Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Casitas Violates State Open Meeting Law

By Daryl Kelley
In approving an appeal of a federal judge's ruling last week, directors of the Casitas Municipal Water District violated the state open meeting law by not declaring how board members voted when making the decision in a closed session.

Robert Sawyer, lawyer for the water district, acknowledged the error Wednesday in an interview and at a Casitas board meeting – after keeping the vote secret was challenged board member Richard Handley and the Ojai Valley News..

“I take full responsibility for this as district counsel,” Sawyer said in the interview. “It was essentially a failure on my part to fully research the issue and get all of the information out.”

To fix the mistake, the Casitas board needed only to publicly announce the vote, which it did on Tuesday with a press release and on Wednesday at the board meeting.

“I apologize,” Sawyer told board members.
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9 comments:

Anonymous said...

This is serious - people get hauled off to jail for Brown Act violations!

Anonymous said...

Actually, there is no stated penalty for Brown Act Violations. No one has ever been hauled off to jail for violating the act, nor can anyone be hauled off to jail.

Dana Wilson said...

I always thought there were penalties for violations of the Brown Act, but never saw anyone get into trouble, except politically. Interesting revelation. I guess it is only a vehicle for citizens to force 'open' and 'full' disclosure of specified activities. But I'm left wondering why the Board chose to keep the vote secret in the first place. Clearly that was no accident or oversight.

Anonymous said...

Actually, you're wrong, Brown Act violations (criminal or civil) are subject to 6 mos. jail time and/or fines if a misdemeanor (though there have been felony prosecutions with harsher consequences). Usually it's left up to the DA. Google.

John Crowley, Ojai said...

Thank you, Rich Handley, for your concern; I admire someone who gets results. Rich saw a problem, looked into it, notified appropriate parties, and the problem is getting resolved. Also, the CMWD attorney made a recommendation and assumed responsibility when it turned out the recommendation was shaky. Very professional response.

Anonymous said...

Actually, try citing a source and offering proof beyond stating "Google". If your argument won't work in court, there's no reason for it to work here either.

Recall Kaiser Now said...

The water board counsel made a mistake and the remedy under the law was post the actual results within 30 days, and that happened.

The bigger issue is that they all wanted no report of the vote, because Kaiser would have been more accountable there on the spot. Instead, he responed with a bunch of lame excuses as a commentary in OVN earlier this week.

This lawsuit will cost way more than the promise stated by the crusader attorney Marzulla.

Anonymous said...

Okay, smartypants, try the California First Amendment Coalition, how does that grab you? You must be the one who is trying to hide misdeeds from the public. Keep it up and the DA will haul you off!

Anonymous said...

Okay, smartypants, try the California First Amendment Coalition, how does that grab you? You must be the one who is trying to hide misdeeds from the public. Keep it up and the DA will haul you off!

You still haven't provided a link to any specific info on a single incarceration related to a Brown Act violation. I'm all for the Brown Act, but it' a law that was created by journalists, not attorney generals. Additionally, if you state something that you expect others to accept as fact, it's considered good form to back up your assertions with examples. Otherwise, you wind up with situations in which -- for example -- a country might decide to go to war based solely upon unsupported statements about another country possessing weapons of mass destruction.