The Watchdog Newsletter
24 September 1999

County Counsel Releases Damaging Documents

The legal team of the Rural Heritage & Watershed Initiative (RHWI) Committee have just scored two victories in their fight under the Public Records Act to have the County of San Diego release a number of documents providing evidence of the County's electioneering effort to thwart RHWI, or Prop B, an important citizen's initiative to stop urban sprawl. RHWI lawyers have sought these documents to show bias on the part of high-ranking public officials regarding Prop B. These documents have been held back by the County under the excuse of deliberative process privilege.
Earlier this week, County Counsel disclosed the first document after Superior Court Judge Pate ruled that the County had waived its right to not disclose the document. The document was an article written by Jim Gogek of the San Diego Union-Tribune that described illegal campaign activity on the part of public officials especially concerning a carefully rehearsed presentation of the County's report on RHWI made before the Board of Supervisors. In the margin, handwritten notes made by a DPLU official while talking with Larry Prior, the County's Chief Administrative Officer, described investigations into leaks regarding the presentation of the County's RHWI report.
County Counsel, later in the week, released two other groups of documents that had been described as to authors and circumstances in a privilege log that had been given to RHWI attorneys in preparation for trial. These documents further show the collusion among high-ranking public officials with respect to the formation of the so-called County study of RHWI and its presentation to the Board of Supervisors.
One group of documents remains from public disclosure. This group includes communications to a Board member, Dianne Jacob. RHWI lawyers will ask Judge Pate for their disclosure at trial scheduled for October 22, 1999.
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