Supervisor Dave Roberts accused of violating Brown Act

San Diego County supervisors alleged May 11 that one of their own violated the state’s open meeting law and should be liable for any litigation that arises from a series of resignations that have beset his office.

In a statement, the Board of Supervisors said Dave Roberts, the freshman representative of the North County coastal area, revealed a 5-0 vote by the board to deny severance payments to two of his former staffers — a violation of the Brown Act.

In a separate statement, Roberts conceded making an error after being asked a question by predecessor Pam Slater-Price.

The Board of Supervisors’ statement said the details of the closed session discussion remain confidential due to potential litigation, but the board approved a limited release of information to allow its public statement explaining the reason for the vote against the payments.

“The Board of Supervisors believes it is important to let the public know that the vote was not related to whether or not the Board of Supervisors believed the allegations to be true or false,” the statement said. “The vote was made in the context of whether taxpayer money should be used to resolve issues resulting solely from the actions of one supervisor and multiple staff members he hired and managed.”

The statement said District 3 staff members who previously worked for Slater-Price have not leveled any allegations.

“The Board of Supervisors stands united in their belief that whatever issues occurred in the District 3 offices should be dealt with by the supervisor,” the statement said. “If any money is to be paid to any of his former staff members, it should be paid from his personal funds and not taxpayer dollars.”

Roberts said he agreed.

Four of Roberts’ staffers have resigned over the past month. Since he took office in January 2013, eight of his employees have resigned, a turnover greater than the rest of the supervisors’ offices combined.

Former Chief of Staff Glynnis Vaughan charged that Roberts — who is up for reelection next year — fostered a toxic work environment, displayed unprofessional conduct and misused government resources, U-T San Diego reported. Roberts had his staff handle political work during office hours, though mostly to handle issues initiated by outside organizations, according to the newspaper.

In his statement, Roberts said service to his constituents has not been impacted by his office turmoil.

“We are proud of the high level of service and accessibility we provide to the residents of the Third District,” Roberts said. “I have taken the actions necessary to address the issues in my office, including hiring Mel Millstein as my chief of staff.”

Millstein was formerly on the staff of San Diego City Council President Sherri Lightner. He joined Roberts’ staff in January as a land-use consultant and was made chief of staff last month.