FREMONT -- Ohlone College trustees on Wednesday will discuss in private their legal options in light of an ongoing criminal investigation into whether one board member actually lives in Livermore, which is outside the district, college officials said.
The closed meeting will be the first time that board members are scheduled to discuss possible residency violations by trustee Nick Nardolillo since it has been reported that he had been living at his Livermore winery for more than a decade.
The Ohlone board cannot consider motions to censure him or remove him from the board unless they conduct it in a public meeting.
State open-meeting laws prohibit government agencies from discussing personnel matters relating to elected officials behind closed doors. However, the board is allowed to consult with its attorney regarding anticipated litigation.
In Nardolillo's case, the board could consider initiating litigation to remove him from office or preparing to defend the district against litigation filed in connection to Nardolillo, legal observers said.
Ohlone President Gari Browning wasn't available for comment Monday, but college officials confirmed that the closed meeting agenda item for Wednesday's session listed "Conference with legal counsel, anticipated litigation: significant exposure to litigation" referred to Nardolillo.
Trustees reached Monday said they were unaware that Nardolillo would be discussed.
Nardolillo, who was elected to the community college district board in 1996, is part owner of White Crane Winery and the Wild Vine wine bar in Livermore.
He claims a homeowner's exemption on his Livermore house, which is where he says he has registered his car. Last month, Nardolillo said he could not recall the last night he spent at the Fremont home, where he is registered to vote and rents a room from a friend for $400 a month in wine.
The provision that allows elected boards to meet in private to discuss potential litigation requires that there be strong evidence that litigation is likely, said Peter Scheer, executive director of the First Amendment Coalition.
In Ohlone's case, the provision would carry more merit if the board was discussing possibly initiating litigation to oust Nardolillo, but in either case, Scheer said, Nardolillo should not be party to the discussions.
"Their whole justification for going behind closed doors is attorney-client privilege," Scheer said. "But if he were there, they'd be going behind closed doors with a potential adversary; there can't be attorney-client privilege for that."
Contact Matthew Artz at 510-353-7002. For more Fremont news, go to IBAbuzz.com/tricitybeat.