California open government roundup: Arroyo Grande mayor under investigation for alleged Brown Act violation

The Arroyo Grande City Council is investigated its mayor for sharing confidential details involving a tentative employment contract. They approved a $15,000 fund for an independent investigation of the alleged violation of the Brown Act, the state’s open meeting law. The Brown Act bans the airing of information from closed meetings unless authorized by the legislators at the meeting. (The San Luis Obispo Tribune, February 14, 2017, by Kaytlyn Leslie)

Marty Richman writes that the Hollister City Council does not operate efficiently owing to its inability to agree on important issues. Richman thinks the Brown Act inhibits private agreements that could fuel breakthroughs. “By expressly prohibiting serial meetings conducted through direct communications, personal intermediaries or technological devices for the purpose of developing a ‘concurrence as to action to be taken,’ the act means you can’t make any agreements in private. It’s unfortunate, but sometimes an agreement, in the form of a general direction, is necessary to get anything done,” writes Richman. (San Benito County News, February 14, 2017)

An editorial in the Big Bear Grizzly, February 9, 2017, San Bernardino County, explains the way the Brown Act informs government operations and public participation. The editorial says that it is the special role of the press to note when local government  agencies violate the Brown Act since not everyone is keen about transparency. It cites a recent trip by the Big Bear Municipal Water District board to Alaska as a clear violation of the Brown Act.

The Lemoore City Council may not have complied with the Brown Act in placing City Manager Andrea Welsh on leave following a closed meeting on Jan. 11. The city clerk reported no action or votes during the meeting. The Brown Act requires that any action from closed meetings to be reported to the public. Observers note that placing a city manager on leave would require a vote. (Lake Expo, February 9, 2017, by Mike Eiman)

The 4th District California Court of Appeal rejected an appeal by Walmart and Apple Valley of a ruling that upheld a decision in lower court that the Town Council violated the Brown Act by approving a memorandum of understanding with Walmart that was not on the agenda. (Victorville Daily Press, February 2, 2017, by Matthew Cole)

The Orange County Register writes in an editorial that the members of the Santa Ana City Council have not been forthcoming about their reasons for placing City Manager David Cavazos on paid leave jeopardizing the transparency needed for public support of their decisions. (The OC Register, January 20, 2017, by the Editorial Board)