Escondido, California (January 30, 2006) ¿A lawsuit filed on January 27th, 2006 against the Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation (OHMVR) Commissioners alleges they held secret meetings during their December 8-10 meeting. It also alleges Commissioner Paul Spitler spoke to at least 3 other commissioners about grant proposals that were to be voted on at these meetings prior to the actual meeting. Both of these alleged actions violate provisions of the Bagley-Keene open meeting law.
Additionally, the lawsuit claims the Commission violated California law when it denied a number of grants that had been recommended by the OHMVR Division staff and would have provided benefits to the OHV community, even though no new information or testimony was presented to support the denials. The Commission also chose to fund some grants that fit their own personal agenda for closing roads and trails permanently and restoring damaged landscapes, even though Division staff had deemed the proposals inappropriate because the areas had never been used for OHV recreation. In both of these circumstances, the commission¿s actions were arbitrary and capricious and not supported by evidence in the record, as required by statute.
EcoLogic and its co-plaintiffs — the Off-Road Business Association (ORBA), the San Diego Off-Road Coalition (SDORC), the California Off-Road Vehicle Association (CORVA), the American Sand Association (ASA) and the American Motorcyclist Association, District 37 — are asking the court to issue a preliminary injunction preventing the Commissioners from disbursing any OHMVR Trust funds to grant applicants whose projects were approved during the meeting in question.
They are also asking for a permanent injunction preventing the Commissioners from disbursing funds from the OHMVR Trust Account until such time as the OHMVR Commission reconvenes a public hearing to discuss the grant applications, and does so in a manner consistent with the Bagley-Keene open meeting law. Furthermore the OHV groups are requesting that the Commissioners discontinue their current practice of conducting meetings in violation of the Bagley-Keene Act.
The OHMVR Commission consists of seven members, three of whom are appointed by the Governor, two of whom are appointed by the Speaker of the Assembly, and two of whom are appointed by the Senate Rules Committee. None of the commissioners is elected.