Oceanside's Tri-City Healthcare District board majority has been contending for some kind of gothic governance award for years, among other things for the way it treats two of its members who too frequently ask questions and express dissent. The crowning act of discipline has been to banish the pair from all closed sessions—not because they have leaked information from them in the past but because closed session is where Tri-City power is controlled and executed, and the majority apparently wants no witnesses as to just how. The exile is one of those flamboyantly despotic maneuvers that local government officials sometimes get up to because they think the victims cannot afford take them to court and because their attorneys guarantee them they're acting lawfully in any case. The latest flail is not against the two directors themselves but against a lawyer who had the audacity to complain that they—the directors he had voted for—had been unlawfully stripped of key powers of office. First the story, then a veteran local columnist's comment.
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About the Author: Terry Francke, General Counsel
Terry Francke has a 35-year history of helping journalists, citizens and public officials understand and use their First Amendment and open government rights. With CalAware, Francke has authored comprehensive and authoritative guidebooks to California law on access to government meetings and public records and the news gathering and publication rights of journalists. Focusing on these issues in public forum law, he supervises CalAware's legislative and litigation initiatives; conducts workshops on legal compliance; helps design public records audits; supports local sunshine ordinance drafting efforts; writes CalAware Today, a blog on current developments and proposals in the law and best practices; and answers countless queries by phone and e-mail from citizens, journalists, public officials and employees, and lawyers.
Francke previously served 14 years as executive director and general counsel to the California First Amendment Coalition, after a 10-year post as legal counsel for the California Newspaper Publishers Association. He has served as an advisory panel member to the National Center on Courts and the Media; taught journalism law at the Department of Communication at Stanford University; and served as an expert contributor to the 1994 major revisions to the Ralph M. Brown Act and the 2004 ballot proposition making open government a basic right of citizens under the California Constitution.
Francke is a 1967 graduate of the University of Notre Dame and a 1979 graduate of McGeorge School of Law, University of the Pacific. Prior to his legal career, Francke worked as a weekly newspaper editor and in military and local government public affairs positions.
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