Victory for the People! Director Flohr wins public records lawsuit!
As our community knows, I ran for a seat on the North Yuba Water District’s board of directors, and won, because of community concerns about the District’s plans to build a pipeline in the Forbestown Ditch – plans that were and continue to be made in secret without any involvement of the people who stand the most to lose if the pipeline, or other conveyance, won’t provide the water needed for current uses and future growth.
As everyone knows, I was not welcomed by the other District Directors, who were hostile to my attempts to bring transparency to the pipeline project. General Manager Jeff Maupin ignored my requests for information and records. My requests to place items on meeting agendas to publicly discuss these problems were ignored. To be blunt, the District Board (Brown, Hansard, Hawthorne and Neilson) and GM Maupin froze me out.
It got so bad that I decided the only way to for the public to gain access to the records and information necessary to evaluate the pipeline project was to petition the Yuba County Superior Court to enforce my rights under the California Public Records Act to gain access to and copies of the following records: all pipeline design plans, all CEQA documents, and all ditch repair records.
The Court granted my petition and ordered NYWD to produce all of the documents I requested. A copy of the Court’s ruling is attached. Not only did the Court rule that the public is entitled to all of the records that the District has been withholding, the Court also dismissed the District’s cross-complaint accusing me of pursuing a frivolous lawsuit.
The moment I decided to petition the court for relief, NYWD engaged in a smear campaign accusing me of wasting money by filing a frivolous lawsuit. My attorney, Paul Nicholas Boylan – an expert in the Public Records Act, a professor of law, and a recipient of the California News Publisher Association’s Freedom of Information award – had this to say about it:
𝑇ℎ𝑒 𝐷𝑖𝑠𝑡𝑟𝑖𝑐𝑡’𝑠 𝑎𝑐𝑐𝑢𝑠𝑎𝑡𝑖𝑜𝑛 𝑎𝑛𝑑 𝑐𝑟𝑜𝑠𝑠-𝑐𝑜𝑚𝑝𝑙𝑎𝑖𝑛𝑡 𝑎𝑔𝑎𝑖𝑛𝑠𝑡 𝑦𝑜𝑢 𝑐𝑙𝑎𝑖𝑚𝑖𝑛𝑔 𝑦𝑜𝑢𝑟 𝑝𝑒𝑡𝑖𝑡𝑖𝑜𝑛 𝑤𝑎𝑠 “𝑓𝑟𝑖𝑣𝑜𝑙𝑜𝑢𝑠” 𝑠𝑒𝑟𝑣𝑒𝑑 𝑡𝑤𝑜 𝑝𝑢𝑟𝑝𝑜𝑠𝑒𝑠. 𝑇ℎ𝑒 𝑓𝑖𝑟𝑠𝑡 𝑤𝑎𝑠 𝑡𝑜 𝑝𝑟𝑜𝑣𝑖𝑑𝑒 𝑎 𝑏𝑎𝑠𝑖𝑠 𝑓𝑜𝑟 𝑎𝑡𝑡𝑎𝑐𝑘𝑖𝑛𝑔 𝑦𝑜𝑢 𝑝𝑜𝑙𝑖𝑡𝑖𝑐𝑎𝑙𝑙𝑦, 𝑤ℎ𝑖𝑐ℎ 𝑡ℎ𝑒𝑦 ℎ𝑎𝑣𝑒 𝑑𝑜𝑛𝑒. 𝑇ℎ𝑒 𝑜𝑡ℎ𝑒𝑟 𝑝𝑢𝑟𝑝𝑜𝑠𝑒 𝑤𝑎𝑠 𝑡𝑜 𝑓𝑟𝑖𝑔ℎ𝑡𝑒𝑛 𝑦𝑜𝑢 𝑏𝑦 𝑡ℎ𝑟𝑒𝑎𝑡𝑒𝑛𝑖𝑛𝑔 𝑦𝑜𝑢 𝑤𝑖𝑡ℎ 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑝𝑜𝑠𝑠𝑖𝑏𝑖𝑙𝑖𝑡𝑦 𝑜𝑓 𝑝𝑎𝑦𝑖𝑛𝑔 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝐷𝑖𝑠𝑡𝑟𝑖𝑐𝑡’𝑠 𝑎𝑡𝑡𝑜𝑟𝑛𝑒𝑦’𝑠 𝑓𝑒𝑒𝑠 𝑖𝑓 𝑦𝑜𝑢 𝑙𝑜𝑠𝑡. 𝑇ℎ𝑒 𝑐𝑟𝑜𝑠𝑠-𝑐𝑜𝑚𝑝𝑙𝑎𝑖𝑛𝑡 𝑎𝑔𝑎𝑖𝑛𝑠𝑡 𝑦𝑜𝑢 𝑤𝑎𝑠 𝑎 𝑠𝑐𝑜𝑟𝑐ℎ𝑒𝑑-𝑒𝑎𝑟𝑡ℎ 𝑙𝑖𝑡𝑖𝑔𝑎𝑡𝑖𝑜𝑛 𝑡𝑎𝑐𝑡𝑖𝑐 𝑡𝑜 𝑢𝑠𝑒 𝑓𝑒𝑎𝑟 𝑎𝑛𝑑 𝑖𝑛𝑡𝑖𝑚𝑖𝑑𝑎𝑡𝑖𝑜𝑛 𝑡𝑜 𝑓𝑜𝑟𝑐𝑒 𝑦𝑜𝑢 𝑡𝑜 𝑤𝑎𝑙𝑘 𝑎𝑤𝑎𝑦 𝑓𝑟𝑜𝑚 𝑦𝑜𝑢𝑟 𝑎𝑡𝑡𝑒𝑚𝑝𝑡 𝑡𝑜 𝑔𝑎𝑖𝑛 𝑎𝑐𝑐𝑒𝑠𝑠 𝑡𝑜 𝑝𝑖𝑝𝑒𝑙𝑖𝑛𝑒 𝑝𝑟𝑜𝑗𝑒𝑐𝑡 𝑟𝑒𝑐𝑜𝑟𝑑𝑠. 𝑇ℎ𝑒 𝑝𝑟𝑜𝑏𝑙𝑒𝑚, 𝑜𝑓 𝑐𝑜𝑢𝑟𝑠𝑒, 𝑖𝑠 𝑡ℎ𝑎𝑡 𝑖𝑡 𝑗𝑢𝑠𝑡 𝑤𝑎𝑠𝑛’𝑡 𝑡𝑟𝑢𝑒.
𝑌𝑜𝑢𝑟 𝑙𝑎𝑤𝑠𝑢𝑖𝑡 𝑤𝑎𝑠 𝑛𝑒𝑣𝑒𝑟 𝑓𝑟𝑖𝑣𝑜𝑙𝑜𝑢𝑠. 𝐼𝑓 𝑖𝑡 𝑤𝑎𝑠 𝑓𝑟𝑖𝑣𝑜𝑙𝑜𝑢𝑠, 𝐼 𝑤𝑜𝑢𝑙𝑑 𝑛𝑒𝑣𝑒𝑟 ℎ𝑎𝑣𝑒 𝑎𝑔𝑟𝑒𝑒𝑑 𝑡𝑜 𝑟𝑒𝑝𝑟𝑒𝑠𝑒𝑛𝑡 𝑦𝑜𝑢. 𝐵𝑢𝑡 𝐼 𝑑𝑖𝑑 𝑏𝑒𝑐𝑎𝑢𝑠𝑒, 𝑖𝑛 𝑡ℎ𝑒 30 𝑦𝑒𝑎𝑟𝑠 𝑡ℎ𝑎𝑡 𝐼’𝑣𝑒 𝑏𝑒𝑒𝑛 𝑎𝑑𝑣𝑖𝑠𝑖𝑛𝑔 𝑝𝑢𝑏𝑙𝑖𝑐 𝑎𝑔𝑒𝑛𝑐𝑖𝑒𝑠 𝑎𝑛𝑑 𝑝𝑟𝑖𝑣𝑎𝑡𝑒 𝑐𝑖𝑡𝑖𝑧𝑒𝑛𝑠 𝑜𝑛 𝑡ℎ𝑒𝑖𝑟 𝑟𝑒𝑠𝑝𝑒𝑐𝑡𝑖𝑣𝑒 𝑐𝑜𝑛𝑠𝑡𝑖𝑡𝑢𝑡𝑖𝑜𝑛𝑎𝑙 𝑎𝑛𝑑 𝑠𝑡𝑎𝑡𝑢𝑡𝑜𝑟𝑦 𝑟𝑖𝑔ℎ𝑡𝑠 𝑎𝑛𝑑 𝑑𝑢𝑡𝑖𝑒𝑠 𝑡𝑜 𝑝𝑟𝑜𝑣𝑖𝑑𝑒 𝑎𝑐𝑐𝑒𝑠𝑠 𝑡𝑜 𝑟𝑒𝑐𝑜𝑟𝑑𝑠 𝑎𝑛𝑑 𝑖𝑛𝑓𝑜𝑟𝑚𝑎𝑡𝑖𝑜𝑛, 𝐼’𝑣𝑒 𝑛𝑒𝑣𝑒𝑟 𝑠𝑒𝑒𝑛 𝑎 𝑚𝑜𝑟𝑒 𝑚𝑒𝑟𝑖𝑡𝑜𝑟𝑖𝑜𝑢𝑠 𝑃𝑢𝑏𝑙𝑖𝑐 𝑅𝑒𝑐𝑜𝑟𝑑𝑠 𝐴𝑐𝑡 𝑒𝑛𝑓𝑜𝑟𝑐𝑒𝑚𝑒𝑛𝑡 𝑎𝑐𝑡𝑖𝑜𝑛. 𝐼𝑛 𝑚𝑦 𝑜𝑝𝑖𝑛𝑖𝑜𝑛, 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝐷𝑖𝑠𝑡𝑟𝑖𝑐𝑡 𝑡𝑜𝑜𝑘 𝑎𝑐𝑡𝑖𝑣𝑒 𝑠𝑡𝑒𝑝𝑠 𝑡𝑜 𝑝𝑟𝑒𝑣𝑒𝑛𝑡 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑝𝑢𝑏𝑙𝑖𝑐 𝑓𝑟𝑜𝑚 𝑏𝑒𝑖𝑛𝑔 𝑖𝑛𝑣𝑜𝑙𝑣𝑒𝑑 𝑖𝑛 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑝𝑖𝑝𝑒𝑙𝑖𝑛𝑒 𝑝𝑟𝑜𝑗𝑒𝑐𝑡. 𝑇ℎ𝑖𝑠 𝑠𝑐ℎ𝑒𝑚𝑒 𝑑𝑖𝑟𝑒𝑐𝑡𝑙𝑦 𝑣𝑖𝑜𝑙𝑎𝑡𝑒𝑑 𝑎𝑛𝑑 𝑐𝑜𝑛𝑡𝑖𝑛𝑢𝑒𝑠 𝑡𝑜 𝑣𝑖𝑜𝑙𝑎𝑡𝑒 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑝𝑢𝑏𝑙𝑖𝑐’𝑠 𝑐𝑜𝑛𝑠𝑡𝑖𝑡𝑢𝑡𝑖𝑜𝑛𝑎𝑙 𝑟𝑖𝑔ℎ𝑡 𝑡𝑜 𝑏𝑒 𝑓𝑢𝑙𝑙𝑦 𝑖𝑛𝑓𝑜𝑟𝑚𝑒𝑑 𝑎𝑛𝑑 𝑖𝑛𝑣𝑜𝑙𝑣𝑒𝑑 𝑖𝑛 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑝𝑟𝑜𝑗𝑒𝑐𝑡. 𝑌𝑜𝑢𝑟 𝑝𝑒𝑡𝑖𝑡𝑖𝑜𝑛 𝑤𝑎𝑠 𝑜𝑣𝑒𝑟𝑤ℎ𝑒𝑙𝑚𝑖𝑛𝑔𝑙𝑦 𝑚𝑒𝑟𝑖𝑡𝑜𝑟𝑖𝑜𝑢𝑠.
𝐴𝑠 𝐼 𝑠𝑎𝑖𝑑, 𝑦𝑜𝑢𝑟 𝑒𝑓𝑓𝑜𝑟𝑡 𝑡𝑜 𝑔𝑎𝑖𝑛 𝑎𝑐𝑐𝑒𝑠𝑠 𝑡𝑜 𝑡ℎ𝑒𝑠𝑒 𝑟𝑒𝑐𝑜𝑟𝑑𝑠 𝑤𝑎𝑠 𝑛𝑒𝑣𝑒𝑟 𝑓𝑟𝑖𝑣𝑜𝑙𝑜𝑢𝑠. 𝑌𝑜𝑢 𝑠ℎ𝑜𝑢𝑙𝑑 𝑏𝑒 𝑝𝑟𝑜𝑢𝑑 𝑜𝑓 𝑤ℎ𝑎𝑡 𝑦𝑜𝑢’𝑣𝑒 𝑎𝑐ℎ𝑖𝑒𝑣𝑒𝑑.
𝐸𝑥𝑝𝑒𝑐𝑡 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑝𝑒𝑟𝑠𝑜𝑛𝑎𝑙 𝑎𝑡𝑡𝑎𝑐𝑘𝑠 𝑡𝑜 𝑐𝑜𝑛𝑡𝑖𝑛𝑢𝑒. 𝑇ℎ𝑒 𝐷𝑖𝑠𝑡𝑟𝑖𝑐𝑡 𝑖𝑠 𝑙𝑖𝑘𝑒𝑙𝑦 𝑡𝑜 𝑐𝑜𝑛𝑡𝑖𝑛𝑢𝑒 𝑡𝑜 𝑎𝑟𝑔𝑢𝑒 𝑡ℎ𝑎𝑡 𝑦𝑜𝑢𝑟 𝑙𝑎𝑤𝑠𝑢𝑖𝑡 𝑤𝑎𝑠 𝑎 “𝑤𝑎𝑠𝑡𝑒 𝑜𝑓 𝑚𝑜𝑛𝑒𝑦.” 𝑇ℎ𝑎𝑡 𝑤𝑜𝑛’𝑡 𝑓𝑜𝑜𝑙 𝑎𝑛𝑦𝑜𝑛𝑒. 𝐸𝑣𝑒𝑟𝑦𝑜𝑛𝑒 𝑤𝑖𝑙𝑙 𝑟𝑒𝑎𝑙𝑖𝑧𝑒 𝑡ℎ𝑎𝑡 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝐷𝑖𝑠𝑡𝑟𝑖𝑐𝑡 𝑐𝑜𝑢𝑙𝑑 𝑒𝑎𝑠𝑖𝑙𝑦 ℎ𝑎𝑣𝑒 𝑎𝑣𝑜𝑖𝑑𝑒𝑑 𝑠𝑝𝑒𝑛𝑑𝑖𝑛𝑔 𝑎𝑛𝑦 𝑚𝑜𝑛𝑒𝑦 𝑑𝑒𝑓𝑒𝑛𝑑𝑖𝑛𝑔 𝑎𝑔𝑎𝑖𝑛𝑠𝑡 𝑎 𝑟𝑒𝑐𝑜𝑟𝑑𝑠 𝑎𝑐𝑐𝑒𝑠𝑠 𝑙𝑎𝑤𝑠𝑢𝑖𝑡 𝑏𝑦 𝑓𝑜𝑙𝑙𝑜𝑤𝑖𝑛𝑔 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑙𝑎𝑤, 𝑏𝑒𝑖𝑛𝑔 𝑡𝑟𝑎𝑛𝑠𝑝𝑎𝑟𝑒𝑛𝑡, 𝑎𝑛𝑑 𝑝𝑟𝑜𝑣𝑖𝑑𝑖𝑛𝑔 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑖𝑛𝑓𝑜𝑟𝑚𝑎𝑡𝑖𝑜𝑛 𝑎𝑛𝑑 𝑟𝑒𝑐𝑜𝑟𝑑𝑠 𝑡ℎ𝑎𝑡 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝐷𝑖𝑠𝑡𝑟𝑖𝑐𝑡 𝑢𝑛𝑙𝑎𝑤𝑓𝑢𝑙𝑙𝑦 𝑑𝑒𝑐𝑖𝑑𝑒𝑑 𝑡𝑜 𝑤𝑖𝑡ℎℎ𝑜𝑙𝑑. 𝐼𝑓 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝐷𝑖𝑠𝑡𝑟𝑖𝑐𝑡 𝑤𝑎𝑛𝑡𝑠 𝑡𝑜 𝑎𝑣𝑜𝑖𝑑 𝑓𝑢𝑡𝑢𝑟𝑒 𝑙𝑎𝑤𝑠𝑢𝑖𝑡𝑠, 𝑎𝑙𝑙 𝑖𝑡 𝑛𝑒𝑒𝑑𝑠 𝑡𝑜 𝑑𝑜 𝑖𝑠 𝑏𝑒 𝑡𝑟𝑎𝑛𝑠𝑝𝑎𝑟𝑒𝑛𝑡, 𝑎𝑠 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑙𝑎𝑤 𝑟𝑒𝑞𝑢𝑖𝑟𝑒𝑠.”
I want to thank all of you for supporting me through all of this. The constant personal attacks against me were difficult. The success of this lawsuit wouldn’t have been achieved without your help and encouragement.
And, when I finally get these records, I will share them with you so that we all can finally be involved with a public project financed with our tax dollars that affects all of our lives.
Thank you again, my friends. It is a new day in the North Yuba Water District.