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

  • Bringing justice down to the community
    LA Daily News - City Attorney Mike Feuer announced plans Friday for a pilot program to involve community members in punishing offenders on quality-of-life issues.“It is part of a restorative justice theory, where the community should have restored to it what was taken from it by a perpetrator — and the community should see the tangible impact on the street.” […]
  • Milton Friedman: Killing American softly with his song
    Sam Smith, 2002 - You'd never guess it from the sycophantic obituaries, but Milton Friedman did more damage to American democracy and culture than just about any figure in the 20th century. The sycophancy isn't surprising. Friedman was blessed with it from the start. For example, the supposedly liberal PBS starred him in a ten part series, "Fr […]
  • How some states cheat minority voters
    Common Dreams - Lack of poll workers and low numbers of voting machines are key contributors to long voting lines, and precincts with more minorities experienced longer waits, according to a new study released today by the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law.Although many factors may contribute to long lines at the polls, little research has asse […]
  • Florida backs down on kindergarden testing
    Valerie Strauss, Washington Post - Last week I published a highly popular post that included a letter that kindergarten teacher Susan Bowles of Lawton Chiles Elementary School in Gainesville, Fla., posted on Facebook telling parents that she was refusing to administer the Florida Assessments for Instruction in Reading, or FAIR. She explained what she said we […]
  • Department of Good Stuff: Journalists
    Dean Baker Russ Baker Richard Brenneman Dan Froomkin Amy Goodman Glenn GreenwaldChris Hedges George Monbiot Bill Moyers John Nichols Greg Palast Robert Reich James Ridgeway Jeremy Scahill Tim Shorrock Jeff Stein Jon Stewart David Swanson Matt Taibbi Mark Thompson Sarah Van Gelder   […]
  • Department of Good Stuff: Good news
    You can't do better than Yes Magazine […]
  • Real economics
     An increase in GDP doesn't pay the cable bill […]
  • UN secretary general to join climate demonstrators
    Ban Ki-Moon, UN Secretary General - The Climate Summit that I am convening one week from today has two goals: to mobilize political will for a universal and meaningful climate agreement next year in Paris; and second to generate ambitious steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and strengthen resilience. We are anticipating an impressive turnout of leaders […]
  • Obama telling us one thing about ground troops, his generals another
    Nation - President Obama has repeatedly declared there will be no combat troops on the ground in Iraq to fight the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. But a Senate hearing Tuesday with top US military officials revealed that pronouncement is on very shaky ground—there is now no question ground troops are under active consideration at the highest levels of […]
  • The real economy
    Census Bureau & Federal Reserve […]
  • Ten ways to cut poverty
    Talk Poverty […]
  • Common Core trashs critics in ad
    Curmudgucation[Update: The video has gone away. The Youtube account "Common Core," a group of filmmakers from around the country, has shut down after only three days.]As your grandad would not say, "OMG!"The media group 617 has produced a video in support of the Core that is apparently intended to embarrass its opponents into silence. It […]
  • Pocket paradigms
    Laws should be handled like prescription drugs, but many of our politicians think of them as being more like popcorn or M&Ms -- something to munch on. This is unfortunate since much of America's success to date can be traced to one simple rule: don't make too many rules. Much of America's failure to date has come from ignoring this rule. - […]
  • Word
    To those who have hunger, give bread. To those who have bread, give a hunger for Justice. - Latin American grace […]
  • Recovered history: How newspapers can save themselves
    From 50 uyears of our overstocked archives Sam Smith, 2009  - It's been about 17 years since I last offered any advice to Don Graham of the Washington Post. He wasn't interested. Oddly, about a year later, the circulation of American newspapers, including the Post, began a slow decline that continues to this day.This morning, however, I was so stru […]