This coming Monday, June 3rd the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors is reviewing the Guiding Principles. The current Guiding Principles restrict the right to live on rural land.
The Guiding Principles are used to provide an outline of community values in regard to the overall objectives of the General Plan. Essentially the General Plan and ongoing update is directly tied to our county’s Guiding Principles.
It is very important our Supervisors hear that our community values very much include protecting our rights to live on our land. It is essential to allow for a variety of options for homes and that we are not forced into urban settings. We endorse living wage jobs and look forward to a positive economic future in Humboldt County. Social engineering is unacceptable. We need to insist that rural property rights are included in the Guiding Principals.
The General Plan update is the most important way for us to ensure we continue to protect and promote our rural lifestyle.
Several groups advocating a radical agenda are planning to show up in force. It is extremely important that we counter their agenda with our moderate voices – we need to make it very clear that we represent the overwhelming majority of Humboldt County! If you cannot be there, call and/or e-mail your supervisors to let them know how you feel.
Who: YOU – please attend the meeting and speak up
What: Board of Supervisor Meeting
Where: County Courthouse – Board of Supervisors Chambers 1st Floor – 825 5th Street – Room 111
When: Monday June 3rd 1:30pm
DATE: May 8, 2013
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Sally Macdonald
Phone: (707) 499-6600
Eureka, CA — Humboldt Coalition for Property Rights and the County of Humboldt have reached a resolution to the California Public Records Act case in which HumCPR sought records associated with expenses paid for litigation concerning the County’s General Plan update, land use, and planning from the years 2002 to 2013.
The settlement involves the County agreeing to being enjoined from further violation of the California Public Records Act by delaying or denying HumCPR, and presumably other members of the public and the press, immediate access to and copies of the records HumCPR had requested. HumCPR in turn agreed to accept the redaction of two invoices which are illustrative of the types of expenses the County has incurred in the litigation matters and which were the subject of HumCPR’s Public Records Act Request.
“While HumCPR could easily request the balance of the documents to be properly redacted, we believe that the legal point has now been completely decided,” said HumCPR Executive Director, Sally Macdonald. “At issue was the County’s obligation to turn over documents that had been previously improperly redacted and we have no desire to simply make work for county staff.”
By correcting the limited number of documents HumCPR has established that County Counsel now knows what is legally required and HumCPR has set a precedent for the future, Macdonald explained.
As a result, “Never again can our County Counsel claim to have made a ‘mistake’ improperly redacting 1,500 pages of public documents that includes the details of over $3,000,000.00 of public spending on lawsuits,” said Macdonald.
HumCPR thanks those members of the Board of Supervisors who have taken into consideration realities which were uncovered during this litigation, and who we hope will take steps to address those concerns: streamlining the delivery of records in response to a Public Records Request by any member of the public; ensuring that all department support staff and attorneys of County Counsel’s office begin to track their time in a detailed manner that is typical of attorneys across the country and taught in most law schools; and that the invoices which were requested by HumCPR in this matter are being reviewed in detail to ensure that only appropriate charges have been billed to the County. We are especially hopeful that some of what appears to be very significant mistakes on these invoices will result in large refunds to the county and thereby Humboldt taxpayers. We believe that a proactive approach by the Board will take the results of this lawsuit far beyond what the most obvious issues are – instead of merely providing the records requested, the Board can take significant steps to correct identified problems within the County system and County Counsel’s office.
We also sincerely appreciate the involvement and the county’s engagement of Bill Bragg to represent the county. Mr. Bragg’s consistent reasonable demeanor and responsible interpretation of the law greatly contributed to this settlement.
Finally, HumCPR wishes to thank Allison Jackson and the entire staff at the Harland Law Firm. HumCPR could not have brought these public documents and county procedural concerns to light without their concerted effort and diligent hard work
P.O. Box 47
Eureka, CA 95502
Fax (707) 268-8773
Humboldt County announced today it will release records that the Humboldt Coalition for Property Rights sued for last year.
The decision came after the state Supreme Court on Wednesday denied a Los Angeles County petition to review a similar case involving the California Public Records Act.
County counsel Wendy Chaitin said the county would comply with an appellate court decision that ordered Los Angeles County to release similar records.
“That’s the law as it stands now,” she said. “We have the full intention of complying with the request.”
Chaitin said releasing the records — which show the costs of retaining outside counsel in pending litigation — was previously a gray area in California law.
“That’s the first time we have a public appellate decision on point,” she said. “It’s always our position we’re gonna comply with the law.”
The county and HumCPR, a property rights organization, will meet again for a case management hearing on March 6.
“We’ll go in and explain to the court that we gave the records,” Chaitin said. “Hopefully it’ll be resolved without any further litigation.”
The Humboldt Coalition for Property Rights filed its lawsuit nearly one year ago asking the county to release the costs of retaining outside counsel for pending property rights litigation.
Humboldt County counsel said that it was protecting the county under a valid exemption of the
CPRA, and argued in court documents that releasing the information could jeopardize pending litigation.
~from The Times Standard 02/21/2013.
February 3, 2013 – A $64,000 question – Does the County have to disclose attorney fees?
February 10, 2013 – Humboldt County Release the Numbers
Humboldt County is spending your tax dollars to prevent you from seeing how it’s spending your tax dollars.
The story so far, short version: The Humboldt Coalition for Property Rights filed a California Public Records Act request in December 2011 requesting information about pending litigation against the county related to land use, planning and the county’s general plan update, including the fees of outside attorneys who worked on the suits. The county, in HumCPR’s view, proved less than cooperative.
About one year ago, HumCPR filed a complaint in court, seeking the information.
The county has been wasting time — and money — ever since.
“Litigation strategy is revealed in the amounts expended to pursue or defend litigation,” reads the county’s legal reply to HumCPR’s complaint. The county would also like you to believe that what amounts to a bookkeeping request could somehow jeopardize its case, if taken out of context. Of course, any piece of information can be taken out of context, but that doesn’t stop the county from attempting to forge a chain of legal reasoning such as this:
“While it may be that Plaintiff is simply interested in good government, release of these records to Plaintiff is tantamount to release of the records to the world,” reads the county’s reply. “The potential mischief that could be done with this information — by someone attempting to influence an election, perhaps, or to influence
the course of the litigation — is not far fetched or unduly speculative.”
We’d have to disagree. Potential “mischief” is hardly a legal justification for exempting the information from a public records request.
State appellate courts already ruled on two similar cases last year, the most recent of which saw Los Angeles County lose its attempt to overturn a Superior Court order to turn over counsel billing and payment records in pending litigation. Neither time nor legal precedent is on Humboldt County’s side.
In addition to wasting taxpayers’ time, further county stonewalling is going to wind up wasting even more of taxpayer money. HumCPR has already rang up more than $64,000 in attorney fees and costs, and that number won’t get any smaller.
It doesn’t matter who’s asking the county for this information, or why. Under the law, this information belongs to all of us. It’s ours. It’s public money, spent by public officials. This is not a matter of international espionage. We are not the enemy. We are the public. The public has a right to know what public money is spent on, even as it’s being spent.
Humboldt County should release the facts before its overt lack of transparency and disregard for its legal obligation to release public information costs the very taxpayers it purports to represent any more money — or any more faith in their public officials.
Humboldt County, release the numbers – A TIMES-STANDARD EDITORIAL
Posted: 02/10/2013 02:38:51 AM PST
Updated: 02/10/2013 02:38:51 AM PST
February 3, 2013 – A $64,000 question – Does the County have to disclose attorney fees?
February 21, 2013 – County will release records following high court decision