Thursday, October 28, 2021

Rob Berry alleges Chico Council violated the Brown Act

Chico – Local attorney Rob Berry has worked with Chico City Council with a break and a restraining order claiming that the council violated Brown law on numerous occasions.

According to documents filed Wednesday, Berry complained to the City Council that it was not on a previously published program without notice, holding private discussions for legal advice, working on the public interest as a collective outside litigation law, and informing the public about steps taken in closed session. Failed.

Examples of berries include:

  • The one-minute order was passed at the April council meeting on the BMX site.
  • Closed session on June 8 during a special meeting before the public session.
  • City manager Mark Orme made a July 2 announcement that plans for the airport were launched during the June 8 closed session.
  • “No reportable action was taken; instructions were given,” said City Clerk Debbie Preson after a closed session of Warren vs. Chico in Sept. September.
  • When Councilor Shawn Morgan appeared on the radio on Sept. 10, he said the airport would be closed and resources would be transferred to Komanche Creek.
  • On 13 September an announcement was made that the airport site would be closed.

Berry alleges that the actions taken by the City Council violate the Brown Act, which states that local government-related businesses must be open and conducted in public (except in certain circumstances).

Berry’s break and break noted that the issues the city council discussed in closed session were the city-facing lawsuit in the Warren v. Chico case, which began April 11.

Berry said Thursday that he believes the city council continues to violate the Brown Act, especially without informing the public of the steps taken in the wake of his ongoing lawsuit.

“It’s pretty clear about the Brown Act (existing lawsuit),” Rob Berry said. “The council may ask their city attorney for advice or advice on an existing lawsuit but discussion does not mean that you can talk about anything and of course you are not allowed to take action. If you take action, you must report that you have taken an action. ”

Berry said the steps taken by the council need to stop at one point. He gave the example that the council could go into closed session and discuss ongoing cases with the City Attorney under Brown Act.

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The council’s decision to open an airport shelter as a way to appease the court is also within the law, Berry said.

“But this is the end of the exceptional negotiations that were approved in the total session,” Berry said. “What needs to happen next is that the council needs to put the airport project on the agenda and discuss them in the usual way that you are very familiar with.”

Berry alleges that under the lawsuit, the city has begun to rely heavily on the work of city employees and city attorneys. Despite the councilors’ lack of knowledge of the law, Berry said he questioned whether the terms had been properly interpreted.

“None of the council members are attorneys and we shouldn’t expect them to be able to challenge, question and sort out the City Attorney’s opinion,” Berry said. “The city council is the people who are seeking legal advice that is being provided in a closed session that no one can question. I bet that perhaps the members of the council are just as confused as I am allowed to discuss in closed session, which should be discussed and conducted in public.

The city will have 30 days to agree or disagree with Berry’s letter. If the city agrees, it will need to create a letter of commitment detailing the City Council’s mistakes and how to avoid mistakes in the future. If the move was made, Berry said he would not be able to sue Brown regarding the law. However, Berry said a lawsuit by Chico Stewards for the park and waterway would be filed soon.

“In our complaint, we mention the fact that we have this kind of habit of working in secret and taking steps that are inappropriate for a closed session,” Berry said. “There are some big decisions that Chico faces and there are multiple options.”

Berry said the proposal filed soon was called intervention. If approved, Berry and Chico Stewards for Parks and Waterways will become “plaintiff interveners” in the Warren v. Chico case.

City manager Mark Orm was asked for comment but did not respond within the time limit.

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