I reported briefly last week on the whole to-do about the City’s wanton approval of a Frank Gehry megaplex at 8150 Sunset and, more recently, on the extremely weird fact that the Council’s PLUM1 Committee forwarded proposed historic-cultural designation of the Lytton Savings building on to the full Council without a recommendation, even though CD4 Councilmember David Ryu explicitly favors the designation. This is just a brief update with links to more documents.
Perhaps you’ve been following along with our LAMC 49.5.5(A) project, in which we turn various City officials and employees in to the LA City Ethics Commission for violating that most lovely government accountability ordinance, LAMC 49.5.5(A) by misusing their positions in various ways. Well, just recently, via the fine folks at the Coalition to Preserve L.A., I learned of a possibly even more funner law, which may allow City employees not only to get fined by the CEC for violating CPRA, but actually locked up for it! Ladies and gentlemen, loyal MK.Org readers, may I present to you the stunning law known to the world as California Government Code Section 1222, which states in full:
Every wilful omission to perform any duty enjoined by law upon any public officer, or person holding any public trust or employment, where no special provision is made for the punishment of such delinquency, is punishable as a misdemeanor.
The potential here is astounding. You see, there is “no special provision…made for the punishment of” a failure to comply with CPRA. This is in contrast to, e.g., the Brown Act, which does contain a clause making certain kinds of violations misdemeanors.3 However, the duty to comply with CPRA is “enjoined by law upon” public officers. For instance, the California Constitution at Article I, section 3(b) states pretty unequivocally that:
In order to ensure public access to the meetings of public bodies and the writings of public officials and agencies, as specified in paragraph (1), each local agency is hereby required to comply with the California Public Records Act …
Now, this law requires4 that the failure to act be wilful. But, of course, that’s where we have Chad Molnar dead to rights. If you didn’t read the whole story, you can at least read the smoking gun, in which Chad Molnar actually states explicitly that he’s not going to comply with CPRA and that he doesn’t think he has to comply. And note that this is not just him not complying with some vague part of the law, proof of violation of which would require a fact-finder, but him not complying with objectively clear, explicitly mandated, response deadlines. He just flat-out says he’s not going to respond as required. It’s hard to imagine a more wilful violation than that.