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The City Attorney's Office and attorney Cory Briggs are digging in their heels in a battle for transcripts from closed session meetings. Despite his attempt to fight it, City Attorney Jan Goldsmith might have to cede some ground, or be forced to defend his position in court.

On August 5, Briggs, on behalf of San Diegans for Open Government, filed an amended legal complaint in for un-redacted transcripts from a June 18 closed session meeting where Mayor Bob Filner ordered a Detective to escort Assistant City Attorney Andrew Jones from the room.

The amended complaint also seeks transcripts from a closed session meeting that took place in late March or early April. During the meeting, Jones claimed that Mayor Filner ordered him to the back of the room. The Assistant City Attorney then went public with the story, telling reporters about the closed-session conflict, comparing himself to Rosa Parks.

But since speaking to the UT San Diego, Jones and the City Attorney's Office have been anything but open about the incident and have refused to turn over transcripts to Briggs or to members of the press.

Their grounds for refusal: no actual transcripts exist because they have not asked the reporter to translate them from shorthand.

Goldsmith argues that the Municipal Code Section 8.4, which states that "all closed sessions shall be transcribed by a court certified reporter" and "shall be retained," does not mention that all meetings should be translated to English.

One reason for not preparing transcripts: the extra cost.

"There is no transcript," Goldsmith spokesperson Michael Giorgino wrote in an August 2 email. "A court reporter attends every closed session, but no transcript is made as that is an extra expense."

The extra expense, however, is a drop in the bucket, actually more like a water molecule in the City Attorney's bucket. According to an invoice obtained through a public records request, the extra expense to prepare and deliver a certified copy is $125.78. That means an entire year's worth of transcripts, averaging two meetings per month, would set the City Attorney's Office back approximately $3,000 a year or .006 percent of Goldsmith's $43.6 million budget.

So how did the June 18 meeting, the one where Jones was escorted from the room, come about? Goldsmith said he authorized to pay the extra cash because he was not present at the meeting.

"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," wrote spokesperson Michael Giorgino in an August 2 email.

Goldsmith confirmed that in an August 3 comment on Twitter, "[court reporter] takes notes on machine. Transcripts from notes cost more. Rarely prepared. No [transcript] to release."

In his complaint, Briggs states he was told similar by Deputy City Attorney Ray Palmucci during an August 2 phone call.

"Our office doesn't pay to have [closed session meetings] transcribed and doesn't get the [court] reporter's record. She keeps it," reads the lawsuit.

As mentioned in a previous article, another reason the City Attorney wanted the June 18 transcript prepared was for a potential lawsuit against the Mayor.

Sometime after the June 18 meeting, Andrew Jones provided an unsigned and undated court statement detailing the events of the two closed session meetings. The case was listed as "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."

In the complaint, Briggs mentioned the declaration.

"The reason the Jones Declaration provided to the San Diego Reader was unsigned is that Mr. Jones and the Office of the City Attorney are not opposed to lying to the public about an incident that in fact did not happen...but they are not willing to commit perjury and thereby face the risk of losing their licenses to practice law and the risk of criminal prosecution."

Read the entire complaint here: http://www.briggslawcorp.com/Site/files_User/1375808370690.pdf

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Michelle_Sturgis Aug. 6, 2013 @ 11:52 a.m.

Filing a FOI request for a document is now = "Slapped With A Lawsuit!!!"

Well, I guess if you can't report the news, just make it up.


Dorian Hargrove Aug. 6, 2013 @ 12:12 p.m.

Not sure what you read but this is a lawsuit. It was filed a few months back and then amended on the 5th. See the link in the article and you can read the entire complaint.


monaghan Aug. 6, 2013 @ 2:59 p.m.

Similarly, Ms.Sturgis, if you can't stand the truth, you attack it as fantasy. This is the second time in one day you have appeared to discredit solid Reader reportage. What will be next?


Michelle_Sturgis Aug. 6, 2013 @ 3:12 p.m.

I didn't mean to discredit the Reader, it's purpose is clear:
1) to supply weed to the masses, and 2) to support the Progressive movement under ANY circumstances.
To those ends, I fully agree with you, the Reader reportage is solid.

And this statement is coming from someone likely more Progressive minded than most of your readers. However, I'm also a loyal San Diegan and a woman who will not support predatory attacks against women under ANY circumstances. Even by a (D).


Dorian Hargrove Aug. 6, 2013 @ 3:59 p.m.

Frankly, Ms. Sturgis, I have not a clue where you are coming from. Check the facts in this story. And, if it helps, you can check the article I wrote on an alleged victim, the first publication to do so: http://www.sandiegoreader.com/weblogs...

I do not support predatory attacks against women. I don't appreciate you saying otherwise. Thanks-dH


monaghan Aug. 6, 2013 @ 10:42 p.m.

Does being "a loyal San Diegan" mean "City fathers, right or wrong?" Now THAT'S funny.

"Predatory attacks against women" that are related as anecdotes as old as Methuselah and were rebuffed or hidden until this amazing moment of serial revelation? Another joke, Ms. Sturgis, close to farce, except for the Mayor's public humiliation and the potential disenfranchisement of 55% of the electorate.

The Reader as front for the Progressive movement? That charge will come as a surprise to the publisher.

And finally, I've noticed fewer Reader medical marijuana ads now than in the past -- I'm guessing because of unsettled conflict over weed's legitimacy between federal and state authorities.


BlueSouthPark Aug. 6, 2013 @ 6:03 p.m.

This is a well-researched and sourced story. It doesn't even begin to qualify for the "if you can't report the news, just make it up" award.

That award goes to L Halverstadt for the embarrassing 24-point headlines breaking up 12-point text, mainly single-sentence, "paragraphs." The report purports to be an interview with the new Planning Director hired by Mayor Filner (something that pleases lots of San Diegans, and the first step to undoing the destruction of the Planning Department by Jerry Sanders).

The header includes "Scandal" and so does the next big-ass paragraph title, slyly (and stupidly) framed as a question. The next paragraph header, however, is the big winner for demagoguery, suggesting that Fulton is "stuck" in his job, when nothing that he says indicates that he feels that way. Halverstadt was known to write inaccurate hit pieces when at the Arizona Republic. Too bad she didn't stay there.

And that's why we read the Reader and not the other crap that passes for news in San Diego.


Yankeedoodle Aug. 6, 2013 @ 6:47 p.m.

Blues: Excellent commentary and analysis.


Dave Rice Aug. 6, 2013 @ 8:21 p.m.

Are the shorthand notes public record?


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