Chairman Enea denies accusation of Brown Act violation
The board of the Del Norte Solid Waste Management Authority retreated from hiring a consultant this week — at least for now.
Rich Enea, chairman of the authority board and mayor of Crescent City, and Mike Sullivan, board member and chairman of the county Board of Supervisors, had conducted “two-by-two” meetings to come up with tasks for a consultant to help end a years-long public debate on whether or not the structure of the authority should be changed to save money — possibly through privatization.
The consultant would also evaluate cash controls, staffing and operation efficiencies, and update the job description of the authority’s executive director position.
Enea presented the board with a proposal to hire Susan and Duane Rigge for $16,675. Susan Rigge served as controller for the Humboldt Solid Waste Management Authority for eight years and Duane Rigge was city manager of Fortuna for nine years.
Del Norte resident Elizabeth Henry, a former Mendocino County supervisor, said there could be possible violations of the Brown Act regarding open meetings, since the consultant was chosen by Enea and Sullivan alone and not in a public venue.
Henry expressed frustration that documents for the agenda item were not posted online with the rest of the agenda and said that she would not have been allowed to do the same when she was a county supervisor.
“This is terribly unfair, and I think it’s improper for a public body to act in this manner,” Henry said during Tuesday’s meeting.
“We didn’t violate the Brown Act; we wouldn’t do that. We consulted with our attorney,” Enea said. “And just for the record, the Brown Act is suspended in California. The state legislature suspended the Brown Act; however, the Board of Supervisors, City Council of Crescent City, we follow the Brown Act. And we follow it to a ‘T.’ There were no violations of the Brown Act.”
Although the state has suspended the Brown Act (which mandates open public meetings for local governments), the governing boards of the city, county and Solid Waste Authority have passed resolutions that they will follow the Brown Act.
Tedd Ward, acting director of the authority, said that he had not seen any document related to the hiring of the consultants until Tuesday’s board meeting.
Some board members said that they would prefer to be able to interview the consultants before they are hired.
Enea said he would schedule a special public meeting in the next two weeks to interview the consultants in a public venue.