MONTEREY COUNTY, Calif. - Monterey County District Attorney Dean Fillipo said Monday he sent letters to each voting member of the Fort Ord Reuse Authority, or FORA, warning them against further violations of California's open meeting laws.
He says the group met during posted public meetings on November and December, they also met on November 13 unannounced to the public. He says the "[began] discussions to formulate a document which became known as the 'Guiding Principals in Implementing Policy Options Folowing the BRP [Base Reuse Plan] Reassessment.' The Discussions to modify and finalize the guidelines continued by e-mail through November and into December".
He says all of those discussions out of public view are in violation of the Brown Act, which requires agencied like FORA and its' committees to have both their discussions and actions in public so citizens of the state can monitor their public officials.
Because of the Brown Act, District Attorney Fillipo can file a civil suit to avoid any actions taken by a local agency in violation of the Brown Act. Case law says you must prove violation of open meeting laws as well as prejudice or harm resulting from the violation.
The District Attorney's Office says the Monterey County Board of Supervisors voted on February 5th of 2013 to rescind its prior approval of the guidelines. Because of that, there's no harm that justifies a lawsuit right now.
What District Attorney Fillipo used in this instance is a new tool, effective January 1st, meant to prevent repeated Brown Act violations.
The District Attorney's Office says it's often known as the "cease and desist letter," and it gives anyone inerested nine months from the date of the violation to demand the agency stop conductin the business in the illegal manner.
Until the agency in violation respons to the letter with an unconditional commitment not to continue the actions at hand, the complainant can pursue a lawsuit to stop those actions.
Wednesday, June 5 2013 5:40 PM EDT2013-06-05 21:40:27 GMT
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