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Another closed session mystery

Original post made by snoop, Atherton: West Atherton, on Oct 19, 2010

The following item is on tonight's closed session agenda.

C. CONFERENCE WITH LEGAL COUNSEL – POTENTIAL LITIGATION (Subsection (c) of Government Code Section 54956.9)
One potential case

The name of the potential litigant is not named. However sources close to Town hall indicate that Atherton is under investigation by the EEOC for age discrimination and sexual harrassment.

Look for the departure of yet another department head soon.

Comments (10)

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Posted by ryan christopher
a resident of Atherton: West of Alameda
on Oct 19, 2010 at 6:40 pm

Hopefully Peter Carpenter who is the Brown act expert can enlighten us.

I am under the impression that if the City knows who the potential litigant is, then it must disclose the identity of this individual.

It would seem as though there should be no mystery at all, for it is very rare that a Town would know it is about to be sued without knowing by who and for what reason.

This looks like another smokescreen being thrown up by our trusted elected officials.

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Posted by rick sneed
a resident of Atherton: other
on Oct 19, 2010 at 7:32 pm

Da in and day out it is the management employees who make the decisions in Atherton. These folks are the ones who are the most highly compensated. They are compensated because they are entrusted with a high degree of responsibility.

The volume and variety of lawsuits the Town is embroiled with is a clear indication that the current batch of managers is not acting responsibly.

They should be held responsible for their irresponsibility.

The new manager should wast no time in clearing the decks and starting with an entirely new group of department heads and middle managers.

This nonsense has gone on for too long. It is time for a change.

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Posted by POGO
a resident of Woodside: other
on Oct 19, 2010 at 7:35 pm

You do not disclose the names of litigants when it is "potential" litigation. Only when a law suit is formally filed.

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Posted by Captain Bligh
a resident of Atherton: other
on Oct 19, 2010 at 7:35 pm

Agreed, clear the decks! Get rid of the whole bunch.

Don't stop there though, we need a whole new City Council.

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Posted by Ed
a resident of Atherton: other
on Oct 19, 2010 at 8:08 pm

I can't find any evidence of a closed session meeting today Tuesday 19th-was it an extension of yesterday's closed session as the latest creative trick for unnoticed meetings, or is this just a figment of someone's imagination?
Perhaps the originator of this thread is referring to tomorrow night's closed session.
What struck me about tomorrow's closed session litigation menu is the latest PPG suit against the Town and 1 to 50 Mr and MS pointed out somewhere else earlier on this forum.
If there really was a meeting today could the original poster please verify--it is hard enough already to figure out what might be true.

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Posted by more clues
a resident of Atherton: Lloyden Park
on Oct 19, 2010 at 9:12 pm

The City Council uses this line when they want to fire a department head and not have anyone know about it.

Look at the closed session agendas three years ago.

The only question now is which of the two remaining department heads will fall and which one will be promoted.

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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Oct 20, 2010 at 5:49 am

The California League of Cities states:
"Threatened litigation against the local agency Closed sessions are authorized for legal counsel to inform the legislative body of specific facts and circumstances that suggest that the local agency has significant exposure to litigation. The Brown Act lists six separate categories of such facts and circumstances."

The Attorney General's Office states:
"Existing facts and circumstances which create a significant exposure to litigation consist only of the following:
• The agency believes that facts creating significant exposure to litigation are not known to potential plaintiffs. (§ 54956.9(b)(3)(A).
• Facts (e.g., an accident, disaster, incident, or transaction) creating significant exposure to litigation are known to potential plaintiffs. (§ 54956.9(b)(3)(B).)
• A claim or other written communication threatening litigation is
received by the agency. (§ 54956.9(b)(3)(C).)
• A person makes a statement in an open and public meeting threatening
litigation. (§ 54956.9(b)(3)(D).)
• A person makes a statement outside of an open and public meeting
threatening litigation, and an agency official having knowledge of the
threat makes a contemporaneous or other record of the statement prior
to the meeting. (§ 54956.9(b)(3)(E).)

Prior to conducting a closed session under the pending litigation exception, the body must state on the agenda or publicly announce the subdivision of section
54956.9 which authorizes the session. If litigation has already been initiated, the body must state the title of the litigation unless to do so would jeopardize service of process or settlement negotiations. (§ 54956.9(c).)

Lastly, it should be emphasized that the purpose of the pending litigation exception is to permit a body to meet with its attorney under certain defined circumstances. If the attorney is not present (either in person or by teleconference means), the closed session may not be conducted. It should also be emphasized that the purpose of the exception is to permit the body to receive legal advice and make litigation decisions only; it is not to be used as a subterfuge to reach nonlitigation oriented policy decisions. (71
Ops.Cal.Atty.Gen. 96, 104-105 (1988).)"

Sorry for the long answer but the details are important.

Pogo is correct that in the case of expected or pending litigation that the names of the other party are not required to be disclosed.

in the UK

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Posted by inside looking in
a resident of Atherton: other
on Oct 20, 2010 at 7:24 am

[Post removed. Information not verified.]

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Posted by No sympathy
a resident of another community
on Oct 20, 2010 at 7:56 am

Discrimination is illegal, no mater whether it is based upon ethnicity, gender or age.

Each and every Atherton employee involved in this case should be punished to the maximum extent of law.

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Posted by POGO
a resident of Woodside: other
on Oct 20, 2010 at 10:26 am

POGO is a registered user.

As Mr. Carpenter noted, having a closed session to discuss potential litigation is absolutely legitimate under the Brown Act. It is understandable that the Council would want to confer with the Town Attorney to discuss a potential legal matter that has not been filed.

In this narrow instance, it is usually unwise to release the identity of a potential litigant because the Council is trying to avoid litigation, not precipitate it. When the Council is discussing specific litigation that has already been filed, that case is supposed to be referenced in the agenda item and the Council's discussion limited to only that issue.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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