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Palm Springs levels new transparency concerns at College of the Desert

The City of Palm Springs is again raising concerns with the College of the Desert citing the need for transparency in all of its decision-making.

An attorney for the city sent a letter to COD Tuesday. It noted what City Manager Justin Clifton called agenda irregularities with the college's board of trustee meetings. The city's letter also argued COD may be in violation of the Brown Act. That law bars public agencies from conducting public business behind closed doors in most cases.

"We do want these processes to be out in the open, above-board, fully legally compliant. We think that's reasonable."

Justin Clifton, Palm Springs City Manager

"We're not trying to assume bad faith. We're not trying to be a hostile partner in these discussions," Clifton told I-Team Investigator Jeff Stahl. "We do want these processes to be out in the open, above-board, fully legally compliant. We think that's reasonable," Clifton added.

Clifton said the letter to COD from attorney Andrew L. Jared was sent due to the legal issues involved. "When it comes to Brown Act and other things," Clifton said, "we want to make sure that some of this is a request in the spirit of partnership. But legal line is a bright one, and we want to be really clear on when we might be either near or across that line, so there's no ambiguity in that kind of a position," Clifton added.

He says the city wants to continue to have normal open dialogue, to allow collaboration. But he added the legal standards need to, "be bright and clear and adhered to for all of us."

KESQ contacted College of the Desert administrators for comment. The President’s Office replied saying it had received the letter and would release a response once a review was complete.

Clifton also hopes to continue making good progress with COD toward building west valley campuses and see that all bond initiatives come to fruition. 

Palm Springs and other west valley residents and interests have expressed big concerns this past six months over COD expansion plans.

They're urging the college to honor its commitment to building long-planned west valley campuses in Palm Springs and the recently canceled RoadRunner automotive training center in Cathedral City.

Read more continuing coverage: New COD president defends efforts to build west valley campuses

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