For any member of the public to participate in local agency planning and decisions – they must be knowledgeable about the laws affecting that local agency and the local policies practiced by that agency.
Brown Act – All members of the public need to know about the Brown Act. It is the single most important piece of state legislation governing NYWD (besides the California Water Code) and it is both a boon and a bane. It is a boon because it ensures that:
A copy of the Brown Act and a more user-friendly guide are provided on my blog post: https://she-persisted.life/2019/01/15/radio-silence/.
It is a bane because there are multiple ways for an agency to violate the Brown Act and Board members can use the Act as an excuse to not speak to other Board members or to even refuse to form perfectly legal ad hoc or working committees by stating concerns over violating the Act.
It is also a bane because – and perhaps many folks are not aware of this – Board members cannot speak about policies, issues, plans or really much of anything if a majority of the Board is present in one location – this includes being present in an email exchange. Therefore, the entire process of working through problem-solving is done in the public venue of a Board meeting. This can be very challenging even in the best of circumstances. Board members do not come to a meeting with all their “ducks in a row”. They show up with some ducks, some water, and a kid’s wading pool and have to figure out to assemble it all in front of an audience.
Immediately upon my election, I requested all of the NYWD policies in effect as of November 2018. One would think there would be a binder of policies or a comprehensive PDF electronic file of them at the ready for new Board Directors. Reading and becoming intimately familiar with these policies is a key piece of being an effective and informed Director of the Board. There is no binder or comprehensive electronic file – if there is I have not been provided with them.
Ever since November 28, when the election results were certified, I have been doing my best to obtain all of the policies. I still do not have all of them (it is currently February 2019) and part of the challenge is that since they are not simply being voluntarily provided – I have to learn they exist or did exist in order to then request them. I then have to make a request for a policy, and hope I receive an answer. I am providing the policies I have successfully obtained thus far. I will update this as I obtain more of them.
In reviewing these policies, I believe there is a distinct relinquishment of oversight responsibilities of the Board. Those oversight responsibilities have been given to the very employee for which we, the Board, are supposed to provide oversight. This is my opinion, the readers can make their own determination.