WHY IS THE BROWN ACT IMPORTANT?

“In enacting this chapter, the Legislature finds and declares that the public commissions, boards and councils and the other public agencies in this State exist to aid in the conduct of the people’s business. It is the intent of the law that their actions be taken openly and that their deliberations be conducted openly.”

~ Brown Act Declaration of Intent

BROWN ACT ADVOCATE

Since 2013, we’ve been highlighting possible Brown Act violations in California.  We take tips and leads from news/rss feeds, constituents, government contractors as well as public officials and we bring you only verified violation possibilities backed by fact-based evidence, background and historical trend.

HOWEVER

My approach is a little different.  Using facts and evidence, I try to come up with data models and/or intel that will further support said claims.  At the end, it is up to you, the constituent, to look at all the evidence that has been laid out and come to your own conclusion.

WHAT IS THE BROWN ACT?

The Ralph M. Brown Act, located at California Government Code 54950 et seq., is an act of the California State Legislature, authored by Assemblymember Ralph M. Brown and passed in 1953, that guarantees the public’s right to attend and participate in meetings of local legislative bodies.[1]

The Brown Act, originally a 686 word statute that has grown substantially over the years, was enacted in response to mounting public concerns over informal, undisclosed meetings held by local elected officials. City councils, county boards, and other local government bodies were avoiding public scrutiny by holding secret “workshops” and “study sessions.” The Brown Act solely applies to California city and county government agencies, boards, and councils. The Act has been interpreted to apply to email communication as well, leading to restrictions on the number of parties that can be copied on electronic messages.[2] The comparable Bagley-Keene Act mandates open meetings for State government agencies.

Read more about the Brown Act and it’s statutes by clicking the button below.

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We currently have an email/members list of over 3,000 constituents in California and growing.  If you would like to be a part of this email list to stay updated with the Brown Act Advocate efforts, please send me your info in the form below.

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Did Kern County elected officials violate the Brown Act?

Did Kern County elected officials violate the Brown Act?

July 10, 2017 by Brown Act Advocate | Case#: 21-1-17

Brown Act Advocate Investigation

Did Kern County elected officials violate the Brown Act?

July 10, 2017 by Brown Act Advocate | Case#: 21-1-17

This morning I received a tip from a concerned citizen in Kern County in regards to the way elected officials in Kern are making decisions. This is a typical complaint when it comes to local issues with a large number of passionate constituents who feel that their elected officials aren’t making decisions based on the community’s best interest. However, this tip is a little more interesting than usual. The topic is PACE which stands for Property Assessed Clean Energy.

Apparently, PACE is a voluntary financing mechanism that homeowners can choose to finance energy efficient and water conservation upgrades to their home and pay off through the property tax bill as a line item (it’s pretty much a voluntary lien on the home).
Recently, PACE in Kern County and Bakersfield have faced major opposition by the local Realtors association. They claim it makes homes harder to sell and that PACE will cause a sub-prime crisis so they want to kill PACE to prevent such a crisis.

This is where something started to stink…

After educating myself a little on PACE, I proceeded to read what was submitted to me. It was a forwarded email that was submitted to Kern County for a Public Records Request which stated one of it’s main concerns was, of course, evidence of a major Brown Act violation.

I was amazed on how clear the possible Brown Act violation presented itself in this document.

So even though the issues have been brought up in the past couple of months in a public forum, the local association of Realtors apparently has been working up a “backroom deal” with some of the Kern County board of supervisors since late 2016.
According to a grant application that was submitted by the Bakersfield Association of Realtors to the National Association of Realtors for $25,000 was meant for “political cover” and were guaranteed a win, with electeds “willing to lead the charge” via conversations they had with Elected officials. This application was submitted in December of 2016.

This ladies and gentlemen strongly points to Kern County elected officials making a “backroom deal” with the Bakersfield Association of Realtors backed by deep-pocketed special-interest groups on the national level.

This brings up so many questions:

• Which elected officials were “willing to lead the charge” against PACE?
• Why would elected officials offer to “commit the necessary votes” before a single public hearing could be held?
• What, if any, quid pro quos were offered?
• And last but not least, were there any violations of the brown act?

Below is the full grant application from Bakersfield association of realtors to “Remove PACE”. It’s a VERY interesting read. As you read, you will find a few elements that are suspect as the timelines do not add up.

Bakersfield Association of Realtors Grant Application

Please let the document load.  Thanks for your patience.

Bakersfield Association of Realtors Grant Application

Please click on the button below to see the grant application.

As always, review the content and you decide what you would like to believe.

Do you have any additional info on this issue, please go to my contact page and send me a message!

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Brown Act Advocate re-brand and new website!

Dear Brown Act Advocate readers, thanks for being patient while we developed a new site for this important cause.  The good news is that the re-brand and site re-design has been completed.  Please make sure to update your links to this site as the old blogger site has been deleted.

Launching this new site is a milestone in itself.  Operating off of no funding, I took advantage of a few volunteers to help me build this new site.  All volunteers came from our members list.  I would like to thank Kevin H. from Eureka, CA as well as Melissa R. from San Jose, CA as they were awesome enough to provide their services to get this project completed.  If you guys like their work, please send me an email and i will be more than happy to provide their info to you (members only, of course).

I’m thinking about uploading my historical posts from my blogger to here but I have not made a decision on it yet.  A lot of it are past investigations and/or news that are no longer relevant to 2017.  I feel like maybe starting on a new slate would be good.  Let me know what you think.  Will my historical posts provide value to the general public (even closed cases)?

If you guys have any recommendations on additional features to add on to this site, send me an email.  Greatly appreciated everyone!

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Allegations of Brown Act violations plague relationship between Alpine Planning Group and Lou Russo

Allegations of Brown Act violations plague relationship between Alpine Planning Group and Lou Russo

June 30, 2017 by Miriam Raftery via eastcountymagazine.org

Allegations of Brown Act violations plague relationship between Alpine Planning Group and Lou Russo

June 30, 2017 by Miriam Raftery via eastcountymagazine.org

Updated with responses from planning group members Russo and Martinez.

June 30, 2017 (Alpine) – The Alpine Community Planning Group (ACPG) voted at its meeting last week to censure member Lou Russo for violation of the Group’s code of ethics. The vote was unanimous with the exception of Russo.

That code requires members to “conduct themselves in a manner both civil and professional, and to uphold the highest ethical and moral principals” including treating “fellow members with honesty and respect.” Members also acknowledge a duty to provide “honest dissemination of information” and to not “violate the privacy and confidentiality of information entrusted to them.”

Fellow ACPG member George Barnett says Russo has repeatedly sent emails address to him on matters of concern to the planning group, also sending blind copies to media and various other officials ranging from Supervisor Dianne Jacob to the District Attorney to other members of the ACPG. The latter has resulted in “enticing ACPG members into an ill-advised, and likely illegal, email chain of discussion—an activity of the Group potentially discussing public matters outside the realm of openness and transparency—something forbidden by the Brown Act.”

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City of Elk Grove slapped with citizen-led lawsuit alleging “backroom deals”

City of Elk Grove slapped with citizen-led lawsuit alleging “backroom deals”

June 21, 2017 by Lance Armstrong via egcitizen.com

City of Elk Grove slapped with citizen-led lawsuit alleging “backroom deals”

June 30, 2017 by Lance Armstrong via egcitizen.com

“Several local citizens on June 20 filed a lawsuit against the city of Elk Grove, alleging that city leaders conducted “backroom deals” and are withholding records on the proposed $400 million Wilton Rancheria tribal casino-resort at Highway 99 and Kammerer Road.

The plaintiffs are listed as Patty Johnson, Joe Teixeira, Omar Ahmed, Jr., Xin Guo and Carolyn Soares. The latter is the wife of former Elk Grove mayor and City Council member Rick Soares.”

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City of Inglewood and Clippers navigate through allegations of “backroom dealings” in regards to new arena

City of Inglewood and Clippers navigate through allegations of “backroom dealings” in regards to new arena

June 15, 2017 by Nathan Fenno via latimes.com

City of Inglewood and Clippers navigate through allegations of “backroom dealings” in regards to new arena

June 15, 2017 by Nathan Fenno via latimes.com

“Minutes after Inglewood’s City Council unanimously approved an exclusive negotiating agreement with a Clippers-controlled company on Thursday to explore building an arena, a statement issued on behalf of the Forum assailed the deal as the product of “backroom dealing.”

The terse two paragraphs raised the first complication for a proposed project that is far from a sure thing.”

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Brown Act violation allegation dismissed by City of Morro Bay

Brown Act violation allegation dismissed by City of Morro Bay

June 15, 2017 by Karen Garcia via newtimesslo.com

Brown Act violation allegation dismissed by City of Morro Bay

June 15, 2017 by Karen Garcia via newtimesslo.com

“With a two-page letter—and as advised by legal council—the city of Morro Bay waved away accusations of a Brown Act violation regarding its water reclamation facility.

Local group Citizens for Affordable Living alleged that the City Council violated the Brown Act, which governs public meeting laws, by making a decision about the much-debated wastewater treatment facility without posting public notice in the meeting agenda.”

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D.A.’s office says Burbank Hospitality Association violated Brown Act

D.A.’s office says Burbank Hospitality Association violated Brown Act

June 6, 2017 by Anthony Clark Carpio via latimes.com

D.A.’s office says Burbank Hospitality Association violated Brown Act

June 6, 2017 by Anthony Clark Carpio via latimes.com

“The Los Angeles County district attorney’s office determined last week that the Burbank Hospitality Assn. violated the Brown Act back in September when the organization decided to donate money to the Committee for Yes on Measure B without properly placing the request on its agenda.

According to a letter written by Bjorn Dodd, deputy district attorney, dated May 30, which was sent to Burbank resident David Spell, the district attorney’s office agreed with one of Spell’s complaints, which alleged the Burbank Hospitality Assn., commonly known as Visit Burbank, had inappropriately discussed and given $50,000 to the Committee of Yes on Measure B without placing the issue on the agenda.”

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