Matt Potter 4:30 p.m., May 31
Jan Goldsmith's Office refuses to release transcripts of closed session meetings
Goldsmith denies transcripts exist despite invoices and Executive Assistant's testimony
It was a bold accusation: Mayor Bob Filner, a longtime civil rights activist ordering Executive Assistant City Attorney Andrew Jones to the back of the room during a closed session meeting earlier this year.
“To me it was tantamount to asking Rosa Parks to sit in the back of the bus,” Jones told the local NBC affiliate. "I didn't sit in the back of the bus. In fact, I sat at the table."
There's one problem with Jones' recollection: there's absolutely no evidence that it ever took place.
A request for the transcript of the exchange came back empty, despite evidence that a court reporter was present at the time.
"No transcripts for closed session meetings of the San Diego City Council exist except for the date of June 18, 2013, which has already been made public and which we have attached," read the response from a Deputy City Attorney.
It appears, however, that the City Attorney was at one point prepared to file a lawsuit against Filner for kicking Jones out of that June 18 meeting. Accompanying the transcript, Jan Goldsmith's Office sent an unsigned and undated court declaration from Jones detailing his account of the April meeting where Filner ordered him to the back of the room.
The declaration was made in the case of: "Jan L. Goldsmith, in his official capacity as City Attorney for the City of San Diego vs. Bob Filner, in his official capacity as Mayor for the City of San Diego." No case number appeared on the declaration.
"It was clear to me that Mayor Filner was referring to an incident at a prior closed session in roughly late March, early April 2013 when he had ordered me to "go sit in the back of the room" and I had refused to do so," read Jones' statement.
Jones then provided the reason for talking to the press shortly after.
"Mayor Filner's previous demeaning demand that I "go sit in the back of the room" was not a noticed issue for Closed Session discussion by City Council. There is nothing about that statement that is protected or confidential. Thus I made a public statement in April 2013 to the press about the incident. Mayor Filner has never publicly denied that he made that statement."
On the same note, however, City Attorney Goldsmith is refusing to release any transcripts showing Filner making that statement. The refusal by Goldsmith to release the records is contrary to his decision to release a partially redacted closed session transcript to the UT San Diego the very day of the request.
Invoices obtained through a public records request showing that a court reporter was present at two closed session meetings in April.
Spokesperson for the City Attorney's Office, Michael Giorgino, provided the following explanation. "There is no transcript. A court reporter attends every closed session, but no transcript is made as that is an extra expense. The one transcript made was at the request of the City Attorney because he was not present and learned that his second in command attorney was arrested and removed from the meeting."
The statement doesn't jibe with the section of the City's Municipal Code that regulates closed session meetings. Section 8.4 states that "all closed sessions shall be transcribed by a court certified reporter. All transcripts shall be retained."
The City Attorney's Office has not yet responded to a question about the Municipal Code and why they are not following the law.
Click here to read Jones' entire declaration.
More like this:
- Judge to Goldsmith: Turn 'em over — Oct. 9, 2014
- Goldsmith to argue against his own legal opinion — Aug. 29, 2014
- City Attorney Jan Goldsmith slapped with lawsuit for refusing to disclose public records — Aug. 6, 2013
- Council President Todd Gloria's Office says no vote was taken to release closed-session transcripts — July 3, 2013
- Lawsuit coming over City Attorney's refusal to release complete record of Filner and Jones exchange — July 2, 2013