California open government roundup: Resistance to new police transparency law

The Berkeley City Council reversed itself after first refusing to release pre-2019 police personnel records under the recently passed SB1421, the state’s new police transparency law. It’s not known how the Berkeley police union will respond, but other unions are arguing SB1421 is not applicable to pre-2019 records. (San Francisco Chronicle, February 3, 2019, by Lauren Hernández and Sarah Ravani)

San Diego’s KPBS filed a lawsuit against the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department for records on response time to complaints about employees. The department failed to heed requests for the records made under the California Public Records Act. The public broadcasting station is investigating why women accusing an officer of sexual misconduct never received a reply to their report of his misconduct. (KPBS, January 22, 2019, by Claire Trageser)

An attorney for a Bullard High School student in Fresno who claims a school trustee physically attacked him on campus is demanding that the board meet in open session to discuss the incident. He claims the board violated the Brown Act, California’s open meeting law, by holding a closed session on the issue.  (ABC30, January 30, 2019, by Christina Fan)

An audit of San Diego city community planning groups revealed that the groups lacked transparency, kept poor records and were out of sync with the Brown Act. (KUSI, January 31, 2019, by KUSI Newsroom)

A former Altadena Library District director accepted a $550,000 settlement in a dispute with the library board over the board’s alleged violations of the Brown Act.  (Pasadena Weekly, January 31, 2019, by Andre Coleman)

Palm Spring’s mayor is stepping down citing a range of differences with a council he says is straying too far to the left. Robert Moon had installed a security camera and intercom system in his office, and the city council thinks he may have violated the Brown Act even though he claims he never used the system to record meetings or to secretly record conversation. After the county district attorney refused to prosecute Moon, the council hired a law firm to investigate. (California Globe, January 27, 2019, by Laura Hauther)

A Ross resident is threatening to sue the town for violating the Brown Act in deciding without proper notice to incorporate a town-owned lot with a house into an existing park. The council had listed the item in the January 10 agenda as “landscape improvements.” (Marin Independent Journal, January 22, 2019, by Adrian Rodriguez)

The Tuolumne County Farm Bureau is threatening a take legal action if the Sonora Union High School District does not rescind the sale of a part of the Wildcat Ranch property to a non-profit. The bureau claims the district board violated the Brown Act by taking action on the sale during closed sessions on October 23 and November 6. (The Union Democrat, January 22, 2019, by Giuseppe Ricapito)

Richmond filed a defense in federal court of its settlement process that turned a rejected casino project into a bay front housing project for 670 homes. An anti-development group claimed the city violated the Brown Act. (Reuters, January 10, 2019, by Jim Christie)

A community group filed a lawsuit alleging violations of the Brown Act over the appointment of a new Third District supervisor. In a press release, the I.E. United said, “The board violated the Brown Act by privately meeting, using seriatim communication and a secret ballot, to select a list of 13 finalists to be interviewed and considered for the vacant Third District supervisor position. When alerted to this violation, the board failed to take the necessary curative action that would have removed the unfair advantage — a board interview — it had conferred on the candidates who benefited from the secret winnowing of the applicant pool to 13 finalists.”(Highland Community News, January 9, 2019, by James Folmer)

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