Letter: District Attorney Takes Corrective Action For Brown Law Breach

After sending a letter on September 21 threatening potential lawsuits from city council for violating the state’s open meeting laws, the DA gave the city until November 4 to agree to corrective measures aimed at restoring confidence in the reliability of the board’s compliance with Brown’s Law. In a September 29 letter to DA, the city attorney admitted that the June 29 meeting was not closed in accordance with Brown Law best practices, and that the legally mandated notifications were not made as falsely claimed. in the note of the municipal prosecutor to the Council. before the August 10 censorship of board member George Weiss.

Knowing he had screwed up badly, the city attorney even offered some of the corrective measures the attorney has now ordered. This includes special one-year meeting record-keeping protocols so that the prosecutor can confirm that meetings are sticking to topics that are exceptions to open meeting laws. The DA also wants board members to be given a meaningful opportunity to challenge the merits of the closure, and cautioned the board that the closed-door discussion must be directly related to the specific topic for which the meeting was legally closed.

The DA’s action also complies with state law providing that board members who challenge the legality of the shutdown are allowed to disclose the base to do so in public. The city had claimed that only the council could waive confidentiality, but the letter from the district attorney acknowledges that there are other exceptions to confidentiality “permitted by Brown Law”. This includes the exception to confidentiality for members challenging the legality of the closure codified in Section 54963 (e) (2) of the CA Government Code.

If the DA had determined that the June 29 meeting had been legally closed, none of this would happen. And the prosecutor’s silence on Weiss speaks for itself as well, confirming loud and clear that there was no finding of violation by Weiss. Under these circumstances, the Council owes the community, especially the young people witnessing this debacle, to either conduct a new hearing on Weiss’s censorship or simply to overturn the resolution.

The city had remedial obligations imposed on Council to avoid further action on DA’s part, Weiss did not. By virtue of these results, the censorship cannot stand. If it is not repealed, the Council will undermine its own moral authority to impose compliance with local or national legislation.

Howard Hills, Laguna Beach

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About Yvonne Lozier

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