Brown Act roundup: Open meeting law supports citizens' rights

SB 1003, a new law to help citizens challenge violations of the Brown Act, the state’s open meeting law, went into effect January 1. The law was inspired by a case in Tulare County where citizens sued over unannounced closed lunch meetings held by county supervisors who claimed the meetings were for morale purposes rather than policy discussions.

Since the supervisors stopped holding the meetings, the state appellate court ruled that there was no basis for legal action. SB 1003 would enable citizens to send a “cease and desist” letter to a government agency citing an open meeting violation. The agency can avoid a court appearance if, without conceding it broke the law, it pledges to cease the practice. (Visalia Times-Delta)

In the meantime, on January 8 a Monterey County environmental group  accused the Monterey city and county of violating the Brown Act in secret meeting to establish guiding principles for limiting the power of the Fort Ord Reuse Authority. (The Monterey County Herald)

And in Palo Verde, in response to a citizen complaint, hospital board members voted to void a December 5 meeting on the grounds that the board violated the Brown Act in committing an error in posting the agenda and in vague wording in agenda items. (Palo Verde Valley Times) -db