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ballot subcommittee: transparency and public notice

From: domainremoved <Heyward>
Date: Thu, 17 Jul 2014 14:14:14 -0700
Mayor Mueller,

At Tuesday's meeting, council appointed a sub-committee to draft the ballot argument opposing the initiative.  This action was taken after Council's vote to place the Initiative on the November ballot.  The agenda item noticing the ballot option makes no mention of the potential formation of a sub-committee:
F1c: ... Adopt a Resolution Calling and Giving Notice of a Municipal Election to Be Held on November 4, 2014 as Required by the Provisions of the Laws of the State of California to General Law Cities and Submitting to the Voters a Question Relating to an Initiative Measure; Directing Special Counsel to Prepare an Impartial Analysis; Directing Special Counsel and the City Clerk to Prepare the Documents Necessary to Place the Initiative on the Ballot; and Requesting the County of San Mateo to Consolidate a Municipal Election to be Held with the General Statewide Election on November 4, 2014 Pursuant to Elections Code Section 10403 (Staff report #14-127)
Although the sub-committee is mentioned in the staff report and is included in the resolution passed by Council, its omission from the agenda is a serious oversight and may violate the Brown Act.  The formation of the subcommittee - its scope, members, and timing - are obviously of great interest to the public.  By not including it in the agenda, members of the public who have views on this subject were denied their right to share these views with the Council. 

The relevant section of the Brown Act is:
Agenda Requirement
At least 72 hours prior to a regular meeting, the body must post an agenda containing a brief general description of each item to be discussed or transacted at the meeting, including items to be discussed in closed session. (§ 54954.2(a).) The Act makes it clear that discussion items must be placed on the agenda, as well as items which may be the subject of action by the body. The purpose of the brief general description is to inform interested members of the public about the subject matter under consideration so that they can determine whether to monitor or participate in the meeting of the body.... (emphasis mine).

Please discuss this issue with the City Manager and City Attorney.  If a Brown Act violation did occur, the action to form the subcommittee would be void.  Even if a technical violation of the Brown Act did not occur, good government and transparency demand that any potential actions of council be included in posted agendas.  I trust that you will work with the City staff and legal counsel to ensure that this is the case going forward.


Heyward Robinson
Menlo Park City Council 2006-2010
Received on Thu Jul 17 2014 - 14:11:08 PDT

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