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More money for city attorney's attorneys

Closed-session vote to fund fight to keep Goldsmith's emails private

Jan Goldsmith
Jan Goldsmith

San Diego city councilmembers voted in closed session on March 24 to appeal a judge's decision ordering city attorney Jan Goldsmith to turn over 25,000 pages of city emails sent from his private account. Recipients of Goldsmith's private emails included reporters, fellow members of the League of California Cities, deputy city attorneys, and other elected officials.

Councilmember David Alvarez was the lone “no” vote.

By seeking appellate review, the City of San Diego will be forced to throw more cash at a case that Goldsmith has fought against since late 2013, when attorney Cory Briggs of San Diegans for Open Government sued the city and its top attorney.

On June 26, months after lawsuit was filed, Goldsmith, without council approval, approached San Diego's chief operating officer Scott Chadwick for permission to hire outside attorney Jacqueline Vinaccia to help him in his fight to keep his emails private.

Nearly one month later, city councilmembers gave $150,000 in taxpayer money to Vinaccia for Goldsmith's defense. The expense is in addition to the hundreds of hours in-house attorneys have spent on the case.

Neither seemed to help the city's case.

Goldsmith even appeared on his own behalf during a September 6, 2014, court hearing to ask the judge to dismiss the lawsuit. During his statements to the judge, the city attorney admitted to having used his private account for work purposes and that his office had made mistakes in responding to the public records request from Briggs.

"There was a miscommunication and there shouldn't have been. We should have clarified that. And, frankly, on the part of the city, whoever the miscommunication was, I apologize. I don't think we should have had those miscommunications," said Goldsmith.

His apology didn't have the impact he had hoped for.

In January of this year, Superior Court judge Joel Wohlfeil ruled against the city and Goldsmith and ordered the release of over 25,000 pages of correspondence.

"Admittedly, the City Attorney uses his personal email account to conduct City business because it is ‘convenient’ for the discharge of his official duties," ruled Wohlfeil. "Given the mandate that the [public records act] must be broadly construed, there is a strong policy argument that can be made in favor of disclosure of these emails. If the Court were to draw a bright line rule prohibiting any disclosure from a private account, then public officials could avoid the harsh light of public scrutiny whenever they desired by simply reverting to use of a private email account."

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Jan Goldsmith
Jan Goldsmith

San Diego city councilmembers voted in closed session on March 24 to appeal a judge's decision ordering city attorney Jan Goldsmith to turn over 25,000 pages of city emails sent from his private account. Recipients of Goldsmith's private emails included reporters, fellow members of the League of California Cities, deputy city attorneys, and other elected officials.

Councilmember David Alvarez was the lone “no” vote.

By seeking appellate review, the City of San Diego will be forced to throw more cash at a case that Goldsmith has fought against since late 2013, when attorney Cory Briggs of San Diegans for Open Government sued the city and its top attorney.

On June 26, months after lawsuit was filed, Goldsmith, without council approval, approached San Diego's chief operating officer Scott Chadwick for permission to hire outside attorney Jacqueline Vinaccia to help him in his fight to keep his emails private.

Nearly one month later, city councilmembers gave $150,000 in taxpayer money to Vinaccia for Goldsmith's defense. The expense is in addition to the hundreds of hours in-house attorneys have spent on the case.

Neither seemed to help the city's case.

Goldsmith even appeared on his own behalf during a September 6, 2014, court hearing to ask the judge to dismiss the lawsuit. During his statements to the judge, the city attorney admitted to having used his private account for work purposes and that his office had made mistakes in responding to the public records request from Briggs.

"There was a miscommunication and there shouldn't have been. We should have clarified that. And, frankly, on the part of the city, whoever the miscommunication was, I apologize. I don't think we should have had those miscommunications," said Goldsmith.

His apology didn't have the impact he had hoped for.

In January of this year, Superior Court judge Joel Wohlfeil ruled against the city and Goldsmith and ordered the release of over 25,000 pages of correspondence.

"Admittedly, the City Attorney uses his personal email account to conduct City business because it is ‘convenient’ for the discharge of his official duties," ruled Wohlfeil. "Given the mandate that the [public records act] must be broadly construed, there is a strong policy argument that can be made in favor of disclosure of these emails. If the Court were to draw a bright line rule prohibiting any disclosure from a private account, then public officials could avoid the harsh light of public scrutiny whenever they desired by simply reverting to use of a private email account."

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Comments
9

Now the public can learn how much time Goldsmith was spending on Mitt Romney's presidential campaign, while on city time and with city resources.

April 11, 2015

Ponzi

Thanks, I didn't know about the Romney thing.

There must be something in those emails that has the entire council frightened. Except Alvarez. Whatever they are ashamed of, the voting public should have a look.

April 11, 2015

Whatever happened to the promise of more transparency in city government?

April 11, 2015

Transparency went out the door when Jerry Sanders puppet Kevin Faulconer took office. Following the antics and questionable decisions regarding this character Goldsmith, in local publication, I feel as if I'm following a RICO case instead of the business of a District Attorney.

April 12, 2015

Ponzi really ought to back up his Mitt allegations with a little Common Core evidence. More likely there were quite a few emails concerning the downfall of former Mayor Bob Filner which was abetted by many Democrats on the City Council as well as Republicans. Chief among those would have been then-City Council President Todd Gloria who is now going to run unopposed for State Assembly.

Thanks to Councilmember David Alvarez for his vote not to fund City Attorney Goldsmith's continuing runaround. Thanks also to Judge Wohlfiel for his earlier judgment against City Attorney Goldsmith.

April 11, 2015

Great reporting. Goldsmith, glib as always, though not too coherent:

whoever the miscommunication was, ... I don't think we should have had those miscommunications

Dorian, can you refresh my memory? You probably don't know WHO the miscommunication was, but what were "those miscommunications"?

April 11, 2015

BSP, the "miscommunication" occurred when Briggs had first requested the emails, some of which had already turned up in a PRA I and other reporters had submitted. The City Attorney's Office said there were no documents. Briggs sued. Goldsmith's office then later turned over some, I think 2,600, of the nearly 30,000 pages of emails. Thanks. -dH

April 12, 2015

Thank you...all of the Goldsmith games just sort of run together in a big blurry cloud of deceit and dishonesty. Maybe the Who That Is A Miscommunication will surface eventually, after leaving Goldsmith's Planet Whoville, but damning emails that we all know exist will never be seen be seen by anyone outside of Whoville - they will somehow be lost or destroyed or misplaced or stolen, and Goldsmith will just blame The Grinch.

April 12, 2015

The idiot voter keeps reelecting Goldsmith so it does not matter to them that he has a private email account or what is in them. They like this arrogant pompous ass as anyone with more than a 2 digit IQ that runs against Mr. Hairpiece gets clobbered. The taxpayers/voters of San Diego deserve him and what it costs to keep him.

April 12, 2015

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