Californians Aware will not pursue its Brown Act lawsuit against the San Diego County Board of Supervisors after the Board today rescinded its action taken early last month immediately to approve a number of recommendations from a committee billed on the agenda as being received for possible further study. But CalAware says if similar maneuvers are repeated, it will sue again and not withdraw. Chris Nichols reports for the North County Times.
A government watchdog group has dropped a lawsuit saying San Diego County officials deceived the public and violated an open meeting law in December, the group’s attorney said on Tuesday.
In a related move, the San Diego County Board of Supervisors agreed Tuesday to withdraw its Dec. 7 vote at the center of the lawsuit. The vote streamlined several county development rules.
“If we find something like this again … we will file an action and stay with it to final judgement,” said Terry Francke, attorney for Californians Aware, the Sacramento-area group that filed and then withdrew the suit.
The board’s Dec. 7 agenda indicated supervisors would send streamlining proposals —- made by a board-appointed “red tape reduction” panel —- back to county planners for further evaluation.
Instead, supervisors approved many of the proposals moments after consulting a list of staff recommendations not made public.
Francke maintained on Tuesday that the board violated the state’s Brown Act, which governs public meetings.
He said supervisors heeded secret staff advice on the proposals, while the public was given contradictory information about what county staff members advised.
The county, without admitting any wrongdoing, said earlier this month that the board would vacate the vote but not challenge the lawsuit, to save taxpayers the cost of defending the suit.
Supervisors will again consider the vote and take public testimony on Feb. 29.
Tom Montgomery, the county’s top attorney, said at Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting the county would add a statement to each board agenda clarifying that supervisors are not required to act on staff recommendations listed on the public agendas —- to avoid the confusion some members of the public said they had with the Dec. 7 vote.
Francke said Montgomery’s statement was “quite beside the point.”
He said the county’s violation was providing secret advice to the board, not the board straying from advice printed on the agenda.
Mike Workman, the county’s chief spokesman, said Tuesday afternoon the county had no response to CalAware’s decision to drop the suit.