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    By Doug Partello

     

    I filed a Brown Act complaint with the VC District Attorney ….

    ———- Forwarded message ———
    From: Nasarenko, Erik <[email protected]>
    Date: Wed, May 5, 2021, 11:18 AM
    Subject: RE: Brown Act Violation
    To: Douglas Partello <[email protected]>

    Mr. Partello,

    Thank you for your email and for bringing the allegation to my attention.  I have taken the liberty of forwarding your concerns to Senior Deputy District Attorney Tony Wold, who oversees Brown Act complaints on behalf of the office.

    Regards,

    Erik

    Erik Nasarenko

    District Attorney

    County of Ventura

    800 South Victoria Avenue, Room 314

    Ventura, CA  93009

    (805) 654-2501

     

    From: Douglas Partello <[email protected]>
    Sent: Tuesday, May 4, 2021 11:02 PM
    To: Nasarenko, Erik <[email protected]>
    Subject: Brown Act Violation

    Dear Sir,

    Congratulations on your recent appointment as District Attorney.

    I am writing to ask your office to look into what I believe was a Brown Act violation at the 5/4/21 Oxnard City Council meeting.

    Here is a link to the video of the meeting:
    https://oxnardca.civicclerk.com/Web/Player.aspx?id=4223&key=-1&mod=-1&mk=-1&nov=0

    I understand that there have been a lot of personnel changes in the District Attorney’s office.  I’m not sure who currently handles Brown Act complaints, but they may not be aware that the City of Oxnard has received two Brown Act violation letters since July 2018.  For your ready reference, I’m attaching copies of those past letters.

    During the 5/4/21 city council meeting, there was a presentation and ensuing discussion by the staff and council that lasted close to 30 minutes, though this topic was not on the published agenda.  It happened during the section of the agenda for a report from the city manager (item G) when even the agenda says that the council can’t have an extended discussion.  There was a specific sub-topic listed there, item G.1, which was titled, “COVID­19 Update from Director of Emergency Services” which started at 00:42:38 of the video, and the city manager presented some brief COVID info.

    Then at time stamp 00:46:05 of the video, the city manager invited the city’s Police Chief to make a 15-minute presentation about the police department.  It was titled “Police Department Update.”  There were orthogonal references to COVID during this presentation, but that was certainly not its main topic.  It was just about police department operations.

    During COVID-19, the city council has not been having in-person meetings, so members of the public have to sign up online before 2 p.m. on the day of the meeting in order to make public comments during the meeting.  No member of the public could possibly have signed up to comment on it because it wasn’t known that the presentation would happen until the meeting was underway.

    I believe this was a Brown Act violation.  Besides that, I believe it violates two Oxnard ordinances.  The city’s Sunshine Ordinance can be found here:
    https://codelibrary.amlegal.com/codes/oxnard/latest/oxnard_ca/0-0-0-55049

    Section 2-224 requires that not only the agenda be posted 12 days prior to a regular meeting, but paragraph (E) also requires that, “All supporting documents regarding an agenda item must be included in the agenda packet.”  No report or presentation materials for this item were posted in advance for the public.  Here is a link to the full agenda packet:

    https://civicclerk.blob.core.windows.net/stream/OXNARDCA/d17ba5896d.pdf?sv=2015-12-11&sr=b&sig=JtUAw6jGoMhngN7kYncFvbKmpT3qrckpTH6oseomlEk%3D&st=2021-05-05T01%3A34%3A13Z&se=2022-05-05T01%3A39%3A13Z&sp=r&rscc=no-cache&rsct=application%2Fpdf

    Finally, I believe this violates the Oxnard Open Meetings Act, which was adopted as Measure M by Oxnard voters in the November 2020 election.  The city has not yet updated its online copy of city ordinances to include this measure, but you can confirm this with the county’s election division.  Or you can look in the agenda packet from the 12/15/20 council meeting when the council certified the election results and adopted the enacting Ordinance 2992, and the text of the measure is in that packet.

    One of its provisions is:

    SEC. 2-1.4. STAFF PRESENTATIONS IN ADVANCE OF MEETINGS.

    To provide the fullest opportunity for public input on all matters coming before the city’s legislative bodies, staff presentations for each agenda item shall be videotaped in advance, and then posted on the city’s website and made available for viewing on city premises at the time of the posting of the agenda for the meeting. The primary role of staff at meetings is to answer questions posed by the legislative body, not the reenactment of pre-recorded presentations.

    Other staff presentations have been posted online in advance of meetings, in the city’s YouTube account, since January 2021 with each council agenda containing links to the relevant pre-recorded presentations.  Yet THIS staff presentation was not pre-recorded, and it was given during the meeting.

    Please review this situation for legal compliance.  Thank you.

    Douglas D. Partello

    The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official position of Citizens Journal

    Douglas Partello is a homeless advocate, community activist, retired neonatal respiratory therapist, Executive Director of Nicaraguan Children’s Fund.


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    Ray Blattel
    Ray Blattel
    3 years ago

    Doug, I think you are correct. I remember that meeting as I was dialed into the meeting via telephone. I also remember the presentation by the Police Chief. At the time, it did not dawn on my that this was a potential violation of the Brown Act. However, you hit the nail on the head. Good catch.

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