City Manager Email Suggests Brown Act Violation

A May 15, 2013 email that appears to have come from City Manager Shauna Clark (complete below) suggests a Brown Act (Open Meeting Law) violation.

The Brown Act requires decisions of the City Council to be done in public, with limited exceptions for litigation, real estate and personnel matters, in order for the public to have input in the decision, and the deliberations and vote of the Council to be done in public.

In September 2012, the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Fraud and Corruption Department sent a letter to the City regarding a July 2012 Brown Act violation stating,
“if similar conduct occurs in the future, we will not hesitate to convene a grand jury.”

At a September 2012 public interview, one of the City's newest Council members stated, "I hate the Brown Act."

The email to the City Manger's "Friends" about a new section of the City website, starts off, "The City Council has authorized staff ....", however there was no agendized item on the subject of the City website or responses to issues on any regular or special City Council agenda.

The Public had no opportunity to offer comment on whether limited City funds should be used in the proposed manner.

The City regularly claims it is understaffed and underfunded, and does not have time to fulfill requests for public records or funds to repair roads.

Extensive City staff time appears to have been expended creating documents and editing video used on the new section of the website, which appears designed to "spin" public perception in a manner favorable to the City.

On the new site, the City response to a third party audit of City finances, which found irregularities and made charges of forgery and embezzlement, explains the irregularities instead as resulting from "inept practices", "poor reporting", and improperly charging vendor payments to the City Payroll account.

A response by the City Attorney to a landmark, detailed, 6 page court ruling against the City that found the City failed to abide by its own codes, accepting and approving an incomplete planning project application, stated in part that "I believe the Court erred."

In the first release of edited video from the City's new 12+ camera audio/video surveillance system, the City is attempting to "shakedown" a citizen to pay to view public records, and a lack of courtesy is seen in how the requester is treated and then told to leave City Hall.
It is unclear why the City posted video in which a citizen is subject to apparent verbal abuse.

It is unknown at this time if the District Attorney's Office is investigating this latest incident or is convening a Grand Jury.

Complete text of City Manager email (contact information removed however email address and signature are consistent with past emails from the City Manager):



Sent: 5/15/2013 3:24:54 P.M. Pacific Daylight Time

Subj: The FACTS

Dear Friends:

The City Council has authorized staff to create a segment of the city’s website to respond to certain unfair and untruthful allegations about staff and the City. The segment is called “The FACTS” and the link is below.

We will not be responding to every allegation made by bloggers and gadflies, but will respond to those that accuse staff of a crime and/or involve matters of widespread public interest.

Please spread the word about the existence of this link.  Thank you. 

Shauna Clark

City of La Habra Heights

1245 Hacienda Road

La Habra Heights, CA 90631

562 694 6302 xXXX