Bruce’s Law

Here is an interesting bit from Assemblyman Chris Norby’s latest newsletter documenting his effort to promote legislation to guarantee elected officials – like Fullerton’s Bruce Whitaker – access to public documents and records.

Well, Lo and Behold: it’s not necessary according to Legislative Counsel who determined that such a right already exists. Looks like somebody forgot to tell our esteemed City Attorney Dick Jones, who has publicly defended denying Whitaker access to city-owned records.

And it looks like we have another Recall issue.

So who the Hell is really in charge in Fullerton? The cops? The bureaucrats? The unelected City Attorney? The Three Triassic Fossils who have no authority to deny a duly elected official access to official records? Who?

In the words of the Bard, Bob Dylan in “Oxford Town”: somebody better investigate soon.

“Bruce’s Law” Restates Obvious

Can elected officials be denied information obtained at public expense on public property? Can unelected attorneys and administrators keep such information hidden from those who appointed them?

That’s what’s happening to Fullerton City Councilman Bruce Whitaker. His request to view the city’s video of the fatal beating of Kelly Thomas has been denied by the City Manager and City Attorney. That video was made by a city-owned camera at the city-owned Fullerton Transportation Center. Three of Bruce’s colleagues have chosen not to watch the tape, but have never voted to deny it to him.

Bruce doesn’t seek to release the tape to the public, or even have his own copy. He just wants to see it, to be in better position to understand what happened on that fateful July night. So I drafted a bill clarifying an elected official’s right to the same information as those they hire. “Bruce’s Law” would assure those we elect have access to information they need.

My bill was rejected by Legislative Counsel, however, as unnecessary.  I was told that elected officials already have this right. I was told that unelected government employees cannot deny public officials information they need to represent their constituents. I was told that video camera footage taken by a public agency can be viewed by an official elected to govern that agency.

A new bill cannot be introduced which simply duplicates existing laws. But Bruce is still being denied the tape.

34 Replies to “Bruce’s Law”

  1. It is now pretty clear that both the FSD and Fullerton bureaucrats have decided they have the authority to deny information and access to information to duly elected representatives of the people.

    I’ll be writing another of my award-eligble essays on this topic, later today.

  2. I think Mr.Whitaker should seek outside council, have a writ of mandate prepared, present it to the court.

    The city attorney, city managers can be held in contempt if they still wish to ignore the courts order to allow Whittaker to see the tape.

    Then the City can pay the legal fees to outside council for being stupid and creating this baseless legal issue.

    This issue further shows corruption within, when one of your own people are denied access.

    Such a simple request and all this.

  3. just a guy :
    Joe Felz should be FIRED for conspiring to deny his boss access to city records.

    When a NEW majority council is seated, I would bet there will be several job openings in Fullerton.

    For now, all the clowns in this circus are playing in the center ring of the 3 Amigos.

    1. Joe Felz is plain DUNMB! If I were a member of the new council, I would simply tell him that I will be providing information on how he withheld information from the duly elected council and used the city attorney for cover ups of political putposes.
      Then Joe’s next job will be “Assistant” City Manager at another municipality, or even Parks and Recreation director.
      When you get in bed with either side of a battle, and lose, be prepared for the consequences!

  4. That was an excellent move by Chris Norby and reaffirms my faith in him. This is simply outrageous that our City Attorney, Count Chocula, is covertly doing the bidding of the three fossilized feces, and doing his level best to deny our elected officials access to critical information.
    I sincerely hope that this is brought up at the next City Council meeting post haste.

  5. First the water tax and now denial of access to city information to elected representatives. What do we need to do to FORCE these people to follow the law? It doesn’t seem that complicated. The law seems to be clear, yet Fullerton city officials (elected or not) continue on with business as usual. Can a private citizen file a lawsuit and force the issue in court? Instead of reporting on how these people continue to flaunt the law, how do we make them abide by it?

    1. A person has to be affected directly to file a lawsuit. This is called having “standing” in court. A citizen can sue for information due a citizen. A councilmember would have to sue for information due a councilmember.

  6. In the case of our city as well as our school Board, we have elected officials both seeking information while department heads and consultants choose to hide, conceal, stonewall, or mislead them.

    A new elected majority will likely see things differently and, as AntiCorruptionUnit stated, there will be a few vacancies before this is over.

    I can’t wait to read Joe’s post…

  7. ILiF, “What do we need to do to FORCE these people to follow the law? The answer is simple: Recall or sue.

  8. Looks like the law firm of Jones and Mayer is busted again for willfully misleading public officials and giving bad legal advice.

  9. No council person or elected official will ever be able to view or look through any evidence related to an active open case no matter what. Keep trying. I mean really? Imagine if council people or congressman or anyone elected could just cruise over to the evidence building and go through open cases evidence. You people are whacko.

    1. Yeah. That would be terrible if the people we elected were able to represent us to the fullest degree.

    2. They let McKinley look at it…. and he is just a regular Joe Shmoe like the rest of us. He is a has been and is nothing to the police dept. anymore. Well, he is a well payed patsy for the police but he has no business viewing something that the rest of the council is banned from seeing.

    3. Great Police logic Lt. Goober, any nitwit can figure out that Whitaker, after viewing the tape, Whitaker could either a) let anyone know that the cop’s actions were justified or, b) go run to Ron Thomas and tell him what he saw in the video. Now that would really damage the DA’s case. I think.

  10. Welcome to the Festival of Clowns :
    You mean evidence like this crime scene video released TO THE ENTIRE PUBLIC?
    http://www.ktla.com/videobeta/c5278490-24f9-40f3-ad82-35bffe7c731a

    Did FPD ever catch this suspect? The described the guy as a 5 foot 8 inch Hispanic male driving a Dodge Durango. I’d be curious to know the extent of the FPD’s investigation into this crime, as similar occurences of this nature in the past seemed to get easily tossed aside by the FPD. My experience has been that it was like you had to beg them to get off of their fat carcuses to do anything for anyone that wasn’t affiliated with Rotary Club or Chamber of Commerce.

  11. Lt Goodbar :
    No council person or elected official will ever be able to view or look through any evidence related to an active open case no matter what. Keep trying. I mean really? Imagine if council people or congressman or anyone elected could just cruise over to the evidence building and go through open cases evidence. You people are whacko.

    No kidding, especially when it would interfere with the cover up of a brutal murder or even just a little framing of an innocent person. We all need to go back to drinking our aspartame and fluoridated water, sucking our thumbs in front of the ball game and assume the fetal position until YOU tell us its time to change our diapers right?. You know it sounds almost like you would like for us to roll around in it for a while. Sorry Charlie. you know, I always thought you came with nuts-I knew I was right.

  12. Excellent!!! Solid hard evidence that stupid City Attorney should be fired (and all of his fees for the past six months should be recovered) and that our full of it City Manager should be fired too as the tool of the corrupt three during all of this time of trial.

  13. I really believe they are not showing Whittaker the video, because he has not played to the same tune as the 3 Amigos, and their circus clowns.

    Like I said before, Whittaker is ODD MAN out in all this.

    YOUR Mayor is clueless, and in charge of the gavel is all.

    If I was the Chief, I’d call Whittacker, and tell him to come to my office, and we can watch the video together.

    Is the City Manger going to fire the Chief if he does? YOU know things are bad if that happened.

    Like I said, this game playing is going to be fatal for some if a new council get’s seated.

    If they think like Whittaker, it’s going to be PAY BACK time.

  14. I will bet my GED that we will see a new law firm representing the City of Fullerton after the recall.

  15. Jones 2.0 sits in the corner all crammed up, hiding behind the monitor all tan and ready to get home and cash that check- praying& hoping no one will ask him a question, I almost beg people to come to city council and ask him, for his job description,who he works for? See him shrink.
    So far we have,
    A well paid mumbler,well paid jack ass, well paid bald chicklets,and a well paid ball handler? they are beyond embarrassing, its criminal.

  16. Ron Thomas three city council and Tony Raucaucaus on agree on withholding the tape. Cathy Thomas and her attorney along with Whittiker are being denied access. It may be in the best intrest of the city of fullerton to withold access for the case but until Whittiker can see it can we be sure its in the best intrest of the public to withold the tape till trial. The booking photo info was witheld for months for what purpose. If they would have come out right away and said the fingerprints match the booking photo then all speculation could have been laid to rest. It seems more harm than good comes from witholding information that should be public. The tape only shows what happenened in public. To keep everybody speculating puts the justice system out of balance.

  17. Lt Goodbar :No council person or elected official will ever be able to view or look through any evidence related to an active open case no matter what. Keep trying. I mean really? Imagine if council people or congressman or anyone elected could just cruise over to the evidence building and go through open cases evidence. You people are whacko.

    No, we are not whackos and we are not talking about an elected official having the run of an evidence room nor access to all of the confidential details of an investigation. We are talking about elected officials having free access to the information needed to make the oversight decissions that are in their mandated purview.

    Elected officials are, or should be, educated in their duties of care and loyalty to the entities that they oversee. They should know that if they misuse confidential information that they can face criminal and/or civil liabilities.

    What we are talking about is a tendancy that I have noticed for fifteen years for top administrators and government attorneys to tell elected officials that they should not do the functions for which they were elected and to boldly deny elected officials the information that they need to perform their mandated functions. The lawyers and administrators therefore usurp the functins of the elected officials.

    Basic civics tells us that the people elect school board members and councilmen and that they in turn hire the administrators and the lawyers. These administrators and lawyers have no right to withhold information from elected officials unless the withholding of information was mandated by an authority higher than the elected official.

    Examples of the higher authority would be laws passed by the California Ledgislature, higher court rulings, or contracts that the board or council had voluntarily entered into. Still, the board member or councilperson would have access to at least an overview of the information. Denial of information would be specific. Details A,B, and C can not be provided pursuant to California code xyz, or pursuant to the California Supreme Court decission in Blah vs. Blah written by Judge Hottentot, or pursuant to the confidentiality clause in the contract efgh signed by the board on xx/yy/20zz.

    But there is no general principal by which a lawyer or administrator of a school board or city government can decide which information a board member or city councilman should or should not see. This would set the precepts of representative government on its head.

    Generally, anything the Superintendant of Fullerton Elementary School District knows must be made known unon request to the board members of that district, singularly or as a board acting together. The same holds true for the city government.

    If a school district or city government administrator or lawyer has any discretion as to who may view information, than that information must be provided to a board member or councilperson, even acting singularly. It is then up to the board member or councilperson to be liable for the use of the information.

  18. To Anonymous:
    In Orange County they want the justice system “out of balance”. That is how certain people who think they are part of the !% can get privileges not available to the 99%. Its also how you obtain re-election monies to stay in office through various agencies for lifetime benefits and pay. Its a no brainer!

  19. Maybe considering we are not being represented, we should no longer pay taxes. I read somewhere..no taxation without representation…where was that?
    I heard JOnes at City Council tell a citizen, he didnt represent her, and shoo’d her away…a tax paying citizen, if he does that type of thing publically, you can only imagine the back door deals…have they no conscience?

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