The governing board for the shuttered Tuolumne County Economic Development Authority had to cancel and reschedule a planned public meeting on Friday because not enough members were able to attend.
Three board members showed up, but at least four are required for the board to be able to vote on anything or take any other official action.
Board Chairman and County Supervisor John Gray, County Supervisor Karl Rodefer and Sonora Mayor Jim Garaventa attended, according to Deputy County Counsel Carlyn Drivdahl, who is a legal advisor to the TCEDA.
Sonora City Councilman Matt Hawkins was unable to attend due to a family emergency, while Ron Patel had notified the board prior to the meeting that he would be unable to attend.
Drivdahl said they did not find out that Hawkins was unable to attend until right before the meeting was scheduled to start at 4 p.m. Friday. Hawkins said on Monday he had to rush to a hospital in Fresno because his mother had complications from surgery.
"The TCEDA board’s next meeting is scheduled for July 12, but County Counsel Sarah Carrillo said they may need to change the date because they’re not sure if enough board members will be available. Her office is working on finding a date and time that works for them. "
The agenda included matters related to the dissolution of the TCEDA, a follow-up Grand Jury report that was released in May, and a request to release the findings of an internal analysis about possible conflicts of interest among the agency’s board members and staff.
One of the items that will also be carried over to the next meeting is for the board to consider reducing the number of seats from seven to five so that only three members would be required to attend.
Reducing the number of seats would require a change to the joint powers agreement between the city and county that established the TCEDA in late 2008.
The board has seven seats that are filled by two elected county supervisors, two elected city council members, and three from the private sector.
Two of the private sector seats are vacant due to the resignation of several longtime board members over the past year, who were not replaced because city and county elected officials unanimously decided to shut down the TCEDA on Feb. 19.
There would still have to be at least one county supervisor and one city council member in attendance for the board to vote on anything even if the number of seats are reduced, according to the County Counsel’s Office.
Another item that will be carried over to the next meeting is a request by Garaventa and Hawkins for the board to waive attorney-client privilege and publicly release the investigation on conflicts of interest that was conducted by the County Counsel’s Office.
The City Council voted on May 20 to have Garaventa and Hawkins make the request.
Last year, the Grand Jury released a report on the TCEDA that — among other things— found possible conflicts of interest existed among the agency’s board members and staff due to them serving in various capacities on overlapping boards and committees.
One of the Grand Jury’s recommendations was for the County Counsel’s Office to review the possible conflicts of interest. The office complied, but kept the findings confidential because it argued they were subject to attorney-client privilege.
City Councilwoman Connie Williams has said she notified the County Counsel’s Office about one potential conflict of interest she saw while serving on the TCEDA board from 2016 to 2018, but nothing ever came of it.
Releasing the investigation to the public will require at least four members to vote in favor of it under the board’s current structure with seven seats.
Contact Alex MacLean at firstname.lastname@example.org or (209) 588-4530.