There is no limit of things that you can find out if you poke around the internet a little. And, as we all know, the source of all knowledge is now Google, with everything right there at your fingertips. Throw in a MacBook and you have access to more information than the greatest philosophers studying in history's most renowned libraries. The key being what exactly it is you do with all that.
We here at The Tattler know what to do with such opportunity, and that is to focus with a laser-like intensity, and for years, upon the political and governmental affairs of a city with a population of less than 11,000 people. Some might not see a logical explanation for it, but whatever the reason it is fun. It is also existentially rewarding as well. After all, something has got to be important. Plus we do like the people we do it for.
So here is today's shocking internet discovery. If you were to go to the California Fair Political Practices Commission site, and poke around a little (click here), you could come across Form 700 "Statement Of Economic Interest" filings for then Mayor John Buchanan, Mayor Pro Tem Josh Moran and Councilmember Nancy Walsh. These are the forms that elected officials must fill out should they receive what the form identifies as income and/or gifts. I have posted the first and fifth pages of Mayor Buchanan's relevant Form 700 filing. Click on them and they will enlarge for your reading convenience.
As a Tattler reader I am certain you are aware, in September of 2011 we still had a 5 person City Council. Our fifth City Council member at that time was MaryAnn MacGillivray. There is no filing for her on the occasion we're about to describe here. Apparently, and hardly for the first time, she was not invited to their reindeer games.
What these forms reveal is that during last year's League of California Cities get together in San Francisco, the City of Sierra Madre's chosen law firm, Colantuono & Levin, took John Buchanan, Josh Moran and Nancy Walsh out to dinner. Which gives at least the appearance of being a Brown Act violation. All three of these elected officials are not supposed to be meeting in a private setting, because they theorteically could be involved in some sort of collusion.
The irony here being that the firm supplying our City Attorney, someone who is supposed to be ever vigilant in this matter, was the cause of this quite possible violation of a rather famous California law.
There is the appearance of a gray area here, however. There always are gray areas in life, and we should never ignore them. On their forms John Buchanan and Josh Moran identify the date of this unfortunate chow down as September 22, 2011. Nancy Walsh identifies her dinner with destiny as having taken place on September 21, 2011. My immediate suspicion is that Nancy got the date wrong as the stated value of the "gift" is the same as Josh Moran. That being $94.10. You know how Nancy is with details. Also note that it appears Joe Mosca has yet to file his portion with the FPPC.
However, let's say the forms are correct and that these two dinners did take place on two separate evenings. Under the Brown Act that will not get you an out. Here is the relevant passage from a pamphlet (click here) on the Brown Act supplied by Bill Lockyer, who, at the time of its writing, was the Attorney General of the State of California.
Meeting Defined: Any gathering of a quorum of a Legislative body to discuss or transact business under the body's jurisdiction; serial meetings are prohibited.
Serial meetings being two or more get-togethers held in a kind of sequence with the same purpose of conveying a piece of governmental business to related elected officials. That would have to include two dinners held with the same City Attorney at the same conference. At least in my opinion.
And what else would you discuss with a City Attorney other than business? Hair care?
What we need now is for the City of Sierra Madre to conduct an investigation into this matter. Normally this would have to be done by our Colantuono & Levin City Attorney, but seeing how they might be intimately involved in the violation itself, they're probably going to have to sit this one out. The City will need to go outside for advice.
There is also the matter of the upcoming RFP for legal bids, which is on the City Council schedule for this September 11. Mayor Josh Moran and Mayor Pro Tem Nancy Walsh should be asked by a resident during Public Comment to recuse themselves from this particular discussion. After all, they were at that dinner with Colantuono & Levin. I will be more than glad to do the honors, but others should want to join in as well. This is an important matter.
That concludes today's report. I'll be happy to answer any questions.