By Anne Lowe
OPEN MEETINGS -- Three members of the same household are vying for spots on a school board in Sunnyvale, and their housing situation could make compliance with the Brown Act difficult if they are elected in November.
The Fremont Union High School District is looking to fill three positions out of five on the school board, and the Goldman family of SunnyvaleMichael and Miyuki Goldman and their son, Monetdecided to join the race for the open seats. But under the Brown Act, local government bodies are prohibited from meeting without informing the public. And the Internal Affairs (IA) column in the San Jose Mercury News notes the potential problems the family members would create for compliance with that law if they were all elected.
A spokesman for the state attorney general's office told IA that simply living under the same roof wouldn't necessarily create a Brown Act violation if all three Goldmans were elected: The trio would have to actually discuss pending board business amongst themselves to run afoul of the rules.
On the other hand, Judy Nadler, a government ethics expert at Santa Clara University's Markkula Center for Applied Ethics, found the situation "troubling." She wondered how the school district would be able to police the family's compliance.
"If you live with someone, trust me, the decisions that you're making and the discussions you're having become part of your everyday life," said the former Santa Clara mayor. "It's not as if you turn off your trustee role when you go home."