A couple of people have stated the March 6 City of Oakley Strategic Planning Meeting was a violation of the Brown Act when it clearly wasn’t. Now thanks to political activism at its worst, the city had to postpone its strategy session until a later date.
I was one of three guests to attend the meeting yesterday which included City Staff, the Mayor, the Council and Department heads—plus fire and police. Everyone was in the room and ready to get down to business when Mayor Romick announced the meeting had been cancelled due to a accusation of a Brown Act Violation.
The explanation given was that an email had been sent to Daniel Borenstein at the Contra Costa Times by a political activist (political activist is my words, not the Mayors) with an accusation this meeting would be a potential Brown Act Violation. If the meeting occurred, it would be reported as such. The city proceeded to reschedule rather than to take the bad press—smart move!
Simply put, people apparently complained that the City did not send out its “email alert” for this meeting in advance like it typically does on Fridays before a City Council meeting—again, not a violation of the Brown Act, but rather a courtesy performed by City Staff.
City Manager Bryan Montgomery was quoted in the Contra Costa Times this morning stating, “We technically could have held the meeting, but we didn’t want it to give the impression that anything was being done in secret,” Montgomery said. “It was an innocent mistake.”
Mr. Montgomery is absolutely correct in his statement.
The City had nothing to hide because it was a work session and there was no decisions being made at this meeting. Unfortunately, this threat was unwarranted and it’s just a case of people trying to create news rather than reporting it—or people being lazy not paying attention to a calendar. The truth is that this meeting had been posted on the City website for quite some time while it was also announced at the last City Council Meeting.
The city further explained itself about 3-hours after the City was supposed to have its meeting; the City posted the following message on its Facebook Page
City of Oakley: While today’s scheduled strategic planning meeting was on the City’s website and marquee and was posted in three public places pursuant to State law, it was decided that postponing the meeting for a date on which it could be further publicized is consistent with the City’s values and in the interest of public engagement. Please stay tuned for more information to come about a community-wide strategic planning event that is being planned.
This is even more proof the City followed the law. While it was on the website, I had no idea it was posted on the marquee which means it was posted in at least two places ahead of time. The City and its staff went beyond what it was required to do.
Could it have done more? Sure! But not sending out an email is an honest mistake and its not like someone will be fired for it. Unfortunately thanks to this certain activist—some may argue he is a local terrorist—the papers would have spun it in a negative light and the city would be stuck in a losing situation trying to defend itself.
The sad thing about this threat was it was done as nothing more than an anti-government statement set out to embarrass people. It was done to make city staff and the council look bad. I firmly believe this local activist was out for blood, not to look out for the city’s interest to improve it. At the end of the day, it was just blown way out of proportion.
Should this individual decide to run for council (again), this is yet another strike against this person as to why they are unfit to serve the community.
For the “activists” and his team of misfits who believes they scored a victory yesterday in postponing this meeting, the City should be sending you a bill for wasting everyone’s time. Do these people realize how hard it is to set up a meeting with 20-plus people? The logistics of putting that many people into a meeting is difficult no matter the size of the city.
Now before I am called a hypocrite for what I wrote yesterday, I realize I complained about the lack of promotion for this meeting, but that is where my beef ends. A Brown Act Violation is a completely different accusation and it’s a non-argument from my perspective. What I wrote yesterday was the fact this meeting was poorly promoted and people may not have known about it that might have shown an interest.
Yes, I would have liked to see the City do a better job at outreach so more people could attend but the accusation of Brown Act Violation is preposterous!
If it would have been a Brown Action Violation, I would have said it was a violation. With that said, this meeting and actions leading up to it did not meet the criteria. I would urge people to take a step backwards for a minute and realize there is a big difference from lack of promotion and a Brown Act Violation
The city chose caution as opposed to potential backlash in this political environment and no one should fault them for that, however, it’s sad when the newspapers and community rabble rousers work together to create the news and choose to waste taxpayer money.
The truth is, yes the city did a poor job at promoting the meeting, but if these local activists/terrorist (whatever you want to call them) had enough time to contact the newspapers then they had enough time to get down to the meeting and observe. This was just a case of being rude and out for blood for no other reason than personal entertainment.
The positive is the City can now shut these people up and put on a much larger community-wide strategic planning meeting and “wow” the community. Ultimately, the City and the community win in the end, not the activist.