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Asked & Answered

A&A is a searchable database of questions posed by users like you about their rights under open government laws and First Amendment safeguards that have been answered by FAC’s attorneys—all First Amendment and government access specialists at Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner, LLP, an international law firm with offices in San Francisco.

A&A: Is there a Posting Date Requirement for Minutes of Public Agency Meetings?

Q: Is there a legal requirement that a Community College in California post Minutes for their Board, Special and Committee Meetings within a certain timeframe? They are not doing so by the next meeting and sometimes do not do so for many many months or at all. This is an ongoing issue. A: The Ralph M. Brown Act, which governs local legislative bodies, including community college districts, requires, among other things, that local legislative bodies conduct their meetings at noticed, agendized, and open public meetings. See Cal. Gov. Code § 54950 et seq. The Act also requires legislative bodies to report any “action

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A&A: Can A Trustee Mute Another Trustee’s Microphone During A Meeting Streaming On Zoom?

Q: Is it legal for a school board trustee facilitating a meeting streaming on Zoom to mute another trustee’s microphone because he objects to the content of what the trustee is saying? A: The Ralph M. Brown Open Meetings Act (in which we specialize at this hotline) primarily imposes procedural requirements on legislative bodies to ensure that the public’s business is transacted at noticed and open public meetings, where citizens can exercise their rights to, among other things, observe the meeting, record its proceedings, and address members of the body. See Cal. Gov. Code § 54950 et seq. As such, the Brown Act

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A&A: Toll Road Agency Says There is No 14-day Requirement for Responding to CPRA Requests

Q: The Transportation Corridor Agency (TCA) that manages toll roads has sent me an email saying that there is no 14-day requirement for responding to a California Public Records Act request.  Also, if a legal matter was brought is it customary for the government agency to pay for attorney’s fees? A: With respect to your first question, the California Public Records Act (CPRA) sets deadlines for agencies to respond to records requests. Agencies are required to respond to written requests for records within 10 calendar days of receipt of the request, and may extend that deadline by an additional 14

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A&A: How Do We Make a Community Service District Board Comply with the Brown Act?

Q: Community Service District (CSD) Board members have been in violation of the Brown Act. I have requested multiple policies, procedures and manuals from the CSD by email and verbally, and have received none. Our board members closed the Volunteer Fire Department and changed the locks without consulting our Fire Chief. No meetings dates, no agendas, nor anything about the actions of the board except for Fire Department issues are posted on the CSD website. I have also asked for financial reports for our fire department on multiple occasions by email, verbal, and meetings and have not received them. How

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A&A: Are Protesters Vulnerable to Arrest Under COVID-19 Ordinance Banning Public Gatherings?

Q: My county passed a COVID-19 public ordinance stating that citizens are prohibited from participating in public gatherings and can be fined or arrested for doing such. With the protests happening across the city, I can see this being an issue that could lead to many protester arrests that would have otherwise been peaceful. I have emailed the director of County Health Services and the Chief Administrative Officer who signed off on this ordinance to please clarify if protesters will be violating this ordinance since it is not clarified in the legal document itself. Also, this ordinance was not publicized

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A&A: Is It Legal to Exclude the Public From a Regularly Scheduled Public Meeting?

Q: We were prevented from entering the County Board of Supervisors Meeting in California where they were deciding whether to open up the county after the coronavirus shutdown. One man was detained for attempting to enter the building. Is it legal for the board of Supervisors to prevent the general public from attending a regularly scheduled board meeting? A: As a general matter, the public must be permitted to attend any meeting governed by the Brown Act. Cal. Gov. Code § 54953(a). However, in March, Governor Newsom issued executive orders N-25-20 and N-29-20, which temporarily suspended any Brown Act requirements “expressly or impliedly requiring the physical presence of

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