California open government roundup: Los Angeles City Attorney spotlights alleged violation of Brown Act

The Los Angeles City Attorney filed a complaint that board members of a Crenshaw area development agency violated the Brown Act, the state’s open meeting law. The attorney alleges that the board members colluded in private to engender an appearance of pubic support for a buyer of a shopping mall. (City Watch, November 16, 2020, by Donald Byers and David Odusanya)

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education announced that after more than a year and a lawsuit, UCLA released 13 pages of documents concerning a public appearance at the university by Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin. After the judgment, as part of the resolution, UCLA admitted they violated the California Public Records Act. (FIRE, November 9, 2020, press release by Daniel Burnett)

A Santa Monica planning commissioner suggested some reforms to the Brown Act to keep up with the changes brought on by the pandemic. Shawn Landres, Cal Matters, November 4, 2020, calls for mandating that all public agencies establish websites for the posting of agendas, meeting support documents and minutes. Anyone could sign up to receive all such postings on e-mail in timely fashion. He wants to streamline the process of virtual public comment and recognize the legitimacy of videoconferencing for agency decision-making.

A Butte County judge ruled that the Community Action Agency of the county was a pubic agency subject to the California Public Records Act. The dispute began when a donors and founders of a transitional service for homeless families sought information concerning financial management and staff turnover. (Chico Enterprise-Record, November 13, 2020, by Sharon Martin)

The Solvang electorate voted by nearly a 90% margin to recall city council member Chris Djernaes. The recall petition alleged in part that Djernaes had contempt for the Brown Act and showed little respect for speakers at council meetings. (Santa Barbara News-Press, November 5 2020, by Grayce McCormick)

Milpitas Mayor Rich Tran is being held to account for allegedly violating the Brown Act. The mayor left a town council closed session about housing the homeless and posted an update on Nextdoor without first obtaining permission of the council. (The Milpitas Beat, October 30, 2020, by Rhoda Shapiro)

After the 49ers negotiated a parking agreement with the Stadium Authority of Santa Clara, a 49ers attorney sent a letter requesting the city tear up the document. The Stadium Authority attorney replied by noting that to destroy a public record was against the law. (Santa Clara News Online, October 30, 2020, by Robert Haugh)

The city of Redlands was awarded an achievement award for financial reporting by he Government Finance Officers Association for 2018-19, capping a run of 17 years of winning the honor. (Redlands Community News, October 29, 2020)

A staff report of the Ross Valley School District recommends the denial of a five-year renewal of a charter school’s charter. The report contained a charge that the school violated the Brown Act on transparency concerning its efforts to obtain a federal loan. (Marin Independent Journal, October 29, 2020, by Kari Brenner)

The Los Angeles Police Commission is allowing the police department to record and store aerial footage of protests from its helicopters. Civic leaders are complaining that the surveillance will lead to criminalization of protest. (Los Angeles Times, October 27, 2020, by Kevin Rector)

The Fresno Unified School Board is requiring the public to submit comments on the agenda items by voicemail or e-mail by 8 a.m. the day prior to a meeting. FAC executive director David Snyder says the requirement may violate the Brown Act. (GV Wire, October 26, 2020, by Nancy Price)

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