Why is Diane Harkey Hiding from the Public?

Apparently while I was on my way to lovely Santa Barbara to see my man Barack Obama on Friday, Diane Harkey’s political machine imploded yet again. Word got out that Harkey arranged for a closed session city council gathering last Tuesday, just before the public meeting was supposed to begin. And what exactly happened in closed session? Oh, only a nice, big violation of the Brown Act that resulted in a meaningless “resulotion in support of the mayor”.

So how exactly did Diane Harkey and three other members of the Dana Point City Council violate the Ralph M. Brown Act last week? Well, when Harkey released to the press her “Resolution Against the Effort to Recall Dana Point Mayor Diane Harkey.” on September 4, she must have forgotten that her “resolution” was not passed during an open council meeting allowing for debate and public comment as required by the Brown Act. Instead, those four members of the Council signed it in secret, without public debate, and far away from any public view. Now if that isn’t a violation of the Brown Act, then I don’t know what is.

And speaking of the public, why does it seem like Diane Harkey and her cabal will only release documents to the public when it serves their interests? Not too long ago, a couple friends of mine in Dana Point were telling me how difficult it was to to gain access to what are supposed to be public records of basic city business. So could Harkey and her allies also be running afoul of the California Public Records Act?

How sad that Diane Harkey feels so obligated to hide from the public. Doesn’t she understand that the more she hides from public view, the less the public trusts her? I guess not.

  22 comments for “Why is Diane Harkey Hiding from the Public?

  1. September 10, 2007 at 12:40 pm

    Dear brother Andrew.

    For those who may no be aware of your interest in this issue please comment. Are you, or are you not, a candidate for the same 73rd AD seat that Diane is seeking? If so, would you agree that anything you say could be somewhat self serving?

    I listened to O’Reilly a few days ago when he discussed getting elected officials to respond to his requests. He was right on by stating that we in the media have no power to force any official to comment, or in his case, to appear on his radio or TV program.

    While I do not live in the 73rd, and am not privy to all of the facts, I will keep my opinion on the allegations to myself. I do stand on my comment that the unofficial RESOLUTION is not a Brown Act violation.

    Best regards,
    Larry Gilbert

  2. Andrew Davey
    September 10, 2007 at 12:50 pm

    Larry-

    You gave me good questions, and I’ll try now to answer them the best I can. No, I am NOT running for AD 73 next year. But if I were running AND I happened to be on the DP Council, I would NOT abuse my position on the council to deceive the voters and/or hide from them.

    The Brown Act is pretty clear when it comes to what city business is public business that needs to be done in the public view. And no matter how Team Harkey tries to spin it, it looks like the “resolution” in support of Diane Harkey was a matter that should have been in the public view. After all, what “legally sensitive” issue could have been in this silly resolution that prevented it from being debated during open session of the city council?

    If Diane Harkey truly intends to be a public servant, she needs to learn how to treat the public with more respect.

  3. Dan Chmielewski
    September 10, 2007 at 2:31 pm

    Larry –
    Here’ why it was a Brown Act violation.

    It was done away from the public view.
    It sought council majority opinion for a non-binding act.
    It was not placed on the agenda

    Let’s imagine for a moment that it wasn’t a resolution, but they were gathering to plot support for a new development, meet on a personnel matter, or share a nickel bag. They are city officials, with a quorom, signing a “resolution.” UNofficial or not, they are acting in their capacity as elected officials.

  4. Publius
    September 10, 2007 at 4:37 pm

    Dan-
    I had to laugh out loud at the image of the DP City Council meeting up to “share a nickel bag.”
    Something tells me Ms. Harkey is not one to share.

  5. Aunt Millie
    September 10, 2007 at 4:41 pm

    A majority of the Council communicated in some fashion to form a public policy on a public issue, and described it as a Resolution, without proper notice or public participation.

    This is a clear, bright-line, illegal act under the intent, spirit, and letter of the law.

    Harkey belongs behind bars.

  6. Andrew Davey
    September 10, 2007 at 5:09 pm

    Dan- I couldn’t have said it better. Thanks! :-)

    Publius- You may be right about Harkey, and you’re DEFINITELY right that Dan’s “nickel bag” example is LOL worthy. ;-)

    Aunt Millie- Right on! This was reported as a “resolution”, but it was done away from the public view. Why? I don’t think opposing the recall is enough of a “legally sensitive” matter to be kept away from the public view. So once again, Diane Harkey is evading the law to keep the public in the dark. Maybe you’re right… Maybe Harkey doesn’t belong in City Hall any more.

  7. robert traphagen
    September 10, 2007 at 5:55 pm

    Larry Gilbert…You need to investigate and research before you make a totally false statement. Last year`s Mayor, Lara Anderson, spoke to me on my home telephone. We spoke for 20 or more minutes. She in fact was approached by Lisa Bartlet in the corridors while leaving the closed session with council and staff. Weinberg, Bishop were also approached by Harkey`s queen Bee Bartlet. It was told to these council persons that this is just between us and we shall renounce the recall effort. The problem was that Anderson who was mayor knows about The Brown Act walked away knowing that this was a Brown Act violation. By the way she told this to me on the telephone. Lisa lied to the council and got it released to OC BUZZ the following day. If the council wanted to make a statement …as a group…they needed to go public in council hall with public comments allowed. But more important Larry is that you are not a legal mind. The City has 30 days to retrack or it goes to court. The courts know law which I think you do not in this instance. READ what Dan Chmielewski wrote and he pretty much nailed it. Larry…we have laws and ethics in this world that should be followed (or changed if necessary thru due process) and should not be abused by our elected officials. Thank God that Lara Anderson saw thru these “manipulators”. Robert Traphagen

  8. Dan Morgan
    September 10, 2007 at 6:11 pm

    This is the first argument Traphagen has made that is logical and makes sense. But that doesn’t mean he is correct on the recall issue.

  9. Andrew Davey
    September 10, 2007 at 6:28 pm

    Dan M- OK, at least you’re being somewhat courteous in your disagreement. I’ll leave it there.

    Robert- Wow, thanks for the extra 411! Well, thank goodness at least one DP council member knows the law! Too bad that Joel Bishop and Steven Weinberg couldn’t also take a queue from Lara Anderson, and think before signing such a dubious “resolution”. Diane Harkey and Lisa Bartlett may have thought that this secret “resolution” would help them sweep away all the “divisiveness” of Harkey’s own dirty misdeeds, but now it looks like they’ve only made things WORSE for themselves now. Ah, poetic justice! ;-)

  10. K Wilson
    September 10, 2007 at 8:27 pm

    Both Anderson and Weinberg were told the resolution “would never see the light of day” by Bartlett. Now HERE”S the question: Was Bartlett TOLD about the plan to release the resolution to the press and fully aware? Complicit to the deceit? OR was Bartlett Deceived by Harkey into thinking that the resolution really wasn’t going to see the light of day. HMMMMMMMMMMMMMM….. maybe if the latter is true, Ms. Bartlett might just have a taste of how it feels to be deceived by Harkey. Well….maybe.

  11. Dan Heredia
    September 11, 2007 at 9:26 am

    Hello ladies and gentlemen, Why the big hard on for Harkey? It’s not like anyone in public office is a virgin. In my opinion, anyone who puts their time in any public office should be commended and looked upon as a role model. I’m a tewenty year resident and business owner and have been through 4 or 5 administrations and this one is workable if everyone can play like a team. This city does not have real big issues and the past councils have put us in good shape.
    Politics is a dirty thankless back satbbing job. Just like being a police officer. Have anyone one of you been in public office or, sat on a Board? I think this council has so far been on track as far as protecting us. Did anyone of you attend the Emergency Fair @ Dana Hills High School. Now that took leadership. I’m more concerned about an earthquake or a terrorist attack then what our council members are saying to each other in a private room. Where have you been all your life? You don’t think leaders of our country do the same thing?
    Wake up and smell the coffee. Let’s put our attention on more serious matters. If you don’t like who is leading our city start working on who is going to challenge them the next time around. But. remember, I live by the creed of what goes around comes around. I don’t take too much on a personal basis because I know who I am. I think this forum is good but, I’d rather put my attention on something more constructive. Good luck to all of you.

  12. Andrew Davey
    September 11, 2007 at 9:46 am

    Dan H- OK, point taken. But still, are Harkey’s misdeeds really justified just because “everyone else does it”? I don’t think so.

    OK, and perhaps the city is still doing good stuff like the emergency preparedness class at DHHS. Good for the city. But still, does that mean that Diane Harkey should get a free pass whenever she throws the best interests of the city under the bus when they conflict with what’s politically expedient for her? I don’t think so.

    Doesn’t Dana Point deserve better?

  13. Dan Heredia
    September 11, 2007 at 10:10 am

    I get your point however, that’s the way it is weather your a Dem or a Rep or any other party. Iv’e been through my share of lifetime disappointments and I do do deserve better just like all of us do. Liviing here in SOC as a Democrat has never interferred with what I have accomplished. A lot of nice hard working and determined people. I admire Harkey because she stood up to Stanford Edwards and his political machine as did Harold Kauffman.
    I’m not into the back room stuff but, 13 years of public service taught me a lot.
    So, do you plan on running if Harkey leaves for the Assembly?

  14. just asking
    September 11, 2007 at 10:13 am

    Politics are dirty, but it is played by rules!

    Every boardmember and elected member in California gets training and materials which govern our discussions and deliberations. Brown Act and Sunshine laws are hammered into us all the time.

    I agree that the significance of this action is marginal at best, those against Harkey have enough reasons to want her out, and those that support her say, “its no big deal”.

    However, any councilmember who knowingly breaks state constitutional laws (Brown Act) is subject to penalty. The statute does not ask if the matter was important or a dollar value. The councilmember opens themselves up to fines determined by FPPC. All the councilmembers in question must have received training on these laws in the last 18 months. This very type of colusion is discussed in the training all received. If requested it is up to the City to bring this forward and disclose to the FPPC. Does anyone know if that inqury has been made? Has the City asked the FPPC for a ruling?

  15. just asking
    September 11, 2007 at 10:18 am

    By the way, this type of discussions do happen very often. When the FPPC looks into them, the missing ingredient is written verification of the interactions of a majority of council.

    Unfortunatley in this case there is a document with signatures, too bad for those councilmembers. And by extension if another councilmember was approached and did not disclose to City Attorney or Manager, they could also be held responsible.

    It will be very interesting to watch what comes out of this.

  16. Andrew Davey
    September 11, 2007 at 10:23 am

    just asking-

    Good question. I hope Lara Anderson and/or all the concerned citizens troubled by this have reported this to the FPPC. And unlike their ruling against Harkey on the Town Center development, I don’t think she can get away with ignoring them this time.

    Dan H-

    I understand. In fact, I have QUITE A FEW Dem friends in South County that supported Diane Harkey in 2004 because she seemed to be “the real deal”. However, they’ve been disappointed since, as she broke her promises to them on protecting the coast, fixing the affordable housing problem in DP, and much more. It seems like she’s been selling out what she used to believe in to find favor with the moneyed interests of the GOP Machine.

    Now maybe I’m wrong here. What have you seen with Diane Harkey that shows promise? Am I missing something here? PLEASE show me, as I’d like to see Harkey serve the people of her city.

    Oh yes, and I’m not running for AD 73… But perhaps, we can still find a good Dem to do that next year. :-)

  17. antony cooke
    September 11, 2007 at 6:22 pm

    The points raised by Dan Heredia are exactly the same as those made by anyone who has ever stood by while improper behavior by their elected officials occurred. Such apathetic attitudes are those of enablers. He proves that you get the government you deserve, and I guess he deserves Harkey. But I don’t, and neither do countless others who still expect ethics in their government at all levels.

    And if he thinks that Dana Point “does not have real big issues and the past councils have put us in good shape”, he has really lost touch with the ugly political history of the city since became incorporated.

  18. Dan Morgan
    September 11, 2007 at 7:11 pm

    Well, just when I was thinking there might be something to this with Traphagen’s comments, Cooke comes back with meaningless words of shoot the messenger if it is not his message. From comments I have gotten in the past Ossenmacher and Lacy didn’t play by the rules and hid from the residents. Everything was hidden in the consent calendar and public comment was held at midnight. Was there a recall effort for them? Chilton saw the handwriting on the wall and decided not to run for a second term. So I guess there have been “big” issues in the past and they were handled at the ballot box.

  19. Dan Morgan
    September 12, 2007 at 5:22 pm

    Opps, sorry your honor. Cooke opened the door with “ugly political history” and I just followed. I meant to just say:

    “Well, just when I was thinking there might be something to this with Traphagen’s comments, Cooke comes back with meaningless words of shoot the messenger if it is not his message. ”

    Just trying to follow the changing rules.

  20. Dan Heredia
    September 18, 2007 at 8:06 am

    Tonights meeting is going to be some good entertainment. I hope Lacy puts in his opinion on the Strands stairway since he is no longer a council member I feel he has the best response to this issue. As you may recall Lacy was excluded from voting on the Headlands because of allegations by both Edwards and Lacy that his vote was for sale or, something like that.
    I would like to know Harkeys position, do any of you have a clue?

  21. September 18, 2007 at 9:49 am

    Great posting! It was selected to be included in last week’s Carnival of Open Records.
    Thanks, Sara

  22. Andrew Davey
    September 18, 2007 at 12:34 pm

    Dan H-
    I believe Diane Harkey does NOT want that stairway to Strand Beach. But please, go ahead and double-check me to make sure I’m correct. Still, I will agree with you that tonight should be quite entertaining at DP City Hall. ;-)

    Maverick-
    Thanks for including us in your blog story! We try our best to cover open government related stories in Orange County, and right now the Dana Point scandal is big news here. Please keep coming back for more, as we’re more than happy to keep up our coverage on this effort to uncover the dark secrets hidden in Dana Point City Hall. :-)

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