Caught red-handed holding three illegal closed-door meetings — two with Gov. Jerry Brown, one on the phone and one in person — Los Angeles County’s Board of Supervisors begrudgingly surrendered last week. (Transcript 9_20) (Transcript 9_21 (1)) (Transcript 9_26 (1))
If you have the patience to read through the transcripts from Sept. 20, 21, 26 of last year, you will quickly begin to wonder why they needed secrecy when they knew so little and had almost nothing interesting to say about prison realignment other than that they want to state to pay for everything.
It’s hard to see what they hoped to get from the governor who didn’t seem to have a grasp on the details of what he had wrought in releasing prisoners early and worse, he got confused about whether the Ralph M. Brown Act requiring open meetings of government bodies is a local or state law. (Ralph M. Brown was no relation to Pat or Jerry, both name Edmund G. Brown formally).
What’s disturbing is the indication that the real motive for wanting to do business in back rooms is they are afraid the public will discover just how shallow and uninformed they really are.
Fortunately, the LA Times complained about he secrecy and Californians Aware, a non-profit led by First Amendment lawyer Terry Francke, sued the supervisors and won a settlement that should chill them from trying to keep the public ignorant of what’s going on in the future.
Here’s where near the end of the Sept. 26 meeting, they got a good laugh talking about how they would get around their collective violation of the law.
MS. ORDIN: I will say something also about the fact that this is a very unusual meeting, and we did make it unusual because of these potential threats to public service.
GOVERNOR BROWN: Let’s get our Brown Act cover story.
MS. ORDIN: Yes. One of the things I remember –
SUPERVISOR MOLINA: There is press waiting in the lobby so we need to know.
MS. ORDIN: You may have folks — you may have folks out there who want to ask questions.
SUPERVISOR YAROSLAVSKY: We do have folks
MS. ORDIN: And at the conclusion of this meeting, we will be going down for an open session because we do have members of the public who are going to be there to make public comment.
SUPERVISOR ANTONOVICH: Let me just say that it’s the two from SEIU, Local 721, Ralph Miller probation and Andrea Gordon, professor of management, Association Local 1967. Those are the four –
GOVERNOR BROWN: They are down there?
SUPERVISOR ANTONOVICH: Down there at the –
MS. ORDIN: They want to be heard in public comment. And as everyone here is very sophisticated and already knows, this is a closed session so we can’t talk in great detail about what went on in the closed session, but we will let people know we were talking about the very thing we said we were which is the interference to public services.
GOVERNOR BROWN: Public services or
MS. ORDIN: It says public services or facilities is the language in the statute, but obviously the threat of public service –
GOVERNOR BROWN: Is that a — is that a local statute?
MS. ORDIN: No. State statute. It is the Brown Act. It is the Brown Act that allows us to make this — to have this meeting.
MALE SPEAKER: You know your grandfather –