This article has been updated below.
It appears that Milpitas Mayor Rich Tran may have violated the Brown Act…again.
After an October 28 closed session meeting on potential litigation regarding the Homekey project, Mayor Tran took to Nextdoor and shared this update:
The Brown Act states that all information discussed in a closed meeting shall remain confidential unless the entire body that participated in the meeting authorizes disclosure.
In a special meeting for the Milpitas City Council and Commissioners this past August, Milpitas City Attorney Chris Diaz led a training on the Brown Act. When speaking on closed session meetings, Diaz stated: “The one thing to keep in mind with closed sessions is they are confidential. So if [you’re] council or you’re a staff member that gets invited into that closed session room, everything you acquire, everything you learn in that closed session room, is confidential. Which means you cannot divulge that confidentiality to anybody else that was not in the room.”
Diaz did not respond to a request for comment on this story.
According to a San Jose Inside article in 2017, Tran is no stranger to Brown Act violations.
After the closed session this past Wednesday, Diaz mentioned publicly that “direction was given to staff,” but there was nothing to report out at this time.
Although Mayor Tran has a healthy Facebook following, he has decided to keep most of his updates on the Homekey project on Nextdoor, where many Milpitas residents have expressed their disapproval of converting the Extended Stay America on Hillview Drive into housing for the homeless. Council voted to move forward with potential litigation against any parties involved in the project, which include Santa Clara County and the State. More information on that can be found here.
When contacted by The Beat, Mayor Tran had no comment.
There will be no more special meetings on the subject until after the election on Tuesday, November 3.
Update: When asked if the Mayor did potentially violate the Brown Act, Sherene Tagharobi, an attorney at the First Amendment Coalition, responded: “The question is whether what the Mayor learned during the closed session and posted on Next Door is ‘confidential’ under the Brown Act. Based on how the statute defines ‘confidential,’ it most likely is, so unless the City Council authorized him to disclose that information, he probably violated the Brown Act in doing so.”