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. offices—although announced as public forums—were 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 forums.
"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 open.
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."