Macsay’s Rules of Order
An Analysis of “Modoc Law”
The Modoc County Board of Supervisors has already turned one deaf ear to words of advice from the Monday Night Group, now the question is will it turn a second deaf ear on Tuesday, Sept. 7, when the stubborn ad hoc committee returns with an identical request to hear its six-point financial plan?
And, the next logical question is, are the supervisors even required to hear the Monday Night Group’s proposal just because it is on the agenda?
While opinions vary to a degree on the legality of a board addressing an agenda item, there is a pattern of agreement: Board chairs, in this case Macsay, control what makes the public agenda and what does not, and there is broad discretion in actually discussing the item.
“It would not be within the province of a citizens committee to place an item on the board’s agenda,” states Jennifer Henning, executive director of the County Counsels’ Association.
“In general, the board can only consider items properly agendized under the Brown Act,” she explained. “Public comment periods are required, but the board cannot add agenda items based on those public comments except for under limited and unusual circumstances.
“Board members may direct staff to place an issue raised by citizens during the public comment period on the agenda for a future meeting, but are under no obligation to do so. And it would certainly not be unusual to decline to do so,” she said.
Compared to other California counties canvassed by the Modoc Daily News Blog, Modoc County is lenient when it comes to placing matters on the agenda at the request of the public.
“Joe public can’t put an item on the agenda,” said a source in Yolo County. “The agenda is the county’s and is set by the CAO and staff. We have something called board reports which is a place for members to bring up whatever they want – often times where they complain about something they wanted on the agenda but isn’t.
“An elected body is usually directed by legal counsel at every step,” the source explained. “And if there is either litigation already in play or is contemplated for the future, most county counsels won’t let the body talk about the issue in open session.
“But they will generally speak up and let not only the electeds know they shouldn’t be talking about the issues, but also informing the public. Frankly, it’s the easy out for elected officials and makes their attorney the bad guy who stifles debate.
“This is used all the time and the issue is generally discussed in closed session. Maybe the majority of the board had been warned prior not to address the issue, but I’d be surprised if they didn’t explain that it was on the advice of counsel,” the source added.
All this goes back to the well-worn phrase “Modoc Law” and Macsay’s handling of public meetings.
“Agenda management has never been a priority in Modoc,” said a source with knowledge of Modoc County‘s traditional handling of public issues.
“It sounds like Macsay is running a shell game intended to frustrate the Monday Night Group, which should document what happened at the meeting when the board refused to hear them, and file a complaint with the Attorney General.
“If Macsay pulled the item, then he should have offered and given sufficient time to the Monday Night Group to speak at the beginning of the board meeting.
“It’s not surprising. If Macsay had any leadership ability he would review each and every agenda and approve it before it was posted. The supervisors hate to do that because it makes them accountable. There are much slicker ways to play this game. Macsay is just rather crude.”
Crude or not, it appears the board, under the leadership of Macsay, has painted itself into not only a legal corner but a moral one as well.
Don Demsher, a spokesman for the Monday Night Group, said Macsay and the board has a moral obligation -- at the very least -- to hear his committee’s proposal for guiding the county through its fiscal morass.
“If they put it on the agenda why not talk about it,” Demsher asked.
-- Ray A. March
Saturday, September 4, 2010
Wednesday, September 1, 2010
Posted by BMarch at 8:03 PM
Injunction Against Ruby Pipeline Denied
An emergency injunction filed against the BLM, US Fish and Wildlife Service and Ruby Pipeline L.L.C. by The Center for Biological Diversity was denied by the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on August 31. The court cited Alliance for the Wild Rockies vs. Cottrell in its decision.
The injunction was filed to stop construction of the 677-mile Ruby Pipeline which is to be built across land in Wyoming, Utah, Nevada and Oregon.
The Center for Biological Diversity claimed that Ruby Pipeline, L.L.C., a subsidiary of the El Paso Corporation, would trench through more than 1,000 rivers and streams, acutely affecting endangered fish species and fish habitat -- and it would use more than 400 million gallons of water over the next several years from an arid region.
“Construction of the Ruby Pipeline should be stopped until questions about its impact on endangered fish can be answered,” said Noah Greenwald, endangered species program director at the Center. “The rush to build this pipeline is precluding options with lower impacts on endangered fish and other resources.”
Posted by BMarch at 7:39 PM
Tuesday, August 31, 2010
BULLETIN - August 31, 9:29 p.m.
Early returns indicate that the Hospital District has been approved according to Modoc County elections official Shannon Hagge. Hagge reported that both measures Q and R were approved by the voters. Unofficial results are 2338 votes cast (62.8%). There are 3,724 registered voters in the district boundary.
Total votes 2330 - Measure Q “yes” 70.17% (1635 vs. 695 “no”)Total votes 2333 - Measure R “yes” 68.07% (1588 vs. 745 “no”)
Details to follow.
Posted by BMarch at 9:34 PM