In a lawsuit brought to overturn an unlawfully secret decision by a city council under the Brown Act, the city may not have provided a sufficient “cure and correction” to end the case if all it did was re-hear the matter and repeat its vote of approval without a serious public reconsideration, a trial judge has ruled.
The main thrust of Los Angeles Superior Court Judge James Chalfant’s principal ruling was that the plaintiff, a group opposing a land swap by the City of Malibu, should have an opportunity to show how a sequence of email exchanges over time constituted the evolution of a serial meeting decisional process hidden from the public in violation of the law. Melissa Caskey reports for the Malibu Times.
But the judge also rejected the city’s argument that a perfunctory 10-minute “do-over” of the decision in a public vote without further deliberation was in any event sufficient correction to protect the council’s decision from being overturned by the court. As stated by plaintiff’s lawyer Frank Angel in a press release.
The fact that on April 8, ten minutes after rescinding its January 14 decision, the council fully reapproved that same decision was not lost on the Court. We had warned the City Council on April 8 that its so-called ‘cure’ was a sham cure that nobody will fall for. The Court made clear that the Brown Act requires more than simply notice of a meeting and the opportunity for the public to be heard; it requires local elected officials to discuss, deliberate and vote in the open on agenda items. They can’t split fact-finding, discussion or deliberation between private and public meetings.