Brown Act Violations Already?!
The beginning of the Ralph M. Brown Act, enacted in 1953 to guarantee the people's right to know, states the following. The added emphasis is mine:
"54950. 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."
Why do I mention this? Well, read on and you'll understand
KEEPING EARS OPEN
As we approach the new year, and the opportunity for the new City Council to make appointments to commissions and committees, we keep our ears open for any new speculation about possible candidates.
PLANNING SEATS ALREADY ALLOCATED?
One tantalizing bit of information just floated over the transom today having to do with the up-coming appointments to commissions in Costa Mesa. My source, a very well-connected person in civic affairs who prefers to remain anonymous, tells me that the two openings on the Planning Commission have already been determined. According to the source, current commissioners Donn Hall and Eleanor Egan are out and Steve Mensinger and Colin McCarthy are in.
This is very interesting for several reasons. First, Mensinger, President of Costa Mesa Pop Warner Football, is a business associate of current Planning Commissioner Jim Righeimer. Colin McCarthy, a lawyer, has been the president of the Mesa North Homeowners Association and has been known to echo The Mouth from Mesa North - the blogger who exercises significant influence over the current council majority.
DICKSON TO PARKS?
My understanding from this source is that current Parks & Recreation Commissioners Mark Harris and Bob Graham are out and one of those seats will be filled by frequent commenter here and on the Daily Pilot blog, Rob Dickson, who has been cozying up to Mansoor in recent months.
BROWN ACT VIOLATIONS?
The biggest question about this turn of events is not so much about the individuals selected. The issue here is how this seems to have been decided before the completion of the open application period next month and without any public hearing on the candidates. If these decisions have been made now- without any public discussion or input - it smacks of major Brown Act violations. It is against the Brown Act for council members to meet as a majority except in a public meeting. It is also against the Brown Act for them to have what is known as a serial conversation. Say council member A speaks to council member B on a subject - his choice for a commission appointment, for example - who in turn speaks to council member C on the same subject. That's a "serial conversation" and is against the law.
"SMOKE-FILLED ROOM" POLITICS
I'm not at all surprised if this is the case. Eric Bever alone has demonstrated a willingness to play fast and loose with the Brown Act during his tenure. I guess this is how the city's business is going to be conducted now - behind closed doors, in someone's living room or while sitting at the bar at a local pub. Not only is this illegal, it's a breach of faith with the electorate and terrible public policy.
WAIT AND SEE...
So, I guess we'll just have to wait and see who the City Council appoints to the commissions on January 20th. If it turns out that Mensinger, McCarthy and Dickson are appointed, then my source was correct. And, if the source was correct a month ahead of the selection date, what does that tell us about transparency in our government and the honesty of our elected officials?