PLJ files third appeal
by Alyssa Ramos
Published - 05/08/08 - 05:51 PM | 1561 views | 0 0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Attorney Steve Haskins of the La Jolla watchdog group La Jollans for Clean Government sent City Attorney Michael Aguirre a letter dated April 21, demanding that Aguirre's office look into "allegations of serious Brown Act violations associated with the Promote La Jolla, Inc. Board of Directors."

"[PLJ] voted to approve parking meters and it wasn't on the agenda and it wasn't noticed to the public," Haskins said. "And that's a clear violation of the Brown Act."

Haskins also represents two new board members who fought to be seated on the PLJ board after an election scandal in which two re-elected members were found to be ineligible. PLJ board members fought to keep Nancy Warwick and Bob Collins off the PLJ board, but a judge ruled in favor of the two, whom Haskins represents. PLJ went back to the court of appeal twice, filing letters of stay, Haskins said. Although PLJ "” La Jolla's business improvement district "” lost its appeals, the group recently sent out a second notice of stay.

According to Haskins, PLJ's attorneys typed up their own legal paperwork against his clients. On April 28, the attorneys sent Haskins a notice of automatic stay, but Haskins said he doesn't think it means anything.

"They asked for a stay and the judge said no," Haskins said. "Then a court of appeal said no. Now they just sent [the new stay] around."

Another part of the Warwick and Collins lawsuit asked PLJ to disclose public records "” including financial records "” which led to further dispute, according to Warwick and Haskins.

"They said we could only see some of the records and we had to go downtown to see them," Warwick said.

"We have been very careful to fully comply," PLJ attorney Bill Sauls said. "We have complied with all the documents requested. They received everything they asked for. I documented that thoroughly with them."

"He's restricting my clients from seeing what they want," Haskins said. "The directors of PLJ are allowed to see the documents. It's as if they have something to hide."

But Sauls said he complied with the public records requests and he completely disagrees with the allegations of Brown Act violations.

"Records and witness statements indicate that such violations have been going on for years and continue to this day," Haskins said. "PLJ has tried to file another paper with the court of appeal to force Warwick and Collins off the board. They're just out of control."

According to Haskins, PLJ violated several state laws, including the Brown Act, when members voted to endorse the controversial paid parking plan and send it to the San Diego City Council for approval.

The "quasi-governmental" board allegedly violated laws when they held secret meetings "” meetings not publicly posted, where the entire board was in attendance, either by phone, e-mail, or in person. They also "held closed sessions without PLJ's attorney present, refusing to allow board members to speak during the public portion of the board meetings, and manipulating quorums," Haskins said.

Haskins said he is still waiting for a reply from the city attorney's office from his April 21 letter.

"We're still considering it," said Deputy City Attorney Michael Calabrese.

Attorneys for PLJ have 30 days to respond to the allegations of Brown Act violations. Sauls said he is currently writing a response to the city attorney, and that he "completely disagrees" with the content of the letter Haskins sent.

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