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Calexico treasurer threatens Brown Act suit

November 16, 2001|By aaron claverie, Staff Writer

CALEXICO — City Treasurer Rudolfo Moreno is threatening to sue the City Council here for violations of the Brown Act, the state legislation that governs the conduct of all public agencies.

Moreno claims the City Council has conducted closed-session meetings concerning the feasibility of a potential sale of city-owned land near the New River.

"And that's against the law," he said Thursday.

No, it's not, said City Attorney Michael Rood.

Rood told Moreno during Tuesday's Redevelopment Agency meeting, "Purchases of real property is one of the exceptions to the Brown Act."

A handbook on the Brown Act published by the California Newspaper Publishers Association: "The body must first identify in open session its negotiator(s) (which may include members of the legislative body), the parcel(s) subject to negotiations and person(s) with whom its negotiator will be negotiating," before meeting in closed session.

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Moreno claims the city only can go into closed session to discuss the price of a piece of property.

Moreno said, "We (the city) must have decided that we are interested in buying the property before going to closed session."

According to the handbook, "When a local agency is considering the purchase, and is in negotiations with the purchaser, the legislative body may — but is not required to — hold a closed session with its own bargaining agent."

The controversy over the closed sessions stems from a proposal by Armin Gabay of M&A Gabay of Los Angeles.

Gabay has asked the city in public session to partner with his development company to build a huge shopping mall near the New River on land abutting Second Street.

The city owns parcels west of the Calexico International Airport, south of Second Street and the parcel near the UETA Duty Free shop next to the downtown Port of Entry.

The council has met in closed session regarding those parcels.

Mayor Victor Carrillo has said the city is in negotiations with the Los Angeles developers.

Gabay said the shopping mall would be built near the downtown port and expanded westward if the initial phase of the project is successful.

>> Staff Writer Aaron Claverie can be reached at 337-3419 or claverie7@hotmail.com

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