Thursday, January 12, 2006

Libertarians vs. IVRPD

Libertarian Party Files Lawsuit Against IVRPD
Charged With Brown Act Violation, IVRPD Accuses Santa Barbara Libertarian Party of 'Gouging District'

by Mollie Vandor - Staff Writer, DAILY NEXUS
Wednesday, January 11, 2006

With the filing of a recent lawsuit, the Isla Vista Recreation and Park District (IVRPD) has found itself facing its second major legal battle with the Santa Barbara Libertarian Party in less than a year.

On Dec. 15, the Santa Barbara chapter of the Libertarian Party filed suit against the IVRPD with the chapter's vice chairman, Michael Lamboley, named as plaintiff. In the suit, Lamboley's lawyer, William Hansult, alleges that the board violated the Brown Act - a California law requiring meetings of legislative bodies to be open to the public - during three closed session meetings in August and September. IVRPD General Manager Derek Johnson said the board used the meetings to interview law firms looking to serve as the IVRPD's legal counsel. Since meetings dealing with district employment issues are exempt from the Brown Act, Johnson said the IVRPD did not violate the law.

"The district fully believes in the Brown Act," Johnson said. "We are confident in the district's position that the district lawfully met in closed session to interview legal counsel."

According to the text of the lawsuit, the Libertarian Party is asking Judge James W. Brown, who is presiding over the case, to issue an injunction against the IVPRD. The injunction would officially condemn the district's actions and prohibit the board from violating the Brown Act in the future. The party also calls for the board to pay the Libertarian Party's legal fees, as well as any other financial penalties the court deems necessary.

Lamboley said the IVRPD could potentially avoid a legal battle over the alleged violation if it admits that the lawsuit's accusations are correct and changes its procedures accordingly.

"The district can either say to the judge that [the Libertarian Party is] right and this is how they're going to fix it, or they can fight it and it could cost them money," Lamboley said.

According to papers Hansult filed at the Santa Barbara Superior Court in support of the suit, the Libertarian Party believes that legal action is the only way to keep the IVRPD from violating the Brown Act again in the future.

"The actions of the defendants ... were designed to purposefully and maliciously deprive the people of their right to know and to remain informed of the actions taken by the public body," Hansult stated in the supporting documents. "Further it is believed and hereby alleged that without this court's intervention and issuance of an injunction, that the board will continue to violate the Brown Act in similar ways."

IVRPD board member Bryan Brown said he thinks the Libertarian Party is using the suit to get money from the district.

"They have consistently made it clear they're out for money," Brown said. "This is an attempt to gouge the district."

However, Lamboley said the lawsuit was motivated by a desire to hold local governing bodies accountable to state laws.

"The State of California has some of the best good government laws in the nation, but there are no provisions in the budget for enforcing those laws," Lamboley said. "They're on the books, but it's up to individuals or organizations to enforce these rules and basically that's what we're doing."

Brown said the suit comes down to how the judge decides to interpret the Brown Act.

"They're claiming that by interviewing attorneys in closed session, we violated the Brown Act because an attorney is not an official employee, they're an independent contractor," Brown said. "The Brown Act says you can meet to discuss official employees, but there's a conflict in how the Brown Act specifies who is an employee."

In early 2005, a judge ordered the IVRPD to pay over $40,000 in fines stemming from a lawsuit filed by the Libertarian Party in November 2001 over another Brown Act violation. Johnson said the suit ultimately cost the district close to $300,000 in fines and legal fees.

"It made things tough," Johnson said. "It made the district's ability to provide its services tough."

Brown said the district has been bracing for the second lawsuit since Craig Geyer, who was the Libertarian Party's chief witness in the 2001 suit, attended one of the meetings in question and informed IVRPD board members that he thought their closed session agenda violated the Brown Act.

Geyer said he is not involved in the lawsuit and declined further comment. The lawsuit itself cites an anonymous citizen who attended an IVRPD meeting and informed the board about the alleged Brown Act violations.

Brown said the IVRPD hopes to have this lawsuit resolved more quickly than the last one, which was in litigation for three years. He said he thinks the two lawsuits show that the Libertarian Party is specifically targeting the IVRPD.

"I think they have a grudge against us for reasons I don't entirely understand," Brown said.

The district plans to discuss the suit in further detail at its Jan. 19 meeting, Johnson said.

Hansult could not be reached for comment.

Libertarian Party Files Lawsuit Against IVRPD - Daily Nexus Online

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Isla Vista Yahoo Group

There's an interesting thread going on currently at the Isla Vista Yahoo Groups site, which also invites new members for those of you who would like to write about Isla Vista on a more frequent basis. The thread excerpt, below, is just a portion of the current discussion:

> In a message dated 1/9/2006 4:43:45 P.M. Mountain Standard Time, writes:
> I remember Borsodi's (sp) Coffee House as the first coffee house I ever went to...poetry readings, guitarist/singers doing actual folk music...interesting place!

Borsodi (I can't remember his name) died a few years back, living in New Orleans. I think it was lung cancer. I think Linda left in the late 1970s? I remember they had this great mural on the inside ceiling that was the view from the center of the Bank of America the morning after it burned down, looking straight up, with the smoldering wood timbers sticking up on every side and the blue sky in the middle.

It occurs to me that if we put together a list of people and their estimated birth dates I could check my Social Security Death Index and find out if any passed on. It wouldn't be definite as in some cases there would be multiple people with the same name and birth year. More help if we had place they were born in but that is probably not known.

I told Dave that Joyce Roop passed away in Boston sometime in the past few years. I taught her massage (she lived below me at the Campus Crusade for Christ on the south side of the 1st block of Pardall (6504?).

Gotta stop. Could go on forever.

> I am SURE concerts have changed! We held them in People's Park, before and after they built what was easily the world's goofiest amphitheater! I remember we "sold" beer to raise money for the IVCC. Actually, people "donated" for the beer. We kept it cool (as in "proper" not chilled), and the Foot Patrol never gave us any trouble, because the way we ran it, there was never any trouble! By the way, the statute of limitations HAS passed on this, correct???
> Having caught up a bit with Ed, I was saddened to hear of the death of several people I knew, and delighted by good news about others.
> Isla Vista: It was an intense experience, that is for sure!
> I could go on for pages about life there in the '70s, it was indeed a very special place!
> Dave Pye
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