The Marine Life Protection Act Initiative’s “Motion to Quash” was heard in Mendocino County Superior Court on Friday, May 20, before substitute judge Hon. Andrea Richey from Southern California. The Hon. John Behnke was scheduled to hear the case, but reportedly left on a last minute vacation.
Earlier this year, MLPAI Program Manager Melissa Miller-Henson and the “Initiative” refused service of documents on four seperate occasions, in an attempt to avoid legal responsibility for actions committed during a two-year North Coast “process” rife with conflict of interest, corruption, and violations of the law.
The quash motion falsely claims that the Initiative’s staff of close to forty persons – who called themselves members the “I-Team” – were not any kind of group or legal entity. The group of state employees and private contractors wants to be excused from any accountability, based on the grounds they were “not a formal organization.”
The Motion to Quash affidavit contains a declaration by Ms. Miller-Henson that the MLPAI “Initiative” was “the name of a project or a set of objectives, and not a formal organization or state agency, it is not incorporated, it has no officers, and it has no members or associates.”
This ridiculously false argument has been made despite the glaringly obvious fact that there were staff members, officers, meetings, agendas, reports, payrolls, goals, etc, &ct. – all conducted by this surreptitiously funded private/public group, whose ostensible mission was to engage the people of California in matters of great public importance. All of this was done without the least bit of oversight.
The “Quash” motion goes on to state: “the MLPAI ‘Initiative’ was not recognized as a legal entity…. Is not an association at all, it has no members or officers, it is not incorporated, is not a state agency, and it is not a seperate entity.”
Again, a patently false argument in light of the facts of this case.
Representing this “non-entity” – the MLPAI ‘Initiative’ – in this legal farce, was Deputy Attorney General for the State of California, David W. Hamilton. In a brief statement, Mr. Hamilton argued that the MLPAI “is part of a partnership that’s responsible for a program – the Marine Life Protection Act Initiative – but the Initiative itself is just the name for a program, and not an agency or legal entity that can be sued.”
His absurd argument is belied by the fact that the MLPAI ‘Initiative’ hired private contractors and consulting firms, planned, promoted and held public meetings, engaged professional video services, facilitated accounts for travel, hotel rooms and meals, responded to public records act requests, and engaged in federal level negotiations with Native American tribes, and did a host of other highly sophisticated organizational, political, and public relations projects – all supposedly on behalf of the people of California, and all without any proper governmental oversight.
Peter Martin, the lawyer for the plaintiff in this case argued forcefully, and with a bit of humor, that the MLPAI is part of a partnership between two California state agencies and a private foundation – the Resources Legacy Fund Foundation – who provided tens of millions of dollars in funding for the contoversial “private/public” venture.
According to Martin, “the MLPAI was the legal entity that represented this partnership, and as such, was responsible for doing all kinds of things. The MLPAI was legally responsible for implementing the Marine Life Protection Act, and as a group they planned, promoted and held public meetings. They responded to Public Records Acts, they had a purpose, they had goals, and they had an Executive Director, and a Program Manager….”
Martin went on: “the MLPAI does everything – and apparently, the Attorney General’s position is that the only thing the MLPAI can’t do, – is be sued! ”
The judge interjected a question about how the “Initiative” handled Public Records Act Requests. She received the answer that such requests were handled by the MLPAI’s Blue Ribbon Task Force (BRTF). But in this reporter’s case, a Public Records Act request was handled directly by the MLPAI, under the legal auspices of their parent organization the California Natural Resources Agency.
Judge Richey took the matter under submission, and promised a ruling “by early next week, at the latest.”
It is our contention that the MLPAI was indeed a very sophisticated organization. Despite neglecting to formally incorporate, they engaged in activities that define organizations. They contracted individuals and other organizations, they conducted meetings and negotiations, and they did a whole host of other activities – all with stated objectives, and a common purpose.
As such, the MLPAI was by definition a formal entity – subject to accountability and responsibility by any legal standard – and particularly their own proclaimed standard of “openness and transparency.”
See Also: So transparent-they don’t exist!