Councilman: COG highway appointment left off agenda

Highway 25 at San Felipe Road

A Hollister councilman pointed out that a tensely debated appointment to the local multi-agency transit board was left off a meeting agenda on Sept. 17 when the vote occurred—which would represent a violation of the state open meetings law.
Hollister Councilman Victor Gomez came up on the short end of the 3-2 vote Sept. 17 to appoint Council of San Benito County Governments Chairman Jerry Muenzer to the renewed Mobility Partnership, a coalition with Santa Clara County Valley Transportation Authority examining the future of Highways 152 and 25.
According to an agreement considered at the same meeting, the Mobility Partnership board is set to include two members from VTA, one from COG and one from the county board.
Muenzer motioned to appoint himself to the board and received support from fellow County Supervisor Anthony Botelho and San Juan Bautista Councilman Tony Boch. On Tuesday, the county board will vote to appoint a second member, meaning there will be two supervisors and no representation from the City of Hollister.
That result frustrated Gomez, who noted that the appointment wasn’t even on the Sept. 17 agenda. That agenda included consideration of the memorandum of understanding with VTA, but excluded an item specifically devoted to the appointment.
According to the state’s open meetings law, all items up for discussion or action in public meetings must be included on a related agenda posted before the gatherings.
Gomez and Velazquez insist the city must have representation for the talks to progress and Gomez suggested he is pushing for reconsideration and pressure from VTA.
“Overall, I think the realignment is important enough for us to make sure the City of Hollister is in discussions,” Gomez said.
Velazquez took it a step further. He said the city has to be included or else it won’t move forward and implied he was the one who originally approached VTA about renewing the partnership.
“Quite frankly, we won’t let them move forward without us being involved in the conversation,” Velazquez said.
Neither Muenzer nor COG Executive Director Mary Gilbert could not be reached immediately.

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