More about the Superior Court MLPA ruling

Discussion in 'Marine Life Protection Act Initiative (MLPA)' started by cowcatcher2, Oct 3, 2010.

  1. cowcatcher2

    cowcatcher2 AKA linglover

    Location:
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    Joel Greenberg
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    Anglers claim MLPA court victory
    10-01-2010 by Rich Holland

    Judge decides there's truth to MLPA cover up Robert Fletcher, a former DFG Deputy Director and past president of the Sportfishing Association of California, had his day in court Thursday, this time as a member of the South Coast Regional Stakeholders Working Group fed up with his brush with a Marine Life Protection Act Initiative (MLPAI) process which he claimed was anything but open and transparent. And Judge Patrick Marlette of the Sacramento County Superior Court agreed with him.

    Marlette ordered both the Science Advisory Team (SAT) and the Blue Ribbon Task Force (BRTF) to turn over records of all communications and background documents for decisions made during the South Coast MLPAI project to create a new array of marine protected areas along the Southern California coastline. In a 16-page decision, the judge gave the bodies 10 days to comply with the order.

    Perhaps even more important for future legal battles, the judge said both the SAT and the BRTF were governmental subsets of California's Resources Agendy and not merely citizen advisory panels. As such they must answer to state regulations such as the Public Records Act and Bagley-Keene open meeting requirements.

    "Clearly the court wasn’t sold by the arguments of the attorney general representative that the BRTF and SAT were advisory and therefore not subject to a Public Records Request," said Fletcher. "It was a big win for recreational anglers in that we have the opportunity to get communications we’ve been wanting that will show we think that this is not the clean and transparent process they’d like us to believe. This is obviously the first step in process of gradually peeling the blinkers off the process and making the world realize what an unequal and biased process it is."

    This in stark contrast to statements made during this past week's special session of the Fish and Game Commission when a vote by commissioners to extend comment on environmental documents only 15 days ensured the South Coast process continue to be fast tracked to approval during the upcoming Dec. 15 meeting in Santa Barbara. This is the last scheduled commission meeting while Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger will still be in the seat of power.

    The unanimous decision included the vote of Jim Baylis, who had only been a commissioner for one day. He was appointed when the governor removed Mike Sutsos after a mere 18 days on the panel. A vote by Sutsos in favor of the special hearing drew Schwarzenegger's apparent ire.

    The California Fish and Game Commission is the only agency with the power to close state waters to fishing, and has already approved MLPAI closures in both the Central Coast and the North Central Coast encompassing hundreds of square miles of public water formerly open to recreational and commercial fishing. The commission vote to approve the North Central Coast also involved political maneuvering by the governor's office, as Don Benninghoven, at the time chair of the BRTF, was named to the panel the day before the vote to provide the majority needed to approve the package he created.

    While funds for the iniative process itself are provided through a partnership between the Resources Agency and the private Resources Legacy Foundation Fund (a communal front for charitable trusts), California has little money of its own and currently no budget to draw on to implement and enforce the MLPA.

    Faced with a lack of funds and manpower hours in its sister agency, the Department of Fish and Game, for the first time the commission chose only go forward with regulatory language for a South Coast proposal known as the Integrated Preferred Alternative (IPA) that was put together behind closed doors by the BRTF and unveiled at the 11th hour of the process. As a result, the Fish and Game Commission can only approve the IPA package at the Dec. 15 meeting without incurring the delays the governor's office so obviously won't allow. So much for process.

    During the first hearings since the IPA was forwarded to the commission and ever since, pro-closure commissioners have scoffed at claims that the process was flawed and denied that actions of the BRTF were subject to governmental oversight. One commissioner has gone so far as to infer that those he termed as obstructionists were in fact liars when they claimed the process was driven by a backroom agenda.

    Commissioner Richard Rogers, in particular, was videotaped in open session categorically denying that the BRTF fell under the auspices of Bagley-Keene. Judge Marlette's decision clearly indicates to the contrary, but the tight time lines to bring suit on the basis of Bagley-Keene have already expired.

    According to sources in attendance at the hearing, the Attorney General's office indicated it would not appeal Thursday's decision requiring the BRTF and the SAT to turn over all records, so it's now a question of how cooperative the agencies involved will be when it comes to meeting the court order. And what will be found when those records become public.

    Meanwhile, the fishermen who have felt powerless in the face of the MLPAI juggernaut got to celebrate a victory.

    "We were thrilled by the decision," noted Fletcher. "One point I think is important is that in these PRA cases, the court routinely has a 1 or 2 page decision. The court was so interested in the arguments, the judge really got into the decision and issued a 16-page decision in our favor."
    ----------------------------------

    -Joel
     
  2. rojodiablo

    rojodiablo Dive club flunkie

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    Paul Romanowski
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    Thank GOD Joel.

    Now, let's see just WHEN they came up with Quality kelp, and Persistent Kelp.......


    Among other things!!
     
  3. cowcatcher2

    cowcatcher2 AKA linglover

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    Joel Greenberg
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    It's hard to predict just what will come of this, Paul--at least as far as documents are concerned. But, this ruling does serve as vindication for all the times that RSG members, FIC/FIN members and numerous members of the public complained about the Bagley-Keene violations that were happening right before our eyes in meeting after meeting, and we were waved off as if we had no idea what we were talking about.

    So, for the benefit of folks who would like to read the Judge's words for themselves, I've attached a PDF the court order--fresh from the Superior Court website.

    You gotta love it!!

    -Joel
     

    Attached Files:

  4. Carl

    Carl Bridesmaid,,,,,,,Again

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    I think this is HUGE! :appl: Time will tell, but I think this will derail the whole farcical "process" that has been the MLPA.
    What we don't know is what the extremist, closure advocates will come up with in their next campaign. However, I think lessons learned to date will favor our counter campaign, both strategically and undermining the closure advocates credibility.
    A silver lining to the '10 fishing season?
    For the first time we have tangible action in our favor from policy makers(for lack of a better term), in this case the court.
     
  5. halibutnazi

    halibutnazi Bill

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    Joel,

    Thanks to you and your colleagues for your efforts on behalf of the Recreational Fishermen of California.

    --Bill
     
  6. MikeyLikesIt

    MikeyLikesIt did you say F I S H I N G ???

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    starts with an "M".....
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    so, how about a temporary injunction preventing implementation? I am thinking that if the documents provide enough reasonable doubt as to the intent of the SAT this judge might just grant one.....

    I am a bit removed from the process now that it has gone on to the F'n G commission.... but someone needs to start filing those briefs, writs, whatever is appropriate.....
     
  7. M/V Santa Rosa

    M/V Santa Rosa Advertiser Advertiser

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    Does anyone want the photos of MEG asleep at the table during a meeting? I have that, and a few other "GREAT MOMENTS IN MLPA HISTORY"
     
  8. DaGoose

    DaGoose Go pound sand

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    Rick Ferguson
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    I just can't get over the repeated mantra of "an open and transparent process" during this whole sham out one side of their mouths, while refusing to make all records available to the public out of the other.

    After reading the decision and not being a very smart man, the judge sure seems to agree completely.

    Big thanks again to everyone for your efforts to do the right thing!

    Rick
     
  9. Ali

    Ali Master of Nothing Admin

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    That Guy
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    Right on.

    Looks like some logic is slowing creeping into this shitshow.
     
  10. mercerm

    mercerm Member

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    all about checks and balances. Lets hope this check balances things out more in our favor.
     
  11. DaveR

    DaveR Newbie

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    Excellent news indeed!!! It is good to see that the liberals don't have all the judges here in CA in their back pocket.

    Now lets see what those records and documents of communications that lead to decisions actually contain. Hopefully this will begin to show this as a total politically-induced farce, lacking fact-based decision making process that should have been required all along.

    Once this farce is clear to all, it may open the door to repealing the actions of the past, including the central coast and norCal closures. We can only hope....
    .
    .
    .
    .
     
  12. Cast Gold

    Cast Gold hss AHHHH...hss AHHHH....

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    Have you been able to capture any photos of Benninghoven awake?

    BTW - Thanks for the birthday gift box Tommy. We loved it.

    Kris
     
  13. halibutnazi

    halibutnazi Bill

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    I just finished reading the judge's opinion. I think it is brilliant, insightful and well-done. He did not miss a thing or "side-step" any pertinent issues.

    Thanks to Bob Fletcher and all the other "big men" that are going to bat for us little guys. I'm immensely grateful. We did our part, attending endless MPLA meetings, waiting for our turn to make a "public comment", participating in sending e-mails and writing letters.

    Now our fate rests in the hands of our advocates and ombudsmen who are stepping up to the plate and getting ready to swing their big "Louisville Sluggers".

    I like the way inning one turned out.
     
  14. Fish Wish

    Fish Wish Newbie

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    The game's afoot!

    These guys have proven that they're for real and they might be able to get the job done. I figure that I'm running out of chances to help so I went here:

    http://www.oceanaccessprotectionfund.org/

    and kicked in the cost of a couple of scoops of 'dines. You can too, they probably need the help.

    Hey Ali and Jason, could this URL be more prominently displayed on the site? All hands on deck!
     
  15. Sherm

    Sherm aka: The Sherminator

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    Good news in the first step of as long process. We'll take it though.
     
  16. KuttySark

    KuttySark Member

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    Dan
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    x2

    I used to believe in the power of the democratic process to serve the best interests of the citizens until I watched this disgusting farce play out. From the sheer contempt that Ken Wisemen displayed towards Sportsmen time and time again, to Meg walking out on public comment periods, it became very obvious to me that all of the decisions that were going to impact me and my family had been made behind closed doors.

    The whole process is rotten at its core: private money is funding public policy. It's one thing to know that lobbyists 'buy off' individual politicians or dictate party politics, but to actually see the process funded by one side of the issue is disrespectful to the system that we all own a tiny piece of.

    There's a reason we separate Church from State, and we should apply the same objectivity to Special Interests and Public Policy. Imagine the outcry if the State had convened panels on the gay marriage issue by using money directly from groups lobbying specifically on behalf of gays who want to marry, or directly from the Mormon Church.
     
  17. Tues

    Tues Not my job...

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    Good read...(PDF)
     
  18. -scallywag-

    -scallywag- salty

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    Any news on the "public records" that should have been released?
     

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