Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Encouraging Controversy and Eroding Trust? - Previous Council's Email "Discussions"

ww-navy-bugle-horn-blower

Whistle blowing or being one of the gang?
Since it's my intention to lead a change in the way we've been governing here, creating more faith, respect and pride in Trinidad's government, do I really have a choice?



Before assuming this office, I was copied on several emails. I've been struggling with what to do about two email "discussions" - Search Warrant Served on Edwards Street for Marijuana Cultivation, and Construction Site. Struggling, because it may hurt some people's feelings to see them posted. I don't mind calling attention to behavior that needs to change, but I don't like being the "bad guy" here. My intention is to help, not hurt. This is a lot of information, and I hope, my l o n g e s t blog posting ever (lol). You may need a pot of coffee for this one.

I take issue with two major themes here - openness and appearance. First, I'll share how I decided to post these email discussions. Second, I'll post them. In "What Now? - Present Appearance", I'll address how to change this unnecessary and controversial emailing behavior right now. I'll do that by relating what makes me uncomfortable, how I have addressed it personally, and how I will lead us away from it. Then in "What Should We Do? - Future Thinking", I'll talk about ideas which may get us thinking, and lead to ways of fixing any broken trust or removing any misperceptions some residents may have.


DECIDING TO POST - OPENNESS

Asking if I should post these discussions, I'm answered with suggestions like keep the peace so we don't lose focus and momentum, don't give Trinidad another black-eye, don't burn your bridges, and such. While thought provoking, these reasons haven't been compelling enough. As far as getting things done goes, if the means to get it done are unfair, the ends will not bear the full honor and respect that they deserve, no matter how proud we are of achieving them, or how fast they are achieved. Examining a black-eye doesn't cause it. People are ultimately responsible for their words and actions - whether or not they are held accountable for them. I like the burning bridges metaphor, but only if the new bridges are built stronger, safer, and with recycled materials and proper permits.

I'm confident I now have to blow the horn a little louder, and post the two discussions. Before I do, here are some resonating excerpts from sources that influenced my decision.
  • Comply with both the letter and the spirit of the laws; Be independent, impartial and fair in their judgements and actions; Use their public office for the public good, not for personal gain; and conduct public deliberations and process openly
    from Preamble, Trinidad Code of Ethics

  • "Deliberations be conducted openly; The people, in delegating authority, do not give their public servants the right to decide what is good for the people to know and what is not good for them to know; Writings of public officials and agencies shall be open to public scrutiny
    from Open & Public IV: Guide to the Ralph M. Brown Act

  • "So, it is up to each of us to decide, to chose what is more important-Upheld [Upholding] the principles of fair[ness] and justice or making everybody happy and keeping peace in the community."
    Chi Wei, from email B10
These emails are perhaps technically open to the public, but you have to know about them, to request to see them. They are not easily accessible nor easily visible. They also aren't being archived properly to insure public access. Email lists and the resulting serial discussion that develops by using "reply all" may create a dangerous step towards developing a collective concurrence.

EMAIL POSTINGS - PAST

The email discussions are split into two series A and B.
I didn't change or correct any grammar or spelling, editing/my embedded comments indicated by [ ]
  • The First Series A 1-8
    Re: Search Warrant Served on Edwards Street for Marijuana Cultivation
    From Nov 25, 2008 [at about 4:20pm lol] to November 26, 2008

    • A1) Dear Steve and Council,

      I do not have Council Member Mike Morgan's email address so if this email could be forwarded to him I would appreciate it.
      [rest seems confidential ...]
      Chief Thrailkill

    • A2) Once again, you are amazing.

      I am repeatedly stunned at the brazen behavior of growers. If this is going on on "mainstreet", just imagine what the country roads hold.

      Would it be a good idea to give a full report at the next council meeting to explain what the rules are here in Trinidad?

      I leave this to your best judgement.

      julie

    • A3) Hi all,

      I would like to write a letter to the McKinleyville Press, with the following information:

      Number of grow houses busted in the City during the last 12 months.

      Percent of total rental units that represents. (Gabe helped me do a housing survey a while back so we know the approximate number.)

      What was found in the houses: # plants, weapons/cash/any other drugs.

      Condition of grow house: how many were damaged?

      Movement of drug cartels and the Mexican Mafia into the marijuana industry in Humboldt County.

      How people can spot a grow house (shades pulled, etc.) & recommend they contact police.

      Conclusion of letter: WAKE UP, TRINIDAD!!! We (Trinidad) are likely to be taken over as marijuana central if we don't have our own police, due to our distance from the sheriff's substation. Keep your eyes peeled, and fund your local police department, if you want to keep your community.

      Is this letter a good idea? I'm often unsure what I can say or do as a council member [I recommend that when you are unsure, ask Staff, not your Council buddies-MM]. I'd also have to get some info from Ken.

      Kathy

    • A4) Since you asked, my first instinct is to leave this to the Chief. It is his bailiwick. [Yes, yes, yes - just tell Staff -MM]

      But you are an independent person and can write anytime/anything you want. There is no Council rule to limit you.
      You can speak your own beliefs. You just cannot say you represent the Council or the City, but I think you know that.

      In any case, I think #5 is inflamatory. Unless Ken has given you real evidence that the Mexican Mafia is clearly involved, this will cause mail to be sent in saying you are racist or worse. The other items on the list are factual and educational and seem appropriate.

      Thanks for asking what we think [no, no, no! Don't encourage this behavior, "asking what we think", on issues which are likely to come before the Council].

      julie

    • A5) Thanks, Julie, As usual, two or more heads are better than one [2, but not all 5 of the Council + Staff!].

      #5 is probably inaccurate as well as inflammatory. Mexican nationals were arrested at Humboldt grows, but on forest land, not houses.

      I will probably just leave it alone. I do, however, have an urge to shake the citizenry and say, " WAKE UP! Notice what is happening around you!" I am worried about our little town. Should we be doing anything to educate residents? If so, what?

      Kathy

    • A6) Yes. I think if Ken gives a full-on report just as you outlined, citizens will begin to get the message. Then we/you can make statements like you suggest. Those statements will be quoted.

      julie

    • A7) I would like for Ken to make a report to the Council detailing all the pot grow busts that have occurred in Trinidad during the past year. I am not sure how much contact he or anyone else has had with the guilty parties, but it would be interesting to know why they thought Trinidad would be a good location for a pot grow house. I would think the media would print this information in the local papers--maybe that would be a better or alternative way to get the information out rather than a letter to the papers. Obviously some people in town are seeing that something is not right at these houses. Ken has to be getting his information from someplace. My compliments to those citizens who have reported such suspicions.

      Stan

    • A8) A report to the Council from Ken sounds like a good idea, but we need to make sure it gets into the papers. Jessie Faulkner isn't paid to come to meetings any more [she is paid, but she told me that staffing allows them to "only attend meetings that cover particularly important or controversial issues. The decision as to which meetings to cover is a reached through conversations with editors". -MM].

      I suspect Trinidad isn't any worse than the rest of Humboldt. My realtor says grow houses are all over, including fancy neighborhoods, and that in most areas aren't a priority for enforcement.

      The difference is that we are small. We don't have enough housing stock to accommodate agri-business instead of people. And we can keep an eye on our few houses. The growers can always go elsewhere in the County.

      [from Kathy]

    A8 is the last one in this series
  • . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .



  • The Second Series B 1-12[ Oops I found another 5, so it's now B-15! (Yes, 15! And that's -1 of Paul's 2 emails which seemed too confidential). I missed the extra 5 the first time 'round and inserted/appended them. These guys were busy over Thanksgiving -MM]
    Re: Construction Site
    From Nov 22, 2008 to November 26, 2008


    • B1) Hi all,
      Have you all observed the construction taking place on the Saunders' property, behind the horse pasture & next to the Cemetery? A steamroller was tamping down a large gravel pad yesterday.

      Dennis (who frequently works for Glenn) says that Glenn's son will "operate his business out of there." Rumor has it that the business is construction and that he plans to store equipment on the site.

      Gabe says that Steve is aware of the project which apparently is being done without permits. I invite you all to look at the site. It is clearly visible from Main St.

      Kathy

    • B2) Kathy,

      This should be stopped immediately IF it is being constructed without permits. It is called a "stop work order" and is not uncommon. I believe Reinman was a recent recipient. Everyone must be treated equally. If there are no permits in place (ie. building, grading, other?), this could be a violation of the law. Our staff, City Building inspector, engineer or manager must have the authority. I hope City staff is already on this. A permit process for something of this nature should not be routine, We should all have been informed.

      Do you know if staff is involved?

      julie

    • B3) Hi all,

      Gabe reported that Steve said there should probably have been a permit for the grading. That's all I know.

      The project site is visible from a larger area than I realized. As you drive down Trinity toward Main, you look DIRECTLY at the site.

      I am directly affected by this project which will most likely spoil my view and depress my property values. Therefore, I hesitate to do anything as an official [except contact all your buddies on the Council about a matter which you just described as a conflict-of-interest for yourself?! -MM].

      IF you are concerned about this projects legal status or its effect on Trinidad, please ask questions; don't wait for me. YOU would be a more neutral advocate.

      Kathy

    • B4) Unfortunately, it is Saturday. "Should probably have a permit" is too unclear. I am not a planner, but know that these issues are very serious in other towns and in the county. If we have any ordinances or zoning issues that fit with this activity, the City has to take action. I can only assume that since we have heard nothing, that Saunders has a permit or has found out that he does not need one. If staff knows a permit is required, then I hope that has been communicated and that all work is stopped.

      We all live in this small neighborhood. This is not about your view. It is about community values. If there are no ordinances preventing his work, than we are sadder for it. In any case it sounds sticky. That does not mean we have to avoid the situation.

      julie

    • B5) It's me again. [Paul sent a previous email that seemed more "confidential" to me, at the time, because he instructed direction to the Council. He did not include me in the Cc. I believe the other Council Members "released" this confidentiality to me by Cc:ing me, but I didn't include it anyway -MM]

      [This 2nd email didn't seem too "confidential" at the time, but in retrospect, and in light of my new understanding of confidentiality with Paul, maybe I shouldn't have included it either -MM] What are we all doing monitoring our e-mail on a Saturday afternoon? Perhaps we should form a group therapy group.

      The best you can do right now is
      [ rest too confidential ...]

      Paul

    • B6) It seems to me we should consult with our planner about this as well. I am forwarding this correspondence to Mike Morgan as I feel he should be in the loop [Thanks a lot Stan. Though I do think and hope your intentions were to include me as a future member of the Council, the burden of being involved in this questionable emailing was heavy for me -MM].

      Stan

    • B7) From Kathy: One thing that may have delayed any City action is that there is frequently activity on the site. Horses are added and taken away; hay is brought; a temporary barn was added, then taken down. Not until I saw the steamroller did I realize that something bigger was going on.

      Thank you all for following up and Paul for suggesting a therapy group. Anyone who works here for very long needs one.

    • B8) Hello all:

      I am even worse...monitoring the email at 9:45 on Saturday night!

      We ALL saw something going on last week, I recall talking about it briefly with one of the Council members on Wednesday or Thursday. I should have contacted Glenn directly, but he was out-of-town for medical reasons. I saw him at the Joint Library/Museum Meeting late Thursday afternoon but did not get a chance to talk with him. Trever left town Friday and will not be back until December 1. I know that Gabe had several conversations about it, but it all sounded like rumor or speculation. Certainly the Saunders were not trying to "hide" anything, considering how visible this site is.

      It was clear that Glenn is doing more this time than just levelling the site for loading/unloading horses. Depending on what plans he has beyond the level gravel area, I suspect at the minimum a grading permit should have been required. In addition, would this be the appropriate time to bring up the wood-cutting lot behind the market, which I have heard is a much larger public nuisance and has been overlooked for MANY years?

      I will talk with him on Monday or Tuesday and see what is going on.

      Once or twice a day I take the dog for walks, and I see many activites that should have some kind of permit. However, I do not hurry back to City Hall to see if John Doe or Mary Jones has a permit. For instance, the property owner who is replacing the septic system on Trinity Street SHOULD probably have had an encroachment permit for dumping dirt and then gravel in the street. Perhaps this "code enforcement" or "permit enforcement" should be a Council agenda discussion. Between myself and the other staff members, I suspect we could recognize some kind of violation on a weekly or even daily basis. I guess we just need to use good judgement as to what is and what is not important enough to pursue.

      Enjoy the rest of your weekend.

      Steve

    • B9) I am even WORSE-- It's Sunday morning! Anyway, I drove up to the cemetery yesterday to observe the "pad." The corner of the graveled area is no more that 30 feet from the cemetery boundary--It is definitely within 100 feet which I believe is the distance requiring a permit in our ordinance. Another interesting fact is that the underground varmits have already pushed up from below the fill and gravel and piled up soil onto the surface. Good for them!
      Regarding the pile of gravel on Trinity Street--not only did it take up parking space for the Eatery, it must have added runoff pollution into the Bay when it rained. The drain is at the end of the street. At a minimum they should have covered it with a tarp to prevent runoff.
      Stan

    • B9a [missed #1-insertion]
      Hi all,

      The new construction appears to be a worse nuisance than the wood yard.

      It is more visible. The wood yard affects View and Parker Creek Rd, the new pad affects Main and Trinity.

      It disturbed the ground. When the wood yard is removed, there will still be a green field; nothing will grow on the gravel pad.

      It is close to the cemetery, triggering special protections in the ordinance.

      It is NEW and occurred on "our watch;" it will be hard to enforce the ordinance if we ignore a large, very visible, current violation.

      It will be difficult to regulate future uses. It is essentially a parking lot subject to a variety of potential uses. The wood lot IS what it IS; it won't change.

      Residents buy wood from the wood lot; it is of some use to the town.

      The wood yard creates noise impacts; the pad may or may not, depending on the use. If construction equipment leaves in the AM & is returned in the PM, there may well be noise impacts.

      The Marquettes hate the wood lot, and so would I. In response to Steve's question, I'm not sure if we should go after it or not.

      It might be interesting to survey the immediate neighbors. In the past, there was an effort to get rid of the billboards on the bluff. Residents turned out to SAVE the billboards! You never know what will make people circle the wagons!

      Kathy

    • B9b [missed #2-insertion]

      Good homework, Kathy...and on a Sunday.

      All citizens need to be treated the same under "our watch". I feel the wood lot is a completely different situation, at least at the moment. The gravel pad is current and clearly not appropriate. Seems like a job for the building inspector. Isn't that his job? to make sure that we all build within the codes and ordinances?

      julie

    • B10) It took me a little bit longer to respond because I am older and slower. But here I am.

      I think if a government does not have the will or means to enforce its laws and ordinance, there is not much a government.
      A city like ours, with limited means and unclear decision making authority, the ability to govern is constantly tested and challenged. Lack of proper response to these challenges diminishes further the ability of the CIty to enforce laws in the future and the legitimacy of our government. When there is no law, the ones with more resources dominate and the ones with less suffer. This is un-equality and un-justice. We have seen this before and we are seeing it right now. It is the responsibility the government and those who are elected to run it to make things equal and fair. The ones with resources will think that there are victimized by the government and challenge it. They think government should ONLY serve the people, and particularly THEM.

      Do we have the will and means to enforce the City Ordinance? I think we are much butter equipped to do so. The capable city manager and city attorney and handle this and other cases with clear violations. The city's financial resource, although limited, still will be able to afford to defend the city's legal action.

      The real question is do we have the WILL? There will be complains (why the city did not enforce other violations?), even out cries, threats of legal actions, and at least making life unpleasant for us. So, it is up to each of us to decide, to chose what is more important--Upheld the principles of fair and justice or making everybody happy and keeping peace in the community. As far as I am concern, it is a no brainer.

      Chi-Wei

    • B11) You took longer, because you articulately pulled all the threads together. You stated, eloquently, exactly what I was saying in an abbreviated form. All citizens need to be treated equally regardless of money and perceived power.

      The council's role is to support our staff in their efforts to handle these situations [Bravo! - Julie is right here. Kathy should have contacted Steve FIRST and not a majority of her Council buddies by email -MM].

      julie

    • B12) Amen
      Stan

    • B13) On Nov 26, 2008, at 12:07 PM, Kathy Bhardwaj wrote:

      Thanks, Chi-Wei, for your clear statement of the issues involved. Gabe said he expects an earful when Glenn gets back from San Francisco, and I suppose we can all expect the same.

      This appears to be a provocation to test if there is still a two tier system of regulation in Trinidad. Steve/Trever will examine the ordinance to see if that is indeed the case. If it is, Glenn's serious medical issues will create sympathy for him and make the whole code enforcement thing even more difficult, but we still have to do it [In my opinion, this is completely over-the-top! I still hope Kathy apologizes for this unsympathetic thought process regarding Glen's private medical issues. It's my understanding she apologized for all this becoming public, but not for doing it in the first place. She could have called him directly and avoided all this email mess -MM].

    • B14)
      I was in Steve's office this morning when he was on the phone with Glenn regarding the pasture project. I will leave it up to Steve to relate the contents of that conversation with everybody. [I was in this meeting too. I questioned Stan about these emails. I heard him say that the previous Council attorney told them not to email like this. I wish they would have listened better, and kept me out of it -MM]

      Stan

    • B15)
      This is excellent staff work. Thank you so much! This is exactly the kind of staff response that is needed in a situation like this . . . professional, unemotional and simply the truth. [Again, I say Staff is who Kathy should have contacted FIRST - this would be a great procedure to avoid this mess in the future -MM]

      It should make it absolutely clear what the next steps are.

      Thanks again!!!!

      julie


      On Nov 26, 2008, at 1:26 PM, Trinidad City Manager wrote:




    B15 is the last one in this series
  • . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .



WHAT NOW? - PRESENT APPEARANCE


Leading by example, I'll show how we can both
avoid controversy and encourage trust


I doubt any Acts or Laws were intentionally or unintentionally violated. But legal or not, these kinds of communications can encourage controversy and can erode trust. They make me uncomfortable. Are these just a few cases of poor judgement showing a lack of experience, or perhaps a comfortable or perceived lack of accountability in the past? I don't know. I haven't requested any other past communications like these between Councilmembers themselves and Staff.

That being said, "the Brown Act is a floor and not a ceiling for conduct of public officials." We, as elected officials, need to be way above the floor and set higher standards for ourselves and each other. We are given the honorable responsibility of legislating our constituents and being their elected voice in their chair. This honor demands more respect. We need to be above the appearance of comfortable, business-like meetings, whether it's in public at the coffee-house, or through group email lists discussions. Discussing or deliberating upon any item that is within the subject matter jurisdiction of our Council, whether or not any action is taken, is a precarious step in the wrong direction.

To avoid controversy, rebuild trust, and instill public confidence that we are independently, impartially making our decisions at meetings, we should create new policies which go beyond the minimum requirements of law. These should address communications between the Councilmembers and between the Council and Staff. They should provide for fully open, transparent and publicly accessible and archived communications. The night I was sworn in, I asked for a future discussion of this, and it's on our next Agenda. Let's make policies that do away with even an appearance of moving towards a collective deliberation process in group email discussions like these. Let's work towards creating more faith in our process.


What can we do now?


I've been straight-forward with expressing my discomfort with both the method of these communications as well as the spirit and appropriateness of their content. I've posted about it, hoping people involved in the discussion would do something. I guess nothing is something, but it's not enough. I have implemented communication solutions for myself that I feel shield me from what I see as a less honorable, less trustworthy, way of approaching issues which are within our subject matter jurisdiction.

Regarding City communications, I've asked to be removed from any non-public lists and prefer to be on email lists which are not only accessible, but also easily visible to the public. Ones which get all information archived and not deleted. By default, I make all of my non-confidential communications with the Council and City Staff automatically public and easily retrievable, with no deleted communications. The emails stopped after I brought all this up, or rather they stopped coming to me.

Things like archiving can also be done by Councilmembers and Staff until we create policies.

WHAT SHOULD WE DO? - FUTURE THINKING


What can we do before the next Council meeting?


What else can we do as a Council? Our City Attorney, Paul, is on vacation, but I have about a dozen questions I'm waiting for him to respond to. They may help us with creating policies which will build confidence and trust.

We should independently come up with and solicit policy and operational ideas which may combat controversy, instill confidence, and rebuild trust, and then present them for discussion at our next meeting. We can independently continue working with our City Manager and tap into his experience and suggestions.

Clear, simple policies incorporating ideas like these may help us.
  • Communications. Councilmembers should ( or shall ) first communicate directly with the City Manager on perceived violations, positions they may be interested in, questions about conduct, etc. - not have email discussions with each other. The City Manager could then take action to contact Councilmembers, and by their recommendation, hold a special meeting or schedule it on our next Agenda. We have to watch for "hub and spoke" communications here, but that's easy to catch.

  • Appointments. Another might be that we have public discussions before we approve, appoint or elect people to committees, commissions, or office. We are kind of doing this already for Committees, and our Planning Commission, but we didn't for electing Mayor ( yes, I still have some hurt, but certainly not hard, feelings about not discussing it before nominations ).

  • Speaking of Mayors. I heard an idea that may help de-politicize our Weak Mayor position, assuming everyone agrees that our Mayor should strive to be apolitical as well as unbiased. It would certainly help remove the appearance of a power blocking monolith voting up there - if it looks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, and votes like a duck ... ( my attempt at some humor here ). The idea is this, we rotate the Mayor position between Councilmembers who want the experience and responsibility.

  • For Agenda Items. Staff should provide an ordinance being used, like the one directing us on appointing Planning Commissioners, with the Agenda item. Also stating how things were done traditionally may help. Seeing any suggestions Staff may have at that time about improving our ordinance based on their experience and any research or public input might also help. Having draft motions presented in our packs to approve legislation, possible amendments, and general information like Planning Staff provides in their packs may be another helpful idea.

  • Running Meetings. The Mayor has our elected responsibility for this. Some suggestions that work well for Trinidad could be put into a policy. It could include suggestions about our public discussion process for each of our Agenda items.

    An Example of a Process for Each Agenda Item

    • Staff will introduce the item with background.

    • Councilmembers will ask questions (only questions) and each Councilmember has 3 mins, but an unlimited number of turns after other Councilmembers.

    • Public may ask questions (only questions) and each has 3 mins, but a reasonable number of turns after others.

    • Public may comment and each has 3 mins, but a reasonable number of turns after others.

    • Council may comment

    • Motions, Seconds, Discussion, Amendments, Votes, etc.


    Council may interrupt to ask brief clairifying questions throughout the discussion process, but should not engage in debate with the audience.

  • Not sure where these would go, but I liked our Attorney's suggestion of straw polls. Seems they would help us move things along in the comment phase(?), when everyone is apparently in agreement. I need some education on this still.

  • Bet there is some kind of on-line, public, project tracking system that shows where we are on our list of Trinidad to-do's, what the next step is, and where we came from. That would probably help keep us on track, and it would help people keep us on track too. I'm using my Blog to organize myself, but I'd like to see some City solution that is both collaborative and efficient.

  • A friend suggested something that sounds great. He thinks a field trip of our Council to a County meeting and maybe to a Rio Dell, Fortuna, and/or a Blue Lake Council meeting would serve us well as we review our policies and procedures - refining but not reinventing the wheel. Sounds fun!




You know ... it's no fun being the bad guy or the odd man out. It's no fun blowing the horn if it hurts people's ears or feelings either.

Together, we can acknowledge room for improvement. We can apologize for hurt feelings. We can be more inclusive of differences of opinion and share power. We can build on and share our individual strengths. We can let our common devotion to Trinidad prompt us to honor not only this job, but also all the people we are up there for. Whether or not they agree with us. Whether or not they put us there with their votes.


Wish us luck at our next meeting.

7 comments:

  1. Mike Morgan City Council:

    I have just read the emails on the construction site which is series B1-12 from November 22nd. I believe that it is a serial meeting when more than two are discussing this situation and I'm sad that four of the council members have discussed at length this so called construction site. Kathy should have gone directly to Glenn and asked him what was going on in that area. As far as I know, putting gravel down on a piece of property does not require a permit. I believe that when Van Wycke was graveled, it did not have a permit. A lot of issue has been made over this by the email and it would have been simpler to call Glenn for the answer. In the emails, they talked about violations and here there is no talk about the violation that is going on over at the Wagon Road Trail and nothing is being done about that which is definitely a violation of Court Order and the Coastal Commissions Rules and Regulations. You are making a big issue about someone putting gravel on the ground and rolling it. The email from Chi-Wei says everybody should be treated equally and I agree with that. If you go after one you should go after all which this set of emails is not doing. I think that emailing to council people has a tendency to create a lack of trust. All these situations you have should brought out at a public council meeting instead of emailing.

    Glenn Saunders has done more for this city than anyone in this town. He has given land at his expense so we could have a library, a museum, and a park. He has given land to the cemetery. He has let people use his property for different events behind Saunders Market. Your email is irritating to him that noone had the common courtesy to come and talk to him. I am ashamed of the council for how they are acting over this so called construction site which is just a gravel pad for them to place a trailer, not a building, and no big equipment. It is called communication with the public if you have a problem instead of this stupid email.

    Thank You,
    James Cuthbertson

    ReplyDelete
  2. From Email:

    "Refreshing understanding- and brave defense of the Brown Act ..." -CR

    ReplyDelete
  3. From Email:

    "It really puts people off participating in Trinidad politics with this kind of shenanigans popping up all the time. You are a great guy and don't give up." -CB

    ReplyDelete
  4. This story is certainly getting alot of interest. So far, everyone I have heard from thinks you're on the money with this.

    ReplyDelete
  5. These sad and oft reoccuring violations of the Brown Act are unfortunately the way of small town politics. Good on you Mike for being uncomfortable with the way elected officials are used to doing business around here. Unfortunately you haven't really managed to stop the behavior, you are merely excluded from future e-mail shenanigans. It is just so ingrained in the Humboldtian mind to gossip and speculate as if that is the correct procedure...

    ReplyDelete
  6. Oh, I think he will stop it, at least in Trinidad, and other towns will also take note.

    It's not that the people involved are bad. They're often very good people, who are intending to do the right thing, and because of that, they are not careful about what they are doing, not mindful of the Brown Act and other rules that apply to them as elected officials. They don't conceive of the problem because they have no malicious intent. (Usually)

    They'll learn. It's a delicate dance, but our elected officials really do make a concerted effort to follow the rules. Every once in a while there are these reminders.

    Here are a few past examples: (From The Journal)
    WHY THE BROWN ACT MATTERS 1997 From the Publisher
    FOLLOWING BROWN ACT LAWSUIT Letter
    THE GRAND JURY REPORTS From the Publisher
    TWO-TIERED CIVIC RIGHTS Opinion
    COUNTY RESPONDS TO ALLEGATION From The Publisher
    Open meeting violations? 2003 In The News (Ferndale)

    Then there were allegations in Trinidad:
    rotten borough 2006

    ReplyDelete
  7. Bravo Mike.

    The public needs to know what is going on and email meetings are no exclusion. I have long thought that certain city councils in Humboldt cities are having secret meetings on legislative subject matter. It is refreshing to know that I am not just being paranoid and even more refreshing to know that someone in local government has the public's interests in mind regarding this issue.

    You are a champ. I hope that other local politicians who are hiding behind technology take note of what the public thinks about this activity.

    ReplyDelete

Thank you for taking time to read and respond to my Post. A quick sentence stating your opinion will be much appreciated - it's the reason I'm blogging, Mike