Readers Write: October 6, 2016

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TC Putting up barriers


A public special meeting was suggested to hear and discuss the opinion of district legal counsel. Directors Kunkle and Rockwell refused.

A public special meeting was called to interview qualified candidates for interim manager but Rockwell could not attend.

Another special public meeting was called and briefly held. It was aborted after the second of seven agenda topics because Rockwell, at the urging of Marge Muir and Jack Clark who had handed her a secret note, grabbed her purse and stormed out of the meeting.

As president of the district board, I thought is there a way to keep the district moving forward for the benefit of all our residents and customers? Political disagreement on whether to elect or appoint new directors should not affect business decisions and goals.

Instead of continuing the stalemate, I suggested to Kunkle and Rockwell that we hold one or more public special meetings. This was very reasonable given the prior refusals to attend District meetings.

The Town Crier published two articles condemning my invitation to gather for public special meetings. The Town Crier called the invitation a secret meeting.

Their condemnation does not square with the Brown Act. In discussing the call for a special meeting under the act, the California Attorney General has opined that “[s]o long as substantive consideration of agenda items does not occur, a majority may meet without providing notice to the public in order to call the meeting and prepare the agenda.”

The district is in a world of hurt, having lost two of its five directors and its manager. Now, instead of urging the board to meet, the Town Crier puts up unreasonable barriers to arranging public meetings to conduct important public business.

John Cook, President, Idyllwild Water District

Response from Jack Clark: 1) I did not hand Director June Rockwell a note, secret or otherwise, or anything else, for that matter, and Mr. Cook’s implication that I in any way even suggested, much less “urged,” her to adjourn or leave the meeting is false. (Also, Rockwell informs that she doesn’t carry a purse.) What else did Mr. Cook see that evening that didn’t happen?

2) Mr. Cook’s implication that by sending Kunkle and Rockwell an email suggesting they have informal meetings he was merely calling a nonpublic meeting in order to call a public meeting and prepare the agenda, is disingenuous. 

In the email, Cook did not suggest “public special meetings.” He suggested that the three directors meet in a “study session” to create a to-do list of things to be “done, studied or changed,” and that they “meet during the day to hear what staff sees as things to be done,” and then in the evening the directors “could see what the public would like on the list.” 

This is not a meeting to merely “prepare an agenda” for a public special meeting. Agendas are required to be formally posted 24 hours ahead of a special meeting, so agendas cannot be discussed and prepared the same day as a public meeting. Government Code section 54952.2 provides that “any congregation” of a majority of the members of a board at the same time and location — whether designated a “study session” or whatever — even to just hear or discuss any item that is within the board’s jurisdiction is a Brown Act meeting requiring notice to the public. 

The “unreasonable barriers” Mr. Cook accuses the Town Crier of raising are in reality California law, with which Mr. Cook sought to dispense. Cook’s emails to Kunkle and Rockwell are available for the public to examine at the Town Crier. 

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