According to a Sunday article in the Davis Enterprise, Helen Thomson has fired back calling Jim Provenza’s accusation “a crock” and saying it was “very irritating.”
Jim Provenza, who opposed the deal, argued that we must insure that the public is aware of the issues that are being considered and is notified with enough time to give them a chance to participate. In this case, he argues, the county has failed to do so.
According to the Enterprise, ” ‘Recessing from a regular meeting to a special meeting three days later complies with the Brown Act,’ Thomson said. ‘Moreover, reporters from local and regional newspapers were present at the meeting, and they knew what was going on,’ she said.”
County Counsel Robyn Drivon argued that the board had met the state’s legal standard, “I would not have allowed a meeting to go forward if I didn’t think the Brown Act had been embraced and complied with.”
And therein lies the rub, first of all, as Jim Provenza is one I probably trust most on an issue like this. He is a lawyer with the LA District Attorneys Office and has a history of forcing government agencies to comply with the Brown Act.
Moreover, I severely have to question Robyn Drivon’s judgment all the way around. Why would I trust that she would have forced compliance by the Board of Supervisors with the Brown Act when she has failed to force her own office to comply with the state’s Public Records Act?
While the two issues are not necessarily related, it calls into question the judgment and integrity of Ms. Drivon to allow her office to fall out of compliance with the PRA.
It was in June that I had to go before the Board of Supervisors to demand that the County Counsel’s office stop dragging its feet on public records requests in violation with the state law.
Robyn Drivon was at that meeting chaired by Matt Rexroad. Mr. Rexroad asked her if she would handle it, and she did. I got the records before the end of the meeting, which tells you that the office was simply dragging its feet.
Fine. Stuff happens that the director of an office is unaware of. But I would have expected her, after being publicly embarrassed not only by my request but by a Daily Democrat article later that same week, and by a judgment by a private attorney against the county, to clean things up.
So now, a September public records act request does not get addressed. I cannot even get a call back from people in the County Counsel’s office. I ask Matt Rexroad for help again, he does, and he cannot get them to call me back for over a week.
Finally I get a message from Robyn Drivon laying out a timeline for getting me the documents I requested. A few days pass and nothing. Then I get a call from Dan Cederborg on Friday, Christmas Eve, telling me that the person needed to get my request from September was on furlough and he would get me the records on Monday.
This did happen, although the records were not in a usable format, so they will re-run the report. But this is only angered me more. Why? Because it took only a matter of a few minutes to run the report I needed to get the records, and they had dragged this out for several months.
It was not a difficult request. It was simply a matter of Mr. Cederborg calling up the IT guy to run a report. And that took a few months.
Why is this on Ms. Drivon? Because she knew back in June that this was a problem with her office and six months later the problem still exists. There are specific timelines for compliance with the Public Records Act, and they run in the days, not the months.
Ms. Drivon’s office is more than two months late with their records request, six months after it was four or five months late. She knew about the problem. She did not fix the problem.
So when she tells the newspaper that she “would not have allowed a meeting to go forward if I didn’t think the Brown Act had been embraced and complied with” – I lack confidence that that is the case.
Different matter, but she allowed her office to be out of compliance with the Public Records Act, why would the Brown Act be much different?
If Jim Provenza believes the county was out of compliance, I am going to believe him. Jim Provenza is not one to create undue controversy.
The County Counsel’s Office better get its act together, because as soon as I get the paper trail together on this, I am filing a complaint with the County Grand Jury and perhaps the Attorney General’s Office as well. This is not acceptable. Those timelines written into the Public Recoords Act are there for a reason, they insure public access to government documents in a reasonable time frame.
I now have to question the County Counsel’s fitness for the job and wonder what other areas of the law that the county has violated.
—David M. Greenwald reporting