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A statement by CEO Beau Goldie: Good faith effort meets Brown Act on Safe, Clean Water measure

Contact: Marty Grimes
Office: (408) 265-2607, ext. 2881
Mobile: (408) 202-4398

Date: August 20, 2012

SAN JOSE— The Silicon Valley Taxpayers Association (SVTA) has sent the Santa Clara Valley Water District a letter demanding that the Safe, Clean Water measure be removed from the ballot or it may consider litigation.

After multiple board discussions in open session and significant public input, the district board of directors voted on July 24 to place the Safe, Clean Water program on the November 2012 ballot. The measure would fund projects to ensure a safe, reliable water supply; reduce toxins, hazards and contaminants in waterways; protect water supply and dams from earthquakes and natural disasters; restore wildlife habitat and provide open space access; and provide flood protection to homes, schools, businesses, streets and highways.

SVTA claims that the board’s action at a special meeting on Aug. 8 to remove two words from the ballot language was invalid. SVTA’s claim is that the district failed to provide timely notice for this special meeting.

The two words—“as” and “No.”—that were removed were inconsequential to the meaning of the ballot measure, but had to be removed to meet the Santa Clara County Registrar of Voters 75 word limit.

The fact is the district posted the meeting notice outside the district headquarters in public view more than 24 hours prior to the special meeting. Faxes were sent to newspapers that had requested fax notification more than 24 hours prior to the special meeting.

The notice was posted to the district’s web page 45 minutes into the 24 hour window. The notice was sent to the San Jose Mercury News 59 minutes into the 24 hour window.

Legally, we are confident that if SVTA files a lawsuit, such a suit will accomplish nothing other than a waste of taxpayer dollars defending a frivolous lawsuit. We are disappointed that the local taxpayers’ association is causing the public’s dollars to be wasted in its attempt to keep taxpayers from having the chance to voice their own opinion at the ballot box.

It's not debatable that the Brown Act recognizes good faith efforts where the public agency attempts to comply with meeting notice requirements. Such good faith efforts avoid any violation. That is what occurred here. And, even if a technical defect in a meeting notice requirement occurs, such a defect does not require rescission of any action taken.

The district will respond to the SVTA’s demand letter today (Monday, Aug. 20, 2012).

The Santa Clara Valley Water District manages an integrated water resources system that includes the supply of clean, safe water, flood protection and stewardship of streams on behalf of Santa Clara County's 1.8 million residents. The district effectively manages 10 dams and surface water reservoirs, three water treatment plants, a state-of-the-art water quality laboratory, nearly 400 acres of groundwater recharge ponds and more than 275 miles of streams. We provide wholesale water and groundwater management services to local municipalities and private water retailers who deliver drinking water directly to homes and businesses throughout Santa Clara County.