The Mat-Su Borough’s Attorney is given time at each Assembly meeting to give a report. (The Manager and Clerk also have regular time slots to give reports at each meeting.) These reports are not just for the Assembly members; they are for the public.
However, the Attorney often fails to announce important information at the Assembly meetings.
For example, former MSB Deputy Director of EMS Lisa Behrens filed a lawsuit against the MSB on May 22, 2018.
I listened to all of the Attorney’s reports (and end of meeting comments) for the following Assembly meetings: May 1st, May 15th, June 5th, June 12th, June 19th, and July 17th, and the attorney did not mention the Behrens lawsuit at all.
At the June 5th Assembly meeting, which took place just after the Behrens lawsuit was filed and which was the logical meeting for him to announce this new lawsuit, the Attorney mentioned that the MSB had filed some new lawsuits re: code violations but he never said a word about the (far more important) Behrens lawsuit. And with the code violation cases, he did not give out any details, such as case names and numbers, but instead told the Assembly members that if they wanted more information or if they had questions, they could come see him in his office.
The public deserves to have basic information about lawsuits involving the MSB. We have the right to know when a case is filed (with case name, case number, and court) and when a case is closed (and explanation of why case has been closed…did we prevail; did we lose; did we settle? etc. )
For example, with the Lisa Behrens lawsuit, the MSB attorney should have announced in a timely manner: The MSB (and the Director of EMS and the Manager) have been sued by former MSB employee Lisa Behrens. The lawsuit is case 3PA-18-1703 CI. The MSB has hired Perkins Coie to represent us. We estimate this may cost us 100K in legal fees etc. Obviously, the MSB attorney is not expected to comment on the merits of the case – but the public certainly deserves to know the basic facts.
The MSB should not hide this type of basic information.
Better yet, the MSB attorney needs to file online written reports on a regular basis so the public can track the cases.
The MSB needs to pass an ordinance similar to the one in place in San Diego. There, the City Attorney’s office is required to file a WEEKLY report (“litigation log”) with a list of all new cases and all closed cases with details. And San Diego spells out exactly what information needs to be disclosed for executive sessions. (The MSB also fails miserably in following AK’s Open Meetings Act re: Executive Session, which primarily involve legal matters.)
Here is what San Diego posts on their website:
I challenge an Assembly member to take up this issue and propose the exact same ordinance for the MSB. Here are San Diego’s rules re: executive sessions and the litigation log.