San Diego airport authority possibly violated open meeting law i - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

San Diego airport authority possibly violated open meeting law in suing port

Posted: Updated:

The San Diego International Airport is shown at sunset in this 2015 file photo. (Megan Wood/inewsource)

By Brad Racino | inewsource

When the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority decided in July to join an ongoing lawsuit against the San Diego Unified Port District, it may have violated the state's open meeting law.

The suit, originally brought by two rental car companies, says a new $3.50 fee by the port district on rental cars at the airport is a special tax that needs a public vote. The revenue from the fee was to pay for an approximately 1,600-space parking garage at a planned billion-dollar hotel and convention center project on Chula Vista's bayfront.

The move sparked immediate blowback from port and South Bay leaders because the litigation could endanger the long-awaited bayfront development.

Now, inewsource has learned the airport authority board also may have violated California's open-meeting law by never officially voting to join the lawsuit and never formally announcing the decision to the public after it was made.

April Boling, chairwoman of the airport authority's board, confirmed to inewsource the lack of a vote on the litigation.

"There was no vote," Boling said. "I'm not going to go into a lot of details on closed session, … but it was brought to our attention by our attorneys and a recommendation was made."

After the closed session, the airport board also didn't publicly announce its decision to enter into the lawsuit.

David Snyder, executive director of the open-government advocacy group First Amendment Coalition, said this appears to violate the Brown Act - a state law guaranteeing the public's right to attend and participate in meetings of local legislative bodies.

"They have to report out an action taken and any vote that preceded that action," Snyder said.

The law also "doesn't allow legislative bodies to get around the public reporting requirement by not taking a formal vote," he said.

What the airport did, he said, was take an action that "consisted of a directive to the board's lawyers to intervene in a lawsuit - and that should've been reported out."

There are two ways of enforcing the Brown Act, Snyder said.

The first is for a person or organization to sue to get a court to find that the government agency violated the law. The court can then require the agency to nullify and retake the disputed vote and/or acknowledge that it violated the law, and certify that it won't do that again.

The second way is for a district attorney to step in. But, Snyder said, "I don't know of any instance where a DA has brought any action."

The airport authority is governed by a nine-member board, which includes San Diego County Supervisor Greg Cox - a former Chula Vista councilman and mayor. inewsource reached out to Cox for his opinion on the airport authority's lawsuit. Through a spokesman, Cox issued this statement:

"I wasn't at the Airport Authority board meeting where this was discussed and voted on and can't comment any further because we're in active litigation. However, as a former Mayor and Councilmember of Chula Vista, I fully recognize that the Bayfront project will have a significant economic impact for South County and the entire region, and I want to see this long awaited project realized. I'm looking forward to working with Airport Authority staff and members to find a resolution."

Boling told inewsource the authority's board didn't view the suit as "something terribly controversial."

"We were doing something more procedural more than anything else, which was to put our hand up in the air. It wasn't as though we were filing a suit. This was not our suit."

The lawsuit was brought by Enterprise Rent-A-Car and Hertz Corp.

********

See anything interesting? Share it with us through our Facebook or Twitter accounts.

********
inewsource is an independent, investigative journalism nonprofit supported by foundations, philanthropists and viewers like you.

********

Read additional stories on the inewsource.org website.



  • inewsourceMore>>

  • CBS 8 and inewsource partner to present investigative stories

    CBS 8 and inewsource partner to present investigative stories

    CBS 8 and inewsource are working together to share investigative stories that matter to San Diego.

     

    CBS 8 and inewsource are working together to share investigative stories that matter to San Diego.

     
  • Security lapses found at San Diego shipyards despite Navy rules

    Security lapses found at San Diego shipyards despite Navy rules

    Wednesday, December 12 2018 6:39 PM EST2018-12-12 23:39:20 GMT
    Wednesday, December 12 2018 7:12 PM EST2018-12-13 00:12:26 GMT

    The private shipyards in San Diego responsible for protecting Navy warships have not been following security protocols meant to protect those billion-dollar assets, and the Navy was alerted to the lapses more than two years ago, an inewsource investigation has found.

     

    The private shipyards in San Diego responsible for protecting Navy warships have not been following security protocols meant to protect those billion-dollar assets, and the Navy was alerted to the lapses more than two years ago, an inewsource investigation has found.

     
  • Whistleblowers allege human research violations at San Diego VA

    Whistleblowers allege human research violations at San Diego VA

    Tuesday, November 20 2018 2:37 PM EST2018-11-20 19:37:31 GMT
    Tuesday, November 20 2018 5:56 PM EST2018-11-20 22:56:38 GMT

    Two whistleblowers say dangerous medical research was performed on veterans suffering from alcoholism and liver disease at the VA San Diego Healthcare System, which serves the nearly quarter-million veterans in San Diego and Imperial counties, and has one of the largest research programs in the national VA network.

     

    Two whistleblowers say dangerous medical research was performed on veterans suffering from alcoholism and liver disease at the VA San Diego Healthcare System, which serves the nearly quarter-million veterans in San Diego and Imperial counties, and has one of the largest research programs in the national VA network.

     
  • Plan to revive San Diego fishing industry agreed upon by fishermen, developer

    Plan to revive San Diego fishing industry agreed upon by fishermen, developer

    Wednesday, October 24 2018 3:31 PM EDT2018-10-24 19:31:40 GMT
    Wednesday, October 24 2018 5:32 PM EDT2018-10-24 21:32:04 GMT

    After years of negotiations, San Diego’s fishermen and a local developer have signed an agreement to recapture a lost piece of the city’s history – a thriving commercial fishing trade that once employed thousands of people while netting hundreds of millions of dollars.

     

    After years of negotiations, San Diego’s fishermen and a local developer have signed an agreement to recapture a lost piece of the city’s history – a thriving commercial fishing trade that once employed thousands of people while netting hundreds of millions of dollars.

     
  • San Ysidro School District spent $276,000 on after-school program that never happened

    San Ysidro School District spent $276,000 on after-school program that never happened

    Wednesday, October 17 2018 7:43 PM EDT2018-10-17 23:43:04 GMT
    Thursday, October 18 2018 9:47 AM EDT2018-10-18 13:47:17 GMT

    A San Diego woman with connections to former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and philanthropist T. Denny Sanford sold the San Ysidro School District on spending $276,000 upfront for an after-school program in 2016. The problem? It never happened.

     

    A San Diego woman with connections to former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and philanthropist T. Denny Sanford sold the San Ysidro School District on spending $276,000 upfront for an after-school program in 2016. The problem? It never happened.

     
  • Republican Party not spending as much as Democratic Party in San Diego County races

    Republican Party not spending as much as Democratic Party in San Diego County races

    Monday, October 15 2018 7:47 PM EDT2018-10-15 23:47:04 GMT
    Monday, October 15 2018 8:10 PM EDT2018-10-16 00:10:14 GMT

    The San Diego County Democratic Party isn't just hoping to win a lot of seats in the upcoming election - it's spending a lot of money to make that happen.

     

    The San Diego County Democratic Party isn't just hoping to win a lot of seats in the upcoming election - it's spending a lot of money to make that happen.

     
  • Follow The Money: The measure for San Diego government transparency

    Follow The Money: The measure for San Diego government transparency

    Friday, October 12 2018 7:19 PM EDT2018-10-12 23:19:13 GMT
    Friday, October 12 2018 7:40 PM EDT2018-10-12 23:40:45 GMT

    This is the fifth of a five-part Follow The Money series by inewsource reporters Jill Castellano and Brad Racino, leading up to the Nov. 6 election. In this final installment, they look at Measure J, which would change the city of San Diego's charter and require companies doing business with the city to disclose all the people associated with the transaction.

     

    This is the fifth of a five-part Follow The Money series by inewsource reporters Jill Castellano and Brad Racino, leading up to the Nov. 6 election. In this final installment, they look at Measure J, which would change the city of San Diego's charter and require companies doing business with the city to disclose all the people associated with the transaction.

     
  • Follow The Money: The campaign for San Diego Unified’s $3.5 billion bond

    Follow The Money: The campaign for San Diego Unified’s $3.5 billion bond

    Thursday, October 11 2018 6:05 PM EDT2018-10-11 22:05:28 GMT
    Thursday, October 11 2018 7:24 PM EDT2018-10-11 23:24:36 GMT

    This is the fourth of a five-part Follow The Money series by inewsource reporters Jill Castellano and Brad Racino, leading up to the Nov. 6 election. In this installment, they look at Measure YY, the San Diego Unified School District's $3.5 billion proposed bond measure.

     

    This is the fourth of a five-part Follow The Money series by inewsource reporters Jill Castellano and Brad Racino, leading up to the Nov. 6 election. In this installment, they look at Measure YY, the San Diego Unified School District's $3.5 billion proposed bond measure.

     
Powered by Frankly
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2018 KFMB-TV. All Rights Reserved.
For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy, and Terms of Service, and Ad Choices.