People’s Homeless Task Force files APPEAL in Stadium Brown Act Suit!

I’m excited as both a good government blogger and a member of the People’s Homeless Task Force to report that we have just filed, through our attorney Kelly Aviles, an appeal of Judge David Hoffer’s awful ruling on our Brown Act suit against Anaheim for the Angels Stadium deal. HERE IS THE NOTICE OF APPEAL.

Some ask, “what is the point of appealing, when the Council just trashed the whole deal last night?”

To which Kelly replies, “The importance of that portion of the case was always ensuring compliance with the Brown Act, which is still the goal and remains important.  If they are going to try and renegotiate a deal, its important it happens in public.

Because think about it. The Brown Act is the bedrock of open honest government in California. And an ignorant thoughtless ruling like Judge Hoffer’s tears the stuffing out of it and leaves it a paper tiger. If Hoffer’s ruling is left to stand as precedent, dishonest governments across the state will get away with more and more secrecy and corruption. This ruling needs to be KNOCKED DOWN, number one for the sake of the Brown Act itself.

A lot of our case hinged on the fact that the Council had decided in closed session to SELL RATHER THAN LEASE the Stadium property. There IS what’s called a “real estate exemption” in the Brown Act, but that has always referred narrowly to “price and terms of sale” – THOSE TWO THINGS are allowed to be discussed in closed session, but not a question as fundamental as SALE VS. LEASE. Hoffer’s ruling blew up that traditional understanding, radically expanding the meaning of “real estate exemption.” My friend Tom Fielder wrote last month about how wrong and destructive that was.

Clearly, there was a lot in last week’s FBI revelations that will make our contentions a lot harder for any fair judge to dismiss. The Voice of OC got into that:

In his affidavit, FBI agent Brian Adkins alleges Sidhu not only tried to hide records from the OC Grand Jury, but he also engaged in witness tampering…. He also said such actions could’ve interfered with a failed resident lawsuit that alleged city officials broke California’s transparency law when secretly deciding to sell the stadium.

In that lawsuit, Assistant City Clerk Jennifer Hall said she’s never processed a text message from Sidhu in response to a public records request. “Do you recall ever receiving a text message in response to a CPRA request from the mayor?” attorney Kelly Aviles asked Hall, according to the deposition.  Hall responded, “Not that I can recall.”  …..

“This is what we said had been happening from the beginning. It’s nice there’s finally validation to the things we’ve been saying. The truth is the truth, regardless of what the judge said in the case,” Aviles said in a phone interview last week. ”The truth will always come out and I’m glad it’s starting to now.” 

Aviles said they got nothing “substantial” from Sidhu after filing numerous public record requests filed with Anaheim City Hall.  “That was no surprise, we put that in our filings, we told the court that they’re destroying records,” Aviles said. “That didn’t seem to influence the result of the Brown Act issue at all.”  

Two good people who really deserve some justice from this appeal are former City Manager Chris Zapata and Councilman Jose Moreno, both of whom gave honest depositions to the Court about what happened in closed session, were called liars by City Attorney Rob Fabela, and finally labelled “not credible” by Judge Hoffer. The FBI filings make clear what many of us always believed – these two men were the most truthful if not the only truthful players in this process. I KNOW they’re both pissed off at having their credibility besmirched, and I’m tempted to paraphrase what Zapata said to Fabela when the latter fired him: “You just fucked with the wrong Mexicans.” But I shouldn’t cuss here, so I won’t.

Finally, we would like to see our rockstar attorney both regain her “undefeated” reputation AND collect proper fees from the City of Anaheim – the City should see some consequences for putting us all through this shit, and Kelly has so far gotten only the few thousands that a group of folks of modest means WHO ADVOCATE FOR THE HOMELESS were able to throw together.

But to all that Kelly responds, “It isn’t and never was about attorney’s fees. It it were, I would have gone into a different area of law.” And also, “I don’t care about reputation and I’m not undefeated.” Oh well, still. She’ll go back to being close enough to being undefeated that people will still call her undefeated, like they used to!

THE PEOPLE’S HOMELESS TASK FORCE NEEDS MONEY to help fund this appeal! For the good of open government and the Brown Act, and to help us punish a bunch of crooks and make sure any new Stadium deal is on the up-and-up! Here’s where to go!

About Vern Nelson

Greatest pianist/composer in Orange County, and official troubador of both Anaheim and Huntington Beach (the two ends of the Santa Ana Aquifer.) Performs regularly both solo, and with his savage-jazz quintet The Vern Nelson Problem. Reach at vernpnelson@gmail.com, or 714-235-VERN.