Protection from SLAPP Fees
CalAware’s First Amendment/Brown Act challenge in 2007 to a school board’s retaliation against a trustee’s outspoken criticism was unsuccessful. And it left CalAware’s co-plaintiff and first president, Richard McKee, compelled to pay the board’s attorney fees for having the case dismissed by a government SLAPP motion. That threat to Brown Act enforcement prompted the passage in 2009 of SB 786, making citizens’ unsuccessful suits to enforce the open government laws immune from such fee shifting consequences.
Withholding VIP Speaker’s Contract
CalAware in 2010 sued California State University Stanislaus alleging that it violated its duties under the California Public Records Act and wrongfully withheld a speaking contract with former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin. The court ordered release of the contract.
Overcharges for Public Records Copies
CalAware in 2010 sued the Contra Costa County Community College District for violating the California Public Records Act in charging $40 per hour for staff time in compiling copies of public records; the District settled the suit by dropping the policy.
Posting Misleading Agenda
CalAware in 2012 sued the San Diego Board of Supervisors for taking action to adopt specific recommendations in a report that the agenda said should be simply received and evaluated with a report back by staff in 60 days, and for acting in accordance with a staff-prepared “cheat sheet” withheld from public dissemination. The board settled by rescinding the action taken.
Withholding Agenda Calendars
CalAware in 2014 sued the City of Salinas for withholding from the public, as a preliminary draft exempt from disclosure, a “calendar of upcoming events” to be placed on future city council meeting agendas, although the document was made available to council members. The city settled the suit by pledging to make future calendars available on request.
Backstage Serial Signatures
CalAware in 2015 sued the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors alleging it violated the Brown Act when its members privately and serially signed letters to the Legislature and the Governor opposing a bill intended to strengthen . . . the Brown Act. The Board settled the suit in August 2016 by pledging to announce any future full board signature correspondence on the open meeting agenda and authorize it by public vote.
Abuse of Closed Real Property Talks
CalAware in 2012 sued the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum Commission and won a court decision that commissioners had violated Brown Act limits on the scope of real property closed sessions by secretly engaging in wide-ranging discussions of multiple aspects of a proposed lease to USC.
Abuse of Closed “Security” Talks
CalAware in 2012 sued the Los Angeles Board of Supervisors for holding an unlawful closed session to discuss with Governor Brown the financial burden on the County of his plan to shift state prisoners to local jails, forcing the Board to settle by pledging not to repeat the practice.
Abuse of Closed Litigation Talk
CalAware in 2014 sued the Board of Trustees of the Pasadena Area Community College for misrepresenting the facts justifying a closed session to consider litigation; the court ruled that this Brown Act violation voided a departing chancellor’s $400,000 severance payment.
Withholding Asset Forfeiture Records
CalAware in 2016 sued the City of Baldwin Park for failing to retain records of its application to the U.S. Department of Justice for a share of funds or property confiscated from citizens using civil asset forfeiture; the City settled by pledging to do so in the future.