So one month after violating state open meeting law by approving a raise for Ohlone President Gari Browning in a closed meeting, Ohlone Trustees met Wednesday and decided who gets to be board chairman and vice president.
The board’s informal practice of rotating the chairmanship meant Nick Nardolillo would likely become chairman and Garrett Yee vice chairman.
But, wait a minute. Board Chairman Rich Watters — who is considering running for Newark City Council next year — got nominated for a second consecutive term as the top dog. What did Watters do? He asked if the trustees could vote in secret.
Whom did he ask? Not an attorney since none was present. He asked a woman who works in the president’s office. She didn’t really know the answer, but concluded they could.
THEY COULD NOT!!!
Luckily for the Trustees, moments before they were about to violate state open meeting law for the second consecutive meeting, recently retired Trustee John Weed, stepped up to the microphone and told them how it goes in the great state of California.
Later in the meeting, Trustees wanted to consider deferring a proposed pay increase the themselves. But they didn’t know if it was legal. The board got an impromptu legal opinion from Trustee Bill McMillin, who’s a retired school administrator. That wasn’t good enough. The board voted down the pay raise.
I asked several board members and President Browning about the lack of an attorney at the board meetings. They all said they can’t afford to have an attorney present.
Watters said he asked for the secret ballot because he thought Trustees might be uncomfortable bucking the rotation tradition in public. He also said he was surprised to be nominated by Trustee Greg Bonaccorsi. I’m surprised he said that because Bonaccorsi later told me he had felt Watters out about a nomination, although he never told Watters he would do it.
Bonaccorsi, who beat out Yee for vice chair sparred a bit over the trustee pay raise. Yee got a little wise with Bonaccorsi during the meeting because Bonaccorsi pushed to get the pay raise on the agenda only to cast the deciding vote against it. Bonaccorsi, who’s a teacher’s union leader, said he changed his mind after hearing from Ohlone union leaders about the trustee pay increase.
I got the feeling that Yee is still paying the price for running against Wieckowski in the Assembly primary. The new board member, Jan Giovannini-Hill is a Torrico friend, and she voted against Yee. Pretty amazing that Yee went from almost getting into the Assembly to not being able win a vote for vice chairman of the stinking Ohlone Board.
If there is antagonism toward Yee, he kinda asked for it at Wednesday’s meeting. He was one of four trustees being sworn into new terms. The other three did wham, bam, thank you, mam ceremonies with Mayor Wasserman swearing them in.
Yee had his swearing in done by his pal, Assemblymember Mary Hayashi. She was late. And when she did arrive, she gave an entire speech about Garrett. Then Garrett gave a speech, and then there was five-minute break where they took photos together. It was as if they had what would have been his Assembly swearing-in ceremony, and just did it for the Ohlone Board instead.
The whole thing took way too long.