Bouquets and Brickbats

Brown Act ‘goof’ earns a demerit

letters@thetribunenews.comSeptember 27, 2013 

Morro Bay City Manager Andrea Lueker, left, listens as City Attorney Rob Schultz speaks during a packed City Council meeting Thursday, Sept. 12, at the Veterans Memorial Building.

DAVID MIDDLECAMP — dmiddlecamp@thetribunenews.com Buy Photo

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly identified the ceramics instructor who led the Clay Stomp at Cuesta College on Wednesday. His name is Jarred Pfeiffer.

Much as we appreciate the Brown Act — California’s open meeting law — we’ve got to admit that it does have its faults.

For one, the public has only 90 days to file a written complaint of a suspected Brown Act violation, which is the first step in getting a legislative body to take corrective action.

That’s not enough time; it can take much longer than 90 days for such abuses to come to light and by that point — oops! — it’s too late to do anything about it. That’s exactly what happened in Morro Bay.

On Nov. 1, the former City Council met in closed session to evaluate City Manager Andrea Lueker and City Attorney Rob Schultz. That would have been fine, except the council also decided to increase severance pay for Schultz and Lueker … information that wasn’t widely known until only recently, what with the hubbub surrounding the possible firing of Lueker and Schultz.

Legal experts tell us the council’s action violated several requirements of the Brown Act. Even former Mayor Bill Yates acknowledged that a “goof” was made, though in the interest of accuracy, we should also point out that Yates did not admit to violating the Brown Act.

The statute of limitations may have run out on reporting a Brown Act violation, but there is no such limit on brickbats, and we’ve got a briefcase full for Yates et al.

Clay Stomp a great idea

We’ve heard of grape stomps … but a clay stomp? That’s a new one on us. That said, we love the idea, introduced by Cuesta College ceramics instructor Jarred Pfeiffer.

Dozens of community members joined in the fun of clay stomping on Wednesday by trudging on a mixture of a powered clay and water in their bare feet, creating 5,000 pounds of product that will be used in six ceramics classes.

We hope this becomes an annual event and we offer — what else? — a bouquet of ceramic roses to Pfeiffer for his way with clay.

Empty Bowls benefits a good cause

The second annual Empty Bowls community luncheon, held Wednesday in Arroyo Grande, was a heartwarming success, thanks to organizers, donors and residents who bought more than 750 tickets. The event — which benefited the 5Cities Homeless Coalition — grossed about $40,000 and netted about $35,000, according to Shelly Higginbotham, mayor of Pismo Beach and a member of the coalition’s board of directors.

“It was remarkable — and shows great community support,’’ she said.

We agree.

With everyone from students to artists donating an array of ceramic bowls, and restaurants contributing huge pots of soup, the event received more than $20,000 in sponsorships. We’re ordering generous servings of warm, hearty bouquets for all who supported this terrific cause.

By the way, if you missed the luncheon — or want another soup bowl for your collection — a similar fundraiser runs from noon to 4 p.m. on Oct. 27 at the Trilogy clubhouse in Nipomo. There will be homemade soup served in handcrafted bowls, plus entertainment, arts and crafts, wine tasting and a silent auction. Again, all proceeds benefit the 5Cities Homeless Coalition. For more information, go to http://5chc.org/news-events .

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