Updated at 4:40 p.m. May 11, 2015
San Diego County supervisors alleged Monday that one of their own violated the state’s open meeting law and should be liable for any litigation that arises from a series of resignations that have beset his office.
In a statement, the Board of Supervisors said Dave Roberts, the freshman representative of the North County coastal area, revealed a 5-0 vote by the board to deny severance payments to two of his former staffers — a violation of the Brown Act.
In a separate statement, Roberts said he was only responding to direct questions from his predecessor, Supervisor Pam Slater-Price, and did not realized he was in violation of the law.
“I now understand that I should not have responded,” he said. “I am human, I made a mistake and I apologize.”
The board’s statement said the details of the closed session discussion remain confidential due to potential litigation, but the board approved a limited release of information to allow its public statement explaining the reason for the vote against the payments.
“The Board of Supervisors believes it is important to let the public know that the vote was not related to whether or not the Board of Supervisors believed the allegations to be true or false,” the statement said. “The vote was made in the context of whether taxpayer money should be used to resolve issues resulting solely from the actions of one supervisor and multiple staff members he hired and managed.”
The statement said District 3 staff members who previously worked for Roberts’ predecessor have not leveled any allegations.
“The Board of Supervisors stands united in their belief that whatever issues occurred in the District 3 offices should be dealt with by the supervisor,” the statement said. “If any money is to be paid to any of his former staff members, it should be paid from his personal funds and not taxpayer dollars.”
Roberts said he agreed with the Board in that no tax payer’s money should be spent on “issues arising from personnel issues in the District 3 office.”
Four of Roberts’ staffers have resigned over the past month. Since he took office in January 2013, eight of his employees have resigned, a turnover greater than the rest of the supervisors’ offices combined.
Former Chief of Staff Glynnis Vaughan charged that Roberts — who is up for reelection next year — fostered a toxic work environment, displayed unprofessional conduct and misused government resources, U-T San Diego reported. Roberts had his staff handle political work during office hours, though mostly to handle issues initiated by outside organizations, according to the newspaper.
“At no time during my time in office has service to my constituents been impacted,” Roberts said. “I have taken the actions necessary to address the issues in my office, including hiring Mel Millstein as my chief of staff.”
Millstein was San Diego City Council President’s Sherri Lightner‘s deputy chief of staff until January 2015 when he became Robert’s land use policy adviser. He was made chief of staff last month.
— City News Service contributed to this report
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