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CACoastCommish: LawBreakers
#1
It's no wonder the public can't trust government agencies.

Who should pay fines if coastal commissioners are found guilty of breaking rules? Them or taxpayers?
http://www.latimes.com/local/california/...story.html

Earlier article: Lawsuit seeks millions in fines from 5 coastal commissioners, alleging 590 transparency violations http://www.latimes.com/local/california/...story.html

"Just when you thought it might not be possible, the California Coastal Commission story has gotten a little more interesting.

As reported by my colleague Dan Weikel, five commissioners have been sued by a San Diego nonprofit called Spotlight on Coastal Corruption.

And people accuse us of never covering good news.

Slapped with a lawsuit were Commissioners Steve Kinsey, the chairman, Wendy Mitchell, Erik Howell, Martha McClure and Mark Vargas.

They have been accused of collectively violating disclosure laws not a few times, nor a few dozen times.
But 590 times over the last two years.
F-I-V-E H-U-N-D-R-E-D N-I-N-E-T-Y.
[Image: 400x225]
Lawsuit seeks millions in fines from 5 coastal commissioners, alleging 590 transparency violations
According to the claim, the commissioners repeatedly failed to file complete, comprehensive, timely reports on their private conversations — known as ex parte communications — with developers and others before voting on projects.
And here’s where it gets really interesting.

The suit was not filed against the California Coastal Commission, which is made up of 12 politically appointed commissioners and more than 100 staff members. It was filed against individual commissioners. If the court rules that there were violations, each could be fined a small fortune, ranging from hundreds of thousands of dollars to more than $1 million.

This raises more than a few questions, among them:

Who should pay for commissioners’ legal defense, and if fines are levied against them, who should pick up the tab — the commissioners or the taxpayer-funded Coastal Commission?

Kathryn Burton is one of the San Diego coast watchers who formed Spotlight on Coastal Corruption earlier this year, and she didn’t hesitate for an instant when I put those questions to her Tuesday afternoon.
“Oh, absolutely, the commissioners,” she said. “The public shouldn’t be picking up their legal bills or their fines when they weren’t following the law.”

Burton, a retired city attorney, said there could be no greater deterrent to rule-breaking in the future than to have commissioners on notice that misdeeds will cost them. And if the sued commissioners are found liable, it’s the commission itself — understaffed and underfunded for years — that would receive the fines as dictated by the Coastal Act.

“It’s a win-win,” Burton said.
Pia
just pm me if needed.
 
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