Two separate complaints were filed this week with the City of Elk Grove alleging that the recent appointment of Robert Trigg to the Elk Grove City Council was done in violation of California's open government law, the Brown Act. Trigg's appointment was approved at the city council's Jan. 23 meeting following a protracted council battle to fill the vacancy when Gary Davis vacated the city's District Four seat after being elected mayor.
Each of the two complaints claim that once Trigg's name was placed into nomination, the public was not given an opportunity to comment on the nomination. One of the complaints also allege that three unnamed council members engaged in pre-meeting communications with regards to the possible appointment of Trigg.
The complaint filed by Elk Grove resident Connie Conley says that once Trigg's name was put into nomination the matter should have been continued to a future meeting so the public could comment or the public comment should have been reopened at the Jan. 23 meeting. Conley also says three unnamed council members engaged in pre-meeting communications regarding Trigg.
In the second complaint filed by Elk Grove resident Linda Ford, her document states the "Elk Grove City Council has displayed a complete lack of transparency and apparent ongoing disregard for the Ralph M. Brown Act." Ford said that "by denying public comment on the nomination of Mr. Trigg, a violation of the Brown Act occurred, which guarantees the public's right to attend and participate in meetings related to local government.
Ford also alleges that "the Elk Grove City Council violated the Brown Act when it engaged in communication regarding Mr. Trigg's nomination prior to the council meeting on January 23, 2013."
Responding to an Email inquiry, Elk Grove City Attorney Jonathon Hobbs wrote "the City is not legally required to respond to the complaints." Hobbs declined to answer on what the procedure is for answering complaints saying he cannot offer legal advise.
However he did direct the inquiry to California Government Code section 54950 et seq., and specifically Government Code section 54960.1.
The lede of section 54960.1 reads "The district attorney or any interested person may commence an action by mandamus or injunction for the purpose of obtaining a judicial determination that an action taken by a legislative body of a local agency in violation of Section 54953, 54954.2, 54954.5, 54954.6, 54956, or 54956.5 is null and void under this section.
The entire Brown Act is available here.