Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Hot & Steamy RRROC Stuff: The Smoking Emails

Below, please find the hot & steamy RRROC "smoking emails" (the supposed "evidence" for Mr. Guccione's complaint against RRROC for alleged Brown Act violations). They're buried on the RRROC Web site, but I'm posting them here for the convenience of anyone who has the desire, fortitude, & impeturbable digestive system required for their perusal.

The cast of characters (as seen in the email headers & body of the emails) are as follows:

  • Dan Fein: Chairman of RRROC
  • John Uniack: RRROC member & community watch dog/legal eagle
  • Boris Sztorch: CDC Redevelopment Manager
  • Ken Wikle: RRROC member
  • Brown Act: A California Law which requires that the meetings of elected officials be open to the public & that the public be guaranteed the right to speak. Apparently Mr. Guccione believes that the following emails count as a "meeting," although no meeting agenda items were discussed.
  • P&P: Policies & Procedures. A legal document which governs how RRROC meetings are to be conducted & who's allowed to do what.

These email messages consist of an argument between Mr. Fein & Mr. Uniack. Mr. Fein had sent an email to RRROC & CDC members calling for a special RRROC meeting, in addition to the regular monthly one. Mr. Fein believed this meeting was necessary because several agenda items had been postponed (sometimes repeatedly) due to lack of time ... despite the fact that meetings were often running past midnight! Mr. Uniack protested the calling of this meeting on the grounds that Mr. Fein, in the capacity of Chairman, does not have the authority to call a special meeting.

The special RRROC meeting was held in September & the public was duly notified. I believe this meeting was entirely necessary. Mr. Fein's calling a special meeting -- & the resulting emails -- do not seem at all improper in my eyes. These items deserved their (often long-overdue) time for public discussion. Continuing to unduly postpone discussion of these issues would have been highly unjust & hence may have provoked resentment against RRROC at best & Brown Act complaints at worst.

If we truly care about the values embraced by the Brown Act, then we need to tolerate the necessity of occasional extra (aka "Special") meetings & be willing to either attend these meetings or respect the decisions of those who bother to do so.

So ... gulp down a glass of water, along with the antidepressants, digestive medications, or high-proof alcohol shot of your choice & read on, if you dare.

From: Boris Sztorch
Sent: Tuesday, August 07, 2007 10:21 AM
To: Dan Fein
Subject: Email re: Special Meeting

Hi Dan,

See you've read the following email from John Uniack regarding the legality of calling a Special Meeting. What are your thoughts?

>>> JohnnyU 8/6/2007 4:37 PM >>>

Hi Boris,

I got an email Friday informing me of a special RRROC meeting called by the RRROC chair Dan Fein with an agenda decided and guests invited by Chair Dan Fein. The chair position on the RRROC is a meeting facilitator position that was given agenda approval, with the vice chair, by the RRROC to make sure that the agenda for the upcoming meeting was as stated at the end of the last meeting and to approve written agenda item requests.

Please read section 7.4 of the policy and procedures paragraph two which states that requested items will be placed on the agenda of a regular RRROC meeting. The chair does not have authority to call a special meeting for items that he has withheld from the regular agenda, in fact he has no authority to withhold RRROC related items from the regular agenda period. If the RRROC wants the chair to have this kind of power it must be put in the policies and procedures document. Any non-emergency special meeting of the RRROC must be an agenized item on the agenda of a regular RRROC meeting with the time and place decided by a member vote.

John U

From: Dan Fein
To: Boris Sztorch
CC: John Uniak, Ken Wikle
Subject: RE: Email re: Special Meeting
Date: Tue, 7 Aug 2007 12:40:33 -0700


I respectfully disagree with John’s interpretations.

1) The same article of the P&P that John’s email references says that an “Emergency Meeting” can be called with 24 hour notice. There is no other discussion about what constitutes an emergency meeting, when it can be held or for what purpose, or who can call it. Here is what the Brown Act says:

“The Brown Act provides for three different types of meetings. Regular meetings occur at a time and

location generally set by ordinance, resolution, or by-laws. At least 72 hours prior to a regular

meeting, an agenda must be posted which contains a brief general description of each item to be

transacted or discussed at the meeting. Special meetings may be called at any time but notice must be

received at least 24 hours prior to the meeting by all members of the body and by all media outlets that

have requested notice in writing. Emergency meetings, which are extraordinarily rare, may be called

upon one-hour notice to media outlets that have requested notice in writing.”

What our P&P calls an “Emergency Meeting” follows the Brown Act rules about “Special Meetings”, which can be called at any time up to 24 hours in advance of the meeting. In fact, the P&P do not refer to “Emergency Meetings” anywhere other than in item 7.2, however there are several references to “Special Meetings”. This is an internal inconsistency that should be addressed at some point. John’s assertions that: “The chair does not have authority to call a special meeting” and Any non-emergency special meeting of the RRROC must be an agenized item on the agenda of a regular RRROC meeting with the time and place decided by a member vote” are not stated anywhere in the P&P and are contrary to the character of a special meeting as defined in the Brown Act.

2) The P&P do not state in any way what are the responsibilities and duties of the Chair other than to approve the agenda and to monitor the time of public comment. Lacking definition, it is up to the individual Chairperson to interpret and exercise those duties. I agree with John that one of the responsibilities of the Chair is to act as a facilitator, even though that is not stated in the P&P. Ultimately, the responsibility of the Chair must be to assure that RRROC succeeds at conducting its business and makes the best use of the time that is contributed by its members and by the public who participate. My personal measure of success for a RRROC Chair is how well the committee works as a team and what is accomplished during his/her tenure, and that’s how I’m interpreting my duties.

3) RRROC-related items have not been withheld from the agenda. Several items that have been requested have been postponed either by prioritization by the Chair and Vice-Chair or by the RRROC during meetings in which they were on the agenda. Some items have been postponed several times. Nothing in the P&P requires that agenda items be considered by the RRROC in the order that they are requested.

With respect to the upcoming special meeting, we (Chair and Vice-Chair) hope to address all outstanding RRROC-related items having to do with process and responsibilities of the RRROC. I consider this to be a more efficient use of time and resources than considering these items piecemeal. We have gone to lengths to assure that questions that have been raised by RRROC members and the public can be addressed by people with knowledge and authority to address them, and that all involved will have more than adequate time to prepare. Given the number of items, the complexity of some of the questions and the likely length of discussion, I expect that this will not be the last of the special meetings.

Best regards,

Dan Fein

From: John Uniak
Sent: Tuesday, August 07, 2007 3:43 PM
To: Dan Fein, Boris Sztorch
Cc: Kenneth Wikle
Subject: RE: Email re: Special Meeting

Hi, everyone
Since the start of this committee the main responsibility of the chair has been to conduct the meetings. The RRROC authorized the chair and vice chair to approve the agenda not write or delete items from the agenda. The RRROC agenda for its next meeting is set by the RRROC members at the end of each meeting. The chair has never asked for the authority to delete/deter agenda items, to call additional meetings or anything else. This is a democratic committee and the chair is not a dictatorial position. I suggest that the chair read P&P article 4-1&4. and present to the full committee what he wants for their review and approval.
Why was the need for a additional meeting not put on last months agenda? The committee could have discussed its need, format, agenda date, time and advisors if any. The agenda situation has deteriorated to the point where only the items that the chair wants on are included. The other RRROC members and the public do not know if the items that were approved for the next months agenda will appear or not or if they ever will appear on any RRROC agenda. The people whose items were not approved by the chair for placement on an agenda are not notified that their item was not included, nor given any reason why. Some of the current agenda problems must be placed on the CDC who has the responsibility for the preparation of the agenda and should be advising the chair.
My suggestion would be to follow the P&P and Roberts Rules. Anything not covered in these documents should be brought to the committee for approval.
Thanks for your time
John U

From: Dan Fein
To: John Uniak, Boris Sztorch
CC: Ken Wikle
Subject: RE: Email re: Special Meeting
Date: Tue, 7 Aug 2007 23:42:00 -0700

Again, with all due respect John, your assertion that “The RRROC agenda for its next meeting is set by the RRROC members at the end of each meeting” is not supported by RRROC P&P. In fact, according to P&P requests for agenda items can be submitted as late as 5:00 on the first Thursday of the month.

The special meeting is necessary to attend to a number of outstanding issues, many of which are items you have requested to be included on our agenda. When we spoke on Saturday, I mentioned several items that will be included in the special meeting agenda. If there is an item that you have requested that I didn’t mention and that you want to be sure is included, please let me or Ken know.

Dan Fein

From: John Uniak
Sent: Wednesday, August 08, 2007 4:07 PM
To: Dan Fein; 'Boris Sztorch'
Cc: 'Kenneth Wikle'
Subject: RE: Email re: Special Meeting

Dan your way of thinking is completely foreign to the concept of democracy. You have not been given the authority to do anything except to conduct RRROC meetings, check the agenda of accuracy and approve adding items that meet P&P requirements---approve the agenda---Have you read the Roberts Rules section on chairperson? Where did you see that you can do what you are doing? The P&P/bylaws tell you what you can do as chair. Anything that is not specifically stated in them is not allowed. There have been several instantences during your term as chair that your decisions have not been upheld. This has cost the RRROC time and creditability. It has caused many unnecessary agenda item requests. It has caused more public comment increasing meeting time. It has caused several items to be sent to the grand jury. I am trying to keep you from going beyond the point of no return. Why do do make decisions on your own that the committee would approve if you would just put them on the agenda? Please read the attachment from one of the Roberts Rules books that I have.


From: Dan Fein
Sent: Wednesday, August 08, 2007 4:56 PM
To: 'JohnnyU'; 'Boris Sztorch'
Cc: 'Kenneth Wikle'
Subject: RE: Email re: Special Meeting


Your opinion is duly noted.

If you would like to reword your statement as a decision for the RRROC to consider, please submit it as an agenda request, and I’ll be certain that it is included in the special meeting, time permitting. If time does not permit, we’ll include it in the regular September agenda.

Until a majority of the RRROC tells me otherwise, I will continue to conduct my chairmanship in the way that I deem to be most effective for the benefit of the RRROC and the community.


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