Is the City Purposely Misconstruing Its Own Rules In Coverup Attempt?

The City of Irvine put out this statement which appears to be in response to Irvine Watchdog’s article Violations of Irvine’s Sunshine Ordinance Continue at OC Great Park Board Meetings – Irvine Watchdog.

The City’s statement is false and misleading. This would appear to be an attempt to reinterpret the rules to justify procedural violations rather than addressing the violations directly. Who wrote this statement? Who authorized its release? What is City Attorney Jeff Melching’s view on this?

Let’s break down the City’s statement:

  • “Typically, the original presentation is included in the 12-day agenda packet, and any updates are posted in the supplemental agenda packet.”

FALSE – Presentations are rarely if ever included in the 12-day agenda packet or the supplemental agenda packet. They are typically seen for the first time at the public meeting. After the meeting has taken place, the presentations are updated on that meeting’s agenda after the fact.

  • “Effective immediately, staff will add any amended presentation items to the online agenda if any changes are made after the supplemental agenda has been posted.”

THIS VIOLATES IRVINE’S SUNSHINE ORDINANCE – The City appears to refer to the Great Park Development Report as being a presentation, however, as the Report appears on the Great Park Board Business Item agenda, it may not be classified as a presentation and must therefore be treated as a business item document.

New items CANNOT be added after the supplemental agenda has been posted. If there are additional changes that need to be made to the supplemental agenda, these changes must be made for a future meeting. Per City Council Ordinance 18-10 which is the Irvine Municipal Code to increase transparency, participation, and accountability in public processes:

(1) regular meeting agendas must be published twelve (12) days prior to a meeting
(2) supplemental or special meeting agendas must be published five (5) days prior to the meeting

  • “These changes will be added as an ‘errata’ to the appropriate online agenda item.”

THIS IS NOT THE PROPER USE OF ERRATA AND THIS STATEMENT IS MISLEADING – The singular purpose of errata is to correct clerical errors in the document in order to clarify statements or to correct data provided in the report documents. Errata cannot be used to add additional items to documents. If an item needs to be added to the agenda after the supplemental agenda deadline, this may only be done in a future meeting.

Additional clarifications per City Council Ordinance 18-10

  • Supplemental agendas must serve one of these conditions:
    • Added items must be emergency in nature
    • Item requires immediate action AND did not come to the attention of the agenda setting body before the agenda posting deadline.
    • Need to avoid substantial impact that would occur should the agenda item be delayed to a future meeting.
    • Agenda item is purely ceremonial in nature and does not require decisions from the body.
    • Closed session item relating to ongoing, proposed or threatened litigation.
    • Item needs to be removed from posted regular meeting agenda
  • Posted agenda documents must be submitted by the appropriate meeting deadlines.
    • Submission of agenda documents after posting deadlines requires 2/3 of the decision-making body to approve the added document AND the body must declare that the new document was not made known to them prior to the meeting.
    • Copies of the amended or added documents must be made available to the public prior to the meeting.
      • Placed in Agenda item binder in meeting chambers.
      • Posted prior to the meeting on the agenda website.
  • As presentations are known to be of interest to members of the public, presentation documents should be posted as an agenda document attachment and comply with the required agenda posting deadlines.

  • The City should note that Consent Calendars are meant only for items that are routine AND recurring in nature.  Consent calendars may not be used for decisions on items known to be of public interest and concern which are required to placed on business calendars for presentation, discussion and decision.

Irvine Watchdog will reach out to City Attorney Jeff Melching regarding this matter and will provide updates with any response.