recommendation is: "Staff recommends that the City Council reschedule next steps for Library System Improvement Project and incorporate information regarding the inadvertent Brown Act violation into the agenda materials for the rescheduled meeting."

Keith violated the Brown Act.

Then she provided an excuse to the press that she hadn't met with Cline recently.

"Keith told The Almanac that she and Cline had not discussed the library recently."

According to Cline the subcommittee met just three days before the Brown Act violation, Lynne Bramlett says she saw them both speaking after the Library meeting just two days before the Brown Act violation.





The Willows
Registered user
Menlo Park: The Willows
on Aug 29, 2018 at 1:47 pm
The Willows, Menlo Park: The Willows
Registered user
on Aug 29, 2018 at 1:47 pm

When Keith last met with Cline is not in the staff report because it doesn't matter.


Menlo Voter.
Registered user
Menlo Park: other
on Aug 29, 2018 at 8:17 pm
Menlo Voter., Menlo Park: other
Registered user
on Aug 29, 2018 at 8:17 pm

"When Keith last met with Cline is not in the staff report because it doesn't matter."

It does when you consider the veracity of her statement. Most people don't forget meetings they had THREE days earlier. Sorry. BS


The Willows
Registered user
Menlo Park: The Willows
on Aug 29, 2018 at 11:22 pm
The Willows, Menlo Park: The Willows
Registered user
on Aug 29, 2018 at 11:22 pm

Council members are on their own to decide when to halt a conversation relating to city business. If they miscalculate, the discussion becomes public as we see here. Ohtaki says he forgot about the subcommittee, not Keith. Her impression of their interaction was not crossing the line as she stated in this article.

Keith said in an interview, "I made a comment that I hoped he would support the library. It was a relatively innocuous statement. I would not have said it if I thought it was a violation."

Menlo Voter may not have the dates correct. According to this article, her response was not 3 days but 11 days after the subcommittee meeting, and it is possible for the subcommittee to meet to receive an update from staff without the two council members having a meaningful one-on-one discussion. This article reads,

"Keith told The Almanac Aug. 24 that she and Cline had not discussed the library recently. Both attended a recent public meeting to learn more about the Hayward library, she said, but they didn't talk about it. She and Cline told The Almanac the last time they met as a subcommittee was Monday, Aug. 13. Since they are on a subcommittee, they are permitted to discuss the matter as often as needed, so long as other council members are not part of those discussions."


Flash Gordon
Registered user
Menlo Park: The Willows
on Aug 30, 2018 at 7:23 am
Flash Gordon, Menlo Park: The Willows
Registered user
on Aug 30, 2018 at 7:23 am

This is what the print edition of the Almanac reads:

"Keith told The Almanac that she and Cline had not discussed the library recently. Both attended a recent public meeting to learn more about the Hayward library, she said, but they didn't talk about it. Cline told The Almanac the last time they met as a subcommittee was Monday, Aug. 13, which Keith confirmed after checking her calendar."

Web Link

"According to McClure, the violation occurred when Councilwoman Kirsten Keith, who is on a subcommittee with Councilman Rich Cline focused on library matters, and Mayor Peter Ohtaki had a conversation during the Aug. 16 downtown block party."

According to Lynne Bramlett, she saw Kristen and Cline talking at the Library meeting.

By count, that means three days passed between Kirsten meeting with Cline at the August 13th subcommittee meeting, and then Kirsten talking with Peter on August 16th.

August 13th - Library Subcommittee meeting - Keith and Cline
August 14th - Library meeting - Bramlett witnesses Keith and Cline
August 16th - Keith asks Ohtaki for support. Ohtaki is noncommittal and thereafter reports Keith's contact.

What does "recently" mean to Kirsten Keith?


The Willows
Registered user
Menlo Park: The Willows
on Aug 30, 2018 at 1:28 pm
The Willows, Menlo Park: The Willows
Registered user
on Aug 30, 2018 at 1:28 pm

Flash Gordon refers to the staff report,

"According to McClure, the violation occurred when Councilwoman Kirsten Keith, who is on a subcommittee with Councilman Rich Cline focused on library matters, and Mayor Peter Ohtaki had a conversation during the Aug. 16 downtown block party."

It doesn't matter what date the subcommittee was formed or when the members last met. The fact that a subcommittee exists means those two council members cannot privately discuss matters within the scope of the subcommittee with the three other council members. The date of the block party is meaningful; it is the first and only conversation ever involving Keith or Ohtaki that was determined to be an unintentional serial meeting. The content of that conversation has been disclosed, case closed, nothing to be cured and no criminal violation according to the District Attorney's office.

For perspective, the serial meeting involving Fergusson in 2010 had to be cured, resulting in her stepping down as mayor, followed by her refusing to be interviewed by the District Attorney's office as part of a criminal investigation.


Brian
Registered user
Menlo Park: The Willows
on Aug 31, 2018 at 11:27 pm
Brian, Menlo Park: The Willows
Registered user
on Aug 31, 2018 at 11:27 pm

I agree that it is time to remove Kirsten Keith from the city council. There should have been a 2 term limit before, let's stop her before she can damage Menlo Park even more. All we have gotten in the last 8 years is big buildings, developers having free reign and more traffic than our streets can handle. Time for a change and some common sense when it comes to growth.


Lynne Bramlett
Registered user
Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Sep 1, 2018 at 9:37 am
Lynne Bramlett , Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
Registered user
on Sep 1, 2018 at 9:37 am

To add to my details, when the formal Hayward Library presentations ended Rich Cline got up and rapidly left the meeting. However, a Q&A session immediately followed (that Cline didn't stay for), so the meeting continued but in a more informal way. However, Keith was the overall host for the meeting as she kicked off the meeting and presumably would also formally end it too. So I was surprised that, as soon as she noticed that Cline had left, Keith rapidly got up and went after Cline. She must have called out to him, when he was about 10 feet away from the building, because he stopped walking and then walked back toward her. They both then stood talking outside the Council chambers where Keith would have visibility into the meeting inside (in terms of if the Q&A portion was still going on) while also talking with Cline. Given the context, it seems unlikely that Keith followed Cline out just to say goodbye. This private meeting contradicts Keith's statement regarding when she last spoke with Cline. So if I were the City Attorney, I would arrange a short meeting with Cline and Keith to ask them what they discussed after the Hayward Library presentation. After I found out, I would amend the staff report to include the details. (I would not talk with them separately as each should hear what the other is saying.)


The Willows
Registered user
Menlo Park: The Willows
on Sep 1, 2018 at 12:34 pm
The Willows, Menlo Park: The Willows
Registered user
on Sep 1, 2018 at 12:34 pm

Under the Brown Act, that subcommittee can have private meetings about the library and never disclose anything about what was discussed. It doesn't matter if the subcommittee meets every day or has never met.


Peter Carpenter
Registered user
Atherton: Lindenwood
on Sep 1, 2018 at 3:07 pm
Peter Carpenter, Atherton: Lindenwood
Registered user
on Sep 1, 2018 at 3:07 pm

The Brown Act is a minimum below which legislative bodies cannot go and nothing prohibits a Council from doing more than is required by the Brown Act.

The Council could easily vote to make the Library Committee a standing committee and therefor it would be required to conform to the requirements of the Brown Act. Why not do this?

54952
As used in this chapter, “legislative body” means:
(a) The governing body of a local agency or any other local body created by state or federal statute.
(b) A commission, committee, board, or other body of a local agency, whether permanent or temporary, decision making or advisory, created by charter, ordinance, resolution, or formal action of a legislative body. However, advisory committees, composed solely of the members of the legislative body that are less than a quorum of the legislative body are not legislative bodies, except that standing committees of a legislative body, irrespective of their composition, which have a continuing subject matter jurisdiction, or a meeting schedule fixed by charter, ordinance, resolution, or formal action of a legislative body are legislative bodies for purposes of this chapter.


The Willows
Registered user
Menlo Park: The Willows
on Sep 1, 2018 at 10:29 pm
The Willows, Menlo Park: The Willows
Registered user
on Sep 1, 2018 at 10:29 pm

Peter, we are unaware of anyone wanting to know what the subcommittee discussed, only when there was a subcommittee conversation.


Flash Gordon
Registered user
Menlo Park: The Willows
on Sep 5, 2018 at 4:01 pm
Flash Gordon, Menlo Park: The Willows
Registered user
on Sep 5, 2018 at 4:01 pm

Drew Combs comments today in the Daily Post regarding Kirsten Keith's Brown Act violation were candid and refreshing.


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