UPDATE: As noted in the comment from Chris Thompson below, he did not learn about the Beechwood situation (whatever it is) from FFFF. This was my error. I misread the following comment made by Thompson in yesterday’s post:
For clarity’s sake, I have NOT been briefed on any aspect of this story beyond the information which has been made publicly available in the meeting posted here.
I read this to mean that he had not been briefed at all. I do not know if he had an independent briefing from Hovey, but he was actually at the meeting in question. My mistake. I have edited the text below.
In the past few days in Fullerton we have witnessed the usurpation of public sovereignty by government employees and contractors who seem to believe it is their right, not our representative’s, to determine what sorts of information the duly elected representatives are, or are not permitted to see.
First, was the protracted saga of Fullerton City councilman Bruce Whitaker, who for seven moths has been trying to get access to the video of FPD cops beating Kelly Thomas to death. This is a pretty reasonable request, you would think, given the fact that the cops have watched and re-watched the video (Acting Chief Dan Hughes says he’s seen it 400 times); it’s been viewed by the DA; it’s been watched by Cicinelli and Ramos’s lawyers; apparently it’s even been watched by Ron Thomas, father of the dead man. But for some reason the City Manager and City Attorney believe they have the authority to deny access of this public document to Bruce Whitaker, and have used the majority vote of the Three Dim Bulbs to continue to deny Whitaker access.
This is just an outrageous usurpation of the authority that accrues to elected officials by virtue of their popular election. Despite what the bureaucrats and their die-hard elected supporters believe, the sovereignty invested in the elected is indivisible and should never be confused with the practical exigency of majority rule that determines policy and decides the quotidian issues of managing a city.
And then, we have the very recent sad spectacle of a Fullerton School District trustee, Chris Thompson, not being adequately briefed on a matter involving a teacher at Beechwood Elementary School – a matter so serious that the Fullerton police were called in to investigate it, and an emergency parent meeting held. Whatever is going on, the Superintendant, Mitch Hovey decided that the trustees didn’t need to know about it.
The question of whether other trustees besides Thompson were briefed remains to be ascertained, and if so that would make matters even worse.
But here’s the really bad part. According to Thompson: Dr. Hovey informed me that he had been advised by the district’s law firm as to what information he could and could not give to the board members. He did confirm that he knows more than we do.
Say what? That law firm doesn’t work for Hovey; it works for the Board of Trustees who hired them. It has no business collaborating with the Superintendent to decide what information can and can’t be parceled out to the Board. And anybody who doesn’t grasp this basic tenet shouldn’t be on the Board or work for it, either.
As Assemblyman Norby pointed out in his newsletter, it is both the right and the responsibility of elected officials to have reasonable access to public property and documents in order to do their jobs. The Legislative Counsel for the State of California said so. This precept is all about accountability and responsibility in our representative democracy.
So why is this basic concept being flagrantly flouted by Fullerton’s bureaucrats? Who is in charge here, indeed?