LVMWD Board Members Violate Open Meeting Laws: LA County DA Validates Complaint Filed by Board Member Steinhardt vs Directors Glen Peterson, Lee Renger, Charles Caspary

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The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office, Bureau of Fraud and Corruption Prosecutions, Public Integrity Division, validates a complaint filed by LVMWD Board Member Steinhardt vs. Directors Glen Peterson, Lee Renger, and Charles Caspary. The LA County DA released a letter addressed to the members of the Las Virgenes Municipal Water District (LVMWD) Board stating that there was evidence that the Board violated the Brown Act.

Of the five members present, three voted in favor of this motion [Caspary, Peterson, and Renger]. This activity, in violation of Government Code 554954,2(b), constituted a Brown Act violation~ Jackie Lacey, Los Angeles County District Attorney

The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office, Bureau of Fraud and Corruption Prosecutions, Public Integrity Division, released a letter on August 13th, addressed to the members of the Las Virgenes Municipal Water District (LVMWD) Board stating that there was evidence that the Board violated the Brown Act. The District Attorney confirmed LVMWD’s Board majority (Directors Glen Peterson, Lee Renger, and Charles Caspary) improperly acted to move an agenda item that should have been discussed openly, and in public, to a closed session. The Brown Act requires, with limited exceptions, that all meetings of a legislative body of a local agency be open and public (Government Code 54950-54952).

From the DA’s Letters, RE: PID Case 14-0141:

“A review of your [The LVMWD Board] January 14, 2014 meeting revealed that Director Caspary made a motion to add an item to the closed session portion of the agenda,” stated Jackie Lacey, District Attorney. “Of the five members present, three voted in favor of this motion [Caspary, Peterson, and Renger]. This activity, in violation of Government Code 554954,2(b), constituted a Brown Act violation,” Ms. Lacey continued. “A review of this video for this meeting showed that a two-thirds vote of those present was not met and no facts demonstrating the need to take immediate action on the item and when the item came to attention of your board were stated.” After detailing the government codes in question, Ms. Lacey concluded with “At this time, the Board of Directors of the Las Virgenes Municipal Water District will be sent a letter advising them of this violation.”

At the time of the violation, Director Barry Steinhardt brought it to the attention of the Board. The Board majority then improperly moved to vote on and approve a controversial water tank project in Westlake Village. By violating the Brown Act, the Board majority, could not legally vote on the “tank” project related to this violation.

“The board majority--Caspary, Peterson, and Renger--violated the Brown Act on a critical vote on a multi-million dollar ‘tank’ project costing every household in our district $650 without proving its need. I brought the violation to District’s and Board’s attention at the time verbally, followed it up in writing, and after the meeting. When they disregarded the law, I had no choice but to go to the Los Angeles County District Attorney,” said Board Member Barry Steinhardt.

In addition to the Brown Act violation now confirmed by the Los Angeles District Attorney, General Counsel of Las Virgenes Municipal Water District has also confirmed that the Board majority broke the water district’s own Administrative Code by not allowing minority board members to add agenda items for public discussion.

“I ran for Water Board initially to bring transparency to this board. Caspary, Peterson, and Renger have led in a manner that was and is nothing short of corruption,” said Barry Steinhardt. “I’m working to ensure the people’s voice is heard, and that an open, transparent, and proper process is at work in all making all water district decisions. We must regain the public trust in governance.”

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Chris Collier