Supervisors accused of violating Brown Act

July 17, 2013
Bruce Gibson

Bruce Gibson

By JOSH FRIEDMAN

San Luis Obispo County government watchdogs are accusing the Board of Supervisors of violating California’s Ralph M. Brown Act during a discussion last week on North County water issues that did not appear on the agenda.

At the July 9 Board of Supervisors meeting, about 20 speakers during public comment requested that the board adopt an emergency ordinance restricting water usage in North County. Supervisor Bruce Gibson, who took over the board chairmanship at the beginning of the meeting due to the death of Supervisor Paul Teixeira, then asked the board to discuss the issue.

The board deliberated for nearly 40 minutes and requested staff to expedite its work on crafting an emergency ordinance.

The Brown Act, California’s open meeting law prohibits elected bodies from generally discussing or acting upon items not appearing on the agenda. It does allow boards to direct their staff to place an item discussed by the public on a future agenda. It also allows elected bodies and staff to respond to public testimony, but only in a brief manner.

Following Gibson’s direction to address the water issue, each board member spoke several times, and the board spent about 38 minutes debating approaches to crafting an ordinance.

About 25 minutes into the discussion, Deputy County Counsel Tim McNulty warned Gibson that the board is constrained by the Brown Act.

“We’ve been going on quite a long time on something that’s not on the agenda,” McNulty said.

Gibson said the enormity of the problem called for the board to provide immediate direction to staff.

On Tuesday, several speakers at this week’s Board of Supervisors meeting accused the board of denying public participation in the discussion on the proposed emergency ordinance. While the discussion on the potential emergency ordinance occurred during last week’s public comment period, the supervisors did not provide the public an opportunity to directly address the issue.

“The Brown Act would have fully allowed the public to participate in the decisions and direction that was given to your staff,” said Los Osos resident Julie Tacker.

Following public comment at Tuesday’s meeting, Gibson asked County Counsel Rita Neal to respond to the accusation that the board violated the Brown Act.

Despite McNulty’s warning a week ago, Neal said the board acted within the constraints of the Brown Act by responding to public comment and requesting staff to put an item on a future agenda.

“In our view, there was no violation of the Brown Act,” Neal said. “It was simply a response to a very lengthy public comment, and the item is coming back.”

Neal said the Brown Act allows board members to make brief comments about issues raised during public comment. However, Neal did not say whether or not the response to public testimony met the Brown Act’s definition of “brief.”

“It occurred to me that a substantive discussion of policy had occurred,” county resident Elsa Dawson said during Tuesday’s public comment period. “It seemed to me to be a flagrant ignoring of counsel’s warning.”

Members of the public have a 30-day period following an alleged Brown Act violation to file a cure and correct demand.

The water issue is expected to return to the board on August 6 for the supervisors to discuss possible emergency ordinances.

 


59 Comments

  1. Tammy says:

    Either way Mary, no matter how many studies you read or how you slice them, there is a big water problem and it isn’t going to go away or get better.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 1

  2. judith says:

    I don’t have a “white-knuckled grip on the past”, I just resent someone like Tacker (AKA Cherie McKee) trying to stir up shit at every turn. Most of the time I don’t post, because I’m glad the sewer is going in at last. People are still trying to change/stop it, which makes me wonder if they have any sense at all.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 7

    • Moderator says:

      Please don’t guess or play with user names, AKA is not correct only clouds the water so to speak, so stick with the usernames you have and don’t pretend to know what you don’t. thanks so much .

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 9

  3. judith says:

    Really? Tacker and Edwards are married?? I don’t think so, since Edwards hid his (few remaining) assets in Tacker’s name. These people are just pathetic.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 18 Thumb down 8

    • DemandTransparency says:

      So now we just get to come on here and MAKE UP comments to suit our personal agendas?

      Judith? Hello. I’m talking to you Judith.

      Where are your facts? It’s easy to hide behind a keyboard in the land of Anonymity and Make-believe.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 12

      • judith says:

        I didn’t make up anything. I’ve lived here since 1985, and I’ve seen what has been going on.
        . I don’t have a “personal agenda”. I just like living here, and resent the blowhards that try to obstruct progress.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 15 Thumb down 6

        • CherieMcKee says:

          Why has this discussion turned to Tacker/Edwards? They’ve been together longer than Bruce and Cherie, have a cute kid and seem to be happy. Their personal lives are of no business of yours “Judith.”

          What exactly is it that they do to “obstruct progress”? Hmmmm, maybe point out over and over again that there’s no water for “progress” and the elect-eds do little to nothing to advance progress. Hell, an Urgency Ordinance is a moratorium, now that’s “obstructing progress.”

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 13

          • Lynette_Tornatzky says:

            The cute kid and the length of their “happy” relationship isn’t what this is about CherieMcKee (and don’t think you are fooling us with this chosen moniker, it is another obvious snarky slap).

            For one thing, the high hypocrisy of Tacker calling out Gibson on a Brown Act violation, fat lot of time we the public had in those behind closed door actual decisions with OUR money……….

            And the fact that Los Osos would have saved THOUSANDS of acre feet of water had Tacker not been a huge player in stopping the old sewer project. We would have been saving that water since 2008 when the sewer was scheduled to go online……

            Then there is the public records request for the thousands of e-mails between Gibson and Aispuro which revealed exactly NOTHING and was an obvious vendetta against Gibson and waste of time for the County staff…..

            Then there is the fact that because in part of her efforts, I have a $25,000 lien against my house.

            Less to say against Edwards (I don’t live in Oceano, and that’s another story) except he was trying to buy the old sewer property when the project was up in the air due to bankruptcy, when Tacker was ON the CSD board, necessitating an expensive 11- page letter from the District’s counsel cautioning her against her involvement in that insider scam…….

            Why she always gets lots of press time in this news site is suspect actually. There were many other speakers that day. I guess political harassment of Gibson sells clicks and is an obvious indicator of CalCoast’s political leanings.

            Like or Dislike: Thumb up 15 Thumb down 8

          • Pelican1 says:

            They represent the Dark Side. You see, those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it. Do a little research. It will soon become abundantly clear that you are wrong.

            Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 2

      • Lynette_Tornatzky says:

        Those aren’t made up comments DemandTransparency, they are facts. Clearly you don’t know what has gone on in Los Osos.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 4

        • DemandTransparency says:

          How is saying or writing words ‘a fact’? What asset was hidden? Where was it hidden? Does Mr. Edwards own some yacht or mansion in someone else’s possession? Don’t beat around the bush – bring these transgressions to light if they do exist.

          As for ‘a lot of press time’, all I can say is that I heard 5 people speak at the end of Tuesday’s public comment time. Julie Tacker was one of them but there was an older gentleman that was literally shaking with anger at the end of his 3 minutes.

          These folks – ALL OF THEM and NOT just Tacker – are the ones that take the time to be involved members of OUR community. Personally, I am thankful that people are paying attention to our local government’s actions.

          Try and live in the ‘now’ Lynette and Judith. Right ‘now’ the BOS exhibits a disdain for the Brown Act, as do several other local government agencies. Focus on that, if you can bring yourself to shake that white-knuckled grip you have on the past actions of one person.

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 12

  4. hijinks2 says:

    Isn’t this the clown that has basically kept his concubine in this office, cheats on his wife, so why would anyone be surprised that he would violate a little rule known as the Brown Act? For that matter, why would anyone be surprised that the Rita McNeal would lie to protect the Supervisor? Lawyers or more often than not liars, get paid to twist the facts to protect their clients, even those who have been caught with their pants down!

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 20 Thumb down 15

  5. Tammy says:

    DEPARTMENT OF WATER RESOURCE
    ERIC SENTER
    SENIOR ENGINEERING GEOLOGIST
    901 P STREET
    P.O. BOX 942836
    (916) 651-9648
    eric.senter@water.ca.gov

    From him one can get the study of groundwater in the Paso Robles basin, quality, dept etc…..

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 2

    • Moderator says:

      Please don’t copy-paste entire documents in the text box, use a small extract and Link.
      thanks so much.
      I think this is what you want.
      http://www.water.ca.gov/pubs/groundwater/bulletin_118/california%27s_groundwater__bulletin_118_-_update_2003_/bulletin118-findings.pdf

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 2

    • MaryMalone says:

      Which of the Paso water studies are you referencing?

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 4

      • Tammy says:

        Any study anyone wants, not any one particular study Mary. Just seems to me that some people are under the impression that the deeper you go, the better the water gets. Seems to me that people don’t have the facts. Seems to me that people need to find the facts for themselves and I’m just providing the contact information to the man that can give the answers. Seems to me that if this is where one gets their information, one is mislead. I don’t know who you are Mary, but I can see that you are quite active on this venue over an array of topics. Opinionated about many issues, perhaps expert at none. What do I know? What I do know, is that my mother has an 80+ acre spread on the East side of Paso with two wells and no grapes! It’s been in the family for over 50 years. I can see what is going on. What is your stake in this?

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

        • MaryMalone says:

          My, quite sensitive about a simple question, to the point that you launch such an ad-hominem attack?

          In addition, the senior engineer geologist for the DWR has ONE opinion. He does NOT have THE opinion, and the answers he gives may or may not turn out to be accurate in the future.

          There have been many GW studies done for the Paso GW basin, and some contain very different findings.

          QUOTING TAMMY: “From him one can get the study of groundwater in the Paso Robles basin, quality, dept etc…..

          From your statement, quoted above, it certainly appears that you are speaking of a specific water study. You don’t say “…one can get A study…” (which would indicate one of many studies) but, rather, “…one can get THE study” (which would indicate a specific study).

          There have been a few water studies performed on the Paso Robles groundwater basin. I was simply interested which one you were referencing.

          One of the studies I find interesting is the one performed by the USGS (Use of InSAR to Identify Land-Surface Displacements Caused by Aquifer-System
          Compaction in the Paso Robles Area, San Luis Obispo County, California, March to
          August 1997
          ).

          It is an older study, but it speaks to the very real possibility that, due to the amount of overdraft in the GW basin, going back years, there appears to be aquifer compaction.

          The importance of this startling finding is that the part that is compacted will never again be able to serve as a water reservoir….it can’t get “uncompacted,” so there is no longer sufficient pore space to hold groundwater.

          Another study which I found interesting is the “Peer Review of Paso Robles
          Groundwater Basin Studies–Executive Summary: 2010
          ” This peer review was performed in an attempt to figure out how it is that the GW findings in a study by Fugro and Cleath (2002) and Fugro (2010)– and–Todd Engineering (2010) had significant differences.

          Quoting the study:

          Todd found declines in basin and sub-basin storage between 2000 and 2006.
          Fugro found
          increases in basin and sub-basin storage between 1998 and 2009.”

          One of the reasons for the absolutely astounding finding by Fugro in 2010 (really? with all of the development in Paso and increase in water use, the groundwater storage actually INCREASED?) was that part of Fugro’s findings were based on an assumptive extrapolation of the Blaney GW study (1933).

          The reason why Fugro’s errors are so important is that Fugro does, or has done, GW studies for many clients. The errors outlined in this peer-review article should raise concern for the accuracy of other Fugro work.

          Understand, big issues (especially in Planning) are decided on water studies.

          I think we need to question whether development that has occurred, is occurring now, or is online for occurring in the future, is based on an erroneously high estimate on the amount of groundwater available.

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 3

  6. SLOBIRD says:

    I don’t always, actually most of the time don’t, agree with Rice, Tacker and Edwards views but let me say this, without their oversight, participation and challenges a lot of the behaviors, connections, and oversight of these boards, districts and the relationships to each other would never come to light. I think in their own way they have educated us to a lot of the wrongdoings of the politicians in this County who think they are above the law. I appreciate their watchdog tactics and encourage them to continue keeping the politicians on the up and up. Without these dedicated folks I wonder where we would be considering where we are.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 20 Thumb down 12

  7. SuperDave says:

    Ever see the big stainless steel filter units at vineyard wells? They drill extra deep for volume, then clean up, and treat the water. Money fixes all problems. Now, since no homeowner can afford a 1900′ well, so they go 4-800′ deep. Big vineyard moves in nearby, digs deep, and literally the water falls to the deeper level where it is being pumped from.
    The only thing shitty about deep wells are the problems they cause for neighboring properties.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 2

Comments are closed.