On a bipartisan 51-0 vote the state Assembly on Thursday passed a bill allowing local government bodies under the Brown Act to meet privately with the Governor, reports Judy Lin for the Associated Press. The bill is being carried by Republican Assemblyman Cameron Smyth of Santa Clarita as a favor to Los Angeles County Supervisor Michael Antonovich. The supervisor persuaded his colleagues to tell the county’s lobbyists to seek the legislation less than a week after Californians Aware sued the county for violation of the Brown Act on February 3. Smyth introduced an empty spot bill vehicle on the Brown Act on February 16, then amended in the current content on March 29. The county’s violations, which it recently disowned and pledged not to repeat in a settlement with CalAware, consisted of three unlawfully closed sessions last September, supposedly to address the security of public buildings and infrastructure from terrorists and other threats of disruption. Two of the sessions involved Governor Edmund G. Brown, Jr., and the topic was not security but the county’s need for state help in affording the impacts of Brown’s “Realignment” of state prisoners to county jails. A recently released tape recording of the in-person meeting shows the Governor poking fun at what he called the “Brown Act cover story” prepared by county counsel. The bill is actually a pared-down version of Antonovich’s original idea, which included closed sessions to allow local councils and boards to huddle secretly with the President as well. Smyth’s AB 1736 incorporates the fraudulent pretext for secrecy fronting last September’s meetings by declaring that despite the state constitution’s presumption that government meetings are public,
Without some freedom to protect sensitive information, security is compromised. Therefore, the health and safety of the people of California is enhanced by giving governing bodies the authority to meet with the Governor in closed meetings to discuss security matters that may include sensitive information.
Here are transcripts of the three illegally secret discussions, released on CalAware’s demand, providing some notion of what kind of “security matters that may include sensitive information” we can expect to see discussed by governors and local officials behind closed doors if this bill passes.
September 20 preliminary closed session about concerns with implementing the Realignment.
September 21 phone conference closed session with Governor Brown.
September 26 closed session face-to-face meeting with Governor Brown.