Monthly Archives: October 2016

The Cloak of Secrecy May Get Pierced

A follow up to a previous blog.


Access Denied

Case to be argued on Wednesday, December 7, 2016, at 9:00 a.m., at the Ronald Reagan State Office Building, 300 South Spring Street, Third Floor, North Tower, Los Angeles.
Case Number S218066
Petition for review after the Court of Appeal granted a petition for peremptory writ of mandate. This case presents the following issue: Are written communications pertaining to city business, including email and text messages, which (a) are sent or received by public officials and employees on their private electronic devices using their private accounts, (b) are not stored on city servers, and (c) are not directly accessible by the city, “public records” within the meaning of the California Public Records Act?

For those interested in hearing the live proceedings you can go to
Bottom of the page
Supreme Court Oral Argument
A link to the webcast will be posted approximately 15 minutes before call to order for the session.


The letter of the law versus the spirit of the law is an idiomatic antithesis. When one obeys the letter of the law but not the spirit, one is obeying the literal interpretation of the words (the “letter”) of the law, but not necessarily the intent of those who wrote the law.

Idiomaticusing, containing, or denoting expressions that are natural to a native speaker.

AntithesisDirect contrast; opposition.

Idiomatic Antithesis: What do you do when you have to follow the letter of the law, but you have wiggle room to interpret said law to maintain the integrity of your work?

Knowledge about the workings of city government just got a little easier for those citizens that have chosen not to signed up for e-mail blast from the city. (Less than 1,000 have)
Access to agendas for City Council, Planning Commission, Measure Z Oversight Committee and some subcommittees have been somewhat enhanced, although not entirely, by the city complying with the requirements of the Grand Jury.

A new bulletin board has been installed in the P.O. Box Lobby open from 4:00am – 10:00pm.

Newly installed before October 30, 2016

Newly installed before October 30, 2016

This is an improvement over the city notices being posted on a clipboard in the retail lobby which was only opened from 8:30am – 5:00pm.

The way it was

The way it was

(This leaves a 6 hour daily period where access is unavailable vs. the 15 and half hours previously, at this location)

The Wildomar Library has cleaned out all materials not related to city business from a new bulletin board in the entrance lobby.

The way the Grand Jury saw it

The way the Grand Jury saw it

What they would see today during business hours

What they would see today during business hours

This is not much of an improvement over the previous situation because this building is still inaccessible for 16 hours each weekday, 19 hours on Saturday and all day Sundays.

If you intend on driving over and peaking in the window, good luck

If you intend on driving over and peaking in the window, good luck

For a typical city meeting held on a Wednesday at 6:30pm notice is required to be posted 72 viewable hours prior, or no later than 5:30pm Sunday because Closed Sessions begin at 5:30pm and Public Comments are allowed.

Viewable hours are important enough for the California Attorney General’s Office to have issued a determination
In 78 Ops.Cal.Atty.Gen. 327, 331-332 (1995), this office concluded that the 72-hour notice requirement mandates local agencies to post their notices in locations which are accessible 24 hours a day for the 72 hours prior to the meeting. Accordingly, notices cannot be placed in buildings which are locked for some portion of the 72 hours immediately prior to the meeting.

In this opinion is this section of the “Brown Act”
Section 54954.2, subdivision (a) requires that the posting occur in a location that is “freely accessible” to members of the public. “Accessible” may commonly be defined as “capable of being reached . . . capable of being . . . seen . . . .” (Webster’s Third New Internat. Dict. (1971) p. 11.) “Freely” in this context may reasonably be defined as “without hindrance.” (Id., at p. 906.) Obviously, locked doors would provide a “hindrance” to the agenda being “seen” during the 72-hour period. If an agenda cannot be viewed where it is posted, the purpose of section 54954.2’s posting requirement would be frustrated.
Members of the public cannot be expected to have full opportunity to learn of agenda items of interest if the place where the agenda is posted is inaccessible to them during any portion of the required 72-hour period.
If the building in question is closed during the evening hours, the agenda may be posted on the outside of the building in a lighted display case if necessary.

For the Post Office access is unavailable for only 18 hours total vs the 46 hours previously. A vast improvement.

For the Library access remains pretty much the same as before, the library is closed on Sunday, not opening until noon on Monday which results in the first 18 and one half hours of no access. The library closes at 8:00 pm on Monday until 10:00am on Tuesday or 14 hours of no access. The library closes at 6:00pm on Tuesday until 10:00am on Wednesday or 16 hours of no access. This results in a total time of 23 ½ hours of access. (A shortage of 48 ½ hours)

For the Post Office posting would have to occur no later than 5:30 pm on Saturday

For the Library posting, to allow for 72 hours of accessible time, would have to occur no later than 11:30am the Saturday a week prior to the meeting. (For the City Council meeting that occurred on October 12th the posting would have had to gone up on October 1st.)