Posted by: Bob Silvestri – marinpost – excerpt
On April 17, 2019, Community Venture Partners and Livable California filed a “Demand letter to cure or correct Brown Act violations at the January 17, 2019 ABAG E… more »
On April 17, 2019, Community Venture Partners and Livable California filed a “Demand letter to cure or correct Brown Act violations at the January 17, 2019 ABAG Executive Board meeting” (click on the highlighted text to read the full document). Based on the facts and circumstances described in that letter, CVP and LC alleged that the ABAG Board’s vote to endorse the CASA Compact was illegal and therefore null and void.
The full explanation and backstory on why the cease and desist was filed is found in Livable California / CVP’s cease & desist letter with ABAG Board for Brown Act violations, Marin Post, April 18, 2019.
The Board of Directors responded to our letter through Deputy General Counsel Cynthia E. Segal, at the end of the very last day they were legally required to do so.
In her letter, she adamantly denied that ABAG violated the Brown Act, even though the violation was clearly captured on videotape, and that ABAG refused to cure the violation or to take any “remedial action’ whatsoever. She went on to suggest that agencies are allowed to violate the Brown Act so long as they can show that no one was “prejudiced” by their violation. And finally, the violation doesn’t count if it’s not “willful” or “deliberate.” In other words, if they broke the law by mistake or even on purpose with some rationale, it doesn’t count.
I’m going to try to remember these arguments the next time I get a speeding ticket.
In any case, as noted in our April 18th article, what is so unusual here is that in 2013, the California State Legislature enacted SB 751, which was signed by Governor Brown to address this exact same violation by ABAG. That legislation, which amended the Brown Act, contained very, specific language. Effective on January 1, 2014, Government Code § 54953(c)(2) states,
The legislative body of a local agency shall publicly report any action taken and the vote or abstention on that action of each member present for the action… (more)
The only oversight the regional agencies seem to have is citizen oversight. The citizens are claiming a violation of the Brown Act.