It only took two hours and input from an independent attorney for Santa Clara City Council to decide if a special meeting could be called.
These nitpicking concerns about procedure, policy and practice are pretty petty.
Mayor Lisa Gillmor has raised concerns about the Brown Act being violated — by whether or not the Council Members “thought” it was a special meeting or not — which would negate the validity of the meeting. She has used that argument to forestall the new Council in their attempt to hold a performance review of City Attorney Brian Doyle.
Now, this is hilarious coming from Gillmor.
When Gillmor had a voting majority on Council, she held special “meetings” regularly following Council meetings with her Council supporters. She and her Council allies would gather in the Mayor’s office in City Hall and, we presume, review their work of the night.
The Brown Act was passed by the State Legislature in 1953. It was an effort to create transparency, inform the public and curtail secret dealing among members of public agency boards.
It has been virtually meaningless.
While the Brown Act has received volumes of press, there has been virtually no prosecution of violations. The law requires complainants to notify the public agency — “cease and desist.” The public agency has 30 days to commit to “cure and correct” the violation. Any lawsuit that’s brought has to be dismissed if the agency does this, regardless of timing.
So even if the Brown Act applied to what people thought — which it doesn’t — the worst consequence would be that the City Council would have to redo any actions taken.
Considering Gillmor and Doyle’s recklessness about litigation, it’s hard to imagine them worrying about lawsuits that have next to no probability of being brought.
Apparently, Gillmor knows this, as her after-Council confabs were continued without concern.
However, she has not been hesitant in hammering home to the new Council their need to take an obsessive abundance of caution by not interacting outside of Council.
Maybe they have been overly cautious. Especially when it takes two hours in a special meeting for the Council to declare they wish to have a special meeting.
This is not an endorsement or encouragement to Council Members to ignore the law. It’s merely to observe the law has not been a deterrent for the Mayor.
Now, back to the special meeting, which was or is, to do a performance review of City Attorney Doyle.
Well, it is long overdue, about four months overdue. Doyle withheld a settlement offer from the CVRA attorney to the Council, which he apparently now denies — although he waited four months to refute something that would professionally disgrace him. This was the offer made the week before the appeals court hearing in December of the CVRA lawsuit. Had the Council accepted the offer, the City would have saved a million dollars in award money. In addition, Santa Clara would have saved tens of thousands in outside attorney fees.
But Doyle never shared this offer with the Council.
This was so flagrantly unethical, so self-serving, so irresponsible, it is hard to believe. It is harder to believe he is still employed and still giving the City legal counsel.
If you had been the attorney and had substantial information of this magnitude, would you tell your clients? Of course you would. Doyle had legal, ethical, and financial reasons to do so and did not.
Folks, you just can’t contain information this critical to your hip pocket in hopes the good fairy will appear and sprinkle ‘disappearing dust’ all over this lawsuit. It is time for him to go.