MondayÂ I wrote about the letterÂ I sent on behalf of TheLiberalOC to the Garden Grove Unified School District Board of Trustees regarding the violation of the Brown Act at their December 15, 2009 meeting. I referenced in my letter that based upon the comments from Trustees at the January 5, 2010 meeting, where Trustee KimOanh Nguyen-Lam revealed the potential violation, it was clear to me that a violation of the Brown Act had occurred.
At the time I wrote my letter the audio recording of the January 5th meeting had not yet been posted on the district website. When it was posted on Monday I had the opportunity to review what was actually said at the meeting. There is definitely more impact when you hear the voices as opposed to reading the transcripts of these meetings. So much so, I took the time to compile the audio with pictures of the people speaking to make it clear who said what.
It was interesting that Trustee Lan Nguyen in his response to the allegations made byÂ Trustee Nguyen-Lam stated that he had not broken the Brown Act because he had made it a point to only discuss with Trustee Harden the election of President. He then went on to deny any conversation with Trustee West. Unfortunately for Mr. Nguyen, Dr. West admitted to having a conversation at that time, but “couldn’t recall” what was discussed.
I think Mr. Nguyen was trying to be too clever for his own good. The agenda item was “Election of Officers” not theÂ election of President and a separate item for election of Vice President.
The discussion of the election of officers with multiple Board members in a serial manner about an agenda item is prohibited under the Brown Act. When those serial conversations occur in the presence and earshot of a quorum of the members, it is beyond any doubt a violation of the Brown Act. Not only did Trustee Nguyen do so, he admitted to having the forethought to attempt to avoid the provisions of the Brown Act by parsing the matter into individual components.
What I found particularly disturbing when I listened to the recording were the comments of Trustee’s Harden and Reed after Dr. Nguyen-Lam left the meeting. Apparently talking to someone, Trustee Linda Reed was recorded explaining that many of those leaving the room were members of the press. Then,Â in a tone thatÂ can only be described as disgust, Reed exclaims “amazing,” and later “wow.”Â That was followed shortly byÂ President HardenÂ saying; “and that wasn’t a political action at all, was it?”Â Harden went on toÂ say; “well, let’s move on to item number 2, hopefully without any more disruptions this evening.” Harden apparently thinks that a fellow Trustee informing the board of possible violations of the Brown Act is nothing more than a disruption. I wonder ifÂ it wasÂ a disruption of business as usual that he was annoyed about. Clearly Harden and the other three Trustees remaining at the meeting do not recognize the importance of openness and transparency. They consider it a political stunt when a colleague points out that a violation has occurred.
I’m not surprised by the actions of Lan Nguyen. He is simply doing what his mentor Assemblyman Van Tran has taught him to do. Back room deals and political maneuvering isÂ the stock and trade of Assemblyman Tran and Mr. Nguyen. I’d have expected better though from Harden and Reed. As far as Dr. West is concerned, I think he’s really too new to all of this to have really known what was going on.
So far, after burying the original story on their websiteÂ a couple hours after it was initially posted,Â theÂ Orange County Register hasn’t reported the fact that a request to cure or correct a Brown Act violation has been served on a local school board. It’s not like they don’t know about it. Who knows, maybe they’ll cover the story once they know what the board decides to do.
BelowÂ is the video.