California open meeting act roundup: Malibu dispute concerns land swap

A dispute in Malibu over whether discussions of a land swap occurred apart from an open meeting pits a watchdog group Malibu Township Council (MTC) against the city council. The MTC wants to slow down the land deal and asked the council to rescind its January 14 directive to staff to explore the deal, stop all negotiations and release all messages between various members of the council and staff. (MalibuPatch, March 26, 2013, by Jessica E. Davis)

Citizens elsewhere are also challenging arrangements that allegedly shut them out of public business. The teachers union in the El Rancho Unified School District in Pico Rivera charged that a board of education closed meeting over a contract for a $5 million swimming pool renovation project violated the Brown Act, the state’s open meeting law. (Whittier Daily News, March 16, 2013, by Peter Fullam)

Elk Grove citizens were upset in early March when they alleged that city council nominated a man to fill a vacant council seat without allowing the public to comment on the nomination. A complaint also alleged that the Elk Grove City council violated the Brown Act by communicating about the nomination prior to a council meeting. (Elk Grove News, March 1, 2013, by EGN)

In another key development affecting public participation occurred when the Los Angeles district attorney ruled that a Alhambra City Council member violated the Brown Act by stopping a citizen from directly criticizing another council member in an open meeting. (San Gabriel Valley Tribune, March 8, 2013, by Lauren Gold) -db