Open letter to Supervisor Frank Mecham
January 12, 2015
OPINION BY JULIE TACKER,
I first want to say thank you for amending tomorrow’s meeting agenda to add public comment for the items that were on the Jan. 5 special meeting agenda.
I also want to point out that this was in no way your fault. As chair, Supervisor Bruce Gibson failed to take public comment on the items on the agenda and failed to turn over the gavel to you for you to preside over the remainder of the meeting on your terms.
As you know, I am a huge proponent for the public’s access to their representatives and its importance to the process. Unfortunately the amended item’s staff report and agenda posting fail to specify what those items were.
Another problem with adding the item to Tuesday’s agenda is the practice wherein an added item (staff report) will not be available for the public once at the meeting. Traditionally the clerk makes changes to the day’s agenda verbally prior to the first item of the day, but the agenda packet, placed in the lobby, will not include the additional staff report, nor will the paper copies of the agenda provided have the item added.
The only way the public is able to participate on the amended agenda item/s is to have downloaded the staff report on their home computer or have a personal electronic device to refer to.
Additionally, the Jan. 5 special agenda as posted was improper in that it did not inform the public how they are able to comment — should they have wanted to. Customarily the policy that is written on previous special meeting agenda’s (attached) informs the public that they can turn in a speaker slip.
Additionally I, and others, were unable to find speaker slips in any of the boxes and found it far too awkward to have stepped up from the crowded room to ask to speak.
Furthermore, while the effort to allow the public to speak on Tuesday is commendable, it comes after the public’s ability to influence the actions that were taken. Reorganization of the board can take place at any time during the year and due to the improper agenda and in light of public testimony it would be prudent to agendize the reorganization item for a future agenda in the very near term.
That regular agenda should analyze the problems identified by Supervisor Debbie Arnold with the rotation and how it has not been orderly or fair and as applied to date will stonewall her from serving as chair at any point during her term – this stonewalling appears sexist and for that reason alone perhaps a formal rotation process should be adhered to in an orderly fashion.
It is important to note that I could have and still can file a cure and correct demand, threaten legal action to force the whole Jan. 5 meeting to be held all over again. I do not want to do that, a lot of effort and cost associated with lawyers billing the county, all for what? The outcome could be up the same. I would prefer you willingly recognize that the item of reorganization (at a minimum) needs to be reheard and agendize it appropriately.
My main point in shining light on this entire matter is to reveal county counsel’s disregard for her obligation to serve the board, protect it from Brown Act Violations, and it was her job to have kept Supervisor Bruce Gibson from exposing the county to this liability. In my view, Gibson manipulated the Jan. 5 agenda in order to protect Supervisor Adam Hill from public comments from those who do not feel Hill is suited to serve as the best representative of this county as chairman or vice chairman.
You may remember the Jan. 23, Air Pollution Control District reorganization public comment period and the result that prevented him from moving up from vice chair to chair. That was before Hill wrote his insulting letter to the editor published in the Jan. 16 edition of the New Times titled, “Who is susceptible to conspiracy theory thinking?”
In my opinion, Hill has made a mockery of the esteemed position in which he serves, Gibson has aided and abetted in the behavior and county counsel should have checked him on many occasions. Gibson has threatened and intimidated the public, forgetting who he works for.
For the reasons stated above items should be reheard in a Regular Agenda in the near future.
Thank you again, I am encouraged by your swift action and encourage you to remain an advocate for all the people of this great County.