Good Court News for HB, Bad for Mikey Gates!

[Ed. Note: We usually don’t repost press releases, but sometimes they deserve it! Congratulations to the plaintiff and counsel! Condolences to the citizens of Huntington Beach, whose tax money will now probably go to one or more appeals seeking to maintain secrecy in order to avoid political embarrassment!]

May 22, 2024


City Required to Disclose Secret Contract

HUNTINGTON BEACH – Orange County Superior Court Judge Jonathan Fish ordered the City to disclose the settlement between the City and the operator of the Pacific Airshow. Stating that “[o]penness in government is essential to the functioning of a democracy,” Judge Fish ruled that the City had failed to justify its year-long refusal to publicly disclose the settlement and that the California Public Records Act required its immediate release.

The case was brought by Gina Clayton-Tarvin, an elementary and middle school teacher who serves as Clerk and former President of the Ocean View School District Board of Trustees. Clayton Tarvin has for decades lived and raised a family in Huntington Beach. Clayton-Tarvin filed this action on June 7, 2023. Clayton Tarvin had initially requested the air show settlement days after it was announced in May 2023, and City Attorney Michael E. Gates had refused to disclose the settlement, insisting that it be kept secret.

The Court’s order requiring disclosure of the settlement agreement comes just days after the California Joint Legislative Audit Committee voted to direct State Auditor Grant Parks to audit the City and the airshow settlement. Once turned over to Clayton Tarvin, the full airshow settlement agreement will be made available to anyone who wants to read it.

In response to the Court’s order, Clayton-Tarvin issued the following statement:

“Transparency is key to the functioning of a healthy democracy. I have lived and raised my family in Huntington Beach and have served the community as a teacher, volunteer, and elected official. I love this community and care deeply about good governance in Huntington Beach. I am very pleased that Judge Fish has ordered the City to disclose the airshow settlement agreement. Now the public will be able to see for itself – without having to take Michael Gates’ word for it – exactly how our taxpayer dollars are being spent and will be able to ensure no one is getting preferential treatment at taxpayer expense. And if we learn that Gates and the City have lied or broken the law, then we the people can do something about it. This is the transparency and accountability promised under California law.”

Gregory Pleasants, Esq. represented Clayton Tarvin along with Brett Murdock, Esq. Pleasants, who argued the case on Clayton Tarvin’s behalf, stated in response to the Court’s ruling:

“Every Californian under our State Constitution has a fundamental right to know – beyond the official story – what our government is doing and how it is spending our money. Our right to transparency prevents government waste, fraud, and corruption, and allows us to hold the government accountable for its mistakes and misdeeds. Today’s ruling vindicates this principle for Gina Clayton-Tarvin and all residents of Huntington Beach.”

A copy of the order is attached. Ms. Clayton-Tarvin was directed to file a final proposed judgment for the Court. After the Court signs the document, the City will be required to disclose the document. The City has only 20 days to seek discretionary review from the Court of Appeal, and a stay of the trial court’s order is only allowed if the City can show irreparable harm.

For More Information Contact: [Ed. note: phone numbers have been omitted because trolls.]

Gregory Pleasants, Esq.

Brett Murdock, Esq.

Gina Clayton-Tarvin

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"Admin" is just editors Vern Nelson, Greg Diamond, or Ryan Cantor sharing something that they mostly didn't write themselves, but think you should see. Before December 2010, "Admin" may have been former blog owner Art Pedroza.