California open government roundup: Long Beach police alleged to use self-deleting messaging to hide truth

Current and former officers from the Long Beach Police Department said that they were issued a self-deleting messaging app to hide sensitive and potentially incriminating information. They said their superiors told them to use the app to converse with other officers in a way that could not be discovered. The department denied that the app was used to hide exculpatory evidence from the courts. (Al Jazeera, September 18, 2018, by Simon Boazman and Jeremy Young)

A bill passed the California state legislature that requires all peer-reviewed scientific research funded by the state to be made public no later than one year after publication. AB 2192 was introduced and shepherded by Assemblyman Stone and signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown on September 7. (Electronic Frontier Foundation, August 30, 2018, by Elliot Harmon)

When two Novato City Council members attended a neighborhood workshop on the sale of city sites for housing, they were not violating the Brown Act, California’s open meeting law. But given complaints that their participation dampened participation, they may want to stop the practice to encourage public involvement, writes the Marin IJ Editorial Board. (Marin Independent Journal, October 27, 2018)

A member of the Dixie School District board claims the board violated the Brown Act by discussing a  change in the district’s name during a closed-door session devoted to an evaluation of the superintendents’ performance. (Marin Independent Journal, October 22, 2018, by Adrian Rodriguez)

The San Diego City Council repealed short-term rental regulations passed last August after a signature drive by community members and Airbnb. Those opposing the regulations argued that the council violated the Brown Act in making important changes to the original proposal without allowing for public comment on those changes. (10news, October 22,2018, by Jermaine Ong)

The Butte County district attorney flagged the Oroville City Council for a Brown Act violation after five council members allegedly appeared at the county recorder’s office to follow up on a constituent’s charge of voter registration fraud.  (Chico Enterprise-Record, October 16, 2018, by Risa Johnson)

A local activist lists ten ways the Los Angeles City Council discouraged public attendance at  council meetings, including cancelling meetings; scheduling meetings early in the morning’ reducing public comment time from two minutes to one minute; changing the room number of a meeting at the last minute; failing to provide parking; and moving an item to the end of the agenda  (KNOCK, October 17, 2018, by John Motter)

While the editorial board of the Lake County Record-Bee, October 5, 2018, conceded that the Lakeport Unified School District board of trustees did not violate the Brown Act while demoting a middle school principal and failing to explain the move, the editorial board wanted more from the trustees: “While board members are correct when they state it is unlawful to discuss personnel matters like those for which Paarsch [the demoted principal] had reportedly been put on leave, for the sake of transparency, they owe the community an explanation. It is disappointing that the board members held two meetings which included public hearings but were not able to figure out a way to honor their obligations to their employee, while concurrently being more empathetic to the community’s anxieties over the possibility of losing an educational leader the majority appear to trust and respect.”

A Superior Court judge ruled that the San Diego City Council violated the Brown Act by failing to accept public comments before ceremonial proclamations like “Oct. 1 is Jerry Coleman Day.” Citizens who wanted the right to criticize the proclamations had backed the court action. (San Diego Union-Tribune, October 4, 2018)

A new superintendent in the Modesto City Schools is muzzling board members in discussing issues up for a vote. A new rule would allow only the school board president and the superintendent to talk to the press and ban the other six  board members from answering questions. (ABC10, October 4, 2018, by Lena Howland)

A Placer County judge rejected a Squaw Valley Resort bid to extract  $226,893 in attorney fees from Sierra Watch, an environmental nonprofit. Sierra Watch was unsuccessful in their lawsuit alleging Brown Act violations in approving a redevelopment project. The judge wrote that the Sierra Watch claim had substance, “…the court cannot conclude that petitioner’s action was clearly frivolous or totally meritless.” (Sierra Sun, October 4, 2018, by Hannah Jones)

The Suisun City Attorney said that a city council woman stuck at home can participate in council meetings via teleconference under the Brown Act.  (Daily Republic, October 4, 2018, by Ian Thompson)

E-mails and text messages show that the mayor and mayor pro tem of Atwater were discussing closed session matters with the police chief and sharing confidential information allegedly in violation of the Brown Act. (Merced Sun-Star, September 29, 2018, by Thaddeus Miller)


Your contributions make our work possible.