Blogging Bayport Alameda

January 27, 2021

Speak to the OGC’s manager

Filed under: Alameda — Lauren Do @ 6:07 am

It looks like Trish Spencer’s appointee to the Open Government Commission is walking in the footsteps of her political mentor by creating drama around an issue and attempting to do something that is not within the purview of the OGC.

Thanks to OGC member Rasheed Shabazz to bringing our collective attention to this in a series of tweets:

Trish Spencer appointee Carmen Reid wants to Brown Act ad hoc committees:

The Sunshine Ordinance reads in that specific section:

d. “Policy body” shall mean the following and have the same meaning as “legislative body” is defined in Section 54952 of the California Government Code unless the definition in this subsection applies to a broader range of boards, commissions, committees or other bodies:

  1. The Alameda City Council;
  2. Any other board enumerated in the Charter of the City of Alameda;
  3. Any board, commission, committee, or other body created by ordinance or resolution of the City Council;
  4. Any committee or body, created by the initiative of a policy body as a whole;
  5. Any standing committee of a policy body irrespective of its composition.
  6. “Policy Body” shall not include an ad hoc committee or a committee which consists solely of employees of the City of Alameda, unless such committee was established by Charter or by ordinance or resolution of the City Council.

The need to define “created” is a weird one, perhaps she is attempting to ask for a difference if a vote is taken or if general consensus and direction is given.

It is, though, the second part of the request that is interesting in light of Rasheed Shabazz’s second tweet above. Removing an “ad hoc committee” from the exclusion seems to be the genesis of this particular ask from Carmen Reid. We’ve had ad hoc committees in the past but none of focused squarely on the subject of racism as we’ve seen from our two recent examples.

Whatever the intent of Trish Spencer’s OGC rep, this is not within the role and purpose of the OGC. Perhaps before reading the Sunshine Ordinance this commissioner should have read through the municipal code detailing what the Open Government Commission can and cannot do. Specifically:

There is hereby created a Commission which shall be known as the Open Government Commission, whose purpose shall be to advise the City Council on administration of the Sunshine Ordinance, and hear and decide complaints of violations of the Sunshine Ordinance.

It shall be the duty of the Open Government Commission to:

a. Hear and decide complaints by any person concerning alleged non-compliance with the Sunshine Ordinance;

b. Advise City Council on appropriate ways to implement the Sunshine Ordinance;

c. Develop goals to ensure practical and timely implementation of the Sunshine Ordinance;

d. Report in writing to the City Council at least once annually on any practical or policy problems encountered in the administration of the Sunshine Ordinance;

e. From time to time as the Commission sees fit, issue public reports evaluating compliance with the Sunshine Ordinance by the City or any Department, Office, or Official thereof.

f. Consider ways to informally resolve those complaints and make recommendations to the Council regarding such complaints;

g. The Commission shall approve by-laws specifying a general schedule for meetings, requirements for attendance by its members, and procedures and criteria for removing members for non-attendance as well as all enforcement petition and complaint procedures. The schedule shall provide for monthly meetings. A meeting shall be canceled if there is no matter pending.

h. The commission will meet at least semi-annually or as needed based on the receipt of an alleged complaint of violation of this ordinance. Members of the Commission shall serve without compensation. [emphasis added]

As you can see there is no where in the municipal code which indicates that the OCG is a legislative body empowered with making legislative changes aka changes to the municipal code. The other commissioners should refuse to entertain this overstepping of the OGC’s purpose. This commissioner will need to, instead, speak to the OGC’s manager if she wants to get this done.

22 Comments »

  1. Trying to be in a conspiratorial mood but struggling to see a dark plan here….How is this connected to Trish (other than the appointment) and how would she benefit?

    Here is an actual California politician in trouble (who is on his third appointed EDD Director) – Gov. Newsom:

    Adam Housley
    @adamhousley
    ·
    Jan 25
    Breaking: Covid relief fraud in California Potentially up to $30 Billion. EDD is looking to see if the fraud number is closer to 17% of the total money paid out. EDD doesn’t know the exact loss yet. This is a Mix of State, Federal, and Cares Act money. This is just insane.

    Ashley Zavala
    @ZavalaA
    ·
    Jan 25
    Governor Newsom, asked about the timing of his announcement to cancel stay at home order as the decision comes with a recall effort against him, he responds:

    “It’s complete utter nonsense so let’s dispense with that.”

    LOL

    Comment by Nowyouknow — January 27, 2021 @ 6:47 am

    • Go. Away.

      Comment by john doe — January 27, 2021 @ 12:23 pm

    • Is your last name Rodrigues?

      Comment by KnowYouNow — January 27, 2021 @ 1:09 pm

  2. I assume the OGC and the Committee member understand that they cannot pass or amend city ordinances, that being the exclusive domain of the City Council, or the voters by initiative, as set forth in the City Charter. That said, the Sunshine Ordinance appears to assign certain duties or roles to the OGC that would seem to fairly easily encompass making recommendations about the Ordinance itself:

    “d. Report in writing to the City Council at least once annually on any practical or policy problems encountered in the administration of the Sunshine Ordinance.”

    A “policy problem” might include a potential conflict between the Brown Act and the Sunshine Ordinance. In this case, the language quoted above from the Sunshine Ordinance might raise a such a question:

    d. “Policy body” shall mean the following and have the same meaning as “legislative body” is defined in Section 54952 of the California Government Code unless the definition in this subsection applies to a broader range of boards, commissions, committees or other bodies:

    “Policy Body” shall not include an ad hoc committee or a committee which consists solely of employees of the City of Alameda, unless such committee was established by Charter or by ordinance or resolution of the City Council.”

    The definition of “legislative body” in Section 54952 of the Government Code does not have a stand-alone exclusion for “an ad hoc committee” from the definition of “legislative body”, The relevant part of Section 54952’s definition of “legislative body” is:

    https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/codes_displaySection.xhtml?sectionNum=54952.&lawCode=GOV

    “(b) A commission, committee, board, or other body of a local agency, whether permanent or temporary, decisionmaking or advisory, created by charter, ordinance, resolution, or formal action of a legislative body. However, advisory committees, composed solely of the members of the legislative body that are less than a quorum of the legislative body are not legislative bodies, except that standing committees of a legislative body, irrespective of their composition, which have a continuing subject matter jurisdiction, or a meeting schedule fixed by charter, ordinance, resolution, or formal action of a legislative body are legislative bodies for purposes of this chapter.”

    “Ad hoc committee” does not appear in that definition. As such, an OGC that is charged with administering the Sunshine Ordinance which states that “Policy body” shall mean the following and have the same meaning as “legislative body” is defined in Section 54952 of the California Government Code”, but also includes an express exception from that definition not found in Section 54952 might foresee a “policy problem” if an “ad hoc” committee comes along.

    The Sunshine Ordinance itself also provides “2-91.3 – …In case of inconsistent requirements under the Brown Act and this article, the requirement which would result in greater or more expedited public access shall apply.”

    Whether or not you agree with the new OGC commissioner’s proposal, raising these issues of consistency with the Brown Act by way of a recommended amendment to the Sunshine Ordinance, or in some other manner, hardly seems beyond an OCG commissioner’s role.

    Of note, the question whether to have the committees in question be subject to, or not subject to the Brown Act, was an issue of close debate over the summer. I recall Councilmember Knox White raising the question on the record more than once as to whether what was being envisioned by the Council was consistent with the Brown Act. I think it may have been a topic here too.

    Comment by MP — January 27, 2021 @ 8:02 am

    • I assume…the Committee member understand that they cannot pass or amend city ordinances

      Why would you make that assumption? We can only use the words and request of that Commissioner to determine intent. She asks for “[c]onsideration of amending Sunshine Ordinance.” Not, “consideration to recommend to the City Council to amend Sunshine Ordinance.” There’s a massive difference between the two. And if you’re too pressed for time to add more clarification about the limitations of the OGC to your ask then perhaps you should wait until you have the time rather than hurriedly typing it out on your iphone. But she did have the time to cite the subcode for the relevant Sunshine Ordinance at issue so it doesn’t appear that time limitations was an issue rather than a deliberate misunderstanding of the role of the OGC.

      She’s asking to REMOVE ad hoc committees from the exemption of the definition of a policy body. An ad hoc committee doesn’t make policy. It makes recommendations for policy bodies to adopt. I realize that you’re totally in to defending the worst takes possible in Alameda but the OGC is oversight. Period. It doesn’t get to pick and chose political issues to then craft new policy around. If the ad hoc committees in question were designed to increase police presence or to discuss the best places to put LPRs or name all the parks after [insert commissioner’s favorite topic here] would this commissioner be asking to remove ad hoc committees from the exemption?

      Comment by Lauren Do — January 27, 2021 @ 8:22 am

      • I assume that an OGC member knows that the OGC does not pass or amend city ordinances because, first, the OGC does not pass or amend city ordinances. If I wrote on Blogging Bayport, “let’s consider amending the Sunshine Ordinance”, you wouldn’t assume that it was my intent that a poll of readers would be sufficient to enact or amend a city ordinance. I think you are reading a bit much into the agenda request.

        I don’t know Commissioner Reid or whether she would have raised her concerns if the issue were not a police reform committee, but instead an “increase police presence” committee. I’ll go along with your assumption that she would not have done so. I do know that the question of whether the police reform (not “increase presence”) committee/s formed over the summer should be treated as legislative bodies for purposes of the Brown Act (with which the Sunshine Ordinance is, by its express terms quoted above, supposed to be at least consistent*) was debated.

        * ([“in case of inconsistent requirements under the Brown Act and this article, the requirement which would result in greater or more expedited public access shall apply.”])

        Councilmember John Knox White made comments about the formation of the police reform committees that sounded reasonable at the time (and not the “worst possible take in Alameda”) such as the following:

        MINUTES OF THE SPECIAL CITY COUNCIL MEETING TUESDAY- -JULY 21, 2020- -5:30 P.M.

        “Vice Mayor Knox White stated the key aspect of Brown Act bodies is notification and ensuring meetings are public; expressed support for Council discussion on the committee acting as a Brown Act body; stated that he is not clear about the committee not being a Brown Act body.”

        “Vice Mayor Knox White expressed concern about the subcommittee not being a Brown Act body; stated there is an exception to noticing; committees can have subcommittees without violating the Brown Act; setting up a process, which is intended to be public and transparent, allows the ability to bring the entire community in; it should not be set up to have meetings that are unclear without notice; the process is problematic; expressed concern about the delay in creating a subcommittee, community objectives and goals and a work plan; stated the process does not seem to be moving forward; expressed concern about recommendations being received before the budget presentation in October; stated the steering committee process will take time; Council needs to be clear about direction provided and the scope of work; the matter is related to policing, not systemic racism in the entire community; expressed support for Council providing specific guidelines, expectations and timelines; questioned the dynamic of the September check-in; stated that he would like a commitment to the steering committee; the process feels like it is starting over and he will not be able to support it without a commitment to an open and transparent process.”

        Whether the police reform committees were set up in terms of the Sunshine Ordinance under the “ad hoc” committee exception, I do not know exactly, but I read from Councilmember Knox White’s comments that he had a concern that however the committee was formulated in terms of the Sunshine Ordinance, that there may yet be an inconsistency with the Brown Act. He also seemed to be expressing – as a matter of policy, not just compliance with the Brown Act – that the direction the Council was headed in as of July 21 was not the right one. He may have changed his views since then, or the committees may have been in the end formulated in a way that addressed his concerns. And that is OK. But it’s also OK for others to raise the same or similar concerns.

        I understand and am sympathetic to the reasons given for setting up the committees in the way that they were set up, including fostering more uninhibited and confidential discussions at certain stages of the process, bureaucratic/administrative formalities/red tape involved with bodies covered by the Brown Act, etc. Those are totally rational/reasonable considerations. John Knox White and others who are/were concerned nevertheless with the legality (under state law) of that scheme, or sought/seek to have it treated as covered by the Brown Act have OK reasons too.

        “you’re totally in to defending the worst possible takes in Alameda” = cheapshot

        Comment by MP — January 27, 2021 @ 9:13 am

        • MP, Thank you so much for your postings. I helped Commissioner Reid draft her referral and she clearly understands that the OGC role is purely advisory. I too am sympathetic with the desire of Council to exempt these temporary citizen committees, not only for the reasons you mentioned, but the necessity of training volunteer citizens in the intricacies of the Brown Act. However, we are a government of laws, not men, and section 54952(b) of the Brown Act, could not be clearer that temporary advisory bodies are “legislative bodies” except for a sub-committee of less than a quorum of a legislative body. It is interesting to note that the “ad hoc” exception to the Sunshine Ordinance was inserted into the Ordinance a little less than a year ago.

          I also want to be clear that we do not seek to invalidate the work of the Jackson Park and Police reform committees. They devoted many hours of difficult work in reliance upon directions from Council and Staff and deserve our appreciation. Council has already approved the recommendation of the Jackson Park Committee and should move forward in considering the recommendations of the Police Reform Committees. What we do seek is to amend the Sunshine Ordinance to bring it into compliance with the Brown Act.

          Comment by Paul Foreman — January 27, 2021 @ 1:08 pm

        • Paul – I noticed that this is also on the Open Government Commission agenda for Feb 1 and wondered if it provided any indication as to either the legal capacity of the OGC to comment on potential changes to the Sunshine Ordinance it administers, or least current practices re the same, or at least its legal capacity and practice when asked to do so by the City Council:

          #2021-628

          * * * *

          RECOMMENDATION

          Discuss and Provide Recommendations Concerning Potential Amendments to Article VIII (Sunshine Ordinance) of Chapter II (Administration) of the Alameda Municipal Code, as Amended, to Replace “Null and Void” Remedy.

          Respectfully submitted,

          Elizabeth A. Mackenzie, Chief Assistant City Attorney

          John D. Lê, Assistant City Attorney

          Comment by MP — January 28, 2021 @ 2:32 pm

    • “Dear Mayor Ashcraft and Council Members:
      It has been brought to my attention that there may be public comment on Item 6A that asserts that
      the park naming citizens committee has violated our Sunshine Ordinance and the Brown Act by
      failing to follow the transparency requirements of notice and public participation applicable to
      “policy bodies” as defined by the Ordinance. There are multiple definitions of the term in Sec. 2-91.1
      (d) of the Ordinance, the pertinent one here being Sub-sec (d) (4) which defines it as “any
      committee or body, created by the initiative of a policy body as a whole;”.
      The Park and Recreation Commission is a policy body. On July 9, its action of appointing a subcommittee
      of two Commission Members to establish a citizen’s committee renders that citizens
      committee a body “created” by the Commission, regardless of the fact that the committee members
      were appointed by the sub-committee.
      A similar process was used by City Council in directing the City Manager to appoint a Citizens
      committee on police reform. In both instances these actions were designed to avoid the
      requirements of both our Sunshine Ordinance and the Brown Act requiring public notice and
      participation in meetings of these two citizens committees. I do not think that these laws were
      intended to allow local government bodies to avoid transparency requirements by the simple means
      of delegating the appointment of committee members to a third party.
      As an aid to you and the City Attorney, I attach the cases which I think clearly support this view.
      Unless the City Attorney can convince me otherwise I will likely challenge these actions pursuant to
      the sunshine Ordinance and/or Brown Act.
      Paul S Foreman”

      Correspondence, Item 6-B, pp. 12-37, City Council meeting, City of Alameda, January 19, 2021.

      Comment by renamejackson — January 27, 2021 @ 1:43 pm

      • Which Paul Foreman should we believe? It strains credulity to believe that the content of the subcommittees isn’t the driving force behind this effort.

        Comment by Gaylon — January 27, 2021 @ 4:06 pm

      • Yikes. Someone got hoisted by his own petard.

        Comment by Reality — January 27, 2021 @ 5:06 pm

      • Speaking as a member of a member of the Rename Jackson Park group, I want to acknowledge Paul Foreman for signing the petition to rename Jackson Park back in 2018. This is more than we can say a number of other “preservationists” and “Alameda Park” advocates.

        Not everyone who is attacking the renaming process is simply unhappy because the Park Renaming Committee recommended four other AMAZING names to the Recreation and Parks Commission.

        But, similar to the process to rename Haight, some of the same people who chose not to engage in the process are attacking the process. An interesting difference: In 2018, people complained about direct democracy and children having agency in the process. Now, we’re back to the “will of the voters” refrain.

        I hope Alameda can develop processes (and policies) that promote equitable community engagement and input. I think the Committee worked diligently to meet RJP’s demand for a “transparent and inclusive” process, while delivering a number of possible names within three-months.

        “On January 19, 2021, the City Council voted to change the Jackson Park name to Chochenyo Park. This is the culmination of a community-led effort to rename the park to recognize the atrocities committed by President Andrew Jackson and bring justice and healing. Parks are important public spaces, their names have impacts and should represent the values of our community. “

        Comment by Rasheed Shabazz — January 27, 2021 @ 5:38 pm

  3. It is very interesting that a person, who is well known for frequently doxxing people by repeatedly posting their personal information online (and also finding lackeys to post those information on her behalf when she wanted to keep her hands clean prior to her appointment to OGC), now represents “Open Government.” She once drove around the base to take photos of the homes and living areas of low-income residents and posted them online in an attempt to publicly shame them, which is what finally got her banned from the social media platform NextDoor.

    Anyway, back to this topic – these committees make recommendations, they do not make legislations. A good city government is one that allows its people to get involved and contribute in a fair and equitable way, so it is definitely puzzling that an OGC commissioner would try and snuff that out. Ad hoc committees are very common in cities throughout California, and are perfectly legal as long as they are temporary with a defined purpose and are serving in an advisory role. They are completely different from standing committees that are permanent and have continuous subject matter jurisdiction. It’s interesting that this is coming up on the heels of addressing policing biases and Jackson Park renaming initiatives. That is unfortunate optics, and I wonder if Trish Herrera Spencer would like to distance herself away from this or if she had any involvement.

    Comment by JRB — January 27, 2021 @ 9:01 am

    • Is this true?? Will you please verify this? “She once drove around the base to take photos of the homes and living areas of low-income residents and posted them online in an attempt to publicly shame them.” Thanks.

      Comment by please verify — January 27, 2021 @ 11:24 am

      • It sure is. I have email receipts that NextDoor generates of all posts that I interacted in, and plenty of them from Carmen. I’ve blurred out the pictures out of respect for the residents, but this is just the gist that got her banned:

        https://ibb.co/w6cxgZ4

        Comment by JRB — January 27, 2021 @ 11:43 am

        • It’s a toss up. Not completely convinced this is “public shaming” of the poor. Could be pointing out city’s failure to maintain the area.

          Comment by more verifying needed — January 27, 2021 @ 3:28 pm

        • After Carmen got banned for that she created multiple accounts on Nextdoor to circumvent her ban under different names (or taking over family members accounts) to continue posting rule breaking content that violated the privacy of community members. Would even complain that people are attacking her family to try and catch sympathy when it was clearly her using the accounts (like simultaneously posting the same post on FB under her name as she would under the account for her family member that she was using to circumvent her own ban on Nextdoor). Two years ago she would also post wild conspiracies and inaccuracies around the wellness center trying to smear it. She constantly does new information requests from the city clerk, probably more than anyone if I had to guess, and uses what she gets to concoct wild theories from cherry picked emails and other filings and then posts partial out of context screenshots of what she found as if it bolsters her case for the wild theory she is posting. Her tactics very much taken from the Q-anon or anti-vax playbooks. It takes dramatically more work to research her “sources” and counter her exhausting made up theories with real evidence. She got smarter with measure Z this time because she learned the rules and was very careful to ride them. Only fitting that Trish, who has documented evidence of acting badly on Nextdoor (trying to abuse the reporting system to silence opposing arguments), would pick her for OGC. Two peas in a corrupt pod. Terrible people with no moral standing.

          Comment by nope — January 27, 2021 @ 5:20 pm

        • “Nope.” Again, please verify your claims. Like JRB, simple links suffice.

          Comment by please verify — January 28, 2021 @ 8:05 am

        • “please verify” – I can confirm that what “nope” said is accurate, as I’ve seen those myself. But two examples I’ll share for now show how this person uses fake accounts/relatives’ accounts or pushes wild conspiracy theories. If you’d like to see more evidence, drop your email here but at this point it’s irrefutable.

          https://ibb.co/dfQyqxt

          https://ibb.co/x2LBMzz

          Comment by JRB — January 28, 2021 @ 9:05 am

        • Remember that time that Carmen asked to speak to the manager of Iron Maiden regarding a phony Bruce Dickinson account on Facebook? Pepperidge Farms remembers! https://www.facebook.com/alamemeda/photos/2248526275203921

          Comment by Rod — January 28, 2021 @ 10:57 am

  4. Don’t we have a city attorney who can weigh in on this? I prefer expert professional opinion whenever possible. This seems like a legal matter best handled with an email to Mr. Shen.

    Comment by Gaylon — January 27, 2021 @ 1:09 pm

  5. Oh, woe is me. It appears that someone’s ox is being gored by the prospect of allowing the public to view the wheeling and dealing that apparently goes on during ad hoc meetings. It’s so nice to see that we have a platform where people can make inane statements attacking people with whom they don’t agree. Both directly and by innuendo. And there’s always someone who would have us believe that racism is the motivation for intelligent people encouraging us to allow for more transparency in our government activities.

    Comment by AnothersonofDavid — January 29, 2021 @ 5:34 pm


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