Over the years I have chastised numerous local boards for Brown Act violations. Every water district and the fire district have experienced it.
Violations usually occur in the form of special meetings but the parties involved feel the Brown Act either doesn’t apply to them or that since they are volunteers in a small community, I should give them some slack.
But the Brown Act precisely applies to local public agencies to protect the citizens paying taxes from back-office dealings.
We don’t know why the two Idyllwild Fire groups thought it was a good idea to take a field trip to Riverside without telling the public. We don’t know what they talked about and probably never will. And that’s why it violated the Act. The citizens don’t know what you did that day and no matter how much you promise you didn’t do anything, your credibility is now in question because the public was not privvy to that meeting.
Years ago, in 2000, I chastised PCWD heavily on some special meetings being held without public notice. As usual, directors’ reactions were defensive. Yet some years later, the district switched its thinking from defensive to proactive, co-hosting ethics and Brown Act training for all public bodies on the Hill.
Last year, the district received a two-year transparency award from the Special Districts Leadership Foundation. It takes a lot to receive this award. The list is long as to what policies and training must be proven in place. And that didn’t discourage good people from running for office. The PCWD board has reason to be proud to serve the public.
Becky Clark, Editor