OPEN MEETINGS — An investigative video interview program, the Full Disclosure Network, is charging that recent Los Angeles
County Board of Supervisors meetings with California Congressional officials in their Washington, D.C. officesalthough announced as public forumswere
closed to observers in violation of the Brown Act, reports Dennis Romero for LA Weekly.
The meetings took place May 5 and 6 as all five
members of the powerful elected body were in town to lobby for federal
dollars. Full Disclosure states that its representatives were barred
from five of ten meetings that were announced, in accordance with state
law (PDF), 72 hours in advance as open-to-everyone public
"I felt that there were deals going on
away from the public eye and the public wasn't really wanted at these
meetings," said Janet Levy, who attempted to attend all the meetings
with a camera crew in tow.
The meetings she and her crew were shut out of included events at
which only two supervisors were attending. Three or more supervisors
need to attend a forum in order for the open-meeting law to apply.
However, Levy argued that because 72 hours notice was given that those
events would be open to the public, and because 72 hours notice was not
given for any cancellations of those meetings, they should have remained
County assistant CEO Ryan Alsop was there and tells the Weekly that
Levy and her bunch were barred only from those meetings that did not
feature three or more supervisors. One exception, he says, was an open
board meeting at the White House: The Full Disclosure group did not get
security clearance in time for the event.
Alsop says that at at least one of the meetings — some of them were
held in congressional offices as board members met with the likes of
Dianne Feinstein, Henry Waxman, and Xavier Becerra — did not have
enough room for the Full Disclosure crew and that he himself had to step
out to accommodate the five-person group.
If more members of the public had shown up, he said, "we would have
had to make other accommodations."
Alsop described Levy as "disruptive and unprofessional." "She spoke
out of turn," he said, "and was incredibly belligerent."
The fact that only two supes were at some gatherings did not necessarily preclude violation of the Brown Act, since there is always the danger of seriatim meetings. Particularly in that light, barring FDN was inexcusable.