Wednesday, February 8, 2012

The "Open Meeting Act" includes teleconferencing provisions

File:Tandberg Image Gallery - telepresence-t3-side-view-hires.jpg
Teleconferencing is legal
It would seem that our city council has a tool available that will enable offsite council members to participate in meetings. Vacations, business conferences, and hospital stays shouldn't prevent the effective operation of government. These and other situations can be accommodated so that all may participate and quorums may be reached.

California Department of Consumer Affairs Public Meetings (Bagley-Keene Open Meeting Act, Legal Memorandum, 1/6/12. See page 17-19 of this document for a full explanation. 

Submitted by Jim Wagner

Posted by Kathy Meeh


Anonymous said...

Interesting, but so far I don't think technology trumps the requirement that a city councilperson actually be in Pacifica to participate. Might be useful if they were ill and housebound in Pacifica.

Anonymous said...

absent council members do not have to be in Pacifica. Absent council members can be anywhere on the planet.
Unfortunately, no one on city council and no staff brought up this solution to Vreeland not doing his job and not representing the voters he was elected to serve.

Professor Peabody said...

What a dork! Read the post. Or have someone explain it to you.

Anonymous said...

Nice thought and who is buying the technology? We have council members who do not use computers. Teleconferencing? Only Nihart has done this to my knowledge, but at least we know she can use it. Now just bring a couple others into the 21st century and we will be in good shape.

Anonymous said...

As earlier anon tried to point out, by current law the elected official must be physically in Pacifica in order to take part in a Pacifica City Council meeting. I like that idea although certainly if they were ill and stuck at home, teleconferencing could be very useful. Laws might someday change to keep up with the technology but having them all in the same room works fine for me.

Anonymous said...

625anon, read for content.

Anonymous said...

Wait a minute. This applies to state agencies. Also, it clearly states the location from which a member teleconferences must be open to the public. Kind of cuts down on state legislators conferencing from the Tiki Bar or your barbecue. Vreeland and the rest still need to haul their butts to the meetings.

Anonymous said...

The info Wagner posted applies only to CA state legislative bodies. Maybe he didn't read it or he's just funning again. Anyhow, FYI the law which applies to city council and other local government meetings in CA is the Ralph M. Brown Act aka the Planning Commissions Favorite Law. Like the state law it encourages that government be open and accessible to the public. It encourages transparency...what a concept, huh?
It allows teleconferencing of local meetings if they comply with the following: 1)the location of teleconferencing is accessible to the public and noted in the agenda 2)the meeting is useful to the public and the legislative body 3)all votes are taken by roll call
4)at least a quorum of the members of the legislative body are located within the boundaries of the territory over which it exercises jurisdiction.
Obviously #1 and #4 could be tricky. Bigger problem is the high cost involved which is why this is a solution for larger cities with bigger budgets.
Lots of info on the web about this topic. Dive in!

Anonymous said...

come on folks, let's look for solutions.
A conference call is cheap if you use skype or any number of other call services.
Vreeland only has to get his butt to a public place so voters can participate if they want. That could be his front yard.
Seems to me council should adopt some guidelines soon about members missing meetings.

Anonymous said...

"Don’t ignore the signs, Global government is reality now, its rules, laws and appointments.

Go, acquaint yourself with your new government control in the heartland.This is their website. ICLEI by Region.

Guess who’s Open Society funded a $2,147,415 to aid to the Local Agenda Project 21, the Evil George Soros. "
Read More Here:

Kathy Meeh said...

Unreliable national blog trash as usual from you Anonymous, 10:42 AM.

Here's the George Soros website which describes Open Society Foundations. "Over the past three decades, Soros’s philanthropy has spawned a network of foundations dedicated to promoting development of open societies in Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America, and the United States. To date, Soros has given over $8 billion to support human rights, freedom of expression, and access to public health and education in 70 countries."

Oh, that effort to build democratic societies is all so very "evil". So you say. Does this mean you are supporting the alternative?

Anonymous said...

Oh yeah, let's let these mumsers
off the hook. They ran for office and got elected. None of them are so special or make such a valuable contribution that they need to be "phoning it in". If they're too busy with other activities to maintain excellent attendance then let them resign and attend to their other matters which don't involve the public trust. On a related topic, I suspect that the key to moving Vreeland along lies in how and who decides if his absences are excused or unexcused. That's not council, it's senior staff, and it's a matter of public record.

mike bell said...

Mary Ann and Len can you please chime in here?
Pacifica is going down. Where is the 5th elected official?
What is the remedy to remove Vreeland for excessive and chronic absenteeism?
If his absence is excused, what is the reason and what period of time does it cover?

Anonymous said...

According to the Pacifica Municipal
Code in section 3-8.01 Salaries and Wages, "For the purpose of certifying or approving attendance records, the City Manager or his assignee shall be considered as the dept head for all elective officers..."
Sounds like City Manager is the gatekeeper and makes that all-important decision about excused or unexcused. Those decisions are part of the public record. Shouldn't the criteria also be transparent and above board?Medical info is strictly confidential, as we all would want it to be. Just as with other employers there is latitude. And, certainly our city manager reports to and advises council on this and other issues.
Our muni code does not address removing a councilmember for absences but the State Gov't Code does in section 36513 and I believe it would apply. Basically, it says a vacancy is automatically created if a city councilmember is absent without permission from all regular cc meetings for 60 days consecutively from the last meeting he attended.
Important decisions about these excessive absences are being made, and the process and the players, if not all the details, should be transparent and above suspicion.

Hutch said...

That's very interesting about the 60 day thing Anon 349.

I found this:

CAL. GOV. CODE § 36513 : California Code - Section 36513

(a)If a city councilmember is absent without permission from all regular city council meetings for 60 days consecutively from the last regular meeting he or she attended, his or her office becomes vacant and shall be filled as any other vacancy.

(b)Notwithstanding subdivision (a), if a city council meets monthly or less frequently than monthly and a city councilmember is absent without permission from all regular city council meetings for 70 days consecutively from the last regular meeting he or she attended, his or her office becomes vacant and shall be filled as any other vacancy.

Anonymous said...

The State Gov't Code is pretty clear cut but how we determine whether an absence is excused or not is not clear at all. It should be. We have absolutely no right to confidential medical information but our right to transparent, honest government is absolute. This situation is not transparent and as these absences go on and on it looks suspicious. If the city manager or someone reporting to him decides whether an absence is excused or not, what is the criteria? How much latitude is given in making the decision? Does the process need to be reviewed? The process needs to be made public. He reports to and advises Council and this unsavory mess reflects poorly on him and council.

Anonymous said...

The operative phrase is "without permission." The rest of it is irrelevant.

Anonymous said...

What's releveant is that this may be an abuse of power and it looks like a cover-up. Or it can just be lousy communication skills and poor judgement. Excused or unexcused? Critical decision that determines how long any councilmember can be gone. Bad precedent. Whoever makes this decision needs to explain and the whole process needs to be reviewed and exposed to the light. Council, do something!

Anonymous said...

The question of permission and who gives it and what's it based on, should be of interest to anyone fed up with the situation. Must we resort to recall to get this resolved? Maybe we do need to start fresh.

Anonymous said...

oh come on they don't want their fingerprints on it so they probably dump the decision on some poor little shmuck who doesn't dare anger the great vreeland

deniability is the relevant concept