Categorized | Arcata, Politics

Arcata Grilled On City Attorney Expenditures

Letter threatens lawsuit over disclosure requirements as Council to meet in secret

 

By Charles Douglas
Humboldt Sentinel

An otherwise routine closed session of the Arcata City Council next Wednesday may be the beginning of the end of Nancy Diamond’s long, long tenure as their City Attorney.

Entitled “Performance Evaluation,” the item at the end of an otherwise light agenda gives the opportunity to the Council to address longstanding concerns with the conduct of Nancy Diamond, who has served in the position for over a decade. The City has lost a number of legal actions during her tenure, and her recent advice on Arcata’s constitutionally-questionable anti-panhandling ordinance has called her competence into question.

Richard Salzman stands on the street corner across from Arcata City Hall with his criminalized sign.

Local attorney Peter Martin is increasingly the standard-bearer for questions about the legal stance of Arcata City Hall. He made headlines earlier this year when he filed suit on behalf of political activist Richard Salzman to overturn many provisions of the anti-panhandling ordinance, which even criminalizes the holding of a sign at a street corner in downtown Arcata.

”I requested that they amend their ordinance so as to comply with our guaranteed protection of free speech as outlined in the United States Constitution,” Salzman stated in a release. “Since they declined to do so I felt compelled to file a complaint…against the City.”

Martin’s latest move is to send a warning letter to the City on behalf of Marc Delany, a former Design Review Commissioner who resigned last March based on an alleged violation of open meeting law by the Arcata Planning Commission. Delany’s latest complaint came in the form of a public records act request to the City, inquiring as to the total amount of fees paid to every attorney hired by the City over the past few years. Thus far, Arcata staff are refusing to provide this information, claiming it subject to attorney-client privilege.

“The cases cited by the city in support of its position actually stand for the opposite proposition, that is, that the amount of attorney’s fees paid is not privileged under California law,” Martin stated in his Aug. 31 letter. “Information about fees is privileged only if it would disclose tactics or strategy.  A request for a total does not disclose tactics or strategy.”

Martin’s point, and Delany’s, is that the City of Arcata is acting as if it has something to hide — what’s more, Delany directly attacks the City Attorney’s office for what he sees as its mismanagement of litigation.

“The purpose of the public records act is to let the public know what its public servants are doing,” Martin stated. “The City can prove him wrong, if he is, by releasing the total amount of fees paid.”

Under the Brown Act, the Arcata City Council is allowed to meet in secret to discuss the performance of their staff — although any final action taken must be reported to the public immediately afterward.

8 Responses to “Arcata Grilled On City Attorney Expenditures”

  1. Lost it says:

    Do we have our very own Bell City going on in quiet little Arcata?

    Robert Rizzo, manager of Bell, Calif. earns nearly $800000 a year, twice the salary of president Obama agreed to resign today after a scandal …

  2. Greg S. Maizlish, Esq. says:

    Peter Martiin, Humboldt County’s premier defender of the downtrodden & oppressed, young & old alike, strikes again!
    And, he is correct that CAPRA trumps privilege claims.
    When will Arcata stop acting as if they are hiding something?

  3. Rose says:

    Shame on Peter Martin for becoming Richard Salzman’s tool.

  4. Although Peter Martin is involved in both cases (as the article points out), I might imagine you’d still take an interest in the Delany matter simply on the principle of open government.

  5. Rose says:

    Public records should have been turned over instantly.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. [...] Echoing Turner’s call is local political guru Richard Salzman, longtime campaign manager for Humboldt County District Attorney Paul Gallegos and recent challenger of Arcata’s anti-panhandling law (which also criminalized sign-holding at street corners). [...]

  2. [...] last year, which criminalizes the holding of a sign at a street corner asking for donations. A lawsuit is underway challenging this law, filed by liberal campaign manager Richard [...]

  3. [...] Moderating the forum is Dan Faulk, former Sacramento political insider and later-day activist rabble-rouser who serves as a lecturer at Humboldt State University. Notable locals speaking include Peter Martin, a former deputy district attorney who now runs his own private practice, which includes a lawsuit against the City of Arcata over their anti-panhandling ordinance which bans the holding of a sign on a street corner. [...]


Leave a Reply

HumSentinel on Twitter

RSS Progressive Review

  • Department of Good Stuff
    […]
  • Why people hate the federal government
    Take Part - Out with the cupcakes, in with the fruit cups.At least that’s what the USDA envisioned when it came up with the “Smart Snacks in School” standards as part of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010. The guidelines—which set rules for treats sold on K–12 campuses outside the cafeteria during school hours, or “competitive foods”—went into effect […]
  • Why you shouldn't vote for a corporate executive
    Sam Smith - There is a widespread myth that corporate executives are exquisitely prepared to run other things, like community organizations, states or our nation.  This is a myth broadly enabled by large corporate media but it makes little sense. Here's why:Corporate executives can fire people, move them to new jobs, promote or demote them. You can […]
  • Preserving a Jewish state or the Jewish soul?
    From 50 years of our overstocked archivesSam Smith, 2006 - Vigdor Lieberman that nasty member of the Israel cabinet, wants to get rid of the Arabs so his country can remain a Jewish state. It's not a new idea; shoving Arabs around helped Israel get started. And it didn't work all that well. Fifty years of misery as the Israelis and the Arabs compet […]
  • Mid and late career teachers underpaid
    Center for American Progress: Mid- and late-career teacher base salaries are painfully low in many states. In Colorado, teachers with a graduate degree and 10 years of experience make less than a trucker in the state. In Oklahoma, teachers with 15 years of experience and a master’s degree make less than sheet metal workers. And teachers in Georgia with 10 ye […]
  • Photo of the day
    L'Osservatore Romano photo of Pope having lunch with Vatican workers […]
  • Stupid Washington Post tricks
    James Zogby, Arab American Institute - As the Israeli ground offensive was beginning, the [Washington] Post featured a front page headline, in large type, reading "Two Israelis Killed in Gaza Clash." In smaller type there was a subhead, "Death toll tops 330 as Hamas militants step up attacks." The story began, "Hamas militants intens […]
  • Furthermore. . .
    Gaza death toll now over 1,000Top Palestinian officials have accused Israel of war crimes in Gaza, filing a complaint Friday to the International Criminal Court in The Hague. […]
  • 2500 Ground Zero responders have come down with cancer
    NY Post - More than 2,500 Ground Zero rescuers and responders have come down with cancer, and a growing number are seeking compensation for their illnesses, The Post has learned.The grim toll has skyrocketed from the 1,140 cancer cases reported last year.In its latest tally, the World Trade Center Health Program at Mount Sinai Hospital counts 1,655 responder […]
  • Millenials down on marriage
    Alternet - | In a new Pew poll, researchers asked people of all ages how they felt about marriage and having kids. One question asked if society is better off if people made these goals a priority.....For respondents over 65, a strong 61 percent said yes, it’s in society’s best interest to prioritize marriage and kids. But that number gradually declined for […]
  • A bipartisan cause: universal income
    David Atkins, Washington Monthly -  One of the beautiful things about universal basic income: it has legitimate cross-partisan appeal, even if it seems wacky at first glance to centrists (who are often the very last people to recognize a good policy idea when they see one.)To a conservative, a direct money grant is an opportunity to shed cumbersome governmen […]
  • Pocket paradigms
    Unfortunately, complex failing systems have little capacity to save themselves. In part this is because the solutions come from the same source as the problem. The public rarely questions the common provenance; official Washington and the media honor it. Even a failure as miserable as that of Vietnam had little effect on the careers of its major protagonists […]
  • Word
    I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations -- James Madison […]
  • Mid East paradigms
    From 50 years of our overstocked archivesIsrael is a state like all the rest. AIPAC is just another political group like the National Rifle Association. It is not a religion but one more Washington lobby corrupting the political process and making American voters less powerful. The policy of the Israeli government is clearly distinguishable from the theology […]
  • Bringing politics home
    From 50 years of our overstocked archivesSam Smith[From Shadows of Hope, 1994]In 1816, Columbus, Ohio, had one city councilmember for every hundred residents. By 1840 there was one for every thousand residents. By 1872 the figure had dwindled to one to every five thousand. By 1974, there was one councilmember for every 55,000 people.The first US congressiona […]