Here’s a Bay Area News Group editorial about the Newark Unified school board’s vote in closed session on Friday. The editorial that appeared in Tuesday’s (Aug. 12, 2014) newspaper edition:
Elected officials too frequently forget they’re accountable to the public for their votes.
In this case, the Newark school district board last week in closed session defeated a motion to allow popular Superintendent Dave Marken to rescind his resignation.
Two trustees supported the motion, and three did not. The board refused to reveal publicly how each trustee voted. They relied on convoluted legal advice from their attorney, Louis Lozano.
The state open meeting law is clear. Local government boards must report how each member voted on any “action taken.” That includes “a collective commitment … to make a positive or a negative decision.”
Nevertheless, Lozano argues that trustees only need to report votes on motions that pass. The motion that failed, Lozano says, was to allow Marken to rescind his resignation. Lozano argues that had the board instead passed a motion not to allow Marken to rescind his resignation, trustees would have had to make their votes public.
Lozano’s legal hairsplitting runs roughshod over the intent and language of the law. Even Lozano admits that the board could have opted to reveal the vote anyhow. So far, it hasn’t.
If trustees don’t want to be accountable, they should resign.
For the online version, click here.