OPEN MEETINGS -- The City of Fillmore has settled a lawsuit filed by Richard McKee, president emeritus of Californians Aware, for allegedly violating the Brown Act, reports Mike Harris in the Ventura County Star.

Under the settlement, the city will issue a written statement
admitting that Brown Act violations occurred at an Aug. 25 City Council
meeting. City Attorney Ted Schneider characterized them as “potential
unintentional technical violations.”

The settlement also requires the City Council to take two hours of
Brown Act retraining conducted by Schneider with McKee’s participation.
It further requires the city to pay $6,000 of McKee’s attorney’s fees
in bringing the lawsuit.

In return, McKee will dismiss the lawsuit.

On the morning of Aug. 25, Councilman Steve Conaway accused three
other unnamed members of the five-member council of violating the Brown
Act by exchanging emails earlier in the month with Larry Pennell, who
was then the city’s interim city manager. Conaway alleged that the
exchanges, which concerned a candidate for the permanent city manager
position, constituted a private meeting of the council.

Walker began the council’s meeting that night by requesting an
immediate closed session to discuss Conaway’s accusations. About an
hour later, the council returned to its public session, where Walker
announced that “an unintentional Brown Act violation has occurred.”

McKee’s lawsuit alleged that because the closed session was not
listed on the council’s agenda, it constituted a second Brown Act
violation.

Last month, however, the Ventura County District Attorney’s Office
decided not to file misdemeanor charges or a civil action against the
council for the alleged Brown Act violations.


Both McKee and the city praised the settlement of the lawsuit.
“The recent Brown Act violations now admitted by the Fillmore City
Council illustrate how easily elected officials can impede the public’s
right to be involved in the decision-making of their local government,”
McKee said.