Client Alerts

The California state legislature and courts as well as local governments are continuously changing the legal landscape.  Staying abreast of new laws, regulations and other legal developments, and analyzing their impact on local governments is what makes our attorneys some of the best in the state. In addition, we write timely alerts to keep our clients informed of developing legal news and analysis.

Client e-Alerts are emailed to our clients, and they can also be viewed on our website.  If you are interested in receiving our Client Alerts via email, please complete the subscription information in the left column.

Some of our most recent alerts are presented below grouped by their practice area. Older alerts are available in the Archives, which can be accessed via the links in the left column.

Construction and Facilities

New Legislation to Affect Public Contracting and Prevailing Wage Laws

July 18, 2014, Richard Pio Roda

The Governor has recently signed into law SB 854, which mandates several changes in public contracting and prevailing wage laws. SB 854 took effect immediately; however, its provisions affecting public entities apply only as of 2015.

First Amendment

Supreme Court Upholds Legislative Prayer at Local Government Level

May 6, 2014, Deborah J. Fox

Whether the prayer activity at issue in Town of Greecewould also pass muster under the California Constitution remains an open question. For cities, counties and special districts best practices to avoid the perception of ‘coercion’ are advised.

A majority of the Supreme Court has upheld the right of local governments to open their meetings with prayer so long as the practice over time does not proselytize or advance any one faith or disparage another. In Town of Greece v. Galloway, the Court found that prayers at the opening of legislative sessions lend gravity to the occasion and reflect values that have long been part of the country’s heritage, and that it would be inappropriate for government to act as supervisors or censors of the content of such prayers.

Background

The Town of Greece, New York had been inviting local clergy to offer an opening prayer at Town Board meetings since 1999. The Town did not edit or prescribe the content of the prayers. The Town contacted local religious organizations named in a guide published by the Chamber of Commerce and created a list of chaplains willing to perform the task. Each month a Town employee would go down the list until he or she found someone available. Until 2008, without exception, all were of the Christian faith. After the Board began receiving complaints, however, several clergy from non-Christian denominations were added to the City’s list and a Wiccan priestess, Baha’i chairman, and lay Jewish man provided invocations for a period of time before the practice returned to only speakers of the Christian faith.

Municipal and Special District Law

Supreme Court to Review Decision on Whether Messages on Private Devices and Accounts are Public Records

July 7, 2014, Nicholaus W. Norvell, Ruthann G. Ziegler

The California Supreme Court will review a lower court decision that e-mails and other messages sent or received by public agency officers and employees on private electronic devices or accounts are not "public records" under the California Public Records Act   Last week, the Court decided it would review the California Court of Appeal's decision in City of San Jose v. Superior Court (Smith) (Mar. 27, 2014, H039498).

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