City Hall | City of Carmel-by-the-Sea
By Royal Calkins
The 20 or so folks in Carmel who are still paying attention to Carmel politics post-election and City Attorney Glen Mozingo post-comeuppance might find this somewhat entertaining.
It was almost a year ago that Mozingo announced the city would investigate allegations that Mayor Steve Dallas was going around town sexually harassing women. An investigation of sorts ensued, though that is rather an overstatement. As I understand it, it amounted to little more than an assessment of whether the city faced any potential liability in light of allegations being raised against the mayor.
Anyway, Mozingo eventually reported that the inquiry by an outside attorney had turned up accounts of boorish behavior but nothing actionable. I asked Mozingo at the time to release the attorney’s report. “Attorney-client,” he replied in that way of his.
Much has happened since, including lots of articles about Mozingo’s grossly exaggerated resumé, a successful public records lawsuit by yours truly, and an election that will result in Dallas’s departure in two short months. (Though Mozingo’s contract with the city provides him a measure of protection from being terminated without cause, there will be a new council majority in January. Various removal methods are already under consideration.)
Also in the interim, an appellate court ruled that the report on a municipal investigation of a city official in Milpitas is clearly public record, which prompted me to repeat my public records request involving the Dallas matter — in writing this time, on Oct. 18, to be specific.
The state Public Records Act gives cities 10 days to respond but also allows for additional time in the event of extenuating circumstances. Ten days after I filed my request, Carmel City Clerk Tom Graves got back to me. We’ll have something for you by Nov. 12, he wrote.
Nov. 12 was a holiday but on Nov. 13 came another response. Graves wrote that the city is still looking into it and will likely hold back some materials covered by various protections. This time, though, he didn’t provide a time frame.
“As for timing, “ he wrote, “we estimate any responsive records will be made available for disclosure promptly under the circumstances — Mr. Mozingo has been out of the country and will attend to this matter in the short term.”
In other words, neither of the two attorneys on Mozingo’s staff, Jon Giffen or Gerard Rose, was able to address the matter during Mozingo’s vacation. As I understand it, he left town several days before the Nov. 6 election and is expected back at the end of this week. (I also understand Mozingo has been vacationing in London, which is relatively well connected to the outside world via telephone and internet, but that may have changed in the time that has passed since my public records request was filed.)
I sent a message to Graves and his City Hall associates on Tuesday asking if they could point to the section of the state Public Records Act that provides for an unlimited time extension in the event of vacation involving one of a team of lawyers, but I haven’t yet received a reply. I put that question in the form of a Public Records Act request so I may hear something in 10 days, assuming the other lawyers haven’t gone off on a vacation of their own.
Perhaps it also should be noted that the city is generously processing my request despite confusion over what is being requested.
I had written that I was seeking “reports and other written information stemming from the city’s investigation of sexual harassment allegations concerning Steve Dallas.” In the city’s response Tuesday, Graves or someone wrote that “portions of your request do not reasonably describe identifiable records — the phrases ‘concerning’ and ‘stemming from’ are open-ended, unfocused, unspecific, and overly broad, so that the City cannot decipher exactly what documents are being requested.’’
Fortunately for me and those still with me, the city decided that my poorly crafted request required no punishment beyond a simple scolding.
“In the interests of good faith, and consistent with California and Carmel’s policy providing for openness and transparency in government, the City has determined that it will comply with the Request as follows: following a reasonable effort to search and locate responsive records, the City will promptly make available for inspection those disclosable and reasonably available public writings prepared, owned, used or retained by the City pertaining to the City’s investigation of sexual harassment allegations concerning Mayor Steve Dallas.”
By the way, the city didn’t put “promptly” in italics. I did.
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