California open government roundup: Records of professor’s alleged plagiarism can be disclosed

A California court of appeals found that UC Irvine can release records under the California Public Records Act pertaining to alleged plagiarism in articles submitted to various academic journals. The assistant professor submitting the articles filed an injunction to prevent release. (Reason, January 14, 2023, by Eugene Volokh)

The Los Angeles City Council voted to allow an option for city officials to hold remote meetings. That arrangement would require an amendment to the Brown Act, the state’s open meeting law, that guarantees the right of citizens to attend meetings in person. (LA Weekly, January 17, 2023, by Isai Rocha)

Another school board is redoing a meeting to elect officers to dispel any charges of Brown Act violations. In this case, the San Dieguito Union High School District board held the election before public comment not according to them a violation, but they decided to redo the election in the spirit of promoting public participation. (Del Mar Times, January 13, 2022, by Karen Billing)

The trustees of Gateway Unified School District in Redding rescinded decisions on a new superintendent search after charges of Brown Act violations. Those attending a January 4 meeting were not allowed to speak until after a crucial vote and two trustees whispered with each other during the meeting. (, January 12, 2023, by R.V. Scheide)

The Contra Costa District Attorney’s office found no Brown Act violation in the Antioch mayor’s cancelling a publicly noticed meeting despite the city attorney’s warning that the meeting could not be cancelled. The DA did say the there could be a complaint filed with the grand jury for investigation of malfeasance. (The Antioch Herald, January 11, 2023, by Allen D. Payton)

Stakeholders in the Orange Unified School District are dealing with precipitous firing of the superintendent and assistant superintendent with scant or nil public notice and community participation. (Voice of OC, January 10, 2023, buy Brandon Pho)

The Project for Open Government is suing the San Diego City Council for cutting off the comments of a prominent local politician as she raised questions about the Covid pandemic and a proposed development. (The San Diego Union-Tribune, December 24, 2023, by Jeff McDonald)

A California appeals court ruled that Thousand Oaks violated the Brown Act by adopting an exemption to the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) without specifically putting it on the city council agenda at least 72 hours before the meeting. A waste management company filed the lawsuit contesting the council’s action. (JD Supra, December 22, 2023, by Geoffrey and Isbel Tahir)

Thousand Oaks appealed the ruling to the California Supreme Court to determine if the council could make a contract decision exempt from the CEQA. (Thousand Oaks Acorn, December 23, 2023, by Victoria Talbot)

The state’s legislature passed three bills in 2022 that changed the Brown Act. The first requires meetings of a local public agency’s governing body to be open to the public, including charter schools. In others, individual members of public boards may participate in meetings remotely under certain circumstances, changes were made in the rules for distributing public meetings documents to accommodate the process of mailing and the possibility of remote meetings, and new rules enable a board chair to remove disruptive individuals from a meeting. (JDSupra, December 16, 2023, by Kevin David and Greta Proctor)