Cooper Subpoenaed over Lawsuit Claiming Elk Grove is Stonewalling Release of Public Documents

August 10, 2017 |

California Assemblymember Jim Cooper (D - Elk Grove) has been subpoenaed by litigants against the City of Elk Grove.

The deposition subpoena, which was issued on behalf of Stand Up For California by Penryn, Calif.-based attorney Brigit S. Barnes, is in relation to their lawsuit against the City of Elk Grove. That lawsuit is seeking to identify documents that the City says are exempt from public records act disclosure.

Dated on July 27, 2017, the subpoena is for an order to Cooper to appear at a deposition regarding the lawsuit. Because he is no longer officially associated with the City, Cooper was personally served the order on Friday, July 28.

The order includes a list of series of 73 different communications sought from a wide variety of individuals and a host of companies and organizations. Among the communications of all types being sought between Cooper regarding the proposed Wilton Rancheria include several notable organizations such as the Howard Hughes Corporation, Boyd Gaming, Wilton Rancheria, Willdan Group, Vintara Holding, Pulte Homes, and several construction trade unions among several listed.

The subpoena also seeks correspondence between Cooper and several individuals including former Elk Grove Mayor Gary Davis, Elk Grove Council Members Steve Detrick and Pat Hume, real estate development consultant Jim Gillum, former Elk Grove economic development director Randy Starbuck, Robert and/or Lisa Lent, and Region Business Executive Director Josh Wood.

The lawsuit, which was filed in Sacramento Superior Court on June 20, claims Elk Grove has obstructed the release of some of the requested documents which are covered by the public record act (PRA) without explanation.  

That lawsuit says "City refuses to release public records from former City Councilmembers and/or employees during the time period they were with the City, including records related to meetings held regarding the casino/hotel. City refuses to turn over documents from consultants working on behalf of the City on the casino/hotel, and refuse to turn over relevant text-messages, emails, and phone messages. By refusing to release the public records requested, City has violated its legal duties. Petitioners therefore ask this Court for writ of mandate to compel City to comply with PRA." 

In light of a March 2017 California Supreme Court ruling, those communications eligible for release include text messages sent via cell phones. Specifically, in a unanimous decision, the court said text messages and emails from public officials that are sent from private accounts are eligible for public review if it involves public business. 

According to the document, the deposition is scheduled for Wednesday, August 16, 2017, in Loomis, Calif.  The subpoena can be viewed here.  

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