Irvine Staff Super Efficient or did Council Majority Violate the Brown Act?


The Voice of OC ran an updated story on the City of Irvine’s new interim lawyer, Richard Jones, from the Fullerton firm Jones & Mayer. It’s not the most flattering photo, and it was taken after the vote to name the City of Costa Mesa’s firm to the same position in Irvine at last Tuesday’s council meeting on the heels of a special closed session meeting a week ago where the firing of long time city counsel Rutan & Tucker was made clear and after the agenda for the council meeting was released last Friday.

But the actual vote to fire Rutan & Tucker wasn’t taken until the council meeting and the vote to name Jones & Mayer to the interim spot in a no-bid contract wasn’t taken until the council meeting.  Jones himself was in the audience and then assumed his seat on the dias as the city’s new legal counsel and there in the Voice of OC photo is the rub.

Jones had his own name plate waiting for him as he assumed the chair.

Now the city has it’s own duplicating office at City Hall, so getting the nameplate made on site isn’t an issue.  What is an issue is someone had the forethought to order a nameplate made in advance of the vote.  So what we have is either a super efficient city staff that read the tea leaves correctly on who was getting hired as the interim city law firm, or we have what amounts to a Brown Act violation on the part of the new Council majority.

What the city can’t tell me (yet) is who ordered the nameplate.  Did a staffer take it upon themselves to be ready?  Did an order come down from the city manager’s office? Did the council majority instruct staff to have the nameplate made?  We can’t get a straight answer on who ordered the nameplate.

In the grand scheme of things, this isn’t like the mayor committing $100,000 from a public safety budget for a reward without consulting the rest of the city council, but the city is usually pretty methodical on issues like this.  It’s small potatoes.  But it makes you wonder what else the council majority might have instructed staff to do without going to a full vote of the rest of the council.  Irvine hasn’t had much history when it comes to Brown Act violations.  Something tells me that’s about to change.


  5 comments for “Irvine Staff Super Efficient or did Council Majority Violate the Brown Act?

  1. Say What?
    March 29, 2013 at 6:41 pm

    Wow. Masterful journalism.

  2. Junior
    March 29, 2013 at 7:59 pm

    The case of the magically appearing nameplate – heavy duty stuff there Dan.

  3. March 29, 2013 at 11:57 pm

    Do we know Richard Jones, who on the council decided in advance to hire this firm in the “interim”. Did council vote to review attorneys and their firms before the selection process even began, where is the transparency in that?

    After further research I recently read that they are being paid the same as previous counsel, what no savings? Why are we not negotiating a lower rate, with so many lawyers out of work, with CA unemployment rate so high, we should be negotiating a far better deal.

  4. March 31, 2013 at 9:06 pm

    Fortunately for the Council Majority, the staff cannot violate the Brown Act, only the elected body can pull that off. What we have here is simply staff being able to read the writing on the wall, and in this case, the agenda.

    Staff knew that Jones & Mayer was the only firm up for consideration and that the council was likely to make that selection. Having the name plate done is simply an indication of competent staff, fostered by years of having a democratic majority on the city council.

  5. April 2, 2013 at 5:08 pm

    Hang on — did they hire Jones & Mayer of Fullerton or Jones Day, the international firm with an office in Irvine? I thought that the latter was the one serving Costa Mesa.

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