Chapter 4.20


4.20.010    Open government commission.

4.20.020    Administrative review and appeal process.

4.20.030    Responsibility for administration.

4.20.040    Enforcement of ethics chapter.

4.20.010 Open government commission.

A. Duties. In the implementation of this title, the commission shall:

1. Advise the city council and provide information to other city departments and bodies on appropriate ways in which to implement this title with a priority on simple, standard procedures.

2. Assist in citywide training for implementing the title.

3. Develop and maintain an administrative process for review and enforcement of this title.

4. Propose amendments to the city council of this title as needed.

5. Report to the city council on any practical or policy problems encountered in the administration of this title.

B. The commission shall consist of five members of the public. All commission members shall have a demonstrated interest in open and ethical government through such activities as, but not limited to, attendance at meetings of government bodies, requests for documents from government agencies, disseminating information about government to others, and familiarity with the Brown Act and/or Public Records Act. All members shall be without known conflicts of interest and shall be residents of the city to the extent possible.

C. Superseded by Ord. 23-02.

D. The commission shall provide an annual report on implementation and compliance with this title. (Ord. 23-02; Ord. 18-20 § 1; Ord. 08-05 § 2; Ord. 05-06 § 1).

4.20.020 Administrative review and appeal process.

A. An administrative review and appeal process is hereby established to review whether a meeting was held in violation of this title or records were withheld in violation of this title. No such administrative review process shall preclude, delay or in any way limit a person’s remedies under the Brown Act or Public Records Act. Further, such administrative review process shall not be used against employees except the city manager and city attorney since other employees are subject to discipline at the discretion of their supervisor.

B. Such review process shall include an:

1. Appeal to the city manager who shall make a decision within seven days of the appeal. (This step shall not apply in cases involving the city manager or members of the city council.)

2. Appeal of the city manager’s decision to either the commission or a three-member panel of city attorneys, at the option of the person appealing the decision. The commission or three-member panel of city attorneys, as the case may be, shall first review the matter to determine if they have jurisdiction over the matter. If the complaint involves allegations that meetings were held in violation of this title or records were withheld in violation of this title, then they have jurisdiction to hear the matter and may hear the matter in accordance with the procedures established by resolution of the open government commission. The decision on jurisdiction is final unless judicial review is initiated.

3. If the commission or a three-member panel of city attorneys reviews whether a meeting was in violation of this title or records were withheld in violation of this title, their decision may be appealed to the city council. The decision of the city council is final.

C. Enforcement.

1. Upon the conclusion of the administrative review process, as implemented pursuant to subsection (B) of this section, any person may institute proceedings for injunctive relief, declaratory relief, or writ of mandate in any court of competent jurisdiction to enforce his or her rights under this title.

2. A court may award costs and reasonable attorneys’ fees to the plaintiff in an action brought pursuant to this section where it is found that a body has violated this title. The costs and fees shall be paid by the body and shall not become a personal liability of any public official or employee of the body.

3. If the litigation is judged to be frivolous by the court, the defendant body may assert its right to be paid reasonable court costs and attorneys’ fees.

D. Mediation. Notwithstanding any other provision of law, any person whose request to inspect or copy public records has been denied by any body, agency or department may demand immediate mediation of his or her request with the Solano County courts mediation service or some mutually agreed-upon person who agrees to volunteer his or her time serving as mediator.

E. Cure and Correction.

1. Nothing in this title shall prevent a body from curing or correcting an action challenged on grounds that a body violated any material provision of Chapter 4.08 BMC. A body shall cure and correct an action by placing the challenged action on a subsequent meeting agenda for separate determinations of whether to cure and correct the challenged action and, if so, whether to affirm or supersede the challenged action after first taking any new public testimony.

2. In the event the commission, upon the conclusion of a formal hearing conducted pursuant to its administrative review process, determines that a body violated any material provision of this title, the body shall agendize for the challenged action to correct and cure the violation. Any violation shall have no effect on those actions described in Government Code Section 54960.1(d)(1) – (4), inclusive.

F. Reports or Recommendations from Meetings Alleged to Have Been Held in Violation of This Title. If the sole purpose or nature of an action that is challenged for violation of this title is to make or convey an advisory report or recommendation to another body, such body shall not be precluded from hearing or taking action on the item if it is within the authority or jurisdiction for said body to hear or take action on the item in the absence of such report or recommendation.

G. Penalties. The penalty for violation of this title by an elected or appointed official shall be commensurate with the violation and may include penalties, such as censure, including findings of fact and a determination, which shall be given to media selected by the commission.

H. Limitation of Actions. No person may file a complaint with the commission alleging violation of the notice provisions of BMC 4.08.050 if he or she attended the meeting or had actual notice of the item of business at least 72 hours prior to the meeting at which the action was taken. (Ord. 07-08 § 1; Ord. 05-06 § 1).

4.20.030 Responsibility for administration.

A. The city manager shall administer and coordinate the implementation of the provisions of this title for all bodies, agencies and departments under his or her authority, responsibility or control.

B. The city attorney shall staff, or provide staff for, the commission to permit the commission to fulfill the functions and duties set forth herein. The city attorney shall provide the commission with legal assistance, to the extent such assistance does not constitute a conflict.

C. The city clerk in the case of the city council and the assigned department in the case of other bodies shall be responsible for timely posting all agendas and shall make available for immediate public inspection and copying all agendas and agenda-related material filed with it.

D. The city clerk or designee shall act as information request facilitator to assist members of the public with acquiring the information they seek. If it will take longer than 48 hours (excluding Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays) to obtain the information requested by a member of the public then the city clerk will provide a written concise explanation of how and when the information will be made available. (Ord. 05-06 § 1).

4.20.040 Enforcement of ethics chapter.

The city council, and not the open government commission, shall be the enforcement body for alleged violations of Chapter 4.16 BMC. This process shall not be used against employees except the city manager and city attorney since other employees are subject to discipline at the discretion of their supervisor. In the event of an allegation of a violation of the ethics provisions of this title, the matter shall first be referred to the city attorney for a determination as to whether there is a substantial likelihood that an ethics violation occurred. If substantial cause exists, the city council shall use the administrative process set forth above to resolve the matter except the option of referral to the commission in BMC 4.20.020(A)(2) shall be omitted. In the case of an allegation of an ethics violation committed by an elected official, the process shall proceed directly to the city council for a determination. (Ord. 05-06 § 1).