Monday, July 23, 2012

Uh-Oh, Certain Brown Act Protections Suspended

Today, in the OC Watchdog column in the Orange County Register, the issue of the State suspending certain protections in the Ralph M. Brown Act in a budget-savings move is addressed.  You can read it HERE.

The issue is that, as part of the recent budget approval, the State has suspended the section of the Brown Act that requires the state to reimburse local jurisdictions for the cost to publish and post agendas for public meetings.  According to the article, the savings might be as high as $96 million.

I contacted The City of Costa Mesa to see what kind of reimbursements we've been receiving lately.  No numbers are readily available, but I'm informed that we have been receiving reimbursements.  OK, I can wait until those numbers are available, but that's not why I'm writing this post.

At the end of this article the writer provides us with this little bit of information, which sent a shiver down my spine when I read it: (The red emphasis is mine)

"In the end, it’s fair to wonder why anyone would care about the Brown Act suspension. Most citizens in most places around California will probably see no difference in how their local governments handle agendas.

But the suspension is significant for the special power it takes away. Under normal circumstances, the Brown Act gives Californians the power to challenge the actions of their local government — if they don’t agendize them properly.

Say, for example, the agenda of your city council said officials were going to discuss a new program to clean your local parks and then, when that item came up in the meeting, they voted to raze all of the parks and replace them with parking lots. Under the Brown Act, you could take your city council to court to overturn that decision on the grounds that that it wasn’t properly agendized.

But you only have that power if the agenda-posting requirement of the Brown Act isn’t suspended. Since it is, you have no redress if that ever happens in your city."

OK, have you got that?  So, here's what it means in real life.

Back in April, after it was determined that Jim Righeimer's Charter would not appear on the June primary ballot because the deadline for submission of documents was missed, the council tried a stealth move -  an end run on the process.  I reported it HERE, HERE and HERE.  In a nutshell, the council wanted to hold a SPECIAL ELECTION for the charter, to be held coincident with the Primary, but would not be consolidated with the Primary because of the missed deadline.  This would have been VERY expensive for The City.

However, as I noted when I wrote to The City about this issue - and subsequently posted it on my blog - the announcement of the special meeting that had been called to deliberate that issue was NOT PROPERLY NOTICED. The next day The City withdrew the item and canceled the special meeting.

If the Brown Act segment that's in question now had been suspended back then the council could have just charged ahead with an improperly noticed issue and we would have seen that expensive special election on June 5th.

I have NO idea if the council will change the procedures for noticing of public meetings or not.  I hope not, but won't be surprised if they do.  They don't much like the fact that folks, based on published agendas, have a chance to research issues and prepare questions and responses to them.  This council certainly doesn't like criticism and this might give them a way to inhibit some of those critics.

It will be very interesting to see what action, if any, this council takes on this issue.  If they DO begin to play fast and loose with agendas, that will give you a VERY good idea how they may act if Jim Righeimer's Charter passes as-is.

Speaking of which, the council will meet at 7:00 on Tuesday, July 31, 2012 to vote on whether or not to place Jim Righeimer's Charter on the ballot in November.  This will be absolutely the last chance for ANYONE to express an opinion on this issue before they take the vote.

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Anonymous lynchmob said...

GUILTY !!! declares Cauldron

7/23/2012 01:46:00 PM  
Anonymous Drats! said...

Obviously, Righeimer and the OCGOP are pulling the strings in Sacramento too!


7/23/2012 02:32:00 PM  
Anonymous Mike M said...

I think it's pretty obvious that they already make up there minds upstairs at Skosh's, so does this REALLY change anything other than they can get sneakier with agenda items?

7/23/2012 02:59:00 PM  
Anonymous Good News for good ole boys said...

I bet the sanitation district suspends these requirements so they can better screw with Fitzpatrick.

Pension Perry will find these new rules attractive as he can pull more self preservation stunts and find new ways to get rug of Fitzpatrick. Pension Perry does not care what it costs.

7/23/2012 03:28:00 PM  
Anonymous Fitz is a low life said...

Wow, it's a little early to start with the name calling isn't it Fitzy? You are one heck of a cry baby.

7/23/2012 08:02:00 PM  
Anonymous wow, cool! said...

I want rug of Fitzpatrick!!!

7/24/2012 12:07:00 AM  
Anonymous Sad 4 West and Haters said...

Dear Haters,

You should be extremely embarrassed at your behavior for so many things.

Your hateful emotions only allow you to find issued with the Council majority. In cases like this, the issues are imagined. You want our city to fail. It makes you feel good.

Imagine for a second how many veins would burst if anyone else besides Wendy Leece had a 500 foot conflict, received advice of the city attorney not to vote, but stayed anyway.

Your emotion driven logic is selective. That is not a good thing.

Geoff West does not even mention it.

West does not consider if Sandy Genis is being paid on Banning Ranch or by who.

Yet he sits like a loser in the back of council chambers taking pictures like a stalked.

He sits in anticipation desiring our city to fail so he can scurry back and report on perceived and manufactured issues. Yet turns a blind eye when anti Council people fail us.

7/24/2012 05:50:00 AM  
Anonymous Watchman said...

"Sad4West" spewed:

"He sits in anticipation desiring our city to fail so he can scurry back and report on perceived and manufactured issues."

Wrong Colon. Go back and tell your master nobody believes you. Today you can lick the left boot, Fitzy the right, and Ethan, well, nevermind..

7/24/2012 12:19:00 PM  

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