California: Activists say Costa Mesa working groups must comply with open meeting laws

Blogger Geoff West uncovered a violation of the Brown Act, California’s open meeting act, by the Costa Mesa City Council in which the city formed two person sub-committees that they claimed were not subject to the Brown Act.

Terry Francke of CalAware said that the working groups are subject to the act, “While the Working Groups are intended to report their recommendations to the full Council in open session, and while Working Group members are apparently being advised not to communicate with non-members on the matters under study, the fact remains that if the group’s meetings are private, the public will have no sense (unless it is told) of just what avenues were explored, what options were examined and discounted or discarded, or who met with the group in guiding its inquiries or formulating its proposals. The public will be presented with a package to react to, and one with weeks or months of momentum behind it by the time it reaches the Council, needing only one of three voters to be approved.” -db

From a commentary in the  blog A Bubbling Cauldron, May 10, 2011, by Geoff West.

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One Comment

  • Thanks for the props… I pointed out the violations to the Costa Mesa City Attorney twice a month ago. Each time, despite providing documentation from a 1996 ruling by the California Attorney General to the contrary, I was told the “working groups” were not in violation of the Brown Act because they were “ad hoc”. It took a letter to the mayor and city council from Terry Francke, General Counsel of CalAware, to boot them into action – finally. The Costa Mesa legal team is reviewing their position and we are promised a response by the 16th… I’m not holding my breath.

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