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Supes uphold disputed decision

October 22, 2010

Tribal Administrator Gary Babcock discusses the Big Pine Re-Greening project with the Board of Supervisors. Babcock said the tribe has no objections to the re-greening project, but does not want to see the LADWP “make up” for water it uses on the project by pumping from the Big Pine well field. File photo

In response to claims that it violated the Brown Act, the Inyo County Board of Supervisors said Tuesday that it could have worded an agenda item from its Aug. 24 meeting better, but voted not to change its stance on the Big Pine Re-Greening Project at this time.
The board did agree to revisit the scoping document at the next Inyo-County Los Angeles Standing Committee meeting to review a new alternative for the project that will prevent the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power from activating a well that the Big Pine Tribe says will deplete its water table.
The Tribe has claimed that the Inyo County Board of Supervisors violated the Brown Act when it directed its members of the Standing Committee on how to vote prior to the Standing Committee meeting.
The Tribe claims that, by directing Committee members on how to vote before the Standing Committee meeting, members do not have the ability to weigh comments from the public at the Standing Committee meeting.
“It’s a concern that we’re not being listened to,” said Tribal Administrator Gary Babcock. “We’re not opposed to the Re-Greening Project. It’s L.A.’s insistence that it should get credit water.”
The board, in response, said that the county has the ability to provide direction to its members on the Standing Committee, as those two supervisors represent the entire board.
County Counsel Randy Keller said that the Aug. 24 meeting was properly agendized with a discussion about the upcoming Standing Committee meeting. Keller added that the wording in the agenda could have been clearer, but said he does not believe there was a Brown Act violation.
“What we’re focusing on is whether our meetings were properly noticed,” Keller said. “Certainly you can argue both ways, but everyone had the opportunity to attend the Board and Standing Committee meetings. Our policy is to adhere to the Brown Act and not take any chances.”
Keller went on to say, “I’ve concluded, and staff concurs, this letter of complaint goes beyond the Brown Act, but deals with how the Standing Committee conducts itself.”
First District Supervisor and Standing Committee Member Linda Arcularius explained that she has the ability to weigh information received at the Standing Committee, and could, if she felt the need to do so, delay a vote of the Standing Committee until a later date so she would have the ability to discuss the issue with the Board of Supervisors.
At the time of the Standing Committee meeting, Arcularius said, she had not heard any new information that had not been presented to the Board of Supervisors, so she went forward with her direction from the board and approved the scoping document for the Re-Greening Project.
At Tuesday’s meeting, Babcock said the LADWP could do the Re-Greening Project, and make up it’s lost water by taking it from Klondike Lake, which would mean the department would not have to turn on another pump in Big Pine.
The board voted to let its Standing Committee vote on the Re-Greening scoping document, but said it would look further into the possibility of making up water via Klondike Lake.

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