Editor’s Note: Below is a letter sent to us by attorney representing Altadena Library Director, Mindy Kittay.
Altadena Library Director Mindy Kittay’s attorney today warned the Library District’s governing Board that the emails showing Brown Act violations disclosed last week were “just the tip of the tip of the iceberg.”
In a 7-page letter (see below) to the Library District Board of Trustees, civil rights attorney Dale Gronemeier demanded the Board “hire an independent investigator to review and publicly report on the extent of Brown Act violations and other misconduct;” if the Library does not hire an independent investigator, he asserted there would be a “coming storm” of “embarrassing email after email dripping out month-by-month because we have to resort to public shaming of the Library leadership in order to address these issues.”
Gronemeier and his partner Skip Hickambottom last Thursday made a series of 7 presentations to the Library’s Board of Trustees public meeting as it moved through the agenda. They submitted 5 email strings obtained through Public Records Act requests that they contended showed repeated violations of the Brown Act, California’s open-government statute. John McDonald, the President of the Board of Trustees, then resigned the next morning.
The attorney’s letter today made additional demands to the Trustees – that the Library remove redactions from email strings that suppress information based on attorney-client privilege objections and that Trustees Ira Bershatsky, Armando Zambrano, and Gwendolyn McMullins recuse themselves from the decisions concerning an independent investigation and the email redactions “because they have conflicts-of-interest arising from their culpability in Brown Act violations.” Gronemeier alleged that the redactions in emails obtained through Public Record Act requests were improperly redacted by McDonald because he had a conflict-of-interest and “because of the substantial evidence that the crime-fraud exception to the attorney-client privilege applies.”
Gronemeier’s letter asserted that the emails already obtained present the Library’s governing board “with a cornucopic can of worms – including but not limited to repeated Brown Act violations, repeated false libelous statements against Ms. Kittay, and repeated direct evidence that the male [Board] majority’s actions against Ms. Kittay are motivated by animus against her because she blew the whistle on the [Board] for its earlier Brown Act violations that the Board was forced to cure.” The earlier Brown Act violations were ones that the Board was required by its attorneys to cure at an October Board meeting.
Today’s letter indicates the emails that the attorneys presented to the Board last Thursday were obtained over a period of several months by Public Records Act requests. The first request was on January 17 by former Library Trustee Mark Mariscal; his request obtained emails showing violations of the Brown Act during November. Gronemeier on March 8 then made a request for emails that then-President McDonald attempted to “permanently” delete after Mariscal’s request.
Gronemeier’s letter points out that Microsoft Outlook’s “permanently delete” function does not actually permanently delete emails, so they are retrievable. The email strings in response to the March 8 request showed a Brown Act violation by McDonald, Bershatsky, and Zambrano agreeing in advance of the next Board meeting on who to appoint as Acting Director in a string that McDonald attempted to “permanently” delete. Gronemeier has recently made additional Public Records Act requests for Trustee emails that extend back to the early 2017; those requests includes emails Trustees attempted to “permanently” delete.
The 7-page letter to the Library District Board of Trustees:
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