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Another Brown Brown Act violation?

At the tale end of a largely somnolent City Council meeting Nov. 18, during which notable moments were the announcement that City Clerk Gay Johan has been elevated to the position of Assistant City Manager (and City Clerk), that the Valley of the Moon Nursery School is living on borrowed time (the lease on its city-owned building was, however, extended to 2015), that Jack London State Historic Park, under the guidance of its public-private management team, is doing spectacularly well and should be a model for the state, and during which a recap of the Redwood Empire Municipal Insurance Fund gave a number of audience members the opportunity to catch up on missed sleep, an end-of-the-meeting bombshell was dropped by Councilmember Steve Barbose in the lap of Mayor Ken Brown.

The Barbose bombshell had to do with a comment Brown made during grand opening ceremonies for the new ER and surgical wing at Sonoma Valley Hospital on Nov. 16. Stepping to the microphone for the obligatory mayoral missive, Brown made a point of recognizing the City Council members present (they were all there except Barbose) and in so doing made the off-the-cuff pronouncement that Tom Rouse would be the next mayor and that David Cook would thereby become the next mayor pro tem.

It was not clear to those present, who listened, just what Brown meant by that declaration, but it was clear to Barbose when he heard about it afterwards that Brown had stepped across a boundary and said things that shouldn’t, and perhaps legally couldn’t, be said.

To Barbose, for Brown to say unequivocally whop the next mayor and mayor pro tem would be, “He would have to have a basis for saying so, which would lead me to believe that he must have talked with other members of the council.”

To which Brown later protested, “My memory is that I did not talk to David Cook or Tom Rouse in advance. I have no knowledge of any other council members’ viewpoints on who would be the next mayor or mayor pro tem.”


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