In a letter dated Feb. 10 to the city of Chula Vista, Attorney Cory J. Briggs stated the city violated the Ralph M. Brown Act at a January City Council meeting.
The letter alleges the violation occurred Jan. 11 during the appointment of Ann Moore as a representative to the city as port commissioner.
"They (the City Council) need to hold another public meeting to rescind the current appointment and reconsider the appointment and let the public know they will hear from candidates," Briggs said. "We just want a do-over."
Briggs said he filed the complaint on behalf of his client, San Diegans for Open Government, because the City Council did not lawfully inform the public that the council would take action on the appointment of a new port commissioner to represent the San Diego Unified Port District.
According to Senior Deputy City Clerk Lorraine Bennett, council agendas are posted by 4 p.m. the Friday prior to council meetings on the city's Web site, outside City Hall and is also available at the City Clerk's Office by Monday morning.
Briggs claimed the agenda description for the Jan. 11 appointment was misleading and a "radical departure from Chula Vista's past practice," referring specifically to the 2009 appointment of immediate past port commissioner Stephen Padilla.
Under the heading "Other Business" item 9D of the meeting agenda fell under Mayor's Reports as: Appointment of Port Commissioner.
In addition, the Jan. 11 agenda had other appointments under "Mayor's Reports" including Wildlife Advisory group selections, deputy mayor and the Metropolitan Transit System board of directors.
"In the four years I've been here, the appointments come under the section of mayor's reports in the agenda," said Mayor Cheryl Cox.
Past minutes from agendas for two port commissioner appointments show an interview process was held during times when an unanticipated vacancy or resignation occurred.
Cox said the council held a process for interim commissioner positions held by Padilla and Bill Hall in 2009. Council action included an interview process, public input and a special meeting.
"The (Jan. 11) port commission spot was noticed as an appointment with no interview because there was an end of term and council did not ask for an interview process," Cox said. "If the council said 'We want to go back through interviews,' I would have said fine."
Cox said that Moore and Padilla were previously interviewed in 2009.
Briggs said the city has 30 days under the Brown Act to resolve the violation adding that his client may sue before receiving a written response from the city.
"We just want the violation cured," he said. "We're not looking for monetary compensation."
Senior city attorney Bart Miesfeld said the city did nothing wrong.
"The City did not violate the Brown Act. The Brown Act [specifically, Government Code Section 54954.2] only requires that the agenda contain, "a brief general description of each item of business to be transacted ...," he wrote in an email.