Over at San Carlos Patch there are two articles regarding the San Carlos City Council and the Brown Act.
The watchdog group Californians Aware sent a letter to the city notifying the city council on potential Brown Act violations
The first article states that:
A government accountability watchdog group put the San Carlos City Council on notice Monday for potentially violating open meeting laws.
The group demanded the city either make the appropriate corrections or face legal repercussions.
A second article states that
San Carlos officials are denying any potential Brown Act violations after a recent closed session meeting.
The meeting saw the appointment of Mayor Omar Ahmad and Councilman Randy Royce to represent the city during fire mediation with Belmont, a decision made in closed session despite there being no indication of that issue on the closed agenda.
“Just writing ‘anticipated litigation’ is never enough,” said Terry Francke, a Brown Act expert and legal counsel for Californians Aware. “It should have been more specific. The whole point of the Brown Act is to remove as much mystery and needless ambiguity as possible. There needs to be some way for the public to have clarity.”
The Brown Act was enacted in 1953 by the California State Legislature to ensure transparency in government. The GESC board has been concerned that the San Carlos City Council and Staff have flipped the law upside down and have used it as a means to reduce transparency and not communicate openly to their constituents.
Two core problems seem to be at work here.
One is that conversations are taking place out of public view to resolve questions that otherwise might arise at public meetings. This is not the way government is supposed to work under California’s Brown Act.
The more complex issue is the nature of the board, with elected officials from San Francisco, San Mateo and Santa Clara counties appointed to serve on it. The board members are not held accountable for this regional work: Nobody will vote for or
against Santa Clara County Supervisor Ken Yeager, for example, because of what he’s doing or not doing at Caltrain. So there isn’t much incentive to do great work.
By the way, It’s great to see some reporting on local issues. We have had three articles from three separate news sources writing about local San Carlos issues recently. We hope this signals a new trend in local reporting, and helps us move towards open city government with meaningful community involvement.
Here is a one page pdf that explains the Brown act
The full act is available here.