The City of Milpitas has released a trove of previously undisclosed documents alleging serious misconduct by a recently departed city manager— records the city refused to release until after the First Amendment Coalition sued Milpitas under the California Public Records Act.
FAC first requested the records in May, and sued the following month after Milpitas refused to disclose them. On Wednesday evening, the city released the more than 100 pages of documents to FAC— less than 15 hours before a hearing on the suit held today in Santa Clara County Superior Court, and more than five months after FAC originally requested them.
The new documents reveal numerous previously undisclosed details about alleged wrongdoing by former Milpitas city manager Tom Williams, including allegations that he made “intentional false accusations” against a fellow city employee; that he “routinely curses, yells, belittles and intimidates” staff; and that he established “an environment of fear, anxiety and suppression of staff opinion.”
“These records should have been turned over five months ago, and it’s clear from the timing of the documents’ release — the night before before a court hearing on FAC’s lawsuit — that the city’s original basis for withholding the records is indefensible,” said FAC Executive Director David Snyder.
FAC filed suit against Milpitas on June 2, seeking a court order forcing Milpitas to release records regarding accusations of poor performance and misconduct by Williams, as well as records relating to accusations that the city’s mayor has engaged in age discrimination against the city manager.
Milpitas has claimed that a court order resulting from an earlier “reverse CPRA” lawsuit filed by Williams prevented the city from releasing the records. Under a “reverse CPRA” action, any individual claiming to have an interest in government records sought by a CPRA request can preemptively seek to prevent the release of those records–sometimes before the person who originally requested the records has a chance to contest the “reverse CPRA” action.
Journalists and others who request records under the CPRA increasingly find their efforts thwarted by third parties — often before the original requester of the records even has a chance to show up in court and argue for access.
FAC is represented in the case by James Chadwick and Julie Bauman at the Sheppard Mullin law firm.
A copy of the records disclosed by Milpitas can be seen here.
For more information contact:
First Amendment Coalition