City Council Authorizes Independent Investigation of Councilmember

At yesterday’s City Council meeting, City Attorney Leslie Devaney disclosed that in an August 9th closed session, the City Council authorized the City Attorney to engage an independent investigator “to investigate allegations of Councilmember conduct.” Devaney stated that the conduct at issue “includes public disclosure of confidential closed session information and potential violation of City Code, policies, and contractual obligations related to interactions with the City Manager, City staff, and third party consultants.”


Devaney did not disclose the identify of the Councilmember under investigation. As part of her comments, however, she separately addressed a statement Councilmember Dan Quirk widely distributed by email yesterday, stating that he “will not participate in any future closed sessions on San Dieguito Drive,” asserting his belief that the City “inappropriately used the closed session format…to shield the City from legitimate public comment and criticism of the project, including from…me in particular.”


In her comments yesterday, Devaney stated, “I would recommend that Deputy Mayor Quirk or any councilmember, for that matter, not voluntarily remove themselves from a closed session. Doing so will put that councilmember at a great disadvantage regarding legal issues, pitfalls, etc., which are in place to keep the City from engaging in costly legal battles and City liabilities.” She reviewed the limited exceptions when closed sessions are allowed under the Government Code and the Brown Act, citing personnel, litigation, and labor and real estate negotiations. With respect to an exception relating to significant exposure to litigation, she noted that a closed session “[gives] the City Council the legal parameters and risks associated with narrow issues that are helpful for them to both navigate and make ultimate decisions in the best interests of the City.”


The San Dieguito Drive issue relates to negotiations between property owners and the City to upgrade the privately-owned road to meet City standards and potentially have it become a City road. More information is available by watching the Council’s discussion and action on Item 19 at yesterday’s meeting (the video should be available shortly on the City’s website here: The action item passed by 4-1 (Quirk voting no).


When asked for comment by the Sandpiper, Deputy Mayor Quirk said that he stands by his comments made in his email of September 5th, including the statements quoted above. He had no comment about the target of the investigation.


The City Attorney did not provide a time frame for the investigation. The Sandpiper will continue reporting on this issue as additional information becomes available.

A screenshot from yesterday's televised Council meeting. City Attorney Duvaney and Councilmember Quirk both participated in the meeting remotely, by Zoom.