“This was one of those things where at the time I didn’t think I was doing anything wrong,” said Dove. “I was just sending along information to Mark (Doran) as part of a research project he was working on and nothing more. But I have since learned that anything a lawyer does is confidential and as such I broke the client/attorney privilege. I was definitely a bad guy and I screwed up. I’ll be apologizing for it at the next meeting.”
Dove copied an e-mail from CSD Counsel John Stovall to the CSD Board and General Manager Virgil Koehne regarding the Municipal Advisory Council (MAC) policies – and how they apply to Discovery Bay – and sent it to residents Mark Doran and William Richardson last July. The CSD was in litigation with Richardson at the time of the correspondence.
The note on the top of the e-mail sent by Dove, who was vacationing in Mexico, reads: “Good Morning Gentlemen, I am forwarding this e-mail to you as I feel it is relevant to Mark’s research. Interesting … to my knowledge no additional direction has been given to John S. Dave.”
CSD President Ray Tetrault said he believes Dove’s mistake was an honest one, made by his relative inexperience with local governance.
“As the board president I called him (Dove) and voiced my displeasure about what happened,” said Tetrault. “Mr. Dove doesn’t have the years of experience on the board that others of us have; it’s not something I would have done, but no, there was no malice intended. It’s been handled.”
CSD Director Shannon Murphy-Teixiera said she looks forward to a formal explanation from Dove: “I have never experienced this situation before so I do not know what position the CSD board should take. I hope Director Dove will explain his actions to us and his motivations so that we can all work together without this cloud of suspicion and distrust amongst the group. We have to work together for the betterment of the community; otherwise, we are weak and ineffective.”
The Press discovered the correspondence during a public records request to Supervisor Mary Piepho regarding MAC information. Doran had sent the Dove e-mail to Piepho with the note: “As only a courtesy! The devil is in the details from the firm that represents the CSD.”
Doran said he sent the note and correspondence to the supervisor as a part of his ongoing interest in the development of the MAC and whether it was properly formed in Discovery Bay. Doran said he doesn’t believe Dove’s actions constitute a client/attorney breach.
“I think it’s semantics,” said Doran. “If it’s a public document, which I think it is, then it is not a breach. If Stovall wanted it be private, he should have said so.”
Phone calls to John Stovall, the CSD’s attorney, were not returned, but according to Jim Ewert, an attorney with the California Newspaper Publishers Association, the legality of the issue may well lie in the CSD’s interpretation.
“As a general rule, (whether) a client/attorney privilege breach has occurred depends on how the rest of the (CSD) board feels,” he said. “I can’t speak directly to the issue without all the details.”
Director David Piepho, however, said he can speak to the issue, and said he sees it as a distinct violation of the client/attorney privilege and an ethical and moral breach against his fellow board members and the community. It is the latter, he said, that he worries might be irreparable.
“I am really disappointed because we’ve been working well together as a board and now that trust has clearly been broken,” said Piepho. “It’s not just the trust with the board; it’s the trust with the community. Mr. Richardson sued the district and threw many charges at us (the board), and now to find out that information was directed to him while we were in litigation – I don’t quite understand why he (Dove) would do that.
“This is about as close to unforgivable as can be,” he said. “Talk about violating ethics and standards. This is serious business. He put the board, the district and the community at risk. I’m embarrassed for Mr. Dove.”
CSD Vice President Mark Simon said he believes Dove acted in innocence, and hopes the board will simply move on to the bigger issues.
“I think Ray (Tetrault) handled it appropriately: he discussed it with Dave (Dove) and I’m sure it won’t happen again,” said Simon. “We can’t change it, so at this point we should just move on as a board and take care of the town’s business.”