Newberry CSD president Robert Royalty continues to obstruct board transparency.
Newberry CSD Continues
To Conceal Public Documents
Newberry CSD refuses yet another
Public Records Act request!
Newberry Springs may be better off
without a Community Service District.
August 14, 2013
CSD under President Royalty again blocks full public disclosure.
Despite the stunning rebuke of CSD management by the Grand Jury, CSD
president Robert Royalty continues the CSD's leadership on a path of dysfunction.
The citizens of Newberry Springs deserve an open and transparent
CSD governance. This is mandated by the California Constitution's Declaration of Rights,
Article 1 Section 3(b)(1) that reads:
"The people have the right of access to information
concerning the conduct of the people's business, and, therefore, the
meetings of public bodies and the writings of public officials and
agencies shall be open to public scrutiny."
Royalty, and the lame-duck members on the board who don't speak-up
for open transparency, appear to be hiding incompetence.
Last July, the board voted not to give the Service Center (previously
the Senior Center) another financial bail-out. This was based upon the CSD's legal
counsel's written opinion that doing so would be illegal.
After the vote, as previously reported in the Blotter,
supporters of the Center requested that board president Robert Royalty share the written
opinion with them so that they could better understand the board's conduct.
Royalty arrograntly refused; and not one of the other directors spoke-up.
Royalty claims that since the opinion came from the CSD's legal
counsel, that the document is a "privileged" confidential communication between counsel and
While often such communication can be privileged, and it certainly is
required by law on certain matters as for issues of employment or litigation,
it is the Blotter's understanding that if a document is depended upon in the people's business
of a board's vote, particularly in the rendering of a decision
upon a service contract, then the weight of the document's public disclosure becomes mandatory.
This is even if there was some previous "privileged" attached; for under the state's
Constitution, a public agency cannot conduct its business in secrecy.
The community volunteer citizens that support the Service Center
have a right to access the information that the board depended upon to base their decision.
Royalty has become an obstactle on the CSD board rather than a facilitator.
Can of Worms
Royalty's arbeitary and capricious labeling of all of the counsel's
communication as "privileged" may lie in attempting to keep a lid on his can of worms.
He has previously used the CSD's paid counsel as a private attorney seeking to block another
director's agenda item that attempted to address the alleged corruption of another director that
In that matter, Royalty waived a piece of paper in the air
during a February 26, 2013 General Meeting claiming that he held an opinion from counsel that
allowed him to withdraw the item from the agenda. Royalty withdrew the
item based entirely upon the opinion; yet he refused to allow others to view the opinion.
The Community Alliance placed a California Public Records Act request before the Newberry CSD
for the release of the document. The CSD under Royalty refused and to date the document
has not been released as required by law.
Continuing a Pattern of Violations
After the July 23, 2013 board meeting where Royalty again refused the
public's access to a public document used for the basis of a board vote, the Community
Alliance filed on July 25, 2013 a California Public Records Act request for release
of the document requested by the Service Center supporters.
The CSD responded to the request by letter dated July 31, 2013
in a manner that violated the law on multiple grounds. The letter in itself is a remarkable
non-response that failed to provide legally required critiera. In short, the letter
stated: "In Response to your request for public records. It will be responded to
at the next Regular Newberry CSD Meeting."
The letter was signed by Office Assistant Jodi Howard. However, since
the CSD did not have a General Manager, all such letters and content must normally originate and be
approved by the CSD president, Robert Royalty. Howard had no control over the letter's
It is a violation of law under the California Public Records Act
(CPRA) to require a requester to travel to a meeting, scheduled nearly a month away, to attend
an oral response to a CPRA written request. By law, a decision on a CPRA request that
has been requested in writing, must be responded to in writing. (Government Code § 6255(b))
Community Alliance's Response
Outraged by the continued arrogrance of the CSD's behavior,
even after June's Grand Jury report,
the Community Alliance has responded by letter dated August 13, 2013 demanding the
Newberry CSD's adherence to the CPRA. Copies of the Community Alliance letter
have been forwarded to the Local Agency
Formation Commission (LAFCO), the Grand Jury of San Bernardino County, and the state's Attorney
General. Phone calls to outside authorities have also been made.
Whether anything will be accomplished... time will tell.
But the insubordination of the CSD's leadership to the citizens of Newberry Springs
will now be addressed to outside authorities on a regular basis.
When the CSD becomes this detached, non-responsive, and incompetent
in performing its job, then closing of the CSD must be considered. During the CSD's
administration over the last 30 years, the community has not improved.
The CSD's five board seats will soon have four new seat warmers.
Hopefully, they will collectively demonstrate the progressive change that the Newberry CSD needs.
Related past blogs:
Original story on the alleged fraud.
Two CSD directors conspire to cover-up $700 payment.
CSD General Manager joins cover-up.
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