Are SLO County officials hiding their coronavirus recovery plan?

April 27, 2020

Julie Tacker

OPINION by JULIE TACKER

The San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors is having a special board meeting on April 28 to receive their COVID-19 update and to consider sending a letter to Gov. Gavin Newsom regarding reopening of local businesses.

The meeting agenda was posted at 9 a.m. this past Friday morning, but did not include any staff reports or a draft of the letter they might send. Not having these documents available at the same time as the agenda, for the public to peruse over the weekend, flies in the face of public trust through willing transparency.

The supervisors have new meeting procedures that are complicated and difficult to access. The board room is closed to the public during the coronavirus crisis. Instead, they require written comments (emails and letters) be received by 5 p.m. on Monday, before the meeting day, voicemail comments must be left by 9 a.m. just prior to calling the meeting to order, or, if you’re lucky enough to get to listen and/or watch the meeting, you can call in to comment when the phone lines open in real time.

A basic Brown Act goal gives the public the right to participate meaningfully in meetings, and to review documents used in decision-making the same time the majority of the board has it.

I believe the majority of the board has the documents that are required to be available to the public under Government Code Sections 54957.5(b)(1), “If a writing that is a public record under subdivision (a), and that relates to an agenda item for an open session of a regular meeting of the legislative body of a local agency, is distributed less than 72 hours prior to that meeting, the writing shall be made available for public inspection pursuant to paragraph (2) at the time the writing is distributed to all, or a majority of all, of the members of the body.”

I also believe the board and their staff are, as Sunday’s Tribune editorial states, “sharing a draft of its “roadmap with city officials, business and industry groups, churches and nonprofit agencies.”

They further violate the Brown Act, specifically section 54952.2 (b) (1) where it says, “A majority of the members of a legislative body shall not, outside a meeting authorized by this chapter, use a series of communications of any kind, directly or through intermediaries, to discuss, deliberate, or take action on any item of business that is within the subject matter jurisdiction of the legislative body.”

You will never convince me that a majority of the supervisors do not have the draft recovery plan and draft letter to Newsom already in their possession and aren’t using “a series of communications, directly or through intermediaries, to discuss, deliberate, or taking action deliberating this subject.”

In this critical health crisis, when everyone in this county has a stake in the boards recovery plan and draft letter to the governor, transparency should be the board’s highest priority.  These documents should be made available to the public well before they take action so the public at large, not special interests alone, can participate fully.


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kayaknut

Not hiding, maybe they don’t have one.


Ricky2

Thanks Julie for pointing this out. Of course we didn’t learn this from the Fibune or telly. My impression is our local officials are being deliberately autocratic during this crisis, letting no chance to skirt the Brown Act go unused. What a sad day for democracy.


DocT

Forget why we did this…..it doesn’t matter.


But once you give up your rights you don’t just passively get them back. You won’t get them back with patience, voting, pleading….nope. You gave them up. You no longer have them.


They aren’t coming back. You didn’t value your liberty and so you do not deserve it. Period.


enoughalready

Well Aye… sounds like you are either gainfully employed, retired… have no kids at home….something that allows you to be “patient” while the County (employed) creates a plan without our input to dictate what we (non—essential surfs) will be doing for who knows how long! The County does not operate in our collective best interest… when have they? They want your taxpayer $$$ and for you to shut up and obey. Again if you are sick… afraid … immune deficient…. stay home FOREVER. The science has been flawed from the get go so their “plan” will be flawed as well. So don’t tread on me an American patriot. See you at the beach sitting down.


aye-caramba

Thank you Ms Tacker for writing a thoughtful essay that wasn’t whiney, paranoid, immature or trying to sell “witch doctor” remedies. Your contention that the County is trying to “hide” it’s re-opening plan isn’t unusual in that re-opening is really NOT a public comment “consensus” exercise, rather a work product of public health experts making medical decisions filtered by staff and some politicos. It will be flawed and imperfect and unfair to some, but no one has ever done this before. Be patient because EVERYTHING will open up sooner than later.


analyticone

Hey, Julie, I wonder if you have heard this anywhere…I was told last week that the IWMA is saying that the governor has reduced Brown Act requirements due to the Pandemic. I would have thought our DA may have handled the San Simeon violation differently if that was the case. Do you have any word on this?


the-death-of-common-sense

The governor did in his emergency declaration. Local governments everywhere are cheering their unshackling and are walking dangerous lines trying to make themselves ‘appear’ to comply with the Brown Act and the governor’s order.


Julie

Join the discussion…The Governor’s “relaxation” of the Brown Act is very specific to how meetings are held. The citations in my opinion piece remain in tact.


Smith

I would like to make a motion that the county create a well paying position for Julie Tacker for keeping things legitimate around here. An amazing service, thank you Julie. And a special thank you to CCN for making it so public. Oorah ladies!


LameCommenter

Not so fast, Smith. Los Osos property owners who lost an average of $24,700+ when against the advice of the entire planet, she scrapped an existing, contracted-for-two-years, underway citywide wastewater collection and treatment project might not be forgiving to grant her that power, no matter how admirably she works now to redeem herself.