City Beat

News, insight and discussion on Sacramento and its neighborhoods

February 7, 2012
Group sues for emails related to Sacramento redistricting

An open records advocacy group is suing the city after being denied emails and other communications regarding last summer's volatile City Council redistricting process.

The California First Amendment Coalition (CFAC) filed a suit Friday in Sacramento Superior Court demanding emails between City Council members related to redistricting between April and August of last year.

Peter Scheer, CFAC's executive director, said "we're hoping to open the door on some of the crucial exchanges" between council members as the redistricting process unfolded. He said the city denied a Public Records Act request for the emails, citing a "deliberative process exemption" that allows the withholding of records revealing advice given to elected officials from staff aids and others.

Scheer's chief concern is what conversations took place leading up the council's decision to set aside the recommendations of its own redistricting advisory committee and instead go with a map proposed minutes before a council meeting by two of its own.

According to the lawsuit, "The records requested here are likely to reveal whether or not the City Council engaged in an illegal. . . meeting designed to evade the Brown Act" and whether "the City Council members purposely disregarded the Citizens Committee boundaries and the principles of 'one man one vote' simply to preserve safe lines for themselves."

The Brown Act prohibits a majority of the council from discussing a public matter behind closed doors. There are some exceptions, including pending lawsuits and personnel issues.

City Attorney Eileen Teichert said her office had not seen the complaint in the lawsuit and "therefore we cannot comment on the specifics of the lawsuit."

"However," Teichert said, "the City made a good faith effort to identify all responsive records and provided all non-privileged records that were responsive to CFAC's public records act request."

A copy of the lawsuit can be viewed here: CFAClawsuit.pdf

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About City Beat

Ryan Lillis has covered the city of Sacramento, its 108 neighborhoods and its politicians since 2008. Prior to that, he covered crime at The Bee. A native of upstate New York, Lillis has a journalism degree from the University of California, Berkeley.

Contact reporter Ryan Lillis at rlillis@sacbee.com

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