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Re: Today's Menlo Park Council agenda violates the Brown Act

From: Peter Carpenter <peterfcarpenter_at_(domain_name_was_removed)>
Date: Fri, 10 Dec 2010 10:07:38 -0800

Speaking out works.



Margaret S. Roberts, MMC
City Clerk
City of Menlo Park
701 Laurel Street
Menlo Park, CA 94025
Voice: 650-330-6620
Fax: 650-328-7935  

On Dec 10, 2010, at 7:50 AM, Peter Carpenter wrote:

> Bill,
>  Here is what the law states regarding how items should be listed in order to comply with the Brown Act:
> 54954.2. Agenda requirements; Regular meetings
> (a) At least 72 hours before a regular meeting, the legislative body of the local agency, or
> its designee, shall post an agenda containing a brief general description of EACH ITEM of business to be transacted or discussed at the meeting.
> It is my opinion that the posted agenda for today's meeting addresses two separate and distinct items and that, by combining them, you are precluding the public from commenting on the second item after the first item has been acted upon. I really do believe that it is in your, the council's and the citizens' interests for these two issues to be discussed separately and with full public participation - which may be hard to get on a Friday afternoon with only 24 hour notice.
> Why the hurry? What is being swept under the rug?
> Peter
> On Dec 10, 2010, at 7:37 AM, William L. McClure wrote:

>> Peter--Please cite the authority for your statement below. Section 54956 sets forth the legal requirements for a notice for a special meeting. Nowhere in that section or to my knowledge any other section of the Brown Act specifically requires that the agenda for a special meeting include a line item for public comment or a notice regarding the public's right to comment on an agenda item. Pursuant to the Brown Act the public is always entitled to address the Council on any item(s) listed on an agenda, whether or not the agenda so states. [Note:There is a requirement for regular meetings that the agenda specifically include a public comment period for the public to comment on items not on the agenda--if the council chooses to limit all public comment on all items on the agenda to the public comment period, the agenda must so state.] As required by law, and consistent with the custom and practice in Menlo Park, the City Council always calls for public comment on each item listed on the agenda. As for your statement that the item subsumes two topics that are required to be listed separately, that is just an incorrect statement of the law. There is no requirement to separate those actions. The council could choose to separate the actions and take public comment on them separately or they could take all of the public comment at one time. There is no violation of the Brown Act present here. Again, if you have citations that would cause me to reach a different conclusion, please provide the citation to the applicable code section(s) of the Brown Act. Best regards, Bill
>> -----Original Message-----
>> From: Peter Carpenter [mailto:peterfcarpenter_at_gmail.com]
>> Sent: Friday, December 10, 2010 7:12 AM
>> Subject: Today's Menlo Park Council agenda violates the Brown Act
>> Ironically the agenda for today's Menlo Park Council Meeting to "cure and Correct" the Brown Act violations which occurred prior to last Tuesday's meeting violates the Brown Act. Moving the discussions from the back room to a dark room in which the public is not allowed to speak is hardly progress.
>> Dear Mr. McClure,
>> The agenda for Friday Dec 10 2010 Special Meeting of the City Council violates the Brown Act.
>> The agenda states:
>> ROLL CALL - Cline, Cohen, Fergusson, Keith, Ohtaki
>> 1. Council consider rescinding the elections of the Mayor and Mayor Pro Tempore/Vice-Mayor and declaring said elections null and void, taking new nominations for those positions and conducting new elections for the positions of Mayor and Mayor Pro Tempore/Vice-Mayor to correct and cure an apparent violation of Brown Act that preceded the Mayoral election (Attachment)
>> The Brown Act provides section 54954.3. Every notice for a special meeting shall provide an opportunity for members of the public to directly address the legislative body concerning any item that has been described in the notice for the meeting before or during consideration of that item.
>> The 10 December agenda includes no provision for public comment and it also subsumes two different items, nullification and new elections, into one item. The public must have an opportunity to comment on both of these clearly separate and distinct item.
>> No virus found in this incoming message.
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> Received on Fri Dec 10 2010 - 10:08:10 PST

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