(This letter is in response to recent news that a senior legal employee tried to communicate the needs of the program but was charged with conflict of interest since she also sits on the Advisory Council to the Supervisors. Funding for this long-time program was denied.)
A frustrated Mono County Supervisor once complained of “lawyer’s weasel words” and as a long time member of the IMAAA Advisory board I
can now understand.. We are all beginners in this transition and
actually benefited from the comments during public session since most
of us do not meet socially outside of the meetings .
I regret that public comment could be construed as illegal communication. When the Brown Act was still new I remember that three of us on the West Covina Parks and Recreation Commission were not allowed to take the same
elevator to the second floor for the meeting because the attorney
advised that it would constitute an illegal meeting. In Inyo county
that has been demoted from rural to frontier, such a prohibition would
be impossible since our small population requires that officials
mingle socially with plenty of opportunity for communication.
In the past, the IMAAA Advisory reported to the “Governing Board” not
directly to the Inyo Board of Supervisors and at times the contractors were part of the meeting.
The confidentiality that is required by legal service prevents us
from really understanding the bulk of their work and the information
we gained during the public comment helped educate us. While an
attorney’s opinion is valuable there is a larger question for the
public In our frontier county. Does the opinion of one hired hired gun
trump the decisions of the elected body and does a citizen lose the
right of free speech? The Lone Ranger is only to be found in Lone
Pine, but it would be great to find some way to make the “Law” and “justice ” synonymous.