Did Diane Harkey & Her Allies Violate the Brown Act? Another Legal Expert Chimes In

“Nothing prevented them from doing this publicly,” he said. “Obviously any one of them or all four individually could have said, ‘I think this recall stinks.’ When they do so collectively, and when they do so in a joint expression called a resolution, it seems to me close enough to an official expression they had better discuss and debate that resolution at a property noticed and open meeting.

That was Terry Francke, the general counsel with Californians Aware, an organization that promotes open government and free speech. In his conversation with The Register, he said that in his opinion, the “resolution opposing the recall of Mayor Diane Harkey” that three other Dana Point City Council members signed was likely a violation of the Brown Act, the state law that ensure public access to public agencies’ decision-making process. Hmmm, that doesn’t sound good for Harkey.

Remember we talked about yesterday? I guess we weren’t that far off after all. Diane Harkey is in deep trouble, and it’s not just some “small group of troublemakers” that believes this.

So again, why did Diane Harkey and Lisa Bartlett feel obligated to discuss the “resolution” with their fellow council members secretly, and away from the public view? Why couldn’t this resolution about such a publicly debated issue like the Diane Harkey Recall be discussed in public? No matter how much “trouble” a public debate would have caused, it would have been nothing compared to all the legal trouble surrounding this “resolution” now.

  10 comments for “Did Diane Harkey & Her Allies Violate the Brown Act? Another Legal Expert Chimes In

  1. Jerry A. Grunor
    September 12, 2007 at 5:55 pm

    Having read the article that appeared in the OC Register today, entitled “Council accused of Brown Act Violation” the key here is the fact that no matter what these four city council members had done, it spells out ‘PARTISAN POLITICS’ as stated by John Ramirez who happens to work with the Dana Point City Attorney, Patrick Munoz at the Rutan and Tucker Law Firm, representing Dana Point. He continued to say that this topic ‘would not be appropriate to politics from the dias.’

    Yet, his boss and co-worker, Patrick Munoz, city attorney of Dana Point stated that “signing the resolution didn’t constitute an official city action and that the city council has done nothing wrong, and the resolution was simply an expression of personal beliefs.”

    Both men cannot even get the same story straight. Somebody simply let the ball roll down the court and Harkey is getting deeper into trouble..

    Let’s go back two months when an advertisement for Rutan and Tucker appeared in the Orange County Business Journal featuring Mayor Diane Harkey and the partners of Rutan and Tucker and the fact that Rutan and Tucker had endorsed Mayor Harkey for the assembly seat in 2008.

    I dear say Mr. Munoz, not only are you contradicting your own fellow worker, and he has contradicted you, but I feel that Rutan and Tucker, your employer, should be dismissed for using tactics not becoming of a law firm, that is supposed to represent the people who live in Dana Point.

    I also must state that perhaps not only should Diane Harkey be recalled, but the other three city council members of Dana Point for committing an act of criminal intent that is against the Brown Act. This is nothing more than another ‘gross failure in ethics’ that Harkey is being recalled about in the first place.. I also must thank former mayor Lara Anderson, who sits on the DP Council for seeing right from wrong.

    Jerry A. Grunor
    A concerned citizen of Dana Point

  2. antony cooke
    September 12, 2007 at 6:16 pm

    Lara Anderson remains the only representative of the citizens of Dana Point. The other council members represent nothing but themselves, and with Harkey, deserve to be recalled as well. Have these people no shame, no honesty, and no morality whatsoever? They pretend to act in such innocence, doing the ‘work of the city’, all the while being part of a scam to deceive their own constituents into thinking the city opposes the recall. I don’t care how you slice it, this was the intent of their actions.

    On top of that, the completely dishonest and self-serving actions of the City Attorney and his law firm stink to high Heaven. Just the shame of this city’s in-house legal firm endorsing the Mayor – their boss in this case – for a political position is disgusting, even if the present incident had never happened. The people of this city count for nothing in any of these opportunists’ eyes. It’s just one shark scratching another’s back.

  3. Flowerszzz
    September 12, 2007 at 9:47 pm

    you can say LOTS of things about this alleged city resolution and this alleged violation of the brown act but Rutan is anything but a dishonest law firm. They have one of the best political reputations and team in the state and know political law very well.

  4. Dan Chmielewski
    September 12, 2007 at 10:40 pm

    And Dick Ackerman is a partner there.

  5. Guido
    September 13, 2007 at 7:58 am

    Sounds like Flowerszzz has had personal relationships with Rutan and Tucker but no one ever called them a dishonest firm. After reading Grunor’s posting, and seeing where the attorneys of Rutan and Tucker had screwed up, nearly falling all over their feet, then perhaps Patrick Munoz should be replaced by a more efficient attorney from Rutan and Tucker. So far, he has not done due diligence for the mayor or for the city of Dana Point.

    And by the way, Mr. Chmeilewski, who is Dick Ackerman and what is his being a partner at Rutan and Tucker have to do with this?

  6. Flowerszzz
    September 13, 2007 at 8:54 am

    LOL Guido you do not know who Dick Ackerman is? And yes Anthony called them Dishonest…try reading!

  7. Andrew Davey
    September 13, 2007 at 8:57 am


    Dick Ackerman is the REPUBLICAN MINORITY LEADER IN THE STATE SENATE. That’s why Dan C mentioned that he’s a partner in Rutan & Tucker. It only shows just how closely tied to the GOP Machine (i.e. Diane Harkey’s fan club) this law firm really is.


    Thanks for the 411! So what, are all of these Harkey shills just tied to each other through all these shady law firms? First, we noticed Dana Reed’s firm handling Harkey’s legal matters… Then Dana Reed handled the incorporation of that “Dana Point Today” faux newsletter. And now, we see that Rutan & Tucker is quite heavily involved in Harkey and her partisan Assembly campaign… Yet the Dana Point City Attorney still works for the firm. Jeez, when does the madness end?!

    This all just goes to show how little Harkey & her acolytes care about what really matters in Dana Point.

  8. Guido
    September 13, 2007 at 9:36 am

    As Andrew had stated, there seems to be some dishonesty among all of the players and this spells power and money. Whatever a Flowerszzz or an Anthony may think as they seem to be on questionable sides of the fence at this point, isn’t our goal to bring integrity into our local and federal governments? Why do we fight among ourselves when the main culprits are those who seem to think that they can run over us like a freight train going through a cow pasture in the middle west.

    If anyone feels that you are content with the way our local government is working now then remain in your status quo. I do appreciate the information by Anthony Cook and Jerry Grunor and those of you who would like to see some changes made that would bring honesty in government and integrity back to our cities so our elected officials will earn the trust and the respect of their consitituents.

    People like Andrew and others help us discover the truths and unless we use a forum like this to express our points of view, we shall keep making the same mistakes and never develop a genuine and consistent connection with those who officiate at the local and state levels of government

  9. Andrew Davey
    September 13, 2007 at 9:53 am


    Well, don’t you find it disturbing that the same law firm that’s handling official city business is also playing a part in Diane Harkey’s partisan politicking? If anything, this just shows yet again how Diane Harkey lacks any sense of ethics. How sad that they so often sell out the best interest of Dana Point to serve themselves and cover their own behinds.


    Thanks. I’m just disturbed by the complete lack of integrity found in the likes of Diane Harkey & her cabal. They seem to be more interested in what’s politically expedient for them than in what’s needed for Dana Point. That shouldn’t be tolerated, and that’s why I’m more than happy to keep an eye on what’s happening here.

  10. FLowerszzz
    September 13, 2007 at 12:10 pm

    Andrew – How so?

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